William DeVaughn

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William DeVaughn
Birth name William Edward DeVaughn Jr.
Born (1947-11-28) November 28, 1947 (age 67)
Washington D.C., United States
Genres R&B, soul
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1972–1980;
occasionally since
Labels Roxbury Records
Mighty Two Diamond Records
Associated acts MFSB

William Edward DeVaughn Jr. (born November 28, 1947, in Washington D.C.)[1] is an American R&B/soul singer, songwriter and guitarist, best known for the million-selling hit song "Be Thankful for What You Got" in 1974.


DeVaughn was a salaried government employee as a drafting technician and part-time singer.[2] DeVaughn wrote a song called "A Cadillac Don't Come Easy", which was eventually re-written to become "Be Thankful for What You Got", in 1972. He spent 900 dollars towards getting it recorded with Omega Sound [a Philadelphia production house][3] The record's producer John Davis, a member of the MFSB studio session group, at Omega came up with a smooth arrangement, eventually booking time to record at Sigma Sound Studio, the top studio in Philadelphia, used by Philadelphia International Records. Studio owner and chief engineer Joe Tarsia recorded and mixed the track.

The session featured members of the MFSB group — guitarists Norman Harris and Bobby Eli, drummer Earl Young, vibraphonist Vince Montana and percussionist Larry Washington; secured by Allan Felder, who also developed the separate ad-lib back-up chorus with his sister's vocal group.[4] John Davis played keyboards on the track. Frank Fioravanti, the executive producer and co-ordinator, secured the song's release on Roxbury Records, a subsidiary of Chelsea Records, run by industry veteran, Wes Farrell.[5]

The record sold nearly two million copies on its release in spring 1974, reaching #1 on the U.S. R&B charts and #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[6] The track saw two chart entries in the UK, with the record peaking at #31 (1974) and also #44 (1980), in the UK Singles Chart.[7] With a sound and content influenced by Curtis Mayfield, its simple and encouraging lyrics hit home, to the extent that it became featured on gospel radio stations. When his success as a recording artist seemed guaranteed, DeVaughn quit his government job. On sites like Youtube Devaughn is often confused with Curtis Mayfield but Curtis never recorded "Be Thankful ForWhat You Got or A/K/A/ Diamond In The Back ... Diamond In The Back refers to modified cars with Cabriolet upholstery on Cadillac roof and diamond back rear window whereby the Cadillac Revealed the glass section in a Diamond Shape design on cars customized to be labeled Gangster Cadillacs.

DeVaughn released an album, featuring mainly songs with a religious character, and the second single, "Blood Is Thicker Than Water", reached #10 R&B and #43 pop later in 1974; "Give the Little Man a Great Big Hand" had only minor R&B chart success early the following year.[8] Live, DeVaughn preached to and admonished his audience from the stage. He lost interest in the music industry not long afterwards, working in a record store and again as a draftsman.

Fioravanti kept DeVaughn under contract[citation needed] hoping to eventually get him to record again, but it was not until 1980 that they would hook up for a new project. Fioravanti gave the album, named after a new song by DeVaughn, Figures Can't Calculate to TEC Records in Philadelphia. The title song climbed to #37 in the Billboard R&B chart and a remake of "Be Thankful for What You Got" was also included on the album. TEC failed to pay out royalties.[citation needed] Soon after, DeVaughn recorded a Fioravanti tune, "Creme de Creme", released in Europe on the Red Bus label and on Excaliber in the UK. In 2004, DeVaughn released a new single, "I Came Back", on his own Mighty Two Diamond Records.[citation needed] In 2014, 2 previously unreleased tracks were featured on Sound Gems Records oldies compilation Lost Soul Gems ,songs written by Fioravanti and veteran writers...." Staying Power" and "Love Ballad of the Year.



  1. ^ U.S. Public Records Index, Volume 1
  2. ^ Drafting technician: Nathan, citing an unspecified 1974 issue of the British magazine Blues & Soul. Singer: Nathan, citing an unspecified 1980 interview in Blues and Soul.
  3. ^ Sigma Sound[vague]
  4. ^ Sigma Sound[vague]
  5. ^ Sigma Sound[vague]
  6. ^ Chart positions and sales figure: Nathan.
  7. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 152. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  8. ^ Nathan.


  • Nathan, David. Notes for William DeVaughn: Be Thankful for What You Got: A Golden Classics Edition. Collectables [sic] CD COL-5271. Collectables [sic] Record Corp., 1994.

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