The "5" Royales

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The "5" Royales
Origin Winston-Salem, North Carolina, United States
Genres R&B
Years active 1950s–1965
Labels Apollo Records, King Records
Past members Lowman "Pete" Pauling
Jimmy Moore
Obadiah Carter
Otto Jeffries
Johnny Tanner
Gene Tanner

The "5" Royales was a rhythm and blues (R&B) vocal group from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, US, that combined gospel, jump blues and doo-wop, marking an early and influential step in the evolution of soul music. Most of their big R&B hits were recorded from 1952 to 1953 and written by guitarist Lowman "Pete" Pauling (July 14, 1926 - December 26, 1973);[1] later cover versions of the band's songs hit the Top 40, including "Dedicated to the One I Love" (the Shirelles, the Mamas & the Papas),[2] "Tell the Truth" (Ray Charles), and "Think" (James Brown & The Famous Flames). Brown modeled his first vocal group after the "5" Royales, and both Eric Clapton and legendary Stax guitarist Steve Cropper cite Pauling as a key influence. Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger covered "Think" on his 1993 solo album Wandering Spirit. The 5 Royales have been inducted into the 2015 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[3]


Originally the Royal Sons Quintet, the group began recording for Apollo Records in the early 1950s, changing its name to the Royals after abandoning gospel for secular music. The group paired Pauling with vocalists Jimmy Moore, Obadiah Carter, and Otto Jeffries, with Johnny Tanner (November 28, 1926, North Carolina – November 8, 2005) singing lead. Later Tanner's younger brother, Eugene, would replace Jeffries. The robust Johnny Tanner sang lead on most of the group's hits, including "Think," although the sweeter-voiced Eugene Tanner stepped to the microphone for the group's best-known song, "Dedicated to the One I Love." "Baby Don't Do It" and "Help Me Somebody" became hits in 1953, and the group soon signed to Cincinnati's King Records. In addition to heartfelt odes like "Dedicated to the One I Love," Pauling also wrote comic and risque tunes, including "Monkey Hips and Rice," later the title of a two-CD anthology of the group's music released by Rhino Records in 1994. Pauling used an extra-long strap for his guitar, sometimes playing it down around his knees for comic effect. The group shared stages with all the major R&B artists of the 1950s, including Sam Cooke and Ray Charles, once substituting for the latter's Raelettes at a show in Durham, North Carolina.

Confusion arose when two groups of Royals began touring, the other led by Detroit R&B legend Hank Ballard. According to members of the "5" Royales, the confusion peaked in 1953 when an unscrupulous promoter booked Ballard's group in Winston-Salem, trying to pass the Detroit band off as its native-son namesakes, much to the chagrin of a local audience. Shortly thereafter, the air cleared when Winston-Salem's Royals became the "5" Royales and Detroit's Royals became The Midnighters. Ironically, both artists would have hits at King working with Rock & Roll Hall of Fame producer Ralph Bass, becoming good friends and routinely competing in battles of the bands at clubs like Atlanta's Royal Peacock in that city's Sweet Auburn section. Ballard's group gained fame for originating "The Twist", later a monster dance craze and hit for Chubby Checker, and for its risque series of "Annie" songs, including "Work With Me Annie" and "Annie Had a Baby."

With King, "Think" and "Tears of Joy" became hits for the "5" Royales in 1957, while some of their lesser-known tracks from this period are now critically acclaimed as innovative. Veteran rock critic Dave Marsh chose the 1958 "5" Royales hit "The Slummer the Slum" as one of the top 1001 singles of all time in his book The Heart of Rock and Soul, crediting Pauling with capturing the first intentional use of guitar feedback on record, years before better-known squawks from the Beatles, Yardbirds, and Velvet Underground. In the 1960s, R&B gradually gave way to more polished soul music and the Royales' career waned rapidly.

The "5" Royales broke up in 1965, though various combinations of musicians would tour under the group's name into the 1970s. For a time Pauling continued recording with pianist and frequent Royales collaborator Royal Abbitt as El Pauling and the Royalton. Pauling's brother, Clarence Paul, a former member of the Royal Sons Quintet, found success as a producer and songwriter at Motown Records in the 1960s.

After years of struggle with alcohol dependency, Lowman Pauling ended up working as a night watchman at a Manhattan church and died of an apparent seizure on December 26, 1973. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Winston-Salem, NC as was his brother Clarence who lies next to him, and fellow bandmates Otto Jeffries who died August 8, 1975 and Obadiah Carter who died June 30, 1994. Health problems forced Eugene Tanner onto disability in the years before his death on December 29, 1994.[4] His brother John Tanner died of cancer on November 8, 2005.[5] Jimmy Moore died on August 16, 2008.

The "5" Royales were inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009.[6] They were nominated unsuccessfully for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 and 2004, but were inducted in 2015 in the Early Influence category.

The legacy and influence of the "5" Royales was profiled on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Sunday on August 14, 2011, in an interview with guitarist Steve Cropper.[7] Cropper released an album in 2011 titled Dedicated: A Salute to the 5 Royales.[8]

In May 2015, another compilation of their work won a Blues Music Award in the 'Historical' category.[9]


  • "We grew up on their music. 'Think' had some great funky licks. I used the same licks in the Mar-Keys. Pauling's sound was funky, gutsy. He would alternate lead and rhythm, which is something I always did." – Steve Cropper


Apollo Records (1952–1954)[edit]

  • "You Know I Know"/"Courage To Love" (Apollo 441) (9/52)
  • "Baby Don't Do It"/"Take All of Me" (Apollo 443) (12/52) (#1; 3 weeks R&B)
  • "Help Me Somebody"/Crazy, Crazy, Crazy" (Apollo 446) (4/53) (#1 R&B)
  • "Laundromat Blues"/Too Much Lovin' (Much Too Much) (Apollo 448) (7/53) (#4 R&B)
  • "I Want to Thank You"/"All Righty!" (Apollo 450) (10/53)
  • "I Do"/"Good Things" (Apollo 452) (1/54) (#6 R&B)
  • "Cry Some More"/"I Like It Like That" (Apollo 454) (4/54)
  • "What's That"/"Let Me Come Back Home" (Apollo 458) (7/54)
  • "Six O'Clock in the Morning"/"With All Your Heart" (Apollo 467) (1/55)

King Records (1954–1960)[edit]

  • "I'm Gonna Run It Down"/"Behave Yourself" (King 4740) (8/54)
  • "Monkey Hips And Rice"/"Devil With the Rest" (King 4744) (10/54)
  • "One Mistake"/"School Girl" (King 4762) (12/54)
  • "Every Dog Has His Day"/"You Didn't Learn It at Home" (King 4770) (1/55)
  • "I Need Your Lovin' Baby"/"When I Get Like This" (King 4806) (6/55)
  • "Women About To Make Me Go Crazy"/"Do Unto You" (King 4819) (8/55)
  • "Someone Made You For Me"/"I Ain't Getting Caught" (King 4830) (10/55)
  • "Right Around the Corner"/"When You Walked in Thru The Door" (King 4869) (1/56)
  • "My Wants For Love"/"I Could Love You" (King 4901) (2/56)
  • "Come on and Save Me"/"Get Something Out of It" (King 4952) (7/56)
  • "Just As I Am"/"Mine Forever More" (King 4973) (10/56)
  • "Thirty Second Lover"/"Tears of Joy" (King 5032) (3/57) (#9 R&B)
  • "Think"/"I'd Better Make A Move" (5/57) (Top 10 R&B; #66 Pop)
  • "Say It"/"Messin' Up" (King 5082) (10/57)
  • "Dedicated to the One I Love"/"Don't Be Ashamed" (King 5098) (12/57)
  • "Do The Cha Cha Cherry"/"The Feeling Is Real" (King 5131) (4/58)
  • "Tell The Truth"/"Double Or Nothing" (King 5141) (6/58)
  • "Don't Let It Be Vain"/"The Slummer The Slum" (King 5153) (10/58)
  • "The Real Thing"/"Your Only Love" (King 5162) (11/58)
  • "Miracle of Love"/"I Know It's Hard But It's Fair" (King 5191) (3/59)
  • "Tell Me You Care"/"Wonder Where Your Love Has Gone" (King 5237) (7/59)
  • "It Hurts Inside"/"My Sugar Sugar"
  • "I'm With You"/"Don't Give Me No More Than You Can Take" (King 5329) (3/60)
  • "Why"/"(Something Moves Me) Within My Heart" (King 5327) (6/60)
  • "Dedicated to the One I Love"/"The Miracle of Love" (1/61) (re-release)


  1. ^ "Music's Unsung Pioneer: Lowman "Pete" Pauling helped give birth to rhythm and blues in U.S.". Winston –Salem Journal. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  2. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 36 – The Rubberization of Soul: The great pop music renaissance. [Part 2]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. 
  3. ^ "The "5" Royales Biography". Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Death of a Soul Man RIP Johnny Tanner". 
  6. ^ "2009 Inductees". North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved September 10, 2012. 
  7. ^ [1] Archived August 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "Steve Cropper - Dedicated: A Salute to the 5 Royales CD". Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  9. ^ "2015 Blues Music Awards Winners". Retrieved 2015-05-18. 

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