The Manhattans

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The Manhattans
The Manhattans.png
The Manhattans in 1972
Background information
Origin Jersey City, New Jersey, United States
Genres Rhythm and blues
Years active 1962–present
Labels Carnival Records, Columbia Records, King Records

The Manhattans are an American popular R&B vocal group, with a string of hit records spanning four decades, their best known million-selling songs being 1976's "Kiss and Say Goodbye" and 1980's "Shining Star".[1]

Early history[edit]

The Manhattans, originally from Jersey City, New Jersey, formed in 1962 with members George "Smitty" Smith (born Dec 18, 1939, Florida), Edward "Sonny" Bivins (born January 15, 1936, Macon, Georgia, died December 3, 2014), Winfred "Blue" Lovett (born November 16, 1940, New Jersey, died December 10, 2014), Kenny "Wally" Kelley (born Kenneth Kelley, January 9, 1941, New Jersey), and Richard "Ricky" Taylor. Bivins, Lovett, and Kelley were graduating from Lincoln High School, while Taylor and Smith were graduating from Snyder High School.[2] All five enlisted in the armed forces and came together as a group following their discharges from their respective branches.

The group's first single was "For the Very First Time," released in 1964 by Carnival Records. They continued recording successfully with songs written by various members of the group. In 1968, the group received the "Most Promising Group" award by NATRA. In 1969, the group moved to the De Luxe record label, a subsidiary of King Records, subsequently embarking on a college tour. While playing at Kittrell College in North Carolina, the group met another group, the New Imperials, featuring Gerald Alston, nephew of The Shirelles' lead singer, Shirley Alston-Reeves. They were so impressed with Alston that they asked him to join the group, but he declined.

Misfortune hit the group late in 1970 when George Smith fell down a flight of stairs and later took ill. Unable to perform, the group began to search for a new lead. First they attempted to woo The Cymbals' lead, Lee Williams, but he was unwilling to leave them. The group then renewed their request to Gerald Alston (born November 8, 1951, North Carolina), who accepted and took over the lead spot. Original lead singer George Smith died of a brain tumor on December 16, 1970.

The Manhattans continued recording throughout the 1970s with Alston singing lead vocals. They struck chart gold in 1973 with the Bivins-written song [There's No me Without You]. Then their biggest song to date was "Kiss and Say Goodbye," written by Blue Lovett and arranged/co-produced with the group by the Philadelphia-based record producer Bobby Martin, a former member of the MFSB band of session musicians. The song quickly became a #1 chart topper on both the US Billboard Pop and R&B charts. It also became only the second single to go platinum[citation needed], after the RIAA introduced the award in 1976. Taylor left in 1976 to concentrate on his conversion to Islam. He died in 1987 after a long illness. The group continued as a quartet, and found further success in March 1980 with the release of "Shining Star," which reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #4 on the R&B Chart. Produced and co-written by the Chicago-based record producer, Leo Graham, it received a Grammy Award the following spring.

The song "Just The Lonely Talking again", originally recorded by The Manhattans on their 1983 album Forever By Your Side, was later recorded by Whitney Houston on her second studio album Whitney (1987).

The group celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1985 with the release of Too Hot To Stop It. It included the Evans/Smith-penned "When We're Made As One," originally recorded in 1966 but covered in an a cappella, doo wop style to emphasize the group's doo wop roots. The album was also dedicated to George Smith.

The group continued until 1988. That year, Alston left to record as a solo artist, scoring with several major R&B hits in the late 1980s and early 1990s for Motown. Roger Harris was recruited as the new lead singer for the group, which moved to the new label, Valley Vue, when their Columbia recording contract expired.

Later history[edit]

The group's largest shake-up was in December 1990, when Blue Lovett left the group, upon his Doctor request for health reasons. And Kenny Kelley left to return to college to pursue his PhD. Bivins continued along with lead singer Roger Harris who had replaced Gerald Alston in 1988-89 along with new members. He recruited new members Charles Hardy & Harsey Hemphill, who in October 1990 had auditioned for Bivins but didn't come aboard until after Lovett & Kelly left at the end of 1990. In early 1991 Bivins added Alvin Pazant, bringing the group back to a quintet. Harris proved to be only a short-term lead, and in April 1991 he was replaced by Wade Taylor. Taylor was replaced in July 1991 when Bivins recruited Lee Williams, the person whom they had originally wanted to replace George Smith.

In the 2000s, there were two versions of The Manhattans. One version featured Original founding member Bivins, plus Hardy, Hemphill, Pazant and Williams. They released the CD Manhattans Now in 1994. In 1996 the group formed their own full service music corporation company called Manhattan Entertainment Inc. In 2003 and 2007 they were featured artists in two theater plays, Girl He Aint Worth It and The Chicken Shack. In June 2013, the group released a single called "Just For Tonite" written by Bivins and Pazant.

The other version of The Manhattans featured original member Blue Lovett and Gerald Alston, lead singer on the group's biggest hits. Other members include Troy May and David Tyson, brother of The Temptations' Ron Tyson. In the past, the group also featured Eban Brown, now the lead vocalist for The Stylistics. This group has also released some CDs, including Even Now. This version of the group was featured in two PBS specials and performed at casinos and theaters across the United States. Alston appeared on Wu-Tang Clan's album, 8 Diagrams, on the song "Stick Me for My Riches" in 2007.

Edward "Sonny" Bivins, Founding member of the Manhattans, died on December 3, 2014. He sang on every Manhattans hit since the group's inception, and wrote many of their hit songs. And continued to lead the Manhattans, up until his death. Bivins was 78 years old.[3]

Winfred "Blue" Lovett, the group's original bass singer and songwriter, died on December 9, 2014, at the age of 74. His bass voice was heard on many Manhattans hits, including the spoken word intro to "Kiss and Say Goodbye".[4]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Chart positions[5][6] US
Record label
1966 Dedicated to You 19 Carnival
1967 For You and Yours
1970 With These Hands De Luxe
1972 A Million to One 35
1973 There's No Me Without You 150 19 Columbia
1974 That's How Much I Love You 160 59
1976 The Manhattans 16 6 37 Gold
1977 It Feels So Good 68 12 Gold
1978 There's No Good in Goodbye 78 18
1979 Love Talk 141 20
1980 After Midnight 24 4 Gold
1981 Black Tie 86 21
1983 Forever by Your Side 104 17
1985 Too Hot to Stop It 171 44
1986 Back to Basics
1989 Sweet Talk Valley Vue
2001 Even Now Beemark
2007 Reachin' for the Sky KRB Music
2008 Men Cry Too S.D.E.G.
"—" denotes the album failed to chart or was not certified

Live albums[edit]

Year Album Chart positions Record label
1999 Live from South Africa Classic World
"—" denotes the album failed to chart

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album Chart positions[5] Record label
1980 Greatest Hits 87 18 Columbia
1990 Dedicated to You: Golden Classics, Part 1 Collectables
Sing for You & Yours: Golden Classics, Part 2
1995 The Best of the Manhattans: Kiss and Say Goodbye Columbia/Legacy
2000 Love Songs
2002 Super Hits
I'm the One That Love Forgot Collectables
2008 Sweet Talking Soul 1965-1990 Shout! Factory
"—" denotes the album failed to chart


Year Single Chart Positions[6][8]
1964 "For the Very First Time"
"There Goes a Fool"
1965 "I Wanna Be (Your Everything)" 68 12
"Searchin' for My Baby" (A-side) 135 20
"I'm the One That Love Forgot" (B-side) 135
"Follow Your Heart" 92 20
1966 "Baby I Need You" 96 22
"Can I" 23
"I Bet'cha (Couldn't Love Me)" 128 23
"It's That Time of the Year"
1967 "All I Need Is Your Love"
"When We're Made as One" 31
"I Call It Love" 96 24
1968 "I Don't Wanna Go"
"'Til You Come Back to Me"
1969 "The Picture Became Quite Clear"
1970 "It's Gonna Take a Lot to Bring Me Back" 36
"If My Heart Could Speak" 98 30
"From Atlanta to Goodbye" 113 48
1971 "Let Them Talk"
"I Can't Stand for You to Leave Me"
1972 "A Million to One" (A-side) 114 47
"Cry If You Wanna Cry" (A-side) 48
"One Life to Live" 102 3
1973 "Back Up" 107 19
"Rainbow Week"
"There's No Me Without You" 43 3
"Do You Ever" 40
"You'd Better Believe It" 77 18
"Wish That You Were Mine" 19
1974 "Summertime in the City" 45
"Don't Take Your Love" 37 7
1975 "Hurt" 97 10 4
1976 "Kiss and Say Goodbye" 1 1 12 4
"I Kinda Miss You" 46 7
1977 "It Feels So Good to be Loved So Bad" 66 6
"It's You" 43
"We Never Danced to a Love Song" 93 10
1978 "Am I Losing You" 101 6
"Everybody Has a Dream" 65
1979 "Here Comes the Hurt Again" 29
"The Way We Were"/"Memories" (medley) 33
1980 "Shining Star" 5 4 21 45
"Girl of My Dream" 30
"I'll Never Find Another (Find Another Like You)" 109 12
1981 "Do You Really Mean Goodbye?"
"Just One Moment Away" 19
"Let Your Love Come Down" 77
1982 "Honey, Honey" 25
1983 "Crazy" 72 4 63
"Forever by You Side" 30
1985 "You Send Me" 81 20 8
"Don't Say No" 60
1986 "Where Did We Go Wrong?" (with Regina Belle) 42
1987 "All I Need" 41
1989 "Sweet Talk" 67
"Why You Wanna Love Me Like That" 62
1990 "I Won't Stop" 79
2001 "Nites Like This"
2013 "Just for Tonite"
"—" denotes the release failed to chart


  1. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 346. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ "Manhattans, legendary group with Jersey City roots, to be spotlighted in TV documentary". 2014-01-31. Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  3. ^ "The Dead Rock Stars Club 2014 July To December". Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "The Manhattans original Member Dead At 74". Black America Web. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "US Albums Charts > The Manhattans". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-06-25. 
  6. ^ a b "UK Charts > The Manhattans". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2010-06-25. 
  7. ^ "US Certifications > The Manhattans". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2010-06-25. 
  8. ^ "US Singles Charts > The Manhattans". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 

External links[edit]