The Vibrations Biography

Formed in Los Angeles, California, USA in 1955 and originally known as the Jayhawks, this quartet comprised Dave Govan (2 August 1940, Los Angeles, California, USA), Carl Fisher (b. 27 December 1939, Quardon, Texas, USA), James Johnson (b. 13 September 1939, Brooklyn, New York, USA) and Carver Bunkham. The Vibrations were notable for being equally proficient with smooth ballads, such as ‘Oh Cindy’ (1962), and exuberant dance tunes like ‘Sloop Dance’ (1964). Their exciting stage show made the group one of the favourites on the R&B theatre circuit. After coming together at the Jefferson High School, as the Jayhawks, they recorded the original version of ‘Stranded In The Jungle’, a novelty hit they shared with the Cadets. Ricky Owens (b. 24 April 1939, St Louis, Missouri, USA) subsequently replaced Bunkham, and the line-up was later augmented by Don Bradley (b. 7 August 1936, St Louis, Missouri, USA). The group became the Vibrations in 1959 and scored a hit with ‘The Watusi’ two years later. However, in 1961 they recorded a one-off single, the hugely successful US Top 20 hit, ‘Peanut Butter’ under the pseudonym, the Marathons. The influential ‘My Girl Sloopy’ (1964) was a US Top 30 single and served as the model for ‘Hang On Sloopy’, a later chart-topper by the McCoys. The Vibrations enjoyed a minor R&B success each year until 1968, notably with ‘Misty’ (1965) and ‘And I Love Her’ (1966), but their commercial fortune then faded. Richard Owens briefly joined the Temptations in 1971.

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

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