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Blue Magic (band)

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Blue Magic
Blue Magic in a 1973 promotional photograph
Blue Magic in a 1973 promotional photograph
Background information
OriginPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
GenresR&B, Philadelphia soul, soul
Years active1972–present
LabelsATCO, Capitol, OBR, Mirage

Blue Magic is an American R&B and soul group, and one of the more popular Philadelphia soul groups of the 1970s. Founded in 1972, the group's original members included lead singer Ted Mills with Vernon Sawyer, Wendell Sawyer, Keith Beaton, and Richard Pratt. Their most notable songs included smooth soul ballads such as "Sideshow", "Spell", "What’s Come Over Me", "Three Ring Circus", and "Stop to Start".[1]



Blue Magic was formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1972 when former member of The Delfonics, Randy Cain, brought in singer-songwriter Ted Mills to do some writing with the Philly-based WMOT production company to create a new band. A short time later the group Shades of Love, featuring Keith Beaton, Richard Pratt, Vernon Sawyer and his brother Wendell, came in to audition. (According to Marc Taylor in his book A Touch of Classic Soul of the Early 1970s, "although the group performed admirably, they lacked a standout lead singer".) The execs decided to replace the Toppicks, the act Mills recorded with. They inserted Shades of Love (which they owned contractually) with Ted Mills and retitled the group Blue Magic. They were signed with Atco Records through WMOT in the same year.

First album[edit]

The group was one of the earliest acts produced by Norman Harris, a Philadelphia recording veteran.[2] The group's harmonies were supported by the MFSB studio house band.[2] Their first song release in 1973 was "Spell" which went onto the US Billboard R&B chart peaking at No. 30 (it was written and co-produced by Mills). They were known for making dreamy ballads and their choreographed stage moves.[3]

Their second release was the uptempo "Look Me Up"; which reached number 36, stayed on the R&B chart for 11 weeks, and was popular on the early disco scene. Their next single was the ballad "Stop to Start". This hit was even more successful, reaching number 14 on the Billboard R&B chart and number 74 on the pop chart. The next single release became their first Billboard US top 10 R&B and Pop hit, "Sideshow".[2] It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA on August 16, 1974.[4] It climbed to number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the R&B chart.[5] The Blue Magic album also went gold. In addition to the four hit singles, it also included another Richard Dickson inspired creation, the hit ballad "What's Come Over Me", a seven-minute rendition of the Main Ingredient million seller "Just Don't Want to Be Lonely", the solid album closer "Tear It Down", and the uptempo "Welcome to the Club".

The first single from their 1975 follow-up album The Magic of the Blue, entitled "Three Ring Circus", also sold well,[2] reaching number 36 in the pop chart and number 5 R&B. MFSB guitarist Bobby Eli and Vinnie Barrett co-wrote both "Sideshow" and "Three Ring Circus".[6]

Because their biggest hits were slower songs, the group became known mostly for their ballads.

Success and third album[edit]

The album Thirteen Blue Magic Lane in 1975 maintained the group's popularity, and spawned their version of the popular dance number "We're on the Right Track", as well as the ballad "Chasing Rainbows". The song "What's Come Over Me" from their debut album was re-worked as a duet with Margie Joseph dubbed in alongside Mills' original lead vocals. The new approach saw the song climb to number 11 on the R&B chart again in 1975.[7] In total, the group had two R&B chart singles in 1975 and four in 1976.

The group had their first world tour that year which lasted for 42 weeks. The tour included 48 states in the United States, five countries in Europe and a 10-day stay in the Philippines. They concluded their tour with a two-week engagement in the Virgin Islands.

Blue Magic were known also for their choreography. As a visually oriented group, they had several major television appearances, including Soul Train, The Mike Douglas Show, The Jerry Blavat Show, Dancin' on Air, and A.M. Philadelphia.

In April 1975, they were chosen as the best new group of the year which earned two Ebony Awards. The first was presented in New York City by Aretha Franklin, the second in Florida by the female recording artist Vanity.

They have shared the stage with other performers such as The Jacksons, Lionel Richie, The Commodores, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Natalie Cole, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Spinners, Earth, Wind & Fire, New Edition, The Stylistics, Mick Jagger and others.

The group also contributed background vocals for Alyson Williams and the Rolling Stones (on the song "If You Really Want To Be My Friend" from the album It's Only Rock 'n' Roll).

Decline in popularity[edit]

By 1977, the group's popularity had faded with the rise of disco and changing music styles, and despite the group continuing to record consistently they failed to chart. Subsequent label moves to Capitol Records for a reunion with Norman Harris (who had left two years earlier) and then the smaller label Mirage resulted in some smaller R&B charting, but no major success.[2]

Disbanding and regrouping[edit]

Background singer Richard Pratt left in the early 1980s. After sibling singers Vernon and Wendell Sawyer left, the remaining two members Mills and Beaton hired two other singers and traveled to Los Angeles, California, to record with Skip Scarborough and some members of the popular group Earth Wind & Fire on the album Message from the Magic.

In 1988, the original group got back together and had some renewed popularity in late 1989 with the album From Out of the Blue. Also in 1989, they appeared on the song "To Be Your Man", the third single from Big Daddy Kane's second album, It's a Big Daddy Thing.

In 1990, The Amsterdam News carried the story of Mills' near-fatal car accident. After surgery in 1996, Mills returned to the music scene as a solo act, recording an album for Casablanca Records that year entitled This Magic Is Real, featuring the remake of "Tear It Down". The other members of the group brought in new lead Rod Wayne (real name Roderick Bronaugh), who remained with the group until 2004. Bronaugh went on to teach at Tennessee State University.[8]

The 2000s–present[edit]

Mills appeared in the touring play, Girl, He Ain't Worth It with The Manhattans, Meli'sa Morgan and Tito Jackson, and appeared in the play Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places. In 2007, Mills recorded the album 3 Tenors of Soul with Russell Thompkins, Jr., original lead singer of The Stylistics, and William Hart of The Delfonics released on Shanachie Records and produced by Bobby Eli.[9]

Mills appeared and gave two concerts for the audiences at the 2014 Soul Train Cruise in February 2014 on the Holland America Eurodam.

On March 11, 2018, Blue Magic reunited to appear on the television series, Unsung on TV One season 12, episode 4.[10]

On July 14, 2018, Mills rescued a man from a burning car on route 22 in Hillside, New Jersey. "I knew it was somebody trapped in there and needed help getting out," said Mills, a Summit resident. "It was flipping in the direction that I was driving."[11]

Former lead Ted Mills continues to pursue a solo career. The name was formally trademarked by Wendell Sawyer and Keith Beaton some years earlier. Vernon Sawyer has his own version of the group, while Richard Pratt led another one at the time of his death in 2022.

Former lead vocalist Rod Wayne died in 2016.[12]

Richard Pratt (born on June 30, 1952) died on March 1, 2022, at the age of 69.[13]

Keith Beaton (born on July 30, 1950) died on January 13, 2023, at the age of 72.[14][15]

Original members[edit]

  • Ted Wizard Mills - lead tenor
  • Wendell Sawyer – lead baritone
  • Keith "Duke" Beaton – tenor (died 2023)
  • Richard Pratt - bass (died 2022)
  • Vernon Sawyer- baritone[2]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions Record label

1974 Blue Magic 45 4 42 ATCO
The Magic of the Blue 71 14
1975 Thirteen Blue Magic Lane 50 9 ATCO/WMOT
1976 Mystic Dragons 170 44
1978 Message from the Magic ATCO
1981 Welcome Back Capitol
1983 Magic # 52 Mirage
1989 From Out of the Blue 48 OBR, Columbia
1995 My Magic Is Real Hot Prod.
2020 Share a Dream Essential Media Group
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Live albums[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

  • Greatest Hits (1986, Omni)
  • The Magic of the Blue: Greatest Hits (1990, Atlantic)
  • The Best of Blue Magic: Soulful Spell (1996, Rhino)


Year Single Peak chart positions


1973 "Spell" 30
"Look Me Up" 36
"Stop to Start" 74 14 59
1974 "Sideshow" 8 1 35 68 5
"Three Ring Circus" 36 5 26 62 87
1975 "Love Has Found Its Way to Me" 45
"Chasing Rainbows" 17
"What's Come Over Me" (with Margie Joseph) 11
"Magic of the Blue"
1976 "Grateful" 104 15
"Freak-N-Stein" 73
"Teach Me (It's Something About Love)" 48
"Summer Snow" 40
1977 "I Waited"
1981 "Land of Make-Believe" 77
"Seems I Haven't Seen Her"
1983 "See Through"
"Magic #" 69
"Since You Been Gone"
1989 "Romeo and Juliet" 20 89
"It's Like Magic" 31
"Secret Lover"
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


  1. ^ Halliburton, Karen (January 29, 2020). "Blue Magic's Wendell Sawyer discusses the magic of the blue". 50BOLD. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Colin Larkin, ed. (1993). The Guinness Who's Who of Soul Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 23. ISBN 0-85112-733-9.
  3. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Blue Magic Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved June 11, 2016.
  4. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 343. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  5. ^ "Blue Magic Songs • Top Songs / Chart Singles Discography". Music VF. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  6. ^ "Blue Magic | Songs". AllMusic. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "US Charts > Blue Magic". Billboard. Archived from the original on May 6, 2013. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  8. ^ "Roderick Bronaugh". Tnstate.edu. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
  9. ^ Rizik, Chris (July 30, 2017). "Blue Magic original members reunite for "Unsung" episode". Soul Tracks. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  10. ^ "Watch Unsung: Blue Magic". Tvone.tv. March 12, 2018. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  11. ^ "R&B legend saves young man from burning car". Nj.com. August 23, 2018. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  12. ^ Rizik, Chris (November 15, 2016). "R.I.P. former Blue Magic lead singer Rod Wayne". Soul Tracks. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  13. ^ "Richard Dawson Pratt, Sr. June 30, 1952 ~ March 1, 2022 69 Years Old". Harris Funeral Home & Cremations. Retrieved March 2, 2023.
  14. ^ "Blue Magic Member Keith Beaton Dies at 72". Maurice Watts.com. January 27, 2023. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  15. ^ "Legendary Blue Magic singer Keith Beaton dies at 72". Soul Tracks. January 14, 2023. Retrieved January 14, 2023.
  16. ^ a b "CAN Charts > Blue Magic". RPM. Archived from the original on February 27, 2015. Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  17. ^ David Kent (1993). Australian Charts Book 1970—1992. Australian Chart Book Pty Ltd, Turramurra, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  18. ^ "UK Charts > Blue Magic". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 14, 2011.

External links[edit]