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The Chi-Lites (// SHY-lyts) are a Chicago-based smooth soul vocal quartet from the early 1970s, one of the few from the period not to come from Memphis or Philadelphia. They were led by Eugene Record, and scored eleven Top Ten R&B hits from 1969 to 1974.
|Origin||Chicago, United States|
|Genres||Soul, R&B, Pop|
|Years active||1959 – present|
|Past members||Robert Squirrel Lester
Creadel "Red" Jones
The group formed in the late 1950s when the Chanteurs (Record, Robert Squirrel Lester, and Clarence Johnson) teamed up with Marshall Thompson and Creadel "Red" Jones of the Desideros to form the Hi-lites. Wishing to add a tribute to their home town of Chicago, they changed their name to "Marshall and the Chi-Lites" in 1964. Johnson left later that year, and their name was subsequently shortened to The Chi-Lites.
Their major hits came in 1971 and 1972, "Have You Seen Her" and "Oh Girl", the latter a #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 on 27 May 1972. Other transatlantic chart hits followed, although the output became more fragmented as the group's personnel came and went. Bass singer Jones left in 1973, and was replaced in quick succession by Stanley Anderson, Willie Kensey, and then Doc Roberson. Shortly thereafter, Eugene Record left, and David Scott and Danny Johnson entered. More personnel changes ensued, when Johnson was replaced by Vandy Hampton in 1977. The Chi-lites cut some tracks for the Inphasion label in 1979, that appeared on an obscure album for the Excello label.
In 1980, the mid-1960s quartet of Record, Thompson, Jones, and Lester re-formed the Chi-lites. Creadel Jones left for a second time in 1982, and the group would remain a trio. Record left again in 1988, and new lead Frank Reed joined to replace him. Singer Anthony Watson replaced Reed later that year and the duty of lead vocals would alternate between Reed and Watson over the course of the next decade. (Lester took over singing lead on "Oh Girl", while Watson led on their other songs).
In 1997, while returning home from a concert in Pennsylvania, the Chi-Lites were involved in a serious car crash which resulted in both Reed and Thompson's wife Constance being ejected from the vehicle. Constance died from her injuries and Reed had to have a metal plate inserted in his back. "Hold On to Your Dreams" was included on the Help Wanted (Heroes are in Short Supply) album in Constance's honor. Reed was subsequently replaced once again by Watson.
The group was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 2000 and Record made an appearance with the group on stage to perform and accept the award.
Thompson was jailed in 2001 for selling police badges, and Reed returned to fill his position. Upon Thompson's return (bringing his wife Tara with him), Watson left the band, prompting Reed to remain. This line-up of Thompson, Lester, Reed, and Tara Henderson on background vocals would remain until the death of Lester in 2010 from liver cancer. Fred Simon of The Lost Generation joined the group to replace Lester and to perform bass vocals.
Frank Reed died on February 26, 2014.
- Current members
- Marshall Thompson - 1959-2001, 2002-present (born August 24, 1942, Chicago)
- Tara Henderson - 2001-present (born Chicago)
- Fred Simon - 2010-present (born Chicago)
- Former members
- Robert Squirrel Lester - 1959-2010 (born August 16, 1942, McComb, Mississippi; died January 21, 2010, Chicago)
- Eugene Record - 1959-1973, 1980-1988 (born December 23, 1940, Chicago; died July 22, 2005)
- Creadel "Red" Jones - 1959-1973, 1980-1982 (born September 26, 1940, Chicago; died August 25, 1994)
- Clarence Johnson - 1959-1964
- Stanley Anderson - 1973
- Willie Kensey - 1973
- Doc Roberson - 1973
- David Scott - 1973-1980
- Danny Johnson - 1973-1977
- Vandy Hampton - 1977-1980
- Frank Reed - 1988, 1990-1993, 1996-1998, 2001-2014 (born September 16, 1954, Omaha, Nebraska; died February 26, 2014)
- Anthony Watson - 1988-1990, 1993-1996, 1998-2002 (born Mobile, Alabama)
- "January to June 2014". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 2014-03-06.
- Sisario, Ben (July 23, 2005). "Eugene Record, 64, Singer and Writer for Chi-Lites, Dies". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved 2011-11-02.
- The Chi-Lites at the Internet Movie Database
- Chi-Lites official website
- The Chi-Lites at AllMusic
- The Chi-Lites interview by Pete Lewis, 'Blues & Soul' June 1990 (republished March 2010)
- Chi-Lites on Rolling Stone'