The Blackbyrds

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The Blackbyrds
Origin Washington, D.C., United States
Genres R&B, jazz-funk
Years active 1973–1981; reformed in 2012
Labels Fantasy
Associated acts KOJO
Members Keith Killgo, Joe Hall, Orville Saunders
Past members Allan Barnes, Donald Byrd, Joe Hall, Jay Jones, Keith Killgo, Barney Perry, Orville Saunders, Kevin Toney, Wesley Jackson, Perc Jacobs

The Blackbyrds is an American rhythm and blues and jazz-funk fusion group, formed in Washington, D.C., in 1973 and reformed in 2012 by Keith Killgo.


The group was inspired by trumpeter Donald Byrd and featured some of his Howard University students: Kevin Toney (keyboards), Keith Killgo (vocals, drums), Joe Hall (bass guitar), Allan Barnes (saxophone, clarinet), and Barney Perry (guitar). Orville Saunders (guitar), and Jay Jones (flute, saxophone) joined later. They signed to Fantasy Records in 1973 and are best known for their 1975 hit "Walking in Rhythm", which received a Grammy nomination, sold over one million copies by May 1975, and was awarded a gold disc.[1]

With eight albums released for Fantasy from 1974 to 1980, The Blackbyrds became an inspiration to late 1970s and early 1980s British jazz-funk acts such as Light of the World and Hi-Tension.[citation needed]

More recently, they have made a significant impact on the hip-hop generation with Gang Starr, Da Lench Mobb, and Full Force sampling their music.[2] In particular, their 1975 song "Rock Creek Park" from the City Life album has been sampled numerous times by groups and artists such as MF DOOM, De La Soul, Eric B. & Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, N.W.A, Massive Attack, Ice Cube, Heavy D, Nas and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Tone Lōc and Wiz Khalifa.[3]

Founding member Allan Barnes died on July 25, 2016, aged 66.[4]


Studio albums[edit]


  • 1978: Night Grooves (Fantasy)
  • 1989: Greatest Hits (Fantasy)
  • 2007: Happy Music: The Best of The Blackbyrds (Fantasy FCD-30194-2)


  • "Do It, Fluid" (1974) - R&B #23, Pop #69
  • "Walking in Rhythm" (1975) - R&B #4, Pop #6, Easy Listening #5, UK #23
  • "Flyin' High" (1975) - R&B #22, Pop #70, Easy Listening #25
  • "Happy Music" (1976) - R&B #3, Pop #19
  • "Rock Creek Park" (1976) - R&B #37, Pop #93
  • "Time Is Movin'" (1977) - R&B #15, Pop #95
  • "Party Land" (1977) - R&B #30
  • "Soft And Easy" (1977) - R&B #20
  • "Supernatural Feeling" (1978) - R&B #19
  • "What We Have Is Right" (1980) - R&B #38
  • "Love Don't Strike Twice" (1981) - R&B #52
  • "Dancin' Dancin" (1981) - Dance #59

All singles released on the Fantasy label.


  1. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 354. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  2. ^ "The Blackbyrds: Talking In Rhythm". Retrieved 2016-07-28. 
  3. ^ Thompson, Dave (2001). Funk. Backbeat Books. p. 81. ISBN 0-87930-629-7
  4. ^ "R.I.P. legendary Blackbyrds saxman and flutist Allan Barnes | SoulTracks". SoulTracks. Retrieved 2016-07-28. 

External links[edit]