Don Gardner

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Don Gardner
Don Gardner.jpg
Don Gardner at the Clef Club of Jazz in Philadelphia in 2012.
Background information
Birth nameDonald Gardner
Born(1931-05-09)May 9, 1931
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedSeptember 4, 2018(2018-09-04) (aged 87)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
GenresRhythm and blues
Occupation(s)Singer, drummer, bandleader, songwriter
Associated actsThe Sonotones
Richard "Groove" Holmes
Dee Dee Ford
Baby Washington

Donald Gardner (May 9, 1931 – September 4, 2018) was an American rhythm and blues singer, songwriter, and drummer. His records included the 1962 pop hit "I Need Your Lovin'", with Dee Dee Ford.


Born in Philadelphia, Gardner started out as a professional musician in 1947 while still at school. He first recorded as a singer on the Gotham label in 1949.[1] By 1953, he formed his own group, the Sonotones, in which he played drums and sang. The group toured on the "Chitlin' Circuit",[2] and Gardner also recorded under his own name, for De Luxe Records and the small Junior label.[1]

Keyboardist Richard "Groove" Holmes left the Sonotones in early 1960, and was replaced by Dee Dee Ford (born Wrecia Holloway, Minden, Louisiana, 1936; died New Orleans, 1972).[3] She had lived in Newark, New Jersey, and sang and played organ in church. When the Sonotones played at the Smalls Paradise club in Harlem, New York, they were heard by blues performer Arthur Crudup, who recommended them to the Fire record label owner Bobby Robinson.[1] He produced a song written by Gardner, I Need Your Loving (also known as Need Your Lovin'), a "gospel-drenched"[1] call-and-response number in the mold of Ike & Tina Turner, and the song became their biggest hit, rising to number 4 on the Billboard R&B chart in 1962 and number 20 on the pop chart.[4] The song was later recorded by Otis Redding, Alexis Korner, Tom Jones, Jackie Wilson, and many others.[5]

Gardner and Ford's previous record company, KC Records, then released an old recording, "Glory of Love", which made number 75 on the pop chart,[6] before Fire released the official follow-up, "Don't You Worry", which reached number 7 on the R&B chart and number 66 pop.[4] After recording an LP for Fire, Need Your Lovin', Gardner and Ford left the label, and – following the death of Gardner's wife in an accident – toured Sweden for a change of scene. They recorded a live album, Quintet in Sweden, released by Sonet Records in 1965 and described as having "a solid R&B base with jazzy overtones that is veering towards early soul", and also recorded several tracks with Freda Payne for her album Freda Payne in Stockholm.[7]

When they returned to the US, Gardner and Ford went their separate ways. Ford wrote the song "Let Me Down Easy", a hit for Bettye LaVette in 1965,[8] but soon retired from the music industry.[1] Gardner continued to perform and record throughout the 1960s and 1970s, releasing a string of singles on various labels including Jubilee, Verve, and Tru-Glo-Town.[9] In the early 1970s, he recorded with Jeanette "Baby" Washington, and their recording on the Master 5 label of "Forever", a minor hit in 1963 for the Marvelettes, reached number 30 on the R&B chart in 1973.[4]


Gardner continued to work as a jazz musician, and had been part of the management of the Clef Club of Jazz in Philadelphia since 1985, serving as Executive Director. Lovett Hines, the current Artistic Director of the Philadelphia Clef Club, was at the hospital when Gardner died, playing the artist's music. "And I just held the telephone to his ear on YouTube," Hines said. "And you could see his reaction with his eyes moving and moving his hand. So he responded to the music, and I'm glad that was the last thing he heard." Gardner died on September 4, 2018 at age 87.[10][11][12]


Chart singles[edit]

Year Single Chart Positions
US Pop[6] US
1962 "I Need Your Loving"
Don Gardner and Dee Dee Ford
20 4
"Glory of Love"
Don Gardner and Dee Dee Ford
75 -
"Don't You Worry"
Don Gardner and Dee Dee Ford
66 7
1973 "Forever"
Baby Washington and Don Gardner
- 30


  • The Don Gardner Trio featuring Jimmy Smith and Bill Davis (recorded 1955, issued 1963)
  • Need Your Lovin' (Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford, 1962)
  • The Don Gardner and Dee Dee Ford Quintet In Sweden (1965)
  • The Exciting Jimmy Smith With The Don Gardner Trio (1969)
  • Lay A Little Lovin' On Me (Baby Washington & Don Gardner)
  • Very Best Of Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford (1999)

as guest artist[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Don Gardner and Dee Dee Ford", Black Cat Rockabilly. Retrieved 4 November 2016
  2. ^ Transcription of Interview with Donald Gardner of the Philadelphia Clef Club, WestPhillyMusic. Retrieved 4 November 2016
  3. ^ Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues - A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers. p. 309. ISBN 978-0313344237.
  4. ^ a b c d Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 165.
  5. ^ "I Need Your Loving", Retrieved 4 November 2016
  6. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 271. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
  7. ^ Freda Payne in Stockholm, Retrieved 4 November 2016
  8. ^ Songs written by Dee Dee Ford, Retrieved 4 November 2016
  9. ^ Don Gardner, Retrieved 4 November 2016
  10. ^ "Philly jazz artist Don Gardner passes away at age 87".
  11. ^ "Philadelphia Soul and Jazz Pioneer Donald Gardner Dies at 87". NBC 10 Philadelphia. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  12. ^ "Donald Gardner, 87, executive director of the Philadelphia Clef Club". Retrieved 19 December 2018.

External links[edit]