Switch (band)

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Switch
Also known as White Heat, Hot Ice
Origin Mansfield, Ohio, United States
Genres R&B, funk
Years active 1976–present
Labels RCA, Polydor, Gordy, Total Experience
Members Gregory Williams
Eddie Fluellen
Phillip Ingram
Michael McGloiry
Akili Nickson
James Strong
Michael Norfleet
Derek Organ
Past members Bobby DeBarge
Tommy DeBarge
Jody Sims
Attala Giles
Renard Gallo
Gonzales Ozen
Howie Carbaugh
Christopher Hawkins
Anthony Watters

Switch was an R&B/funk band that found fame recording for the Gordy label in the late 1970s, releasing hit songs such as "There'll Never Be", "I Call Your Name" and "Love Over & Over Again". Switch influenced bands such as DeBarge, which featured the siblings of Switch band members Bobby and Tommy DeBarge.[1][2][3][4]

Biography[edit]

Early years[edit]

The group, was formed in Mansfield, Ohio in 1976/77, by leader/member Gregory (Greg) Williams when Bernd Lichters came from Germany to help Greg to form the new band, rented a home, buying a van, a Fender Rhodes 88 keyboards and recording a demo tape in Columbus, Ohio. Switch included brothers Tommy DeBarge and Bobby DeBarge from Grand Rapids, Michigan, along with Akron, Ohio natives Phillip Ingram (brother of James Ingram), Eddie Fluellen and Jody Sims (originally from Steubenville, Ohio). Greg Williams, Bobby DeBarge and Jody Sims were initially members of Barry White's group, White Heat. This project had one record release on RCA in 1975, but the group's tenure proved to be short-lived, as Barry White closed his own Soul Unlimited Productions and dropped all of the acts signed to his production company, including White Heat.

Success years[edit]

Eventually changing their name to Switch due to their ability to switch to different lead vocalist and instruments during a song, Greg and Jody met and got the attention of Jermaine Jackson, former member of The Jackson 5 and husband of Hazel Gordy (daughter of Motown Chief Berry Gordy, Jr.), who heard the group's demo tape. Within weeks, the group was signed to the Motown Records subsidiary label, Gordy. They recorded and released their self titled debut album some 18 months later in 1978, which featured their first Top 10 R&B hit single, entitled "There'll Never Be".

Their songs were written by Williams, Bobby DeBarge and Jody Sims, often in collaboration with Jermaine Jackson. Though they never managed to cross over into the pop singles chart, they were a consistent presence on the R&B charts through the late 1970s with albums such as Switch II from 1979 (their second release), This Is My Dream and Reaching For Tomorrow in 1980. Their final release on Gordy was Switch V, released in 1981. Songs such as "I Wanna Be Closer", "We Like to Party", "I Call Your Name", "Best Beat in Town" and "Love me Over and Over Again" also became hits for the group.

Later years[edit]

Shortly after the DeBarge brothers left Switch to mentor their younger siblings in the group DeBarge, and lead singer Phillip Ingram left to pursue a solo career, Switch took on new vocalist and musicians: singer Renard Gallo, Gonzales Ozen and bassist Phil Upchurch Jr. This configuration of Switch signed with Total Experience (well known home of their contemporaries The Gap Band) and recorded a final album Am I Still Your Boyfriend in 1984, breaking up later that year.

In 1991, Motown released a greatest hits compilation album by the band. A similar version on the 20th Century Masters series released more recently is all that remains in print of this band.

Former lead singer Bobby DeBarge died of AIDS-related complications in Grand Rapids, Michigan on August 16, 1995 at age 39.

Switch has since reunited, featuring original members founder/leader Gregory Williams, Eddie Fluellen, Phillip Ingram, original sessions/on stage guitarist Michael McGloiry, and new members Akili Nickson, Michael Norfleet, James Strong and Derek Organ.

Personnel[edit]

  • Gregory Williams (1976–present): vocals, keyboards, trumpet
  • Eddie Fluellen (1977–present): keyboards, trombone, vocals
  • Phillip Ingram (1976-1982; present): vocals, keyboards, percussion
  • Michael McGloiry (original session guitarist) (1978-??; present): guitar
  • Bobby DeBarge (1977-1981): vocals, piano/keyboards, drums
  • Tommy DeBarge (1976-1981): vocals, bass guitar
  • Jody Sims (1976-1984): vocals, drums
  • Attala Giles (1981-1984): guitar, bass, keyboards
  • Renard Gallo (1982-1984): vocals, percussion
  • Gonzales Ozen (1982-1984): vocals, percussion
  • Howie Carbaugh (1985-1987): Drums
  • Christopher Hawkins (1985-1987): Vocals
  • Anthony Watters (1985-1987): Guitar
  • Akili Nickson(2003–present): lead vocals
  • Michael Norfleet(2003–present): Keyboards, vocals
  • James Strong(2006–present): Bass, vocals
  • Derek Organ(2006–present): Drums, vocals

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions Record label
US
[5]
US
R&B

[5]
CAN
[6]
1975 White Heat [A] RCA
1977 Pall Mall Groove [B] Polydor
1978 Switch 37 6 72 Gordy
1979 Switch II 37 8 84
1980 Reaching for Tomorrow 57 23
This Is My Dream 85 21
1981 Switch V 174 48
1984 Am I Still Your Boyfriend? Total Experience
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.
  • A Album credited to White Heat.
  • B Album credited to Hot Ice.

Compilations[edit]

  • The Best of Switch (1991, Motown)
  • 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Switch (2001, Motown)

Singles[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Album
US
[5]
US
R&B

[5]
US
Dan

[5]
CAN
[6]
UK
[7]
1978 "There'll Never Be" 36 6 60 Switch
1979 "I Wanna Be Closer" 22
"Best Beat in Town" 69 16 65 Switch II
"I Call Your Name" 83 8
1980 "Don't Take My Love Away" 41 Reaching for Tomorrow
"Love Over and Over Again" 9 This Is My Dream
1981 "You and I" 57
"I Do Love You" 73 Switch V
1982 "Call On Me" 70
1984 "Switch It Baby" 55 Am I Still Your Boyfriend?
"Keeping Secrets" 61
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Vibe Magazine". vibemagazine.com. October 2007. p. 110. 
  2. ^ All music guide to soul: the definitive guide to R&B and soul. 2003. p. 660. 
  3. ^ "The DeBarge Family". Unsung. TV One. 2008.  More than one of |website= and |work= specified (help);
  4. ^ "Music Interviews: DeBarge Family Recounts Rocky Musical Journey". NPR. 2008. Retrieved March 012.  More than one of |website= and |work= specified (help);
  5. ^ a b c d e "US Charts > Switch". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-12-21. 
  6. ^ a b "CAN Charts > Switch". RPM. Retrieved 2012-12-21. 
  7. ^ "UK Charts > Switch". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2012-12-21. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Gonzales, Michael A. (October 2007). "Broken Dreams". Vibe. pp. 108–115. 
  • Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (August 1, 2003). All Music Guide to Soul: The Definitive Guide to R&B and Soul. Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-0-87930-744-8. 

External links[edit]