back to profile

The Moonglows Biography

As rhythm & blues innovators with an exquisite vocal blend, the Moonglows were among the finest black harmony groups of the Fifties. They served to bridge the smoother approach of groups like the Ink Spots and the Mills Brothers with the earthier sounds of rock and roll. The Moonglows, at least part of whose career found them in league with deejay Alan Freed, heralded the revolution that was to come on the strength of such doo-wop singles as “Sincerely" and “See Saw,” which were all sizable hits on both the pop and R&B charts in the mid-Fifties.

The Moonglows came together in Cleveland in the early Fifties from an alliance between Harvey Fuqua and Bobby Lester, who’d previously sung together in their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. They called their jazzy vocal group the Crazy Sounds, but Alan Freed renamed them the Moonglows. They recorded one single for Freed’s Champagne label and five for Chicago-based Chance Records before Phil Chess brought them over to his Chess label, where they remained from 1954 to 1961. The Moonglows’ productive stay on Chess ranged from the vocally innovative “Sincerely,” their biggest hit (#1 R&B, #20 pop), to the Platters-influenced “Ten Commandments of Love” (#9 R&B, #22 pop). When the group reshuffled its lineup in 1959, a young Marvin Gaye became one of the new members. Subsequently, Gaye became a star at Motown while Moonglows founder Harvey Fuqua, who’d already been writing songs with Motown founder Berry Gordy, served as an in-house producer and songwriter.

 

The Moonglows