The Hues Corporation

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The Hues Corporation
The Hues Corporation in 1970.jpg
The Hues Corporation in 1970: Karl Russell, H. Ann Kelley and St. Clair Lee (left to right)
Background information
Origin Santa Monica, California, United States
Genres Pop, soul, disco
Years active 1969–ca. 1980
(reunited in the 1990s)
Labels RCA Records, Warner Bros. Records
Past members St. Clair Lee
Fleming Williams
Hubert Ann Kelley
Tommy Brown
Karl Russell
Kenny James

The Hues Corporation was an American pop and soul trio, formed in Santa Monica, California in 1969. They are best known for their 1974 single "Rock the Boat", which sold over 2 million copies.[1]

Group name and background[edit]

Before achieving mainstream success they were the opening act for a list of headliners that included Frank Sinatra, Milton Berle, Nancy Sinatra, and Glen Campbell. The original band had a lineup of three singers and three sidemen. The sidemen were Joey Rivera from the Checkmates; Monti Lawston; and Bob "Bullet" Bailey, formerly of the Leaves. Bailey, Rivera, and Lawston left the band to form Goodstuff.

The group's name was a pun on the Howard Hughes Corporation, with the 'hue' (a synonym of 'color'), being a nod to the group members' African heritage. The band's members at the time of their first album were St. Clair Lee (born Bernard St. Clair Lee, April 24, 1944, San Francisco, California; died March 8, 2011), Fleming Williams (born December 26, 1943, Flint, Michigan; died February 15, 1998)[2] and Hubert Ann Kelley (born April 24, 1947, Fairfield, Alabama).[3] The original choice for the group's name was The Children of Howard Hughes, which their record label turned down.

Career[edit]

The group was formed in 1969.[4] Songwriter Wally Holmes founded the group with his friend Bernard St. Clair Lee. Female singer H. Ann Kelley was found at a talent show in Los Angeles. As a result of notices placed in southern California record stores, Karl Russell turned up.[5] They recorded a single "Goodfootin'" / "We're Keepin' Our Business" that was released on the Liberty label in 1970. It did not make an impact on the charts.[4][6]

Still with Karl Russell[7], the group's first big break came in 1972, when they were invited to appear in the blaxploitation film, Blacula, starring William Marshall. They were also asked to record three songs for the film's soundtrack: "There He Is Again", "What The World Knows," and "I'm Gonna Catch You." After their participation in the Blacula-project Karl Russell was replaced by Fleming Williams and the group signed with RCA Records; their second single for the label, "Freedom For The Stallion", from the album of the same name, became a moderate hit, reaching #63 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The third single from the album, "Rock the Boat," became a #1 hit on the Billboard chart and the group's signature song. The bass player on the session for "Rock the Boat" was Wilton Felder, not James Jamerson as previously reported. "Rock the Boat" was written by Holmes, who also wrote the Blacula songs, and was released in the U.S. in February 1974 and in the UK in July of that year.[8] It went to #1 for one week in the U.S. and #6 for two weeks in the UK, staying for 20 weeks in the U.S. chart with a gold disc awarded by the RIAA on 24 June 1974.[8] The track sold well over two million copies.[8] The song is considered one of the earliest disco songs. Some authorities proclaim it to be the first disco song to hit #1, while others give that distinction to "Love's Theme" by the Love Unlimited Orchestra, a chart-topper from earlier in 1974.

After the success of "Rock the Boat," the Hues Corporation's other charted singles on the Billboard Hot 100 included "Rockin' Soul" (1974, #18), "Love Corporation" (1975, #62), and "I Caught Your Act" (1977, #92).

The group was unable to duplicate the success of their earlier hits and disbanded sometime around 1980. Whereas some sources claim the year of disbanding as early as 1978, archive footage of a television special for the Chilean TV in 1979 promoting their performance at the Viña del Mar International Song Festival proves the opposite.[9] Furthermore, in 1980 the Hues Corporation released one last single in the US[10] and a sixth album in at least New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa.[11] With the renewed popularity of disco music in the 1990s, the group reunited for tour dates and special events, including the PBS special Get Down Tonight: The Disco Explosion.

Group members[edit]

Karl Russell was replaced by Fleming Williams who sang the male lead part on "Rock the Boat". Williams left not long after its recording.[12]

Williams was initially replaced by Tommy Brown.[5] In an interview with Gary James, St. Clair Lee said that after some time Williams was brought back into the group and in turn replaced Tommy Brown.[13]

Around 1975, Karl Russell rejoined the band taking over the role of lead singer after Fleming Williams had left for good.[14][15][13]

Around 1979, Kenny James took over as lead singer from Karl Russell.[16]. James can be seen in the Chilean TV-footage from 1979 promoting their performance at the Viña del Mar International Song Festival[9] and is also shown on the cover of the group's last album "Boogie Me, Move Me" from 1980[11].

In later years, circa the 1990s St. Clair Lee revived the group and recruited Bruce Glover and Elaine Woodard as the new members.[14][17]

Hubert Ann Kelley later left the group to become a minister.[17][18]

Fleming Wiliams died in the 1990s. Many sources claim the date of his death was September 1992,[19][20] but other sources claim he died in February 1998.[2] According to the Social Security Death Index, Fleming Williams died on February 15, 1998.[21] His death has been attributed to a "long illness," although many others have also alluded to a long struggle with drugs.[2][22] According to The New McCree Theatre in Williams' home town Flint, which in 2011 put on the play "Rock The Boat: The Fleming Williams Story" co-written by Williams' mother, Fleming Williams actually committed suicide in 1998.[23]

Founding member St. Clair Lee died on March 8, 2011, in Lake Elsinore, California. He is said to have died from natural causes at the age of 66, as written in the Los Angeles Times obituaries in March. He was survived by his mother, sons, and sister.[24]

U.S. discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • "Goodfootin'" / "We're Keepin' Our Business" - Liberty 56204 - 1970 [4][6]
  • "There He Is Again" / "Main Chance" (Love Theme from BLACULA) - RCA Victor 74-0813 - 1972
  • "Freedom for the Stallion" / "Off My Cloud" - RCA Victor 74-0900 - 1973
  • "Miracle Maker (Sweet Soul Shaker)" / "Go to the Poet" - RCA Victor APB0-0139 - 1973
  • "Rock the Boat" / "All Goin' Down Together" - RCA Victor APB0-0232 - 1974
  • "Rockin' Soul" / "Go To The Poet" - RCA Victor PB-10066 - 1974
  • "Love Corporation" / He's My Home" - RCA Victor PB-10200 - 1975
  • "How I Wish We Could Do It All Again" - 1975
  • "Rock the Boat" / "All Goin' Down Together" - RCA Gold Standard - 1975
  • "I Caught Your Act" / "Natural Find" - Warner Bros. / Curb WBS 8334 - 1977
  • "Telegram of Love" / "Dancing Together Again" - Warner Bros. / Curb – WBS 8454 - 1977 [25]

Studio albums[edit]

  • Freedom for the Stallion - RCA Victor – APL1-0323 (1973) [26]
  • Rockin' Soul - RCA Victor – APL1-0775 (1974) [27]
  • Love Corporation - RCA Victor – APL1-0938 (1975) [28]
  • I Caught Your Act - Warner Bros. Records – BS 3043 (1977); released outside the US with different cover artwork as Not Too Shabby on RCA Victor (APL1-1486 in New Zealand) [29][30]
  • Your Place or Mine - Warner Bros. Records – BSK 3196 (1978) [31]
  • Boogie Me, Move Me - Stetson Records - SRLP 13 (1980) (New Zealand-release); released with different cover artwork in Argentina (as Bailemos El Boogie; Polydor - 0006150) as well as in South Africa [11]

Notable compilation albums[edit]

LP[edit]

  • The Best of The Hues Corporation - RCA Victor APL1-2408 (1977) [32]
  • The Best of The Hues Corporation - Pickwick ACL-7068 (1979) [33]

Compact Disc[edit]

  • The Very Best of the Hues Corporation - Camden 74321 603422 (1998) [1]

[34][35][36]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ron Wynn. "Hues Corporation - Biography - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "Fleming Williams". DiscoMusic.com. Archived from the original on 21 January 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  3. ^ More Hues Corporation info
  4. ^ a b c Rhythm and Blues, Rap, and Hip-hop by Frank Hoffmann Page 127 Hues Corporation
  5. ^ a b Super Seventies RockSite "Rock the Boat" Hues Corporation RCA 0232 July 1974
  6. ^ a b Popsike Promo Northern Soul 45 HUES CORPORATION "Goodfootin' " Liberty HEAR
  7. ^ Footage of The Hues Corporation appearing in Blacula. youtube.com. Retrieved 12 Juli 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 345. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  9. ^ a b The Hues Corporation en Chile, especial de UC-TV 1979. youtube.com. Retrieved 12 Juli 2018
  10. ^ Discogs The Hues Corporation - Something In Return
  11. ^ a b c Discogs The Hues Corporation - Boogie Me, Move Me
  12. ^ Disco Museum. Fleming Williams Born: 12-26-1943 Died: 2-15-1998 (undisclosed)
  13. ^ a b classicbands.com Gary James' Interview With St. Clair Lee of The Hues Corporation
  14. ^ a b Mental Itch The Hues Corporation – “Rock the Boat”
  15. ^ Billboard Hues Corporation Biography ~ Ron Wynn, Rovi
  16. ^ Kenny James, Internationally Acclaimed Singer and Dancer. entertalkradio.com. Retrieved 12 Juli 2018.
  17. ^ a b The Independent Monday 13 June 2011 By Pierre Perrone
  18. ^ Soulwalking hues corporation
  19. ^ "The Dead Rock Stars Club 1992 - 1993". Thedeadrockstarsclub.com. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  20. ^ Disco (RIP) Pioneers Archived May 11, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ "RootsWeb: Database Index". Ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  22. ^ Pore-Lee-Dunn Productions. "Interview With The Hues Corporation". Classicbands.com. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  23. ^ McCree revives story of hit-maker Fleming Williams. mlive.com. Retrieved 11 Juli 2018.
  24. ^ "Afterword". Latimesblogs.latimes.com. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  25. ^ 45cat The Hues Corporation - Discography
  26. ^ Discogs Hues Corporation, The – Freedom For The Stallion}
  27. ^ Discogs Hues Corporation, The – Rockin' Soul
  28. ^ Discogs Hues Corporation, The – Love Corporation
  29. ^ Discogs Hues Corporation, The – I Caught Your Act
  30. ^ Discogs The Hues Corporation - I Caught Your Act
  31. ^ Discogs Hues Corporation, The – Your Place Or Mine
  32. ^ Discogs Hues Corporation, The – The Best Of Hues Corporation
  33. ^ Discogs Hues Corporation, The – Best Of The Hues Corporation
  34. ^ Muzyczne ABC Hues Corporation [US] - The Very Best Of The Hues Corporation
  35. ^ "The Hues Corporation". Discogs.com. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  36. ^ "The Very Best of the Hues Corporation - Hues Corporation - Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 December 2014.