Blue Magic (band)
Blue Magic is an American R&B/soul music group, one of the most popular Philadelphia soul groups of the 1970s. Founded in 1972, the group's original members included lead singer Ted Mills with Vernon Sawyer, Wendell Sawyer, Keith Beaton, and Richard Pratt. Their most notable songs included smooth soul ballads such as "Sideshow", "Spell", "What’s Come Over Me", "Three Ring Circus" and "Stop to Start".
Blue Magic was formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1974 when former member of The Delfonics, Randy Cain brought in singer-songwriter Ted 'Wizard' Mills to do some writing with the Philly-based WMOT production company and a short time later, the group Shades of Love, featuring Keith Beaton, Richard Pratt, Vernon Sawyer and his brother Wendell, came in for an audition. According to Marc Taylor, in his book 'A Touch of Classic Soul of the Early 1970's', "although the group performed admirably, they lacked a standout lead singer". WMOT execs decided to replace the Toppicks, the act singer-songwriter-producer- Ted Mills recorded with. They inserted the other group they owned contractually called the Shades of Love to join with Ted Mills and renamed the group Blue Magic. They were signed with Atco Records through WMOT in the same year.
Blue Magic were one of the earliest acts produced by Norman Harris, a Philadelphia recording veteran. The group's harmonies were supported by the MFSB studio house band. The early release from their first album in 1974 was "Spell" which went onto R&B charts at number 30, written and co-produced by Ted Mills. Blue Magic broke through in a big way with their first million-selling US Top 10 hit single, "Sideshow". It was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in August 1974. It climbed to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the R&B chart. A follow-up, "Three Ring Circus" also sold well, reaching #36 in the pop chart and #5 R&B. MFSB guitarist Bobby Eli wrote both "Sideshow" and "Three Ring Circus". The group became known mostly for their smooth ballads. The album Thirteen Blue Magic Lane in 1975 maintained the group's popularity and spawned their version of the popular dance number "We're On The Right Track", as well as the hit ballad, "Chasing Rainbows". Blue Magic had two R&B chart singles in 1975 and four in 1976. Another Ted Mills' song, "What's Come Over Me" from their debut album was re-worked as a duet with Margie Joseph dubbed in, alongside Mills' original lead vocals. The new approach saw the song climb to #11 on the R&B chart again in 1975.
The group had their first world tour that year, which lasted for 42 weeks. The tour included 48 states in the United States, five countries in Europe and a 10-day stay in the Philippines. Blue Magic concluded their tour with a two-week engagement in the Virgin Islands. In April 1975, they were chosen as the best new group of the year which earned two Ebony Awards. The first was presented in New York by Aretha Franklin, the second in Florida by the female recording artist, Vanity.
By 1977, the group's popularity was starting to fade as music styles changed and despite the group continuing to record consistently, they failed to chart. Label moves to Capitol (for a reunion with Norman Harris) and then Mirage resulted in some R&B chart action, but no major success. Background singer Richard Pratt left in the 1980s. The next break-up was when Vernon and Wendell Sawyer left. The remaining members, Ted Mills and Keith Beaton hired two other singers and traveled to L. A. to record with Skip Scarborough and members of Earth Wind & Fire on the album called “Message from the Magic” When the original group regrouped, they had some renewed popularity in 1990 with a comeback album, "From Out of the Blue" recorded with lead singer Ted Mills. Also in 1990, The Amsterdam News carried the story of Ted Mills' near-fatal car accident. Mills was then replaced by unknown singers who had no history of professional recordings. Today BLUE MAGIC and Ted Wizard Mills have reunited as "The Real Deal" Blue Magic featuring Ted Wizard Mills. They are once again in concert seeking to be among the very best in classic R&B music.
After surgery in 1996, Ted Mills returned to the music scene as a solo act. He recorded an album for Casablanca that year entitled "This Magic Is Real", featuring a re-make of "Tear It Down." . He then appeared in the touring play, "Girl, He Ain't Worth It", with The Manhattans, Meli'sa Morgan and Tito Jackson, and the play, "Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places". In 2007, Ted Mills recorded the "3 Tenors of Soul" album, with Russell Thompkins, Jr.and William Hart released on Shanachie Records and produced by Bobbi Eli. Blue Magic are known also for their choreography. As a visually oriented group, they have had several television appearances. These include: Soul Train, The Mike Douglas Show, The Jerry Blavat Show, Dancin' On Air, and A.M. Philadelphia.
They have shared the stage with other performers such as The Jacksons, Lionel Richie, The Commodores, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Natalie Cole, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Spinners, Earth, Wind & Fire, New Edition, The Stylistics, Mick Jagger and others. Blue Magic have also sung background vocals for Alyson Williams and the Rolling Stones (in "If You Really Want To Be My Friend" on the album It's Only Rock 'n' Roll).
The group’s discography is represented in a number of compilations, although their original albums were generally unavailable on CD for some years, until their first four studio albums for Atco and a live album with Margie Joseph and Major Harris were re-released individually in the U.S. in 2006.
- members of BLUE MAGIC
- Ted Wizard Mills- lead tenor
- Wendell Sawyer – baritone,lead
- Keith "Duke" Beaton – tenor
- Fernando "Mo" Kee - first tenor
- Vernon Sawyer- tenor
|Year||Album||Peak chart positions||Record label|
|The Magic of the Blue||71||14|
|1975||Thirteen Blue Magic Lane||50||9|
|1977||Message from the Magic||—||—|
|1989||From Out of the Blue||—||48||Columbia|
|1995||My Magic Is Real||—||—||Hot Prod.|
|"—" denotes the album failed to chart|
- Greatest Hits (1986, Omni)
- The Magic of the Blue: Greatest Hits (1990, Atlantic)
- The Best of Blue Magic: Soulful Spell (1996, Rhino)
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions|
|"Look Me Up"||—||36||—||—|
|"Stop to Start"||74||14||—||—|
|"Three Ring Circus"||36||5||26||—|
|1975||"Love Has Found Its Way to Me"||—||45||—||—|
|"What's Come Over Me" (with Margie Joseph)||—||11||—||—|
|"Magic of the Blue"||—||—||—||—|
|"Teach Me (It's Something About Love)"||—||48||—||—|
|1981||"Land of Make-Believe"||—||77||—||—|
|"Seems I Haven't Seen Her||—||—||—||—|
|"Since You Been Gone"||—||—||—||—|
|1989||"Romeo and Juliet"||—||20||—||89|
|"It's Like Magic"||—||31||—||—|
|"—" denotes the single failed to chart|