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Robbie Rae (born Robert Henry Bevan) grew up in Wales and began his recording career as a pre-teen, though his version of "The Lord's Prayer," sung in Welsh, was banned by the BBC, who considered it blasphemous. Before long, he was touring Europe and had his own television variety show in Wales. Cherrill Yates was born in England but lived in the Canadian province of Ontario as a child and developed an appreciation for R&B, especially the Motown Sound, while living there; following this experience, she moved back to the United Kingdom to continue her musical studies and pursue a singing career. Robbie and Cherrill met in England when Cherrill was performing on Robbie's TV show, and were engaged soon afterward. Since their solo careers in the U.K. kept them apart for too long, Robbie and Cherrill moved to Canada, where they began to perform and record as a duo. The Raes scored their first hit in Canada with a disco-styled remake of Doris Day's "Que Sera Sera" in 1977 and followed it up with their debut album, Winning Combination, the following year. The duo were nominated for two Juno Awards and hosted their own network show called The Raes' Variety Hour on CBC for three hit seasons, but turned down a five-year contract to continue for fear it might negatively impact their record sales.
In a 1979 interview, the Raes maintained that they did not think of themselves as a disco group necessarily, but a group that recorded pop songs with a disco feel. They also maintained that they had no interest in the synthesizer-based "Euro-disco" sound (a la Donna Summer's "I Feel Love"): "We want to sound man-made," Cherrill said. "The disco sound should keep coming from people, not machines."
Their second album, Dancing Up A Storm, was released in 1979. Picked up for U.S. release by A&M, it included their best-known song, "A Little Lovin' (Keeps The Doctor Away)," which became a top-five hit on the Billboard dance club chart. After the record was added by influential radio stations on the East Coast such as WKTU in New York and WRKO in Boston, it entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart and went on to peak at #61 (reportedly it would have charted higher but for a typographical error which showed the song dropping down the chart after a promising start, leading the label to pull all promotion on the record). Robbie and Cherrill toured the U.S. to promote their album and made appearances on American television shows such as Soul Train and American Bandstand but were unable to find lasting success in the American market. The follow-up to "A Little Lovin'," "(I Only Wanna) Get Up And Dance," was another Canadian hit but petered out at #47 on the Dance chart in the U.S. Robbie and Cherrill released one more album in Canada, Two Hearts (not released in the U.S.), in 1980 before the marriage and the act split up.
Both Robbie and Cherrill continued to pursue separate careers after their split. Robbie recorded for Quality Records for a time and was part of a trio called "Robert Bevan" (Robbie's birth name) which also included Jim Gilmour, that split after one album for Virgin Records. In the 1990s, he went on to perform the club circuit in Toronto and for American troops in Saudi Arabia. Afterwards, he moved to Thailand and ran a nightclub there. Robbie died in February 2006 in Phuket, Thailand, following a short illness. Cherrill remarried and has revitalized her career as a fly-on act with Carnival Cruise Lines.
The Raes are still remembered fondly in the United States in the disco fan community, and "Que Sera Sera" and "A Little Lovin'" are still frequently played on oldies radio in Canada.
- The Raes (also known as Winning Combination) (1978)
- Dancing Up a Storm (1979)
- Two Hearts (1980 album) (1980)
- "Don't Shut Me Out" (1976)
- "Oh Me, Oh My" (1976)
- "Que Sera Sera" (1977) - Canada (CHUM) #15
- "All Kinds of People" (1977)
- "Cara Mia" (1977)
- "A Little Lovin' (Keeps the Doctor Away)" (1978) - Canada (CHUM) #11, US Hot 100 #61, US Disco #5
- "(I Only Wanna) Get Up and Dance" (1979) - Canada (CHUM) #13, US Disco #47
- "Don't Turn Around" (1979)
- "Two Hearts" (1980)
- From Wresch Dawidjan (1979). "The Raes - (Wo)Man-Made Disco From The Raes". About.com: Dance Music / Electronica.
- http://jam.canoe.ca/Music/Pop_Encyclopedia/R/Raes.html Canadian Pop Encyclopedia (Canoe.ca)