The Trammps

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Trammps
Origin Philadelphia, United States
Genres Disco, soul
Years active 1972–present
Labels Golden Fleece Records
Atlantic Records
Buddah Records
Philadelphia International Records
Website Official website
Past members Jimmy Ellis
Gene "Faith" Jones
Dennis Harris
John Hart
Steve Kelly
Ron Kersey
Michael Thomas
Stanley Wade
Earl Young
Robert Upchurch
Harold Doc Wade
Dave Dixon

The Trammps were an American disco and soul band, who were based in Philadelphia and were one of the first disco bands.

The band's first major success was with their 1972 cover version of "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart". The first disco track they released was "Love Epidemic" in 1973. However, they are best known for their Grammy winning song, "Disco Inferno", originally released in 1976, becoming a UK pop hit and US R&B hit, then re-released in 1978 and becoming a US pop hit.

The music journalist Ron Wynn noted "the Trammps' prowess can't be measured by chart popularity; Ellis' booming, joyous vocals brilliantly championed the celebratory fervor and atmosphere that made disco both loved and hated among music fans."[1]


The history of the Trammps grew from the 1960s group, the Volcanos, who later became the Moods.[1] With a number of line-up changes by the early 1970s, the band membership included gospel-influenced lead singer, Jimmy Ellis, drummer and bass singer, Earl Young, with brothers, Stanley and Harold 'Doc' Wade. Members of the Philadelphia recording band, MFSB played with the group on records and on tour in the 70s with singer, Robert Upchurch joining later. The group was produced by the Philadelphia team of Ronnie Baker, Norman Harris and Young, all MFSB mainstays who played on the recording sessions and contributed songs.

Their debut chart entry came via an upbeat cover version of the standard, "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart", which became a Top 20 US R&B chart hit in 1972.[1][2]

Their first few recordings were released on Buddah Records, including "Hold Back The Night" which was a hit in the UK and on the Billboard R&B chart in 1973, before a re-release saw it climb the U.S. Hot 100 two years later. Several R&B hits followed during a stay with Philadelphia International subsidiary, Golden Fleece (run by Baker-Harris-Young) before they signed to Atlantic Records.

Their single "Disco Inferno" (1976), which was included on the Grammy Award winning Saturday Night Fever soundtrack in 1977,[3] reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1978.[4]

Other major hits included "Hold Back the Night" (1975) (UK #5[5]) and "That's Where the Happy People Go" (1976). In late 1977, the Trammps released the song "The Night the Lights Went Out" to commemorate the electrical blackout that affected New York City on July 13, 1977.

Their signature song, "Disco Inferno", has been covered by Tina Turner and Cyndi Lauper. In addition, Graham Parker covered "Hold Back The Night" on the "The Pink Parker EP" in 1977, and reached #20 in the UK Singles Chart,[6] and Top 60 in the US.

On September 19, 2005, the group's "Disco Inferno" was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame at a ceremony held in New York. The song was part-written by Ron Kersey, a producer-arranger and a member of MFSB, who also played with Trammps in the 1970s for a time. During the ceremony, the original band members performed together for the first time in 25 years.

Two versions of the group, with differing line-ups, currently tour the nostalgia circuit.[7]

On March 8, 2012, lead singer Jimmy Ellis died at a nursing home in Rock Hill, South Carolina, at the age of 74. The cause of death was not immediately known but he suffered from Alzheimers' disease.[2]

Earl Young's Trammps still continue to record and as at August 2014 have recently released 'Get your lovin while you can' written by the Steals brothers renowned for their Philly hits such as 'Could it be I'm falling in love' for The Detroit Spinners.



Year Title Label US Billboard 200[8] US R&B[8]
1975 The Legendary Zing Album Buddah Records
1975 Trammps Golden Fleece Records 159 30
1976 Where the Happy People Go Atlantic Records 50 13
1976 Disco Inferno Atlantic Records 46 16
1977 The Trammps III Atlantic Records 85 27
1979 The Whole World's Dancing Atlantic Records 184
1980 Mixin' It Up Atlantic Records
1980 Slipping Out Atlantic Records

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Title Label US Billboard 200[8] US R&B[8]
1978 The Best of the Trammps Atlantic Records 139 57


Year Title US Billboard Hot 100[4] US R&B[4] UK Singles Chart[5]
1972 "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart" 64 17 29
1972 "Sixty Minute Man" 40
1973 "Pray All You Sinners" 34
1973 "Love Epidemic" 75
1974 "Where Do We Go From Here" 44
1974 "Trusting Heart" 72
1975 "Hooked for Life" 70
1975 "Rubber Band"
1975 "Hold Back The Night" 35 10 5
1976 "That's Where the Happy People Go" 27 12 35
1976 "Soul Searchin' Time" 67 42
1976 "Disco Inferno" 11 9 16
1977 ""I Feel Like I've Been Livin' (On The Dark Side Of The Moon)" 52
1977 "The Night The Lights Went Out" 80
1978 "Disco Inferno" (re-release) 11 47
1978 "Seasons for Girls" 50
1978 "Soul Bones" 91
1983 "Up On The Hill" 79
1992 "Hold Back The Night" - (KWS features guest vocals from the Trammps) 30

Band members[edit]

  • Jimmy Ellis (lead vocals), 1937–2012.[9]
  • Barrington McDonald (Guitar) 1942 - 2007
  • Gene Faith a.k.a. Gene Jones (original lead vocalist)
  • Dennis Harris (Guitar)
  • John Hart (Organ), 1941–2008 [10]
  • Steve Kelly (vocals)
  • Ron Kersey b. Tyrone G. Kersey - (Keyboards), 1945–2005
  • Michael Thomas (drums)
  • Robert Upchurch (vocals)
  • Harold Doc Wade (Guitar, Vocals)
  • Stanley Wade (Bass, Vocals)
  • Earl Young - (Drums, Vocals), b. 1940
  • Ed Cermanski (Keyboards)

Later members[edit]

  • Jerry Collins - (Vocal)
  • Jimmy Williams - (Lead vocal) [11]

Stan Wade & Robert Upchurch Trammps

  • Dave Dixon - (Vocals)
  • Mike Natalini - (Drums)
  • Rusty Stone - (Bass)
  • Harold Watkins - (Brass)
  • Ruben Henderson - (Brass)
  • Fred Vesci - (Keyboard) [12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Biography by Ron Wynn". Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Dys, Andrew (March 8, 2012). "'Disco Inferno' singer Jimmy Ellis of Rock Hill dies at 74". The Herald (Rock Hill, SC). Retrieved March 9, 2012. 
  3. ^ / Grammy Awards
  4. ^ a b c "Charts & Awards / Billboard Singles". Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 564. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  6. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 417. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  7. ^ Biography at - accessed February 2011
  8. ^ a b c d / Billboard Albums
  9. ^ "Jimmy Ellis Dies at 74; Lead Singer in Dance Band Trammps". March 8, 2012. Retrieved March 9, 2012. 
  10. ^ John Hart Jr., 67, an original Trammp
  11. ^ Lyrics Vault Trammps
  12. ^ Band Members

External links[edit]