This Top 10 Major Lance songs list presents the best Major Lance songs like “The Monkey Time,” “Come See” “Rhythm” and more. Major Lance, along with his eleven siblings, resided in the Cabrini-Green Projects of Chicago, which was a neighborhood loaded with criminal activity. It was while there he became childhood friends with Otis Leavell. The two attended Wells High School where they’d meet Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler.
In addition to his love for music, especially Jackie Wilson material, Major Lance was also big into sports. He, along with Otis Leavell, sang for the Five Gospel Harmonaires and worked at the same drug store while looking to achieve their dream as recording artists. The two formed a group named the Floats but broke up before officially recording. Lance became a dancer that was featured on the local television show, Time for Teens. This is where he’d earn his first one-off record deal with Mercury Records that was written and produced by Curtis Mayfield in 1959. It failed to earn any success, so Lance continued to work odd jobs for the next few years.
In 1962, thanks to Mayfield’s recommendation, Lance signed up with Okeh Records, which later established a partnership between Curtis Mayfield, Carl Davis, and Johnny Pate. Together, the group and their associates developed a Latino-style sound that would fuel the soul of Chicago as a contrast to what the music industry was currently using. It would be during this time frame Major Lance would earn his big break and become one of the pioneers of R&B music.
There are ten known albums credited to Major Lance, along with thirty-six singles. As successful as Major Lance had been with his recording career, his personal life saw him arrested twice would put a few disruptive snags. The first arrest came about in 1965 when a Chicago woman filed a paternity suit against Lance that saw him having to hone up to an agreement he broke. The second arrest came in 1978 for his possession of cocaine that saw him sentenced to prison for four years. Five years later, he suffered a heart attack, which was soon followed by glaucoma that rendered him visually impaired. From this point forth, Major Lance made no more recordings and later passed away in his sleep in 1994.
Top 10 Major Lance Songs
#10 – Ain’t It A Shame
In 1965, “Aint It A Shame” became a number twenty hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and squeaked in at number ninety-one on the US Billboard Hot 100. This jazzy number featured Major Lance at his prime as he, along with the backup vocals provided by The Blossoms, was featured on an episode of Shindig, which ran on ABC from September 16, 1964, until January 8, 1966. The smooth vocals performed by Major Lance are what kept his loyal fans coming back for more. Although Ain’t It A Shame may not have been one of the artist’s best chart hits, it does remain as one of his more energetic favorites.
#9 – Girls
“Girls” was a 1964 hit for Major Lance, which saw the single peak as high as number twenty-five on the US Cash Box chart and as high as number sixty-eight on the US Billboard Hot 100. Major Lance’s lyrical plea to win over his love interest was well-complimented with the mix of swing and jazz that consistently made the music from Lance chart classics. The style of music Lance performed was unique compared to the Motown sounds, which made him a refreshing break from the standard sounds some fans didn’t always care for.
Between the organic R&B from Lance and the orchestrated R&B from Motown, this gave music fans of the era choices, which seemed to be a bit of a rarity as the majority of record producers seemed bent on having too many artists sound too much like each other. Major Lance had a voice, talent, and style that was all his own.
#8 – Come See
In 1965, “Come See” became a number twenty hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for Major Lance, as well as a number forty hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. Catchy and clap-happy, this single witnessed Major Lance lyrically perform yet another classic hit that saw a merge of Latino into the styles of blues, folk, and jazz as one of the most unique blends of music that made “Come See,” a rare favorite.
#7 – Sometimes I Wonder
On the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, “Sometimes I Wonder” became a number thirteen hit. It also charted as high as number twenty-four on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1965. It was the first time for Major Lance to find his R&B material return to an official US Billboard R&B chart after Billboard Magazine opted not to have an R&B chart category between November 1963 to January 1965. During that time frame, his R&B hits were registered on the US Cash Box before US Billboard took that charting platform over. The classic performance delivered from Lance’s vocal talent was not short-changed as he continued to be at his blues meets jazz best.
#6 – Stay Away From Me (I Love You Too Much)
“Stay Away From Me (I Love You Too Much)” was a single Major Lance recorded and released in 1970 that peaked as high as number thirteen on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and at number sixty-seven on the US Billboard Hot 100. It would be the final occasion Lance would have one of his singles reach within the top twenty hit on a US Billboard chart. A hint of disco mixed with Lance’s trademark R&B style made Stay Away From Me an easy-listening favorite, serving as a swingy hit that was a favorite play among radio stations and television programs that catered to fans of soul music.
#5 – The Matador
In 1964, the Latin-meets-Chicago single, “The Matador” earned Major Lance his third top-ten single to reach the music charts. On the US Cash Box, it peaked at number four on what is now referred to as the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The Matador also peaked at number twenty on the US Billboard Hot 100, thanks to the unique blend of Latino sounds setting the tone of this R&B classic that had Major Lance at his very best as a recording artist. An easy dance favorite that was highly favored by fans who were soaking up the soul music scene that was still experimenting with the sounds of a Latino influence that seemed to already be mastered by Lance and his recording crew.
#4 – Hey Little Girl
“Hey Little Girl” was the second hit single for Major Lance as it peaked at number twelve on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and at number thirteen on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1963. It served as a follow-up hit from his debut single, as well as a solid lead into what later became the biggest hit of Lance’s career. The powerful trumpet served as a big highlight that paralleled beautifully along the strong lyrical performance delivered by Lance, as well as his backup singers, which made Hey Little Girl one of the big favorites at the time it first came out.
#3 – Rhythm
On the US Cash Box chart, “Rhythm” peaked at number three and it was a number twenty-four hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1964. The boyish charm that came from Major Lance not only came through his vocal talent but his on-screen presence each time he performed. It was easy for Lance to win over the devotion of his fans, whether it was the ladies swooning over his charm or the men striving to match his melodic charm. In addition to possessing such a beautiful singing voice, Major Lance was also a talented dancer, something which television networks picked up on. Major Lance was always at his very best when he was on stage, doing the two things he did best and was loved for the most.
#2 – The Monkey Time
In 1963, “The Monkey Time” served as Major Lance’s breakthrough single that finally put his name in the spotlight as one of the music industry’s pioneers behind R&B music. On the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, the single peaked as high as number two and it was a number eight hit on the US Billboard Hot 100.
“The Monkey Time,” triggered inspiration among many artists who later recorded their own versions of this song, which featured The Tubes having the most successful cover in 1983. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, it charted as high as number sixteen. For Major Lance, “The Monkey Time,” was a significant hit his career needed as his two previous singles failed to make any chart impressions.
#1 – “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um”
Released in December 1963 as a single, “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um” has since served as one of Major Lance’s signature songs he is best recognized for. It was his third released recording to appear on the US Billboard Hot 100, which charted as high at number five and is recognized today as a number one hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Between November 1963 to January 1965, there was not an R&B chart recognized by the US Billboard Magazine. At the time, it was a number one hit on the US Cash Box chart. Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, also served as Major Lance’s singular occasio
n he would find a single earn international charting success as it peaked at number forty on the UK Singles Chart. This single made a solid enough impression on the UK’s Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders to record and release it in 1964, and its performance peaked at number five on the same UK music chart. In 1977, Johnny Rivers’ version made it a huge favorite among the easy-listening audience of the US as it peaked as high as number five on the easy listening charts.
Feature Photo: Okeh Records, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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