The Blue Jays Biography

An R&B vocal group from Los Angeles, California, USA, the Blue Jays perfectly embody the transitional era between 50s R&B and 60s soul in their renditions of doo-wop-styled songs with a gospel-style lead vocal. Comprising lead singer Leon Peels (1936, Newport, Arkansas, USA), Alex Manigo, Van Earl Richardson, and Leonard Davidson, the group came together in 1961, and the same year were signed by country singer Werly Fairburn to his Milestone label. The Blue Jays’ first record, ‘Lovers Island’ (number 31 in the US pop chart) in 1961, was at the time considered to be one of the last gasps of doo-wop, yet in retrospect, one can hear the first glimmerings of soul in Peels’ gospel-edged vocals. Peculiarly, the song only made the local R&B charts. The group followed the hit with some excellent numbers, notably ‘Tears Are Falling’ (1961) and ‘The Right To Love’ (1962), but achieved little success; they disbanded in early 1962. (NB: Not to be confused with the Moody Blues offshoot band formed by Justin Hayward and John Lodge in 1975.)

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

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