The Dramatics

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The Dramatics
Origin Detroit, United States
Genres Rhythm & blues, soul, pop
Years active 1964 – present
Labels Volt Records, ABC Records
Associated acts Snoop Dogg
Members Larry "L.J." Reynolds
Donald Albert
Leon Franklin
Winzell Kelly
Past members Ron Banks (deceased)
Larry "Squirrel" Demps
Willie Ford
William "Wee Gee" Howard (deceased)
Elbert Wilkins (deceased)
Lenny Mayes (deceased)
Michael Brock
Larry Reed
Roderick Davis
Craig Jones
Steven Boyd
Harley K. Brown
Robert Ellington
James Mack Brown (deceased)

The Dramatics (formerly The Dynamics) are an American soul music vocal group, formed in Detroit, Michigan, in 1964. They are best known for their 1970s hit songs "In the Rain" and "Whatcha See is Whatcha Get", both of which were Top 10 Pop hits,[1] as well as their later 1994 collaboration Doggy Dogg World with Snoop Dogg, a top 20 hit on the Billboard Rhythmic Top 40.

Career[edit]

The Dramatics originally formed in 1964, recording as the Dynamics in 1965. Their first release in 1965 entitled "Bingo" was recorded for the late Ed Wingate's Wingate record label, a division of Golden World Records in Detroit, Michigan. Due to a misprint, Wingate changed the name of the group from The Dynamics to The Dramatics in 1966 for the group's second release, Inky Dinky Wang Dang Doo. By 1967, Motown had absorbed the entire Golden World Records operation. The Dramatics then moved to another local Detroit label, Sport Records, where they garnered their first minor hit single, "All Because of You."

The Dramatics originally signed for Stax Records of Memphis, Tennessee in 1968, but moved on after one unsuccessful release. However, producer Don Davis re-signed them to Stax subsidiary, Volt in 1971 after the group had teamed up with Detroit writer-producer, Tony Hester. They broke through with the first release recorded with Hester, "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get", which Hester offered them after seeing the group perform in a Detroit nightclub. The song went into the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #9 and climbing to #3 in the R&B chart. [1] "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" was awarded gold disc status by the R.I.A.A. in December 1971.[1]

Their members at this time were Ron Banks (who died of a heart attack on March 4, 2010, at the age of 58),[2] William "Wee Gee" Howard (who died of a heart attack on February 22, 2000, at the age of 49), Elbert Wilkins (who died of a heart attack on December 13, 1992, at the age of 45), Willie Ford, Larry Demps and keyboardist James Mack Brown (who died on November 28, 2008, at the age of 58).

Shortly after the success of their first album, Howard and Wilkins left the group and formed their own version of The Dramatics, recording the single "No Rebate On Love" on Mainstream Records. They were replaced by Larry James "L.J." Reynolds and Leonard "Lenny" Mayes (who died of lung cancer on November 8, 2004, at the age of 53). At the urging of Don Davis and Stax Records, the original group changed its billing to 'Ron Banks and the Dramatics'. These two groups toured the concert circuit for four years before Banks' group won a court battle, giving them full access to the name." [3] Howard and Wilkins were forced to change the name of their group to "A Dramatic Experience".

Through the 1970s, the group continued to have successful songs, including the #1 R&B hit, "In the Rain" in 1972, "Hey You! Get Off My Mountain" (#5 R&B), "Me and Mrs Jones" (#4 R&B), originally recorded by Billy Paul three years earlier, "Be My Girl" (#3 R&B), and "Shake It Well" (#4 R&B). "In the Rain" also reached #5 on the Hot 100 pop chart and was their second million-seller. [1]

The group recorded for Don Davis' Groovesville and later Great Lakes music production companies during the 1970s, although the recordings appeared on several labels. The group moved from Volt in 1974 after three albums, releasing one album on Chess Records' subsidiary, Cadet sharing tracks with The Dells, who were also being produced by Davis at the time. The group then signed for ABC in 1975 and transferred five years later to MCA, after ABC closed following its buy-out by MCA. Many of the Dramatics' songs initially were written and produced by Tony Hester, including all the tracks on the first two Volt albums. Davis, then Banks and Reynolds took over production later in the 1970s and the early 1980s.

In 1982, the group moved to Capitol Records and made their first album without Don Davis, Banks acting as producer. Only Banks, Ford and Mayes remained in the group. L.J. Reynolds left to go solo in 1981 and Larry Demps decided to go into teaching and spend more time with his family, after having joined the group's original line-up in 1964 with Banks. When Ron Banks also decided to try a solo career, the group disbanded for a few years, but re-formed in the mid-1980s, with Howard returning to join Reynolds, Mayes, Ford and Banks to record for Fantasy Records.

The group continues to tour and presently consists of Reynolds with Winzell Kelly, Leon Franklin, Donald and Albert Ford. Willie Ford also has a Dramatics group. The Dramatics were officially inducted into the R&B Music Hall of Fame at Cleveland State University's Waetejen Auditorium on Saturday August 17, 2013.

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
Record label
US
[4]
US
R&B

[4]
CAN
[5]
1971 Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get 20 5 Volt
1973 A Dramatic Experience 86 11
1974 The Dells Vs. The Dramatics 156 15 Cadet
Dramatically Yours [A] 36 Volt
1975 The Dramatic Jackpot [A] 31 9 89 ABC
Drama V 93 10
1976 Joy Ride 103 11
1977 Shake It Well 60 10
1978 Do What You Wanna Do 44 6 72
1979 Anytime, Anyplace 15
1980 10½ 61 14 MCA
The Dramatic Way 38
1982 New Dimension 40 Capitol
1986 Somewhere in Time (A Dramatic Reunion) Fantasy
1989 Positive State of Mind 80 Volt
1990 Stone Cold
1994 Mellow Drama Groovesville
1997 A Dramatic Christmas: The Very Best Christmas of All Fantasy
1999 If You Come Back to Me Volt
2002 Look Inside BBEG
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.
  • A Album credited to Ron Banks & the Dramatics.

Live albums[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

  • The Best of the Dramatics (1974, Volt)
  • Be My Girl: Their Greatest Love Songs (1998, Hip-O)
  • Shake It Well: The Best of the Dramatics 1974-1980 (1998, MCA)
  • Say the Word: Their Greatest Love Songs, Vol. 2 (1999, Hip-O)
  • Ultimate Collection (2000, Hip-O)
  • 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Dramatics (2005, Hip-O)
  • The Very Best of the Dramatics (2007, Stax)
  • Greatest Slow Jams (2014, Stax)

DVD's[edit]

  • Biggest Hits Live (2009, Soul Concerts)

Singles[edit]

Year Single Peak chart positions
US
[4]
US
R&B

[4]
CAN
[5]
1965 "Bingo"
1966 "Inky Dinky Wang Dang Doo"
1967 "All Because of You" 43
1969 "Your Love Was Strange"
1971 "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" 9 3 44
"Get Up and Get Down" 78 16
1972 "In the Rain" 5 1 31
"Toast to the Fool" 67 18
1973 "Hey You! Get Off My Mountain" 43 5
"Fell for You" 45 12
1974 "And I Panicked" 49
"Choosing Up on You" (A-Side) 30
"Door to Your Heart" (B-Side) 62 25
"Highway to Heaven" [B]
"Don't Make Me No Promises" (A-Side) 63
1975 "Tune Up" (B-Side) 74
"Me and Mrs. Jones" [B] 47 4 78
"Love Is Missing from Our Lives" (with The Dells) 46
"(I'm Going by) The Stars in Your Eyes" [B] 81 22
"You're Fooling You" 87 10
1976 "Treat Me Like a Man" 49
"Finger Fever" 23
"Be My Girl" 53 3 65
1977 "I Can't Get Over You" 101 9 99
"Shake It Well" 76 4
1978 "Ocean of Thoughts and Dreams" 106 17
"Stop Your Weeping" 22
"Do What You Want to Do" 56
1979 "I Just Wanna Dance with You" 35
"That's My Favorite Song" 40
1980 "Welcome Back Home" 9
"Be with the One You Love" 79
"Get It" 59
"You're the Best Thing in My Life" 26
1982 "Live It Up" 40
"Treat Me Right" 62
1986 "Luv's Calling"
"One Love Ago" 61
"When Love Is Over"
1988 "Born to Be Wild"
"We Are the Champions" (with Thomas Hearns)
1989 "Bridge Over Troubled Water" 93
1990 "Ready 4 Love"
1996 "Try Love Again" 82
1997 "The Golden Horn"
1998 "Saying Goodbye"
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.
  • B Single credited to Ron Banks & the Dramatics.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 292 & 312. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  2. ^ McCollum, Brian (2010-03-04). "Dramatics founder Ron Banks dead at 58". freep.com. Retrieved 4 March 2010. 
  3. ^ Taylor, Marc (1996). A Touch of Classic Soul of The Early 1970's, p. 62. Aloiv Publishing, Jamaica, New York. ISBN 0-9652328-4-0.
  4. ^ a b c d "US Charts > The Dramatics". Billboard. Retrieved 2013-03-31. 
  5. ^ a b "CAN Charts > The Dramatics". RPM. Retrieved 2013-03-31. 
  6. ^ a b "US Certifications > The Dramatics". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2013-03-31. 

External links[edit]