Switch (band)

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Also known as White Heat, Hot Ice
Origin Mansfield, Ohio, United States
Genres R&B, funk
Years active 1975–present
Labels RCA, Polydor, Gordy (Motown), Total Experience
Website reverbnation.com/originalswitch
Members Gregory Williams
Eddie Fluellen
Phillip Ingram
Michael McGloiry
Akili Nickson
James Strong
Michael Norfleet
Derek Organ
Past members Bobby DeBarge (deceased)
Tommy DeBarge
Jody Sims
Attala Giles
Renard Gallo
Gonzales Ozen
Howie Carbaugh
Christopher Hawkins
Anthony Watters

Switch is an R&B/funk band that found fame recording for the Gordy label in the late 1970s, releasing hit songs such as "There'll Never Be", "I Call Your Name" and "Love Over & Over Again". Switch influenced bands such as DeBarge, which featured the siblings of Switch band members Bobby and Tommy DeBarge.[1][2][3][4]


Early years[edit]

The group was formed in Mansfield, Ohio, around 1976 by Gregory Williams. They recorded a demo tape in Columbus, Ohio with the financial assistance of Bernd Lichters. Switch included Gregory Williams, brothers Tommy DeBarge and Bobby DeBarge, all from Grand Rapids, Michigan, along with Akron, Ohio natives Phillip Ingram (brother of James Ingram), Eddie Fluellen, and Jody Sims (originally from Steubenville, Ohio). Williams, Bobby DeBarge, and Sims had been members of White Heat, which released a self-titled album on RCA in 1975, but the band's producer, Barry White, soon shuttered his Soul Unlimited production company and dropped all the acts on the roster. Frye, then living in Kent OH, decided to form his own band.

Success years[edit]

The new group would become Switch due to their ability to switch to different lead vocalist and instruments during a song. Williams and Sims met and got the attention of Jermaine Jackson, former member of the Jackson 5 and husband of Hazel Gordy (daughter of Motown Chief Berry Gordy, Jr.), who heard the group's demo tape. Within weeks, the group was signed to the Motown Records subsidiary label, Gordy. They recorded and released their self titled debut album some 18 months later in 1978, which featured their first Top 10 R&B hit single, entitled "There'll Never Be". The song also proved to be their biggest success on the Billboard Hot 100, where it was a Top 40 hit (their only one), peaking at #36.[5]

Their songs were written by Williams, Bobby DeBarge and Sims, often in collaboration with Jermaine Jackson. Though they never managed to achieve significant crossover success into the pop singles chart, they were a consistent presence on the R&B charts through the late 1970s with albums such as Switch II from 1979 (their second release), This Is My Dream and Reaching For Tomorrow in 1980. Their final release on Gordy was Switch V, released in 1981. Songs such as "I Wanna Be Closer", "We Like to Party", "I Call Your Name", "Best Beat in Town" and "Love me Over and Over Again" also became hits for the group.

Later years[edit]

Shortly after the DeBarge brothers left Switch to mentor their younger siblings in the group DeBarge, and lead singer Ingram left to pursue a solo career, Switch took on new vocalist and musicians: singer Renard Gallo, Gonzales Ozen and bassist Phil Upchurch Jr. This configuration of Switch signed with Total Experience (well known home of their contemporaries the Gap Band) and recorded a final album Am I Still Your Boyfriend in 1984, breaking up later that year.

In 1991, Motown released a greatest hits compilation album by the band. A similar version on the 20th Century Masters series released more recently is all that remains in print of this band.

Former lead singer Bobby DeBarge died of AIDS-related complications in Grand Rapids, Michigan on August 16, 1995 at age 39.

Switch has since reunited, featuring original members founder/leader Williams, Fluellen, Ingram, original sessions/on stage guitarist Michael McGloiry, and new lead vocalist Akili Nickson.


  • Gregory Williams (1976–present): vocals, keyboards, trumpet
  • Eddie Fluellen (1977–present): keyboards, trombone, vocals
  • Phillip Ingram (1976–82; present): vocals, keyboards, percussion
  • Bobby DeBarge (1977–81): vocals, piano/keyboards, drums
  • Tommy DeBarge (1976–81): vocals, bass guitar
  • Jody Sims (1976–84): vocals, drums
  • Michael McGloiry (original session guitarist) (1978-??; present): guitar
  • Attala Giles (1981–84): guitar, bass, keyboards
  • Renard Gallo (1982–84): vocals, percussion
  • Gonzales Ozen (1982–84): vocals, percussion
  • Akili Nickson (2003–present): lead vocals


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions Record label

1975 White Heat [A] RCA
1977 Pall Mall Groove [B] Polydor
1978 Switch 37 6 72 Gordy
1979 Switch II 37 8 84
1980 Reaching for Tomorrow 57 23
This Is My Dream 85 21
1981 Switch V 174 48
1984 Am I Still Your Boyfriend? Total Experience
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.
  • A Credited to White Heat.
  • B Credited to Hot-Ice.


  • The Best of Switch (1991, Motown)
  • 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Switch (2001, Motown)


Year Title Peak chart positions Album


1975 "If That's the Way You Feel (Then Let's Fall in Love)" [A] White Heat
"What a Groove" [A]
1978 "There'll Never Be" 36 6 60 Switch
1979 "I Wanna Be Closer" 22
"Best Beat in Town" 69 16 65 Switch II
"I Call Your Name" 83 8
1980 "Don't Take My Love Away" 41 Reaching for Tomorrow
"Love Over and Over Again" 9 This Is My Dream
1981 "You and I" 57
"I Do Love You" 73 Switch V
1982 "Call On Me" 70
1984 "Switch It Baby" 55 Am I Still Your Boyfriend?
"Keeping Secrets" 61
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


  1. ^ Vibe Magazine. October 2007. p. 110. 
  2. ^ All music guide to soul: the definitive guide to R&B and soul. 2003. p. 660. 
  3. ^ "The DeBarge Family". Unsung. TV One. 2008. Retrieved March 2012.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ "Music Interviews: DeBarge Family Recounts Rocky Musical Journey". NPR. 2008. Retrieved March 012.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. ^ http://www.billboard.com/artist/1540254/switch/chart
  6. ^ a b c d e "US Charts > Switch". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-12-21. 
  7. ^ a b "CAN Charts > Switch". RPM. Retrieved 2012-12-21. 
  8. ^ "UK Charts > Switch". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2012-12-21. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Gonzales, Michael A. (October 2007). "Broken Dreams". Vibe. pp. 108–115. 
  • Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (August 1, 2003). All Music Guide to Soul: The Definitive Guide to R&B and Soul. Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-0-87930-744-8. 

External links[edit]