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The Dazz Band is an American funk music band that was most popular in the early 1980s. Emerging from Cleveland, Ohio, the group's biggest hit songs include the Grammy Award-winning "Let It Whip" (1982), "Joystick" (1983), and "Let It All Blow" (1984). The name of the band is a portmanteau of the description "danceable jazz".
The Dazz Band grew out of the Cleveland, Ohio, in 1976 stemming from the jazz fusion band Bell Telefunk. Founded by Bobby Harris, The Dazz Band has performed since 1976 and continues to perform in 2015. Original Kinsman Dazz/ Dazz Band members included Bobby Harris, (saxophonist, vocalist) Kenny Pettus, (lead vocalist, percussions) Isaac "Ike" Wiley, Jr., (drums) his brother Michael Wiley (bassist), and Michael Calhoun (guitarist) . The group was originally named Kinsman Dazz at the suggestion of Ray Calabrese, who would later become the band's manager along with Sonny Jones, owner of The Kinsman Grill, located near the street Bobby Harris grew up on, and where the band worked as a house band. The Dazz Band adopted its name prior to the release of the song "Dazz" which became an R&B hit for Atlanta's Brick in 1976 as the groups Founder/ Leader Jimmy Brown confirms.
Kinsman Dazz was signed to 20th Century Records in 1977 and the group expanded from the original quintet consisting of Harris, Calhoun, Pettus, and the Wiley brothers and adding newcomers Ed Meyers (trombone), Wayne Preston (saxophonist), and Les Thaler (trumpet). In 1977, the group went to Los Angeles to record with producer Marvin Gaye. Due to illness, Gaye was unable to complete the project. Bobby Harris requested and got Philip Bailey, the vocalist of Earth, Wind & Fire, to produce the group's first album Kinsman Dazz. They released their first single, "I Might as Well Forget About Loving You" in 1978. Philip Bailey made significant contributions to the group's vocal arrangements and overall sound. He went on to co-produce the second album, Dazz in 1979 when the band achieved their second charting hit "Catchin' Up On Love".
In 1980, The Kinsman Dazz changed its name to The Dazz Band after being signed to Motown Records which simultaneously included a re-organization of members. Wayne Preston, Les Thaler were no longer with the group and Sennie "Skip" Martin, (trumpet, vocalist) Pierre DeMudd (trumpet, vocalist) and Kevin Kendricks (keyboards) were added. In 1981 guitarist Eric Fearman was also added.
The Dazz Band's first album for Motown was Invitation to Love(1980). The bands title track "Invitation to Love", began a string of hits for the band starting in March, 1981. The group's next album, Let The Music Play (1981), featured the hit single "Knock! Knock!", reaching the Top 50. The Dazz Band's breakthrough came with the hit "Let It Whip" written and produced by Reggie Andrews off of the Keep It Live (1982) album ."(Let It Whip)" reached No. 1 on the R&B charts, and achieved a Grammy Award and continues in recurring radio and Sirius XM rotation. Members of the Grammy Award Winning Dazz Band included: Sennie "Skip" Martin, Pierre DeMudd, Bobby Harris, Eric Fearman, Kenny Pettus, Steve Cox, Keith Harrison, Michael Wiley & Isaac Wiley. Reggie Andrews masterful knowledge of music and smooth temperament brought musical stability that would make an everlasting mark on The Dazz Band's history. The Dazz Band continued to score R&B hits with the songs such as "Party Right Here" (1983), "On the One For Fun" (1983) "Joystick" (1983), and "Let It All Blow" (also their biggest UK hit single, peaking at #12) (1984).
Reggie Andrews produced five albums including: Let The Music Play (1981), Keep It Live (1982), On the One (1983), Joystick (1983), Jukebox (1984) under the Motown label. The album Hot Spot (1985) also under Motown, was produced by Bobby Harris. The Dazz Band was known for its high energy live performances, often proving more popular than the headlining act. After winning the Grammy in 1982, Keith Harrison (1983)(vocalist, keyboards) was added to the group. In 1985 both Eric Fearman and Sennie "Skip" Martin (trumpet, vocalist) left the group and were replaced by guitarist Marlon McClain and the search began for additional vocalists that would match The Dazz Band sound. In 1986, The Dazz Band recorded Wild & Free (1986) featuring Jerry Bell as lead vocalist for one song entitled "It's Alright" on Geffen Records. While featured on some background vocals on the Wild & Free album Jerry Bell contributed to no other recordings with The Dazz Band. The Dazz Band signed with RCA records in 1988 and released the album Rock the Room which charted with the single Anticipation featuring vocals from Juan Lively (vocalist). From 1994-2001 Terry Stanton (vocalist) contributed on the following albums including: Funkology (1994), and Under the Streetlights (1995) Lucky Records. After 20 years as lead vocalist with Kool & The Gang, Skip Martin returned to The Dazz Band in 1998, and shared lead vocals with Terry Stanton on the albums Here We Go Again (1998) on Intersound Records, and Time Traveler (2001) on Major Hits Records.
Following the infusion of rap into American music, many classic Funk/R&B/Soul acts performing in the US began performing abroad. In the late 1990's Bobby Harris, along with the support of business entrepreneur Bo Boviard and long time friend and band member Marlon McClain, decided to revitalize funk in America and called upon members from the BarKays, Confunkshun, Charlie Wilson of The Gap Band the SOS Band, and The Dazz Band, for a project entitled 'United We Funk All-Stars'. A studio album followed that included the late Roger Troutman of Zapp. The concept was a success, and was captured on a live CD (Major Hits Records) promoted by syndicated radio host Tom Joyner. Tom Joyner became the featured host for the UWF-All Stars shows. The 'United We Funk All-Stars' successful concept set the template of using one common rhythm section to back multiple Artists; a template that is emulated by many touring Artists today. September 23, 2000 issue of Billboard Magazine also credited Bobby Harris as the instigator behind Charlie Wilson's first solo project Bridging The Gap serving as an executive producer on the album also on the Major Hits Record label. The album achieved a #1 hit single "Without You."
- Bobby Harris - saxophone, clarinet, background vocals
- Sennie "Skip" Martin - trumpet, vocals
- Donny Sykes - vocals
- Wayne Preston 1977-1979
- Les Thaler 1977-1979
- Ed Meyers 1977-1981
- Michael Wiley 1977-1988
- Isaac Wiley, Jr 1977-1985
- Michael Calhoun 1977-1981
- Kenny Pettus 1977-1986, 1998-2001
- Kevin Kendrick 1979-1981
- Steve Cox 1981-1985
- Eric Fearman 1981-1985
- Pierre DeMudd 1980-1988
- Keith Harrison 1983-1988
- Marlon McClain 1984-2014
- Juan Lively 1985
- Jerry Bell 1986
- Terry Stanton 1994 -2001
- Nathaniel Philips 1995-1998
- Raymond Calhoun 1998-2001
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions||Label|
|US 200||US R&B|
|1980||Invitation to Love||-||-||Motown|
|1981||Let the Music Play||154||36||Motown|
|1982||Keep It Live||14||1||Motown|
|1982||On the One||59||12||Motown|
|1986||Wild & Free||178||37||Geffen|
|1988||Rock the Room||-||91||RCA|
|1996||Under the Streetlights||-||42||Lucky|
|1998||Here We Go Again||-||99||Intersound|
|2001||Time Traveler||-||-||Major Hits Records|
|US Hot 100||US R&B||US Dance|
|1980||"Shake It Up"||-||65||75||Invitation to Love|
|1981||"Invitation to Love"||109||51||-||Invitation to Love|
|1981||"Knock Knock"||-||44||-||Let the Music Play|
|1982||"Let It Whip"||5||1||2||Keep It Live|
|1982||"Keep It Live (On the K.I.L)"||-||20||-||Keep It Live|
|1983||"On The One For Fun"||-||9||52||On the One|
|1983||"Cheek To Cheek"||-||76||-||On the One|
|1983||"Party Right Here"||-||63||-||On the One|
|1984||"Swoop (I'm Yours)"||-||12||-||Joystick|
|1984||"Let It all Blow"||84||9||3||Jukebox|
|1985||"Hot Spot"||-||21||33||Hot Spot|
|1986||"L.O.V.E. M.I.A."||-||48||-||Wild & Free|
|1986||"Wild and Free"||-||44||-||Wild & Free|
|1988||"Anticipation"||-||38||-||Rock the Room|
|1988||"Single Girls"||-||19||38||Rock the Room|
|1988||"Open Sesame"||-||83||-||Rock the Room|
|1998||"Ain't Nothin' but a Jam Y'all"||-||58||-|
|1998||"Girl Got Body"||-||81||-||Here We Go Again|
National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal-1982 "Let It Whip"
Proclamation from City of Cleveland Mayor George V. Voinovich designating December 31, 1982 as "Bobby Harris and The Dazz Band Day" "for bringing home another first in Cleveland via the eight-member Dazz BAnd, that has escalated to Motown fame."
IAAM Diamond Award For Excellence Bobby Harris- United We Funk June 9, 2000 Association Presented to Bobby Harris of The Grammy Award Winning Group The Dazz Band For Many Years of Entertaining The World
Recognition from the United States Military Presented to The Dazz Band for Outstanding Performance and Continued Dedication to Our Deployed U.S. Service Members and Civilians "Operation Iraqi Freedom" 2008, 2009, 2010
- Petkovic, John (2013-08-23). "Legendary Dazz Band, from Cleveland's Kinsman neighborhood, hits Beachland Ballroom on Friday". The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio). Retrieved 2013-11-03.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 144. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Thompson, Dave (2001). Funk. Backbeat Books, pp. 243–245. ISBN 0-87930-629-7
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