Top 10 Songs By The Chi-Lites

Songs By The Chi-Lites

Our Top 10 Songs By The Chi-Lites list presents their best songs like “Oh Girl,” “Have You Seen Her,” “Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So),” and many more. From Chicago, Illinois, the first lineup of The Chi-Lites featured Eugene Record as the lead singer, along with bandmates Burt Bowen, Clarence Johnson, Robert Lester, and Eddie Reed. The original members of this group came from Hyde Park Academy High School. Together, the group performed at a high school talent show that later resulted in the release of “You’ve Got a Great Love” as a single. It was written by Clarence Johnson.

From Hi-Lites to Chi-Lites

The first of The Chi-Lites to leave the band was Burt Bowen. He was briefly replaced by Sollie McElroy before Marshall Thompson replaced him. In 1960, Eddie Reed passed away and was replaced by Creadel Jones. Both Thompson and Jones were former members of Desideros before signing up with The Chi-Lites.

At first, the group was known as the Hi-Lites, a name they adopted in 1960. Under this name, the group released “I’m So Jealous.” When it was noted that Hi-Lites was already taken by another musical group, the band changed their name to Marshall & the Chi-Lites, which occurred in 1964. The “C” in this name was chosen to honor Chicago, the very city these men came together as a group.

Now as Marshall & the Chi-Lites, additional songs were recorded and released. “Pretty Girl” was written and sung by Eugene Record while “Love Bandit” was written by Creadel Jones and sung by Marshall Thompson. There was also “Price of Love” and “Baby It’s Time” that was recorded before Clarence Johnson left the group before 1964 was over. Upon his departure, this left Eugene Record as the group’s primary lead singer and songwriter.

Right after Johnson left, Marshall & the Chi-Lites shortened their name to The Chi-Lites. Come 1968, the men met with Carl Davis, a record producer who signed them to a contract with Chicago’s Brunswick Records. Together, the lineup of Record, Thompson, Lester, and Jones produced their first hit single as The Chi-Lites with “Give It Away.” It was a song written by Davis and Record.

The 1970s

The vast majority of the hits produced by The Chi-Lites came in 1971 and 1972. Eugene Record, Robert Lester, Marshall Thompson, and Creadel Jones were the four men that summed up the quartet that dominated the music charts on both a national and international level.

For The Chi-Lites, the parade of hits continued but became increasingly fragmented as the lineup changes within the group continued. In 1973, Creadel Jones left and was first replaced by Stanley Anderson. After Anderson’s departure, it was Willie Kinsley before Doc Roberson took his place.

Also leaving the group was Eugene Record, who was replaced by David Scott and Danny Johnson. As for Clarence Johnson, his replacement was Vandy Hampton in 1977. By 1979, The Chi-Lites went from the bright shining stars of the music industry to an obscure shadow of its former self as world-class entertainers.

The 1980s

Come 1980, The Chi-Lites were reformed as a group when Eugene Record, Creadel Jones, Robert Lester, and Marshall Thompson reunited. However, Jones left in 1982 that reduced the roster from a quartet to a trio. In 1983, the remaining Chi-Lites released Bottoms Up, an album that would earn critical acclaim. Its title track, along with “Changing For You,” put The Chi-Lites back into the R&B music charts. By 1988, Eugene Record left The Chi-Lites again and was replaced by Frank Reed. He was later replaced that same year by Anthony Reynard Watson. However, the lead vocal duties were alternated between Reed and Watson that would continue until 1997.

The 1990s

The Chi-Lites continued to perform where either Frank Reed or Anthony Watson sang the majority of the songs, with the exception of “Oh Girl.” That was vocally performed by Robert Lester. At the time, Marshall Thompson was also still in the lineup. On one fateful evening in 1997, The Chi-Lites were on their home from a concert they performed in Pennsylvania. There was a car accident that resulted in Reed being ejected from the vehicle, as well as Marshall Thompson’s wife, Constance. Constance was fatally wounded while Reed required a metal plate to be inserted in his back. When the 1998 album, Help Wanted (Heroes are in Short Supply) was released, “Hold On to Your Dreams” was a single that was included as a means to honor Constance. Because of the extent of Reed’s injuries, Watson took over the role as the lead vocalist until he left The Chi-Lites for good in 2002.

The Chi-Lites Legacy

The influence of The Chi-Lites inspired several recording artists to embark on music careers of their own. One example of this influence can be found in Beyonce’s“Crazy in Love” as it featured sampled music from the group’s 1970 hit, “Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So).” Record was credited as the co-writer of “Crazy in Love,” as he was the writer of the 1970 song that was used in Beyonce’s award-winning single. Because of this, when the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song was earned in 2004, it was also a win for Record. Not long after this win, Eugene Record passed away at sixty-four years old after losing his battle against cancer on July 22, 2005.

For Frank Reed, when he replaced Eugene Record in 1988 as The Chi-Lites new lead singer he knew he had big shoes to fill. He was often replaced by Anthony Watson. Despite singing the lead on five of the twelve tracks featured on Help Wanted (Heroes Are in Short Supply) he was not mentioned in the credits on the album. He was also a lead vocalist for a local Chicago group, Michigan Avenue. This was a Clarence Johnson creation before it was disbanded. On February 26, 2014, Reed passed away at fifty-nine years old.

It was the same year Marshall Thompson suffered a stroke after a performance on the Soul Train Cruise. As of 2020, Thompson remains the last surviving member of The Chi-Lites. Creadel Jones was the first from this iconic group to pass away on August 25, 1994 at fifty-three years old. Robert Lester passed away on January 21, 2010, as a victim of liver cancer at sixty-seven years old.

In addition to that honor, The Chi-Lites have also been inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame. They also have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. What made The Chi-Lites stand out was the sweet, string-laden soul music that differed from the gritty urban blues the talent pool coming out of Chicago was known for at the time. During the 1970s, there were eleven singles that became top ten hits on the US Billboard R&B singles charts that randed from romantic ballads to powerful protest songs.

Currently, The Chi-Lites has a roster that has Marshall Thompson and his wife, Tara, and Fred Simon. Simon of Lost Generation fame replaced Robert Lester in 2010. In 2018, Warren Tipton has also joined The Chi-Lites as the group continues to perform in concert and in other live appearances.

The legacy of The Chi-Lites so far has eighteen studio albums to their credit, along with fifteen compilation albums, and three number-one singles from a roster of sixty-four. To this day, the influence of this group’s impressive musical performances continues through a long list of successful recording artists like Jay-Z, as well as up-and-comers looking to become stars themselves.

Top 10 Songs By The Chi-Lites

#10 – Give It Away

“Give It Away’ was the first hit single for The Chi-Lites. It was released in 1969, not long after signing up with Brunswick Records in Chicago, Illinois. With Eugene Record as the lead singer, “Give It Away” became a number ten hit on what is now known as the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart. It also peaked as high as number eighty-eight on the US Billboard Hot 100. What “Give It Away” did was introduce the audience to a smooth group of vocalists that became one of the best soul groups ever to come out of the Windy City.

#9 – A Letter to Myself

Released in 1973, “A Letter to Myself” was also the title track behind The Chi-Lites fifth studio album. On the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, it peaked as high as number three. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it climbed as high as number thirty-three. Both the song and the album were among the best material The Chi-Lites ever recorded as a group. For a really great soul-searching song to listen to that goes beyond entertainment value, “A Letter to Myself” is it. While the critics had mixed reviews about the recording, the appeal behind the song was enough to win over a solid fan base who couldn’t get enough of the smooth vocalists who knew how to captivate an audience. From the opening harmonic, this ballad written by Eugene Record acted as a memory piece of a relationship that ran its course but in his own way, kept it going with one letter after another to himself.

#8 – We Are Neighbors

The beauty behind “We Are Neighbors” was written by Eugene Record, along with Quinton Joseph. It was a song designed to relate to people, understanding that we’re all neighbors in a hostile world that seems bent to keep us divided. On the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, it became a number seventeen hit. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked as high as number seventy. The beauty behind “We Are Neighbors” served as an exclamation mark behind the previous hit single The Chi-Lites released, “(For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People.”

In “We Are Neighbors,” the song focused more on the “love thy neighbor” approach instead of hating them simply because they don’t have the same cultural background, lifestyle choices, or religious beliefs. It wasn’t even about skin color. If there was a great song to play today to remind every human being we’re in this together, “We Are Neighbors” is definitely it. Oddly enough, the biggest appeal behind this song came at the very beginning when the knock of the door is followed by Creadel Jones introducing himself as the neighbor who lives next door.

#7 – There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is Seated at the Conference Table)

As a song, “There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is Seated at the Conference Table)” was The Chi-Lites at their best in a 1974 protest song that also became a number eight hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it also peaked as high as number sixty-three.

While The Chi-Lites didn’t make a habit of becoming involved with global and political affairs, there was the odd occasion where the quartet felt it was necessary to add their collective voices the best way they knew how. Again, The Chi-Lites stated the obvious in a song that pointed out that for as long as too many sides conflict against each other over every little thing, peace cannot be obtained without God’s direct say about it. The beauty behind the protest songs performed by The Chi-Lites was tapping into a sensitive subject without going too far with it. In many ways, this song continues to serve as a valuable lesson more people need to learn.

#6 – Homely Girl

In 1974, “Homely Girl” was a number three hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, a number five hit on the UK Singles Chart, and a number fifty-four hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. It also peaked as high as number ten on the Irish Singles Chart and at number ninety-eight in Canada. It was the lead track of The Chi-Lites album, which was a 1973 release. What became a hit for The Chi-Lites at that time also became an international hit for UB40 in 1989 and 1991.

Among listeners who could relate, “Homely Girl” made reference to a woman who was picked on by other children simply because she didn’t fit their idea of what a pretty girl looked like. Throughout the song, The Chi-Lites made it clear this was an opinion they didn’t share. They could see the beauty beyond the surface. This song was a real gem then and it’s still just as priceless today.

#5 – Stoned Out of My Mind

From The Chi-Lites, “Stoned Out of My Mind” became a number two hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, as well as a number thirty hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. This highly entertaining number was released from the group’s self-titled album in 1973 as the first of three singles that would become a hit. The song was about an unfaithful love interest that drove the vocalist beyond the brink of sanity. The cleverly installed “Stoned Out of My Mind” made it easy for a listener to compare the dose of reality to a dose of a controlled substance.

#4 – (For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People

“(For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People” was a protest song performed by The Chi-Lites that was released as a single in 1971. On the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, it became a number four hit. It peaked as high as number twenty-six on the US Billboard Hot 100, as high as number thirty-two on the UK Singles Chart, and at number sixty-three in Canada. Straight from the opening, the discerning listener was already clued in this was the beginning of a great song that was loaded with power and truth that deserved to be heard.

Speaking as a fan who pays a great deal of attention to politics and all the problems plaguing society, if the suggestions made in this song were actually applied by those in authority, the world would much likely be in a better place. The lyrics stated the obvious about the rich getting rich while the poor become poorer. It wasn’t about lifestyle choices or skin color. It was about the morally bankrupt continually bleeding the people dry and using lame excuses to do it. This is still a problem going on today and it seems “Give More Power to the People” needs to be played as a daily reminder to (hopefully) shift the current course mankind is on in favor of a direction that doesn’t result in a dead end.

#3 – Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So)

If it wasn’t for the funky 1970 hit “Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So),” Beyonce likely wouldn’t have recorded and released her Grammy Award-winning, “Crazy in Love.” This was the song, which was written by Eugene Record, that was sampled in her hit single that dominated the music charts at a global level. For the Chi-Lites, this song became a number eight hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and a number seventy-two hit on the US Billboard Hot 100.

However, it became immortalized after Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” which also featured Jay-Z as a contributing vocalist. The music sampled from “Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So)” was an integral part of what became one of Beyonce’s signature hits.

Personally speaking as a fan, what made this song such a gem, to begin with, was the performance of Creadel Jones. His bass explosion was so energetic that if I was asked the question if I was his woman the answer would be obvious.

#2 – Have You Seen Her

“Have You Seen Her” became one of The Chi-Lites signature hits after it was released as a single in 1971. Not only did this song peak at the top of the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart but became certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. From the album, (For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People, this was a song about a heartbroken man whose love interest slipped through his fingers. The appeal behind the song was the attempt to find relief by jokingly sharing his story as if addressing an audience of children.

While some of the radio stations left out the spoken dialogue that was in this song, “Have You Seen Her” became a cult favorite that still remains a fan favorite today. On the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart, this song peaked as high as number three.

In 1975, “Have You Seen Her” and “Oh Girl” were both released as a double A-side recording that managed to peak as high as number five on the UK Singles Chart. Again, this demonstrated how popular “Have You Seen Her” was as an unforgettable number at that time.

Today, “Have You Seen Her” remains one of the most popular classics of all time. In 1990, MC Hammer recorded his own version of this song and it became a major international hit for the R&B/Hip-Hop artist. Just like The Chi-Lites, his version became certified gold by the RIAA.

#1 – Oh Girl

In 1972, “Oh Girl” became a number one hit single on the US Billboard Hot 100, the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and the US Cash Box chart for The Chi-Lites. Regarded as one of the quartet’s signature hits, “Oh Girl” also became certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America after selling over one million copies. From the album, A Lonely Man, “Oh Girl” was a heart-tugging ballad about a relationship that was about to break up. Aside from the incredible vocal talent of The Chi-Lites, the harmonica featured in this dramatic song easily contributed to it becoming an all-time cult classic.

On the UK Singles Chart, “Oh Girl” peaked at number fourteen. In Canada, it charted as high as number nine and it was a number fifty-eight hit in Australia. In 1975, this song was issued again, this time as a double A-side with “Have You Seen Her.” This resulted in “Oh Girl” charting on the UK Singles Chart for a second time, this time peaking at number five.

For Paul Young, he was inspired enough to record his own version in 1990, causing “Oh Girl” to once again hit the official music charts. For Young, this also became one of his signature hits as it charted at least within the top ten nationally and internationally. This included topping the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart, and Canada’s Adult Contemporary Songs chart.

“Oh Girl” was also named one of the top 100 songs of the twentieth century by Broadcast Music, Inc., an announcement that was made on December 13, 1999. It was ranked at number thirty-six in its 1900-1999 listing.

Feature Photo: AxelRudi / Shutterstock

Top 10 Songs By The Chi-Lites article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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