He was born in Arkansas, but moved to Compton, California. He first recorded while a student at Compton High School as a member of The Cymbals in 1962, and worked as a member of a band, the Creators.
Hughes recorded for Vee-Jay Records in the 1960s before its demise, scoring hits in 1965 with the singles, "Oo Wee Baby, I Love You" (#3 R&B and #23 Pop) and "You Can't Take it Away" (another Top 20 R&B hit, #96 pop), written by producer Richard Parker, Vee Jay's A&R chief on the West Coast. The singer's career struggled after his label's collapse, although he had a couple of singles released on Exodus, run by Vee Jay personnel briefly in 1966, and another two later on Chess Records.
In 1969, Hughes signed with another Chicago label, Brunswick Records and although failing to reach the pop charts, two releases for the label became R&B successes, "Baby Boy" at #25 and "I Understand" at #45.
According to his blog, Fred Hughes is often confused with Freddie Hughes, an Oakland, California recording artist, and Castlemont High School graduate. The 1988 edition of Joel Whitburn's "Top R&B Singles" Billboard-based book lists releases by both artists together as if they were one artist, and AllMusic Guide's brief biography of Fred Hughes conflates the two artists, but it is worth noting that later editions of Whitburn's "Top Pop Singles" do separate the two artists, as of the 1994 edition.
Freddie Hughes recorded "Send My Baby Back", which was also a top 20 R&B hit. On the strength of this hit, Wand Records released an album of the same name. Freddie Hughes recorded with several Oakland and Berkeley groups including the Melkeets, the Four Rivers, Music City Soul Brothers, the Casanova Two and he shared a producer, Lonnie Hewitt, with the Ballads. He recorded "Send My Baby Back" on Lonnie Hewitt's Wee Records and when the record became popular, it was leased to Wand. He also recorded "I Just Found Out" with Janus Records. Freddie Hughes also sang on Bobby Murray's 1996 debut album, The Blues is Now.
- Whitburn, J (1994)"Billboard Top Pop Singles" Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research
- Propes, S & Gart, G (2001)"L.A. R&B Vocal Groups 1945-1965" Milford, NH: Big Nickel Publ
- Biography, Allmusic.com
- Billboard Pop Singles, Allmusic.com
- Whitburn, J (1988)"Top R&B Singles 1942-1988" Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research
- Thom Owens. "The Blues is Now". Allmusic. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
- "10 life-affiirmingNorthern soul tracks and the stories behind them". www.nme.com. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
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