The Magnificents Biography

Formed in 1953 in Chicago, Illinois, USA, the Magnificents featured Johnny Keyes, Thurman ‘Ray’ Ramsey, Fred Rakestraw and Willie Myles. In their up-tempo songs, the Magnificents brought rock ‘n’ roll to their doo-wop, and in their ballads they stayed true to their R&B roots. Singing as the Tams, they were discovered by disc jockey Magnificent Montague, who gave them their name and became their manager. Their one hit, ‘Up On The Mountain’ (number 9 R&B), in 1956, has come to be remembered as a golden oldie, but equally outstanding was their great ballad b-side, ‘Why Did She Go’, led by Ramsey. However, Ramsey left to be replaced by L.C. Cooke (brother of Sam Cooke), and Barbara Arrington was added to the group as lead. The successful sound of the group was subsequently lost on the next record, ‘Caddy Bo’. The third single, ‘Off The Mountain’, deserved to restore the group to prominence, but it was not to be. Keyes and the rest of the group broke from Montague, who then formed a new Magnificents, the identity of whose members remains unknown. Their ‘Don’t Leave Me’ is one of the most beloved of the doo-wop oldies that were never actually hits.


Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.


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