|Origin||North London, England|
|Genres||Pop, R&B, rock|
|Members||Pat Lloyd (original founder member, 1965–present)|
Ronnie Telemaque (1979–present)
Dzal Martin (1979–present)
Decosta Boyce (2017–present
Mark Haley (2017–present)
Keeling Lee (2019)
|Past members||Eddy Grant|
The Equals are a British pop, R&B and rock group formed in North London, England in 1965. They are best remembered for their million-selling chart-topper "Baby, Come Back", though they had several other chart hits in the UK and Europe. Eddy Grant founded the group with John Hall, Pat Lloyd, and brothers Derv and Lincoln Gordon, and they were noted as being "the first major interracial rock group in the UK" and "one of the few racially mixed bands of the era".
The group's members met on a Hornsey Rise council estate, where Grant, Lloyd and Hall were school friends at Acland Burghley. In 1965, Hall suggested that they form a band. John Hall (drums), Eddy Grant (lead guitar), Pat Lloyd (rhythm guitar), Derv Gordon (vocals) and Lincoln Gordon (bass guitar) became The Equals.
At first The Equals performed in London, and gained a following "with their apparently limitless energy and a distinct style fusing pop, blues, and R&B plus elements of ska and bluebeat." They often opened the bill at shows by visiting American R&B and soul artists such as Bo Diddley, Solomon Burke and Wilson Pickett. A neighbour of Grant's, singer Gene Latter, put them in touch with President Records, whose boss Edward Kassner heard them and agreed to sign them.
Commercial success, 1966–70
The Equals released their first single “I Won’t Be There” in 1966, followed by “Hold Me Closer”, with “Baby, Come Back” as the B-side. It did not do well in the United Kingdom, but after DJs in Europe began playing “Baby, Come Back”, it went to the number one position in Germany and the Netherlands.
The year 1968 saw the release of “I Get So Excited”, which reached the Top 50 of the UK Singles Chart. The subsequent re-issue of “Baby, Come Back” in early 1968 reached the top position in the UK, giving President Records its only number one hit. In June 1969, the group received a gold disc for a combined one million sales of the disc. A string of single releases followed, several of which charted in the UK, including two further top 10 hits, “Viva Bobby Joe” (1969) and “Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys” (1970).
Their songs were mainly written by Eddy Grant, with contributions from the Gordon brothers and Pat Lloyd. Though the majority were on traditional teenage pop themes, some, such as “Stand Up and Be Counted”, “Police on My Back”, and the funky “Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys”, touched on social and political issues.
The band also released several albums on President in quick succession—seven in four years—including Unequalled Equals (1967) and Equals Explosion (1968), both of which reached the UK albums chart. Several of their albums were repackaged by RCA, President’s distributors, for the American market. According to the band, Kassner did not allow the band to tour the U.S. because of problems that might have arisen because of their multiracial line-up, though the band did tour other parts of the world, including Africa.
They made regular TV appearances on programmes including Top of the Pops in Britain and Beat-Club in Germany. The band also gained attention for their colourful clothes, presaging the glam rock style, and for Grant’s occasional dyeing of his hair blonde, and wearing a woman’s blonde wig. Writer Jason Heller commented: “The Equals were effectively code-switching between two audiences—immigrant rude boys and white pop fans—in the same song, if not the same line."
Break-up and subsequent activities
In September 1969, all five group members were injured in a motorway car accident in Germany. Grant was the most severely injured and as a result left the touring version of the Equals while initially continuing to write songs for them. In January 1971, Grant suffered a collapsed lung and heart infection, following which he returned to Guyana. He soon started to pursue a solo career; in the late 1970s and early 1980s, he released several Top 40 singles, including "Living on the Front Line", "Electric Avenue", "Romancing the Stone" and "Gimme Hope Jo'anna". Grant also topped the UK Singles Chart in 1982 with "I Don't Wanna Dance".
In 1982, due to German public demand, concert promoter Rainer Haas contacted Pat Lloyd to get The Equals back touring in Germany. Consequently, in 1982, Pat Lloyd reformed The Equals and became the registered Trademark and Copyright owner with Eddy Grant. The Equals in 1982 consisted of Pat Lloyd, Derv and Lincoln Gordon, Ronnie Telemacque and Rob Hendry. Lincoln Gordon left the band shortly after its reformation and in the same year David (Dzal) Martin who had been a temporary member between 1973-1975, rejoined permanently as lead guitarist. In 2017 Derv Gordon left The Equals and later that year two new members joined The Equals; Decosta Boyce (lead vocals), previously of the funk band Heatwave, and Mark Haley on keyboards, previously with The Kinks and The Rubettes featuring Alan Williams.
The Equals continued to record, increasingly influenced by funk and reggae music. Although The Equals never charted again after Grant's departure, they released an album Roots in 1995, mainly written by Pat Lloyd with contributions from David (Dzal) Martin. Today, The Equals continue to tour in UK, Europe and to Worldwide audiences. Pat Lloyd is the only remaining and longest-serving original founder member of The Equals since its formation in 1965.
The Equals' music has continued to be influential. In 1980, the Clash recorded a cover version of the Equals' song "Police on My Back". In 1981, the band T-Slam translated to Hebrew and covered "I Get So Excited" under the name "Hamenaka Bemalon" (The Hotel Cleaner) on the Israeli edition of their debut album, “Loud Radio;” outside of Israel, the album featured an English-language version of the song. In 2006, Willie Nile released his cover of "Police on My Back" on his Streets of New York. The Equals' song "Green Light" was covered by the Detroit Cobras on their 2007 Tied & True. Pato Banton scored a UK number one with his cover of "Baby Come Back". Chelsea Handler described a meeting with Pat Lloyd in chapter 6 of her book, Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea. UK 2 Tone band The Specials covered The Equals' "Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys" on their 2019 album Encore.
- Eddy Grant (born 5 March 1948, Plaisance, Guyana) – lead guitar
- John Hall (born 25 October 1946, Islington, London) – drums
- Dervan "Derv" Gordon (born 29 January 1946, Jamaica) – vocals
- Patrick "Pat" Lloyd (born 17 March 1949, Holloway, London) – rhythm guitar
- Lincoln Gordon (born 29 June 1948, Jamaica) – bass, guitar
- Unequalled Equals – (1967) (UK no. 10)
- Equals Explosion – (1968) (UK no. 32)
- Sensational Equals – (1968)
- Equals Supreme – (1968)
- Baby, Come Back - (US compilation, 1968)
- Equals Strike Again - (1969)
- Equals at the Top - (1970)
- Rock Around the Clock Vol. 1 - (1973)
- Born Ya! - (1976)
- Mystic Syster - (1977)
- Roots - (1996)
Selected compilation albums
- Doin' the 45's – (1975)
- First Among Equals – The Greatest Hits – (1996)
- Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys – The Anthology – (1999)
|Year||Titles (A-side, B-side)||UK||US||AU||NO||IR||SA||UK Album||US Album|
|1966||"I Won't Be There"
|1967||"Give Love a Try"
b/w "Another Sad and Lonely Night"
|"My Life Ain't Easy"
b/w "You Got Too Many Boyfriends"
B: Non-album track
|1968||"I Get So Excited"
UK B: "The Skies Above"
US B: "Giddy Up a Ding Dong"
|44||-||-||-||-||-||A & UK B: Sensational
US B: Explosion
|A & US B: Unequalled|
UK B: Baby, Come Back
|1968||"Baby, Come Back"
b/w "Hold Me Closer"
|1||32||10||4||2||-||Unequalled||Baby, Come Back|
|1968||"Laurel and Hardy"
b/w "The Guy Who Made Her a Star"
b/w "Lonely Rita"
|1969||"Michael and the Slipper Tree"
b/w "Honey Gum"
|24||-||68||-||-||-||Equals Strike Again||Non-album tracks|
|1969||"Viva Bobby Joe"
b/w "I Can't Let You Go"
|6||-||79||-||3||9||A: Equals Strike Again|
B: Non-album track
|1969||"Rub a Dub Dub"
b/w "After the Lights Go Down Low"
|34||-||-||-||-||-||A: Equals at the Top|
B: Equals Strike Again
|1970||"Soul Brother Clifford"
b/w "Happy Birthday Girl"
|-||-||-||-||-||-||Equals at the Top|
|"I Can See But You Don't Know"
b/w "Gigolo Sam"
|-||-||-||-||-||-||A: Doin' the 45's|
B: Equals at the Top
|"Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys"
b/w "Ain't Got Nothing to Give You"
|9||-||-||-||-||-||A: Doin' the 45's|
B: Equals Strike Again
|1971||"Help Me Simone"
b/w "Love Potion"
|-||-||-||-||-||-||A: Equals at the Top
|A: Non-album track|
|1972||"Stand Up and Be Counted"
b/w "What Would You Do to Survive"
|-||-||-||-||-||-||Non-album tracks||Non-album tracks|
|"Have I the Right"
b/w "Lover Let Me Go"
|-||-||-||-||-||-||A: The Equals Greatest Hits|
B: Non-album track
b/w "Put Some Rock and Roll in Your Soul"
|-||-||-||-||-||-||Rock Around the Clock Volume 1|
b/w "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow"
|-||-||-||-||-||-||A: Rock Around the Clock Volume 1|
B: Non-album track
b/w "We've Got It All Worked Out"
|1976||"Kaywana Sunshine Girl"
b/w "Soul Mother"
|"Funky Like a Train"
b/w "If You Didn't Miss Me"
|1977||"Irma La Douce"
b/w "Ire Harry"
b/w "Daily Love"
b/w "Something Beautiful"
|1983||"No Place to Go"
b/w "Back Streets"
|-||-||-||-||-||-||All the Hits Plus More|
|1987||"Funky Like a Train"
b/w "Born Ya!"
- List of artists who reached number one on the UK Singles Chart
- List of number-one singles from the 1960s (UK)
- UK No.1 Hits of 1968
- List of 1960s one-hit wonders in the United States
- List of performances on Top of the Pops
- List of performers on Top of the Pops
- Caribbean music in the United Kingdom
- IBC Studios
- Laurie Records
- RCA Records
- "The Equals | Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 January 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- John Bush. "The Equals | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 January 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Jason Heller, "Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys: The Story of Pioneering Interracial Rock Band the Equals", Pitchfork.com, 18 July 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2018
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 238/9. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- Greene, Brian (August 2016). "Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys". Shindig!. London. pp. 40–46.
- "L.A. Record". Larecord.com. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
- Frank Bangay, "Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys: Some Belated Praise for The Equals", DisabilityArtsOnline, May 25, 2017. Retrieved 13 March 2018
- Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 118. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
- Gambaccini, Paul (1996). British Hit Albums (7th ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Publishing Ltd. p. 127. ISBN 0-85112-619-7.
- Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 202. CN 5585.
- Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 224. CN 5585.
- "MENU". Theequals.co.uk. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
- Deming, Mark. "Police on My Back – The Clash : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 June 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Thompson, Dave (21 February 2006). "Streets of New York – Willie Nile : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 June 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Deming, Mark (24 April 2007). "Tied & True – The Detroit Cobras : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 June 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 42. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "The Equals". Discogs. Retrieved 27 October 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "The Equals – Doin' The 45's (1975, Vinyl)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 1 March 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Richie Unterberger. "First Among Equals: The Greatest Hits - The Equals | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
- Bruce Eder (22 November 1999). "Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys: The Anthology... - The Equals | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
- "EQUALS | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 185. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Brian Currin. "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Acts (E)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 29 January 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Equals.|