The Jive Five Biography

From Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA, the Jive Five were one of the last doo-wop groups to have a national hit and one of the few to make a successful transition to the soul era. The group members were Eugene Pitt (6 November 1937; lead), Jerome Hanna (first tenor), Richard Harris (second tenor), Billy Prophet (baritone) and Norman Johnson (d. 1970; bass). Their biggest hit was ‘My True Story’ (number 1 R&B, number 3 pop) from 1961, which was something of a neo-doo-wop sound. A particularly outstanding feature of the group’s approach was the counterpointing exchanges between lead Pitt and bass Johnson. Continuing with the same sound, the group had lesser hits during the next two years with ‘Never Never’ (number 74 pop), ‘What Time Is It’ (number 67 pop) and ‘These Golden Rings’ (number 27 R&B). By 1964 the group had developed a soul sound and had joined United Artists Records. At this point Pitt and Johnson were supported by new members Casey Spencer (second tenor), Beatrice Best (baritone), and Webster Harris (first tenor). The group found success in 1965 with ‘I’m A Happy Man’ (number 26 R&B, number 36 pop), and followed with ‘A Bench In The Park’, which received good airplay in Washington, DC, but nowhere else. The group left United Artists Records in 1966, and their last chart record was in 1970, for Decca Records. In the 80s Eugene Pitt And The Jive Five made two fine albums for Ambient Sound, who were unable to break the group out of the limited audience for doo-wop harmony.

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

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