Dazz Band

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Dazz Band
Bobby Harris, singer and saxophone player with the funk band "The Dazz Band," sings to Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers
Bobby Harris, singer and saxophone player with the funk band "The Dazz Band," sings to Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers
Background information
Also known asKinsman Dazz (1977–80)
OriginCleveland, Ohio, United States
Years active1977–present
Past members
  • Wayne Preston
  • Les Thaler
  • Ed Meyers
  • Michael Wiley (deceased)
  • Isaac Wiley, Jr.
  • Michael Calhoun
  • Kevin Kendrick
  • Steve Cox
  • Eric Fearman
  • Pierre DeMudd (deceased)
  • Juan Lively
  • Kenny Pettus
  • Jerry Bell
  • Terry Stanton (deceased)
  • Nathaniel Philips
Michael G. Jackson (deceased)

The Dazz Band is an American R&B, funk band most popular in the early 1980s. Emerging from Cleveland, Ohio, the group's biggest hit songs include the Grammy Award-winning "Let It Whip" (1982), "Joystick" (1983), and "Let It All Blow" (1984). The name of the band is a portmanteau of the description "danceable jazz".


The Dazz Band grew out of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1976 stemming from the jazz fusion band Bell Telefunk. Founded by Bobby Harris,[1] The Dazz Band has performed since 1976 and continues to perform today. Original Kinsman Dazz/ Dazz Band members included Bobby Harris (saxophonist, vocalist), Kenny Pettus (lead vocalist, percussions), Isaac "Ike" Wiley, Jr. (drums), his brother Michael Wiley (bassist), and Michael Calhoun (songwriter/guitarist). The group was originally named Kinsman Dazz at the suggestion of Ray Calabrese, who would later become the band's manager along with Sonny Jones, owner of The Kinsman Grill, located near the street Bobby Harris grew up on, and where the band worked as a house band.[2]

Kinsman Dazz was signed to 20th Century Records in 1977 and the group expanded from the original quintet consisting of Harris, Calhoun, Pettus, and the Wiley brothers and added newcomers Ed Meyers (trombone), Wayne Preston (saxophonist), and Les Thaler (trumpet). In 1977, the group went to Los Angeles to record with producer Marvin Gaye. Due to illness, Gaye was unable to complete the project. Leader Bobby Harris requested and got Philip Bailey, the vocalist of Earth, Wind & Fire, to produce the group's first album Kinsman Dazz. They released their first single, "I Might as Well Forget About Loving You" in 1978. Philip Bailey made significant contributions to the group's vocal arrangements and overall sound. He went on to co-produce the second album, Dazz in 1979 when the band achieved their second charting hit "Catchin' Up On Love".

In 1980, The Kinsman Dazz changed its name to The Dazz Band after being signed to Motown Records which simultaneously included a re-organization of members. Wayne Preston and Les Thaler were no longer with the group, and Sennie "Skip" Martin, (trumpet, vocals), Pierre DeMudd (trumpet, vocals; April 20, 1953 – May 10, 2017),[3] and Kevin Kendricks (keyboards) were added. In 1981 guitarist Eric Fearman was also added.

The Dazz Band's first album for Motown was Invitation to Love (1980). The bands title track began a string of hits starting in March, 1981. The group's next album, Let The Music Play (1981), featured the hit single "Knock! Knock!", reaching the Top 50. The Dazz Band's breakthrough came with the hit "Let It Whip" written and produced by Reggie Andrews off of the Keep It Live (1982) album . "Let It Whip" reached No. 1 on the R&B charts, and achieved a Grammy Award and continues in recurring radio and Sirius XM rotation. Members of the Grammy Award Winning Dazz Band included: Sennie "Skip" Martin, Pierre DeMudd, Bobby Harris, Eric Fearman, Kenny Pettus, Steve Cox, Keith Harrison, Michael Wiley & Isaac Wiley. Reggie Andrews' masterful knowledge of music and smooth temperament brought musical stability that would make an everlasting mark on The Dazz Band's history. On December 31, 1982 during The Dazz Band's New Year's Eve concert at the Front Row in Cleveland, Mayor George V. Voinovich presented Bobby Harris and The Dazz Band with the Key to the City of Cleveland with proclamations from the State of Ohio.[4] The Dazz Band continued to score R&B hits with the songs such as "Party Right Here" (1983), "On the One For Fun" (1983) "Joystick" (1983), and "Let It All Blow" (also their biggest UK hit single, peaking at #12) (1984).[5]

Reggie Andrews produced five Dazz Band albums including: Let The Music Play (1981), Keep It Live (1982), On the One (1983), Joystick (1983), Jukebox (1984) under the Motown label. Bobby Harris was the Associate Producer on all five albums, and Producer of the album Hot Spot (1985) also on Motown. The Dazz Band is known for its high energy live performances, often proving more popular than the headlining act. After winning the Grammy in 1982, Keith Harrison (1983)(vocalist, keyboards) was added to the group. In 1985 both Eric Fearman and Sennie "Skip" Martin (trumpet, vocalist) left the group and were replaced by guitarist Marlon McClain; and the search began for additional vocalists that would match The Dazz Band sound. In 1986, The Dazz Band recorded Wild & Free (1986) which featured Jerry Bell as lead vocalist."Geffen Records. The Dazz Band signed with RCA records in 1988 and released the album Rock the Room which charted with the single Anticipation featuring vocals from Juan Lively (vocalist). From 1994-2001 Terry Stanton (vocalist) contributed on the following albums including: Funkology (1994), and Under the Streetlights (1995) Lucky Records. After serving as lead vocalist with Kool & The Gang for many years, Sennie "Skip" Martin returned to performing and recording with The Dazz Band in 1997 and recorded on Double Exposure (1997) live in Seattle Washington, and shared lead vocals with Terry Stanton on Time Traveler (2001) on Major Hits Records. In 2014, Bobby Harris added vocalist Donny Sykes to the band. The Dazz Band released their first single in almost 20 years "Drop It" on Bogi Music Group label in 2019, and is scheduled to release additional new music in 2020.

1990s revival[edit]

Following the infusion of rap into American music, many classic funk/R&B/soul acts performing in the US began performing abroad. In the late 1990s, Bobby Harris, along with the support of business entrepreneur Bo Boviard and long time friend and band member Marlon McClain, decided to revitalize funk in America and called upon members from the Bar-Kays, Con Funk Shun, Charlie Wilson of The Gap Band, The SOS Band, and The Dazz Band, for a project entitled 'United We Funk All-Stars'.[6] A studio album followed that included the late Roger Troutman of Zapp. The concept was a success, and was captured on a live CD (Major Hits Records)[6] promoted by syndicated radio host Tom Joyner. Tom Joyner became the featured host for the UWF-All Stars shows. The 'United We Funk All-Stars' successful concept set the template of using one common rhythm section to back multiple artists; a template that is emulated by many touring Artists today. September 23, 2000 issue of Billboard Magazine also credited Bobby Harris as the instigator behind Charlie Wilson's second solo project Bridging The Gap serving as an executive producer on the album also on the Major Hits Record label. The album achieved a #1 hit single "Without You."

Trademark dispute[edit]

In November 2012, former Kinsman Dazz member Michael Calhoun applied for registration of the Kinsman Dazz Trademark along with Raymon W. Phillips (unknown). Michael Calhoun was released from the group in 1981. Robert "Bobby" Harris filed petition to cancel the fraudulent mark in April 2015, and Harris' cancellation of the Kinsman Dazz mark was granted in August 2015, by the United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.[7][8]

In January 2014, Michael Calhoun, Jerry Bell, Ed Meyers, Robert Young, and Larry Blake applied for the Dazz Band trademark. In March 2015, the mark was registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Upon learning of both registrations, Bobby Harris secured legal representation from former US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board Judge, Gary Krugman, at Sughrue Mion in Washington D.C. Petitions to cancel marks were filed with the United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. After two years of legal filings, and a series of unsuccessful attempts to stop Dazz Band performances, the Dazz Band mark was cancelled in April 2017.[9] On August 8, 2017, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted the Dazz Band trademark to Robert Harris with a First Use date of June 15, 1978.

As of 2019, Bobby Harris remains the only name that can be consistently found on every Kinsman Dazz and Dazz Band record.


Current members[edit]

Past members[edit]

  • Wayne Preston - Saxophone (1977–1979)
  • Les Thaler - Trumpet (1977–1979)
  • Michael G. Jackson - Keyboards (1977–1979)
  • Ed Meyers - Trombone (1977–1981)
  • Michael Wiley - Bass guitars, vocals (1977–1988)
  • Isaac Wiley, Jr. - Drums (1977–1985)
  • Michael Calhoun - Guitars, vocals (1977–1981)
  • Kenny Pettus - Percussion, vocals (1977–1986; 1998–2001)
  • Kevin Kendrick - Keyboards (1980–1981; 1998–2001)
  • Pierre DeMudd - Trumpet, vocals (1980–1988; 1998–2001)
  • Eric Fearman - Guitars (1980–1985)
  • Steve Cox - Synthesizer (1981–1988)
  • Jerry Bell - Lead vocals (1984-1999-2011)
  • Juan Lively - Lead vocals (1988–1993)
  • Terry Stanton - Lead vocals (1994–2001)
  • Nathaniel Philips - Bass (1995–1998)


Starship discography
Studio albums14


Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications Record label
1980 Invitation to Love - - Motown
1981 Let the Music Play 154 36
1982 Keep It Live 14 1 RIAA: Gold[10]
On the One 59 12
1983 Joystick 73 12
1984 Jukebox 84 18
Greatest Hits - -
1985 Hot Spot 114 24
1986 Wild & Free 178 37 Geffen
1988 Rock the Room - 91 RCA
1996 Under the Streetlights - 42 Lucky
1997 Double Exposure - - Intersound
1998 Here We Go Again - 99 Intersound
2001 Time Traveler - - Major Hits Records
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


Year Title Chart positions Album
US[11] US
AUS[12] UK Singles Chart[13]
1980 "Shake It Up" - 65 75 - - Invitation to Love
1981 "Invitation to Love" 109 51 - - -
"Knock Knock" - 44 - - - Let the Music Play
1982 "Let It Whip" 5 1 2 97 - Keep It Live
"Keep It Live (On the K.I.L.)" - 20 - - -
1983 "On the One for Fun" - 9 52 - - On the One
"Cheek to Cheek" - 76 - - -
"Party Right Here" - 63 - - -
"Joystick" 61 9 - - - Joystick
1984 "Swoop (I'm Yours)" - 12 - - -
"Let It All Blow" 84 9 3 - 12 Jukebox
1985 "Heartbeat" 110 12 - - 79
"Hot Spot" - 21 33 - - Hot Spot
1986 "L.O.V.E. M.I.A." - 48 - - - Wild & Free
"Wild and Free" - 44 - - -
1988 "Anticipation" - 38 - - - Rock the Room
"Single Girls" - 19 38 - -
"Open Sesame" - 83 - - -
1998 "Ain't Nuthin' but a Jam Y'all" - 58 - - - Time Traveler
"Girl Got Body" - 81 - - - Here We Go Again
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


  • National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal - 1982 "Let It Whip"
  • Proclamation from City of Cleveland Mayor George V. Voinovich designating December 31, 1982 as "Bobby Harris and The Dazz Band Day" "for bringing home another first in Cleveland via the eight-member Dazz Band, that has escalated to Motown fame."
  • IAAM Diamond Award For Excellence Bobby Harris- United We Funk June 9, 2000 Association Presented to Bobby Harris of The Grammy Award Winning Group The Dazz Band For Many Years of Entertaining The World
  • Recognition from the United States Military Presented to The Dazz Band for Outstanding Performance and Continued Dedication to Our Deployed U.S. Service Members and Civilians "Operation Iraqi Freedom" 2008, 2009, 2010

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Petkovic, John (2013-08-23). "Legendary Dazz Band, from Cleveland's Kinsman neighborhood, hits Beachland Ballroom on Friday". The Plain Dealer. Cleveland, Ohio. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  2. ^ Cheeks, Dwayne (December 31, 1982). "Dazz aims to perfect its pizazz". The Plain Dealer (pg. 24).
  3. ^ "Pierre A. DeMudd April 20, 1953 ~ May 10, 2017 (age 64) Obituary". efboyd.com. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  4. ^ Stunek, Jim (January 20, 1983). "The Dazz Band: turning music into money". Scene Newspaper, Cleveland (pg. 7).
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 144. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  6. ^ a b Pantsios, Anastasia (June 14, 2002). "Midnight Star on rise again". The Plain Dealer.
  7. ^ "Trademark Status & Document Retrieval". Tsdr.uspto.gov.
  8. ^ "USPTO TTABVUE. Proceeding Number 92061312". Ttabvue.uspto.gov.
  9. ^ "USPTO TTABVUE. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board Inquiry System". Ttabvue.uspto.gov.
  10. ^ "Dazz Band". riaa.com. RIAA.
  11. ^ a b c "Dazz Band Top Songs / Chart Singles Discography". Music VF. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  12. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 84. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  13. ^ "DAZZ BAND | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". officialcharts.com. Retrieved 20 April 2020.


External links[edit]