The Natural Four

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The Natural Four
Origin Oakland, California, U.S.
Genres Rhythm and blues, soul, funk, doo-wop, rock and roll
Years active 1967–1976
Labels Boola Boola, Chess Records, ABC Records, Curtom, Sequel
Associated acts The Impressions, Curtis Mayfield, Leroy Hutson
Past members Al Bowden
Chris James
Allen Richardson
Darryl Cannady
Delmos Whitley
John January
Steve Striplin

The Natural Four was an American R&B group from Oakland, California.


Formed in 1967, the Natural Four first signed with a local Oakland label, Boola Boola Records. The first 45 release was "I Thought you were mine" A side b/w "You Did This for Me". "I Thought you were mine" sold 30,000 locally as it was played on KDIA where it rose to #7 on the chart. "Why Should We Stop Now", was the next 45 which also had the "You Did This for Me" b side. ABC Records saw potential in The Natural Four, due to their local charting, and picked up the group. "Why Should We Stop Now" was rereleased and, ABC then released "The Same Thing in Mind", a remake of their first hit "I Thought You Were Mine", and a cover of The Temptations' "Message From a Black Man", but none of them were as successful as the Boola Boola "I Thought you were mine" and ABC dropped the group.

Chess Records released their single "Give a Little Love" in 1971, and following this lead singer Chris James replaced the rest of the band with an entirely new crew. In 1972, they signed with Curtis Mayfield's label, Curtom Records, and proceeded to release a string of US R&B hits, including one Top 40 breakthrough, 1974's "Can This Be Real". Their three Curtom LPs were produced by Leroy Hutson of The Impressions, but after their third release failed to chart, the group called it quits.

The Curtom releases were re-released in 1999 as a 2-CD package by Sequel.


  • Chris James
  • Allen Richardson
  • John January
  • Al Bowden
  • Chris James
  • Darryl Cannady
  • Steve Striplin
  • Delmos Whitley



Year Title Chart Positions
US Pop Singles US Black Singles
1969 "Why Should We Stop Now" - 31
1974 "Can This Be Real" 31 10
"Love That Really Counts" 98 23
"You Bring Out the Best in Me" - 20
1975 "Heaven Right Here on Earth" - 68
"Love's So Wonderful" - 87
1976 "Free" - 71
"It's the Music" - 82