The 'Dramatics' are one of 4 or 5 soul music vocal groups I especially enjoyed listening to growing up in the late 1960's and early 1970's....along with the 'Temptations', the 'Delphonics', the 'Stylistics', and 'Earth, Wind and Fire'. Dramatics front man and founder Ron Banks introduced smooth, strongly vocalized ballads and stage performances that helped set the R an B tone for that era.
The band was formed out of Detroit, Michigan in 1962, and was originally named 'The Dynamics'. Detroit had more talent than record company's could handle at the time, so the group struggled until finally signing with Wingate Records.(later bought by Motown)
In 1967 Banks changed their name to the 'Dynamics', and soon produced their first minor hit single "All Because of You". However, it took four more years before another single, "Whatcha See is Whatcha Get" finally broke into "Billboard Hot 100's top 10....peaking at #3 and reaching gold disc status in 1971!
The following year it was "In The Rain" that reached #1 on the R&B charts, after which, William "Wee Gee" Howard and Willie Ford left the band, and were replaced by singer/producer L.J. Reynolds and Lenny Mayes.
Throughout the rest of the '70's the Dramatics recorded a list of top ten singles including the cover "Me and Mrs.Jones"(from 'Billy Paul'), 'Get Up and Get Down', 'You're Fooling Around', 'Be My Girl', and 'Hey You! Get Off My Mountain".
They also appeared on the TV hit show 'Soul Train' several times, and continued with hits 'Toast the Fool", "I'm Going By the Stars in Your Eyes", and two albums called "Somewhere in Time", and "Positive State of Mind".
After the Dramatics released their final chart hit "Welcome Back Home" in 1980, L.J. Reynolds left the band....and Ron Banks followed in 1983. Both went on to pursue solo careers. However, the band has re-united several times over the past 20-years, and were even guests on the 'Snoop Doggy Dog' song "Doggy Dog World" in 1993.
They were also mentioned in a novel called "The Algiers Motel Incident", by John Hersey. 'The Algiers' is where Detroit Police allegedly committed murders which sparked the infamous Detroit riots of 1967....and the Dramatics happened to be staying there at the same time, following a performance!
On a sad note, so many of the band members have had their lives cut short by natural causes, including Elbert Wilkins(heart attack, 1992, age 45), William "Wee Gee" Howard(heart attack, 2000, age 49), Lenny Mayes(cancer, 2004, age 53), James Mack Brown(cancer, 2008, age 58), and founder Ron Banks who died of a heart attack just last month at his Detroit home at the age of 58. Banks left a wife and six children.
Nevertheless, the Dramatics have gone on to entertain millions of fans over the past 40-years, and continue to tour even today....as L.J. Reynolds, Winzell Kelly, Willie Ford, and Michael Brock, will soon release an album titled "Bad Girl". May the dramatic R&B sound of 'The Dramatics' live on for years to come.
Thanks, and keep listening to Streetwise Radio at www.Streetwisesd.com