Brothers Clarence and Lowman Pauling, originally, founded the gospel group, Royal Sons Quintet during the early 1950s. The name change to the Royals came about when the music style changed. It was changed again after an incident in 1953 resulted due to having an identical band name belonging to its star, Hank Ballard. To end the confusion, the North Carolina-based Royales simply became the “5” Royales. The quotations around the number were put into place as there were actually six members to this band at the time, not five.
As vocalists, the band also featured Obadiah Carter, Otto Jeffries, Jimmy Moore, and Johnny Tanner. Tanner was the lead singer whose voice was instrumental in catapulting the 5 Royales as chart-hitters in the genre of R&B music. This is the same group that is noted for bringing soul into the music industry that elevated the genre of R&B to a whole new class level. From 1951 until 1965, the “5” Royales mostly remained as a solid band with only one real lineup change. Eugene Tanner, the younger brother of Johnny Tanner, replaced Otto Jeffries near the latter years of the band’s existence.
The band broke up in 1965 due to pursuing other personal endeavors, but some did concert tours together, using the group’s name, up until the 1970s. Before the official breakup, the “5” Royales produced nine forty-fives, through the recording label of Apollo Records. Through King Records, there were thirty-five. As of August 16, 2008, the final surviving member of the “5” Royales, James Moore, passed away after battling a long-term illness at the age of eight-two.
There were four more compilation albums that featured music from the “5” Royales, starting with 1994’s Monkey Hips and Rice: The “5” Royales Anthology, then 1995’s The Apollo Sessions, followed by 2005’s It’s Hard But It’s Fair: King Hits and Rarities, and finally 2014’s The Definitive “5” Royales: Home of the Blues & Beyond.
Top 10 “5” Royales Songs
#10 – You Know I Know
In 1952, the debut single, “You Know I Know,” became the first official hit for the “5” Royales, who were originally known as The Royals at the time. Between the success of this song, plus the band’s tour, confusion came about as another band having the same name, who hailed out of Detroit, Michigan. On the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, You Know I Know reached number eight. This soulful classic served as a sign of things to come for a group that would see chart-hitting after chart-hitting hit for the next seven years.
#9 – Thirty Second Lover
In 1957, “Thirty Second Lover” climbed up to number nine on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The beach-like kickoff to this playful song may or may not have served as a trigger for the 1960s music to become flooded with hits by California-style pop-rock but it definitely contributed to the swing-craze that would later bring about a number of new dance styles, including disco.
#8 – Crazy, Crazy, Crazy
“Crazy, Crazy, Crazy” was released in 1953 and became a number five hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The start of the song served as a rhythmic train-style intro to a song that’s rich with blues and soft jazz glory. The saxophone solo is what truly made this song a standout piece.
#7 – Cry Some More
In 1954, “Cry Some More” became a number eight hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. This beautiful, swingy ballad was blues music at its finest. The plea to win back his love is so well performed that it could serve as an ideal come-back-to-me song for any music fan who’d like to use it for their own attempts to win back lost lovers.
#6 – I Do
In January 1954, “I Do” became the seventh hit single for the “5 Royales,” who were firmly establishing themselves to be more than one-hit wonders in the industry of soul music. When singing as a group, this song already is beautiful enough without the need for instruments to come into play. Once that piano began, it simply added to the song’s appeal so much more.
#5 – Too Much Lovin’ (Much Too Much)
On the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, “Too Much Lovin’ (Much Too Much)” climbed up to number four when it was released in 1953. Hot with that piano, plus some jazzy swing to go with it, the “5” Royales seemed to outdo themselves with this single when they first recorded it. Added with some swing, it was understandable why listeners couldn’t get enough as soon as they first heard it.
#4 – Help Me Somebody
For five weeks, on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, “Help Me Somebody” remained at the top and climbed as high as number five on the US Billboard Hot 100 when it was released in 1953. Heavy with blues, swing, and jazz, this sad song of a lonely man who lost his love became an easy favorite among the fans who could relate to the lost love experience themselves.
#3 – Think
In 1957, “Think” became a number nine hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, as well as number sixty-six on the US Billboard Hot 100. This soul-rich hit was covered in 1960 by the legendary James Brown, who radically reworked the song to turn it into a funky, jazzy, rhythmic number. The plucky guitar, plus the background clap, and the vocal performance all contributed to Think having that twangy twist that made it so popular.
#2 – Dedicated to the One I Love
“Dedicated to the One I Love” was the best-known hit for the”5″ Royales as Johnny Tanner’s vocal talent was absolutely epic, as well as the backup performance by the rest of the band members. The song was released not once, but twice. The first time was in 1957 and it became a number thirteen hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In 1961, when it was released a second time, it charted at number eighty-one on the US Billboard Hot 100.
The popularity of this soulful song was so great that a number of artists covered it, including the most successful version by the Mamas & the Papas, which graced a number of music charts worldwide, charting as high as number two on the US Billboard Hot 100, and earning top-ten ranks among nations such as Australia, Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK.
#1 – Baby Don’t Do It
Although not as well known as the big hit that received so much coverage by a wide variety of artists, “Baby Don’t Do It” was soul music at its finest, and performed no better than the “5” Royales. When the single reached number one on the R&B National Best Sellers chart, which is now known as the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, it remained there for three weeks. It was released in 1952, at a time when the group was still young, and at a time where hints of gospel-style music were still evident in the new, soulful impact on the R&B genre.
Top 10 The “5” Royales Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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