Rhythm Revue Spotlight: Felix Hernandez on R&B vocal group The Whispers
Vocal group harmony was always a major part of R&B. The doo wop style was popular in the ‘50s. In the ‘70s there was a kind of doo wop revival with slow jam groups becoming popular on Top 40 radio again.
A surprising number of groups that had popular hits in the 70s had been singing for years before their records crossed over. R&B radio stations like WWRL in New York, WDAS in Philadelphia, WVON in Chicago were places you would hear the early recordings of groups like the O'Jays, The Manhattans, The Blue Notes, and The Emotions.
One group in particular was active for 17 years before they had their first Top 40 pop hit. Identical twin brothers Wallace and Walter Scott were born in Fort Worth, Texas on September 23, 1943. At age 20, in 1963, by now residents of Los Angeles, the twins formed a vocal group with Gordy Harmon, Marcus Hutson, and Nicholas Caldwell. Between 1964 and 1966, the quintet cut a few singles for a small local label. These records are prized collector's items today.
The Scott twins and their group The Whispers didn't have their first national R&B hit until 1969 with “The Time Will Come.” The time finally did come for The Whispers. The group had a steady run of R&B hits throughout the ‘70s. But it wasn't until 1980 with the song “And the Beat Goes On,” that The Whispers made it to Top 40 Radio, and it was also the group's first gold record.
The Whispers remained active well into the 21st century. In 2014, they were inducted into the official R&B Music Hall of Fame.
“I Only Meant to Wet My Feet”
“(Olivia) Lost and Turned Out”
“And the Beat Goes On”
“I Was Born When You Kissed Me"