Founding members Walter Vickers (guitar) and Rodney Taylor (drums) were U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa, Japan. After being transferred to Camp LeJeune in North Carolina, they enlisted fellow Marines Billy Hill and Rudolph Johnson as group members. Next they added a female lead singer, Anita Humes, another Marine.
In 1963, a demo earned them a recording contract with Roulette Records. They recorded "Easier Said Than Done" in 20 minutes. The song was written by Larry Huff and William Linton, who said that the beat was inspired by the sound of multiple teletype machines, noisy mechanical beasts pounding out copy in the base's communications room. Released as their first single, the song reached the top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. The track sold over one million records and received a gold disc award from the R.I.A.A. "Easier Said Than Done" reached #41 in the UK Singles Chart in August 1963.
Rudolph Johnson left the group, and the Essex became a quartet. Three months after "Easier Said Than Done" reached #1 in July 1963, the group had a #12 hit with the follow-up song, "A Walkin' Miracle" in September 1963. On the label of this single, the group name appeared as 'The Essex Featuring Anita Humes.' The next single, "She's Got Everything," written by Jimmy Radcliffe and Oramay Diamond was a #56 hit. Marine duties made it hard for the group to take advantage of their hits; for example, before long, Johnson was posted to Okinawa. Rodney Taylor was killed in 1966 in New York City during an attempted mugging. He was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Gary, Indiana. All of his former band mates attended his funeral.
- "Easier Said Than Done" (b/w "Are You Going My Way?"): The Essex - Roulette 4494 (1963)
- "A Walkin' Miracle" (b/w "What I Don't Know Won't Hurt Me"): The Essex featuring Anita Humes - Roulette 4515 (1963)
- "She's Got Everything" (b/w "Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind"): The Essex - Roulette 4530 (1963)
- "What Did I Do" (b/w "Curfew Lover"): Anita Humes And The Essex - Roulette 4542 (1964)
- 1963 Easier Said Than Done - Roulette SR25234 (stereo) - U.S. albums chart #119
- 1963 A Walkin' Miracle - Roulette SR25235 (stereo)
- 1964 Young & Lively - Featuring Anita Humes with The Essex - Roulette SR25246
Band member origins
- Walter Vickers - New Brunswick, New Jersey
- Rodney Taylor - Gary, Indiana
- Rudolph Johnson - New York
- Billy Hill - Princeton, New Jersey
- Anita Humes - Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
- List of artists who reached number one in the United States
- List of artists who reached number one on the Billboard R&B chart
- List of R&B musicians
- "Biography by Jason Ankeny". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 158/9. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 186. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Thedeadrockstarsclub.com - accessed May 2011