Black Ivory

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Black Ivory
Black Ivory in 1971
Black Ivory in 1971
Background information
GenresR&B, soul, funk, disco
Years active1969–present
LabelsToday Records
Perception Records
Kwanzaa Records
Warner Bros. Records
Buddah Records
MembersLeroy Burgess
Stuart Bascombe
Russell Patterson
External videos
video icon "Black Ivory Performing their debut single, Don't Turn Around in 1972 Performance on Soul!"

Black Ivory is an American R&B group from Harlem, which had a number of hits in the 1970s, including "Don't Turn Around", "You and I", "Time Is Love", and "Will We Ever Come Together".[1]


Early days[edit]

The group was originally known as the Mellow Souls and formed in Harlem, New York in the summer of 1969. Members included all teenagers, Lawrence (Larry) Newkirk, Froilan (Vito) Ramirez, Michael Harris, Leroy Burgess and Stuart Bascombe. The group got their start by auditioning over the phone with musician Patrick Adams.[2] After meeting with them, he took the group under his tutelage. Adams began to train and develop the group and he decided that five were too many to work with, and Harris left the group. In time, the four remaining members, now calling themselves Black Ivory, began performing at private parties, block parties and social programs. In their second live performance they won a talent show at Roosevelt High School in the Bronx. Adams, in an effort to get the group signed, began negotiations with Gene Redd Jr., for a possible deal with his label Red Coach Records. Redd Jr., was also the manager for the band Kool & the Gang, and in order to give Black Ivory exposure, he arranged for the group to open the show for the Gang at a number of East Coast venues.[3] In 1970 Russell Patterson replaced Ramirez, and Newkirk left the group to pursue higher education. The remaining members Leroy Burgess, Stuart Bascombe and Russell Patterson became the trio we know today as Black Ivory.

The group traveled to Philadelphia and recorded two songs at Sigma Sound Studios produced by Patrick Adams. The songs, "Don't Turn Around" and "I Keep Asking You Questions" would become the "A" and "B" sides of the Black Ivory's first single released on the Today Label, with which Adams had subsequently secured a deal for the group.[4]


The group features songwriter and prolific disco producer Leroy Burgess, Stuart Bascombe, and Russell Patterson.[5] They were managed by Patrick Adams, an executive at the Today/Perception record company. Burgess was the lead voice of the majority of their hits in the early 1970s. Their 1972 debut album, Don't Turn Around, became a top 20 hit spending 19 weeks on the Billboard R&B albums chart and peaking at No. 13.[6] Black Ivory scored three top 40 R&B hits in 1972, including the singles "Don't Turn Around" (No. 38) and "You and I" (No. 32) from their debut album. Another single from that album, "I'll Find a Way (The Loneliest Man in Town)" peaked at No. 46 on the Billboard R&B singles chart. Their single, "Time Is Love", was the third top 40 R&B hit, peaking at No. 37. Other charting singles include "Spinning Around" (No. 45), "What Goes Around (Comes Around)" (No. 44), and "Will We Ever Come Together" (No. 40). Although they recorded several uptempo tracks, such as "Big Apple Rock", "Walking Downtown (On a Saturday Night)", "What Goes Around (Comes Around)" and later, "Mainline" with Russell Patterson as lead singer (written by Burgess, but recorded after he left the group in 1977), they were primarily known for sweet soul ballads.

(l to r) Stuart Bascombe, Leroy Burgess, & Russell Patterson in 2007

Black Ivory appeared on season three of Soul Train on June 1, 1974, and on the PBS television show, Soul! in 1972.[7]

In 1974, Billboard's writer Bob Ford, stated that Black Ivory were one of the best up and coming R&B acts.[8] Early in their career, Black Ivory's songs were covered by other artists on Today/Perception, a common practice with the label. Label-mates J.J. Barnes, The Eight Minutes, Debbie Taylor, and Lucky Peterson all covered Black Ivory tunes.

The group recorded several uptempo songs in the disco vein, such as "Big Apple Rock", "Walking Downtown (On a Saturday Night)", "What Goes Around (Comes Around)" and, later, "Mainline" but, not being known for the style, they were unable to compete when disco became the dominant music style.[9] While he was with Black Ivory, Burgess frequently collaborated with Adams in writing songs. He also wrote the groups' hit, "Mainline", which featured Russell Patterson on lead and was recorded while he was on hiatus from the group.[1][2] After Burgess left in 1977, Bascombe and Patterson continued on as a duo until the early 1980s before disbanding.

In 1995, the group reunited and returned to the stage on the Classic Soul circuit, featuring all three original members, with Stuart Bascombe doing most of the leads.[2] They have been performing and recording together ever since. In recent years, Black Ivory has released a Christmas single entitled "Snow", written by Burgess and Patterson, and in November 2011, Black Ivory composed, produced and released a new album, Continuum on their own label SLR Records.[10]

Black Ivory are one of the featured artists in the award-winning 2018 documentary, Mr. Soul!![11] a film based on the host and executive producer of Soul!, Ellis Haizlip, the first "black Tonight Show". In 1968, Soul! was launched as a local, New York broadcast. In 1969, the series rolled out nationwide on PBS, on WNET Channel 13. Haizlip had produced over 130 hour-long shows featuring an array of guests.

Leroy Burgess and Stuart Bascombe are contributing writers on the single, "Gettin' Up" on rapper and musician Q-Tip's nominated Best Rap Album of The Year, The Renaissance (Q-Tip album), at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards.[12] Rapper Eminem won Best Rap Album of the Year for "Relapse".

Black Ivory celebrated their 50th Anniversary in 2019 in the music industry. They received multiple awards[13][14] and proclamations throughout 2019 commemorating their milestone including a 13-page article in the London magazine, The Soul Survivors.[2] They performed and received awards at London's Famous Jazz Cafe on October 19, 2019.

As of 2023, Black Ivory is one of the only soul/R&B groups from the 1970s who are still performing with all of the original members from their first recordings.[15]

Black Ivory with Record Producer 9th Wonder attending IMSTA Festa at SAE Institute in NYC September 2012


In recent years, some of Black Ivory's work has been sampled by a number of artists.


Formed in Harlem, New York, in 1969.

  • Leroy Burgess (born August 19, 1953)
  • Stuart Bascombe (born January 20, 1954)
  • Russell Patterson (born April 1, 1954)


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions Record label
1972 Don't Turn Around 158 13 Today Records
Baby, Won't You Change Your Mind 188 26
1975 Feel It Buddah Records
1976 Black Ivory
1979 Hangin' Heavy Buddah Records/Arista Records
1984 Then and Now Panoramic Records
2011 Continuum SLR Records
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart.

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album Record label
1991 Black Ivory / Hangin' Heavy Unidisc
1993 Don't Turn Around - A Golden Classics Edition Collectables Records Corp.
1997 Black Ivory Vs Odds and Ends Sequel Records
2000 Spinning Around (The Today Sessions) Castle Music
2009 Black Ivory Meet the Escorts Collectables Records Corp
2012 Black Ivory / Hangin' Heavy Funkytown Grooves
2017 Anthology Play Back Records


Year Title Peak chart positions
US Dance
1971 "Don't Turn Around" 38
"I Keep Asking You Questions"
1972 "You and I" 95 32
"Our Future?"
"I'll Find a Way" 46
"Time Is Love" 37
"Got to Be There"
1973 "Spinning Around" 45
"Find the One Who Loves You"
"We Made It"
"Just Leave Me Some"
1974 "What Goes Around (Comes Around)" 44
"No One Else Will Ever Do"
1975 "Will We Ever Come Together" 40
"Feel It"
"Warm Inside"
"Love Won't You Stay"
"You Mean Everything to Me"
1976 "Walking Downtown (Saturday Night)"
1978 "You Turned My Whole World Around"
1979 "Mainline" 57
1984 "You Are My Lover" 73
1985 "I've Got My Eye on You" 18
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart.


  1. ^ a b Kellman, Andy. "Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved January 21, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d "The Soul Survivors Magazine Issue 84 Page 10". Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  3. ^ "The Soul Survivors Magazine Issue 84". The Soul Survivors Magazine. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  4. ^ "The Soul Survivors Magazine Issue 84 Page 14". Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  5. ^ "Harlem's heartthrobs: Black Ivory". Amsterdam News. June 1, 2018.
  6. ^ "Black Ivory BillBoard Albums Chart". Billboard. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  7. ^ "Soul: The Young People's Show - March 1, 1972 | Soul!". THIRTEEN - New York Public Media. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  8. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (October 19, 1974). "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved September 25, 2020. {{cite web}}: |last1= has generic name (help)
  9. ^ Rizik, Chris (December 30, 2007). "Black Ivory - Biography". SoulTracks. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  10. ^ "Continuum - Black Ivory | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  11. ^ "MR. SOUL! - Film Behind Ellis Haizlip and his TV Program SOUL! - to World Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival". VIMOOZ. April 21, 2018. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  12. ^ "Complete List of Nominees for the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards". E! Online. 2009. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  13. ^ "Past Honorees". rnbmusicsociety1. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  14. ^ "The Soul Survivors Magazine Issue 84 Page 20". Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  15. ^ PERRY, BRANDON A. (July 15, 2016). "They can still 'bring it': Classic groups offer excitement with original members". Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  16. ^ "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx - Raekwon | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  17. ^ "Wu Tang Presents: Wu Massacre - Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  18. ^ Revolt (October 24, 2018). "The Alchemist's 13 most classic tracks".
  19. ^ "Q-Tip's swabs are legendary". Yale News. November 7, 2008.
  20. ^ "52nd Grammy Awards: The Nominees". December 2, 2009. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  21. ^ "Q-Tip". Billboard. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  22. ^ "Q-Tip". Billboard. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  23. ^ "Black Ivory 200 Album Chart". Billboard. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  24. ^ "Black Ivory R&B/Soul Album Chart". Billboard. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  25. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 5/06/72". Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  26. ^ "Black Ivory Billboard R&B Single Chart". Billboard. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  27. ^ "Black Ivory Dance Single Chart". Billboard. Retrieved July 25, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]