The Detroit Emeralds
The Detroit Emeralds
|Also known as||The Emeralds|
|Origin||Little Rock, Arkansas, United States|
|Years active||Early 1960s–1978|
|Associated acts||The Floaters|
|Past members||Ivory Tilmon|
The Detroit Emeralds were an American R&B/soul vocal group, best known in the early 1970s. They enjoyed a run of successful records in the decade including their 1973 transatlantic hit single, "Feel the Need in Me".
"The Emeralds" were formed as a vocal harmony group in Little Rock, Arkansas, and originally composed of four brothers, Ivory (September 14, 1941 – September 13, 2014), Abrim (January 12, 1945 – July 6, 1982), Cleophus and Raymond Tilmon. After Cleophus and Raymond left, the remaining Tilmon brothers were joined by childhood friend, James Mitchell. Moving to Detroit, Michigan and expanding their name to the Detroit Emeralds, the trio had their first R&B chart success on Ric-Tic Records, with "Show Time" in 1968. 
In 1970, they joined another Detroit-based label, Westbound Records. When touring in Memphis, Tennessee, they recorded some demo tracks at the Hi recording studios, run by top producer Willie Mitchell, to which they added vocals and strings back in Detroit. This approach worked and brought them another hit, "If I Lose Your Love", which was followed by a run of successes including "Do Me Right", "You Want It, You Got It", and "Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms)" which all made the US R&B Top 10, while the latter also reached number 24 on the US Billboard Hot 100 pop chart in 1972.
The song for which they are now best remembered, "Feel The Need In Me", reached number 22 US R&B in 1973 and a new longer version four years later also charted. The original track made the top five in the UK Singles Chart in 1973 and the later production also made the UK chart in 1977 (number 12). "You Want It You Got It" was re-released in the UK as a follow-up to the initial "Feel The Need In Me", also reaching the UK Top 20 in 1973. Abrim Tilmon wrote all of their hits, while also arranging and producing the tracks. The horns and strings were arranged by the Grammy award-winning arranger, Johnny Allen. The horns and strings were recorded in Detroit with Carl Austin as concertmaster and Johnny Trudell leading the horns.
By 1974, the group was falling apart and, at one point, there were two outfits using the name. Abe Tilmon formed one new group using the Detroit Emeralds' name, whilst James Mitchell, along with Marvin Willis, wrote for another group, The Floaters – Paul Mitchell of the Floaters being James's brother. James Mitchell, Ivory Tilmon and Marvin Willis continued touring as the Detroit Emeralds, along with several bands, background vocalists (including Gerald Ervin, first cousin to James Mitchell), and musicians over the years that included The Flaming Emeralds, (Arthur (Buster) Marbury on drums, Kenny Goodman, and Joseph (Jotown) Slanda on guitars and vocals, who also recorded and toured with The Floaters.) The group continued to give live performances and Abe even rejoined James and Ivory for a tour in 1977, while James Mitchell along with Marvin Willis wrote for another group, The Floaters – Charles of the Floaters being James’s brother. “Float On” became one of the fastest-selling singles in the English-speaking world at the time. James Mitchell, Ivory Tilmon and Marvin Willis continued touring with the Detroit Emeralds and their band (Dave Dean on keyboards, Simon Gardner on guitar, Andy Avent on bass and Martin Kautz on drums). They stayed active on the oldies and cabaret circuit for some years.
Abrim Tilmon died on July 6, 1982, at the age of 37, in his Southfield, Michigan home of a heart attack. It was said a reunion of the group was being planned at the time. He was survived by his wife Janyce, son Steve, and daughter Cathy.
|Year||Album||Peak chart positions||Record label|
|1971||Do Me Right||151||23||Westbound|
|1972||You Want It, You Got It||78||37|
|1973||I'm in Love with You||181||27|
|1977||Feel the Need||—||—|
|1978||Let's Get Together||—||—|
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart.|
- Abe, James and Ivory (1973, Westbound)
- Greatest Hits (1998, Westbound)
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1968||"Show Time"||89||22||—||—||—||Non-album single|
|"(I'm an Ordinary Man) Take Me the Way I Am"||—||—||—||—||—|
|1969||"Holding On"||—||—||—||—||—||Do Me Right|
|1970||"If I Lose Your Love"||—||32||—||—||—|
|"I Can't See Myself Doing Without You"||—||41||—||—||—|
|"Just Now and Then"||—||—||—||—|
|1971||"Do Me Right"||43||7||—||95||—|
|"Wear This Ring (with Love)"||91||18||—||—||—|
|"You Want It, You Got It"||36||5||—||—||12||You Want It, You Got It|
|1972||"Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms)"||24||4||—||—||—|
|"Feel the Need in Me"||110||22||—||—||4|
|1973||"You're Gettin' a Little Too Smart"||101||10||—||—||—||I'm in Love with You|
|"I Think of You"||—||—||—||—||27|
|"Lee"||—||79||—||—||—||Abe, James and Ivory|
|1977||"Feel the Need" (re-recording)||90||73||14||—||12||Feel the Need|
|"Set It Out"||—||—||—||—||—|
|1978||"Turn on Lady"||—||—||11||—||—||Let's Get Together|
|"Let's Get Together"||—||—||—||—|
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
Their track "You're Gettin' a Little Too Smart" was sampled by a number of contemporary artists, including Nas, Raekwon, Limp Bizkit, Main Source, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, DJ Krush, Common, Monica, Chill Rob G, and Kendrick Lamar. "Feel the Need in Me" was sampled in Andrea T. Mendoza's 2005 club hit, "Can't Fake It". "Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms)" was sampled by De La Soul in "Say No Go". Equally, "I Don't Just Know About This Girl" was sampled by Method Man on his 2004 album, Tical 0: The Prequel. "Watcha Gonna Wear Now" was sampled by J Dilla for his 2006 album Donuts. Whereas, somewhat earlier, "Feel The Need In Me" was covered in 1974 by Graham Central Station, Bryan Ferry in 1978 (as "Feel the Need"), and in 1983 by Forrest.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 152. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "US Charts > The Detroit Emeralds". Billboard. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
- "CAN Charts > The Detroit Emeralds". RPM. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
- "UK Charts > The Detroit Emeralds". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
- The Detroit Emeralds at AllMusic
- The DETROIT EMERALDS singing "SHOWTIME" their first chart hit (1968)