Tony! Toni! Toné! Biography

This swingbeat trio from Oakland, California, was formed by brothers Dwayne (14 February 1963, Oakland, California, USA; lead vocals, guitar) and Raphael Wiggins (b. Charlie Ray Wiggins, 14 May 1966, Oakland, California, USA; lead vocals/bass), and their cousin Timothy Christian (b. 10 December 1965, Oakland, California, USA; drums). They arrived with ‘Little Walter’ in 1988, a US R&B number 1 hit, which combined the best traditions of soul with new age rap. The trio remained at their most successful when moving, unceremoniously, from tight, gospel-tinged harmonics to assured, laconic hip-hop, as on 1990’s hit, ‘It Never Rains In Southern California’. Despite their high profile (notably as support on Janet Jackson’s 1993 US tour), they still retained a sense of propriety and musical history. Christian played for his church when at home, while Raphael made his public debut at age seven playing bass with his father’s semi-professional blues band. Their name (pronounced ‘Tony’ on each of the three occurrences) was taken from a character they invented when they went out shopping to buy vintage clothing. After four albums of high-quality, modern R&B the trio split-up to concentrate on solo projects. Dwayne Wiggins was the first member to release a solo album with March 2000’s Motown Records debut, Eyes Never Lie. His brother, going under the name of Raphael Saadiq, teamed up with DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad (ex-A Tribe Called Quest) and Dawn Robinson (ex-En Vogue) in the R&B ‘supergroup’ Lucy Pearl, before also embarking on a solo career.

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

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