The Fantastic Four (band)

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The Fantastic Four
OriginDetroit, Michigan, United States.
Years active1965–2000
LabelsRic-Tic, Motown, Soul, Westbound
Past membersJames Epps
Joseph Pruitt
Ernest Newsome
Wallace Childs
Ralph Pruitt
Paul Edward Scott
Cleveland Horne

The Fantastic Four (also known as Sweet James and The Fantastic Four) were a Detroit based soul group, formed in 1965. "Sweet" James Epps, brothers Ralph and Joseph Pruitt, and Wallace "Toby" Childs were the original members. Childs and Ralph Pruitt later departed, and were replaced by Cleveland Horne and Ernest Newsome.


Their first single on Ric-Tic, "The Whole World Is a Stage," was their only big hit single, peaking at number 6 on the US Billboard R&B chart in 1967. The next release, "You Gave Me Something (And Everything's Alright)," reached number 12 that same year. Motown eventually purchased Ric-Tic, and they had another Top 20 R&B hit with "I Love You Madly," which came out in 1968 and was also issued on Soul. Before the Motown takeover, The Fantastic Four were the Ric-Tic label's biggest-selling act, outselling Edwin Starr in the USA.[1] Their songs were regularly played on Detroit/Windsor's 50,000 watt powerhouse station, CKLW (The Big 8). They continued to record for Motown, releasing several singles under its Soul subsidiary label, until 1970, when they went into semi-retirement.[2]

Several years later Armen Boladian persuaded them to sign with his Westbound label. There they enjoyed renewed appeal during the disco era, with some singles that were moderately successful, among them "Alvin Stone (The Birth & Death of a Gangster)" and "I Got to Have Your Love." Motown guitarist Dennis Coffey produced "B.Y.O.F. (Bring Your Own Funk)" in 1979, although they didn't have too much success with it. The song did become their only entry in the UK Singles Chart, peaking at #62 in February 1979.[3]

The Fantastic Four remained active and released "Working on a Building of Love" in 1990 for the UK's Motorcity label.[citation needed] The group's only Motown album, Best of The Fantastic Four, was released on CD by Motown in the early 1990s. It was a compilation of the group's Ric-Tic hit singles, prior to Motown's takeover of that label, and now is a highly sought-after collectors' item.[4][5] In November 2013, Motown Records and Universal Music re-released the CD Best of The Fantastic Four, featuring the original tracks, which were remastered for the release.[6] In 2015, Ace Records released The Lost Motown Album,[7] on its Kent Soul label, including the LP that Motown had prepared for release (entitled How Sweet He Is) and other previously unheard songs.

The Fantastic Four long-time member Cleveland Horne suffered a heart attack and died on April 13, 2000.[citation needed]

The group's original lead singer, "Sweet James" Epps (born March 30, 1947 in Detroit, Michigan) also died of a heart attack on September 11, 2000. His death effectively spelled the end of The Fantastic Four.[8][9]

Original member Ralph Pruitt (born May 4, 1940 in Detroit, Michigan) died on June 3, 2014 of natural causes. He was 74.[10]


Selected singles[edit]

  • "Girl Have Pity" / "(I'm Gonna) Live Up to What She Thinks" (1966) (Ric-Tic)
  • "Can't Stop Looking for My Baby" / "Just the Lonely" (1966)
  • "The Whole World is a Stage"/ "Ain't Love Wonderful" (1967)
  • "You Gave Me Something (and Everything's Alright)"/ Love Theme From Romeo And Juliet (I Don't Wanna Live Without You)
  • "As Long as I Live (I Live for You)" / "To Share Your Love"
  • "Goddess of Love" / "As Long as the Feeling is There"
  • "Goddess of Love" / "Love is a Many Splendored Thing"
  • "Man in Love" / "No Love Like Your Love" (1968)
  • "I've Got to Have You" / "Win or Lose (I'm Going to Love You)"
  • "I Love You Madly" / "I Love You Madly (Instrumental)" (Ric-Tic, Soul)
  • "I Feel Like I'm Falling in Love Again" / "Pin Point You Down" (Soul)
  • "Just Another Lonely Night" / "Don't Care Why You Want Me (Long as You Want Me)" (1969)
  • "On the Brighter Side of a Blue World" / "I'm Gonna Carry On"
  • "I Had This Whole World to Choose From (and I Chose You)" / "If You Need Me, Call Me (and I'll Come Running) (1973) (Eastbound)
  • "I'm Falling in Love (I Feel Good All Over)" / "I Believe in Miracles (I Believe in You)"
  • "Alvin Stone (The Birth and Death of a Gangster)" / "I Believe in Miracles (I Believe in You)" (1975) (Westbound)
  • "Better By The Pound" / "Stuffs And Things"
  • "Hideaway" / "They Took the Show on the Road" (1976)
  • "They Took the Show on the Road" / "Don't Risk Your Happiness on Foolishness"
  • "I Got to Have Your Love" / "Ain't I Been Good to You" (1977)
  • "Disco Pool Blues" / "Mixed Up Moods & Attitudes" (1978)
  • "Sexy Lady" / "If This is Love"
  • "B.Y.O.F. (Bring Your Own Funk)" / "If This is Love"
  • "Working on a Building of Love" / "Working on a Building of Love (Motor-Town Dub Mix)" (12-inch) (1990) (Motor City)


  • (Best of) The Fantastic Four (Soul/Tamla Motown) (1969)
  • Alvin Stone (The Birth and Death of a Gangster) (Westbound/20th Century) (1975), written by co-songwriter, Calvin Colbert
  • Night People (Westbound) (1976)
  • Got to Have Your Love (Westbound) (1977)
  • B.Y.O.F. (Bring Your Own Funk) (Westbound) (1978)
  • Back in Circulation (Motorcity) (1992)
  • The Lost Motown Album (Kent) (2015)


  1. ^ "The Golden World Story". Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  2. ^ "Soulful Detroit - The Golden World Story".
  3. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 195. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  4. ^ "Best of the Fantastic Four: Music". Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  5. ^ "Best of the Fantastic Four: Information from". Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ "The Lost Motown Album". Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  8. ^ "Re: Re: Re: Re: Spect For Sweet James". March 2, 2004.
  9. ^ Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club 2000". Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  10. ^ Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club : January - June 2014". Retrieved 2014-06-12.

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