The Natural Four

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The Natural Four
Origin Oakland, California, U.S.
Genres Rhythm and blues, soul, funk, doo-wop, rock and roll
Years active 1967–1976
Labels Boola Boola, Chess Records, ABC Records, Curtom, Sequel
Associated acts The Impressions, Curtis Mayfield, Leroy Hutson
Past members Al Bowden
Chris James
Allen Richardson
Darryl Cannady
Delmos Whitley
John January
Steve Striplin

The Natural Four was an American R&B group from Oakland, California.


Formed in 1967, the Natural Four approached Fred Ivey about becoming their manager. Ivey owned a local record store called Tape Town and eventually made a deal with a local Oakland label, Boola Boola Records. Their first release, "I Thought You Were Mine" sold 30,000 copies locally, after being regularly played on San Francisco soul/R&B radio station KSOL and on Oakland's KDIA where it rose to #7 on the chart.

ABC Records saw the group's potential and picked them up. Their second release on Boola Boola, "Why Should We Stop Now" was re-released and, ABC then released "The Same Thing in Mind", a remake of their first hit "I Thought You Were Mine", and a cover of The Temptations' "Message From a Black Man", but none repeated the success of their initial recording.

Chess Records released the single, "Give a Little Love" in 1971 without success and, following this, Chris James replaced the rest of the band. The new group, with Delmos Whitley generally taking lead, signed with Curtis Mayfield's label, Curtom Records, in 1972 and proceeded to release a string of US R&B hits, including one Top 40 breakthrough, 1973's "Can This Be Real". Their three Curtom LPs were mainly produced by Leroy Hutson, formerly of The Impressions, but after their third album failed to chart, the group called it quits.

The Curtom releases were re-issued in 1999 as a two-CD package by Sequel.


  • Chris James
  • Allen Richardson
  • John January
  • Al Bowden
  • Chris James
  • Darryl Cannady
  • Steve Striplin
  • Delmos Whitley



Year Title Chart Positions
US Pop Singles US Black Singles
1969 "Why Should We Stop Now" - 31
1974 "Can This Be Real" 31 10
"Love That Really Counts" 98 23
"You Bring Out the Best in Me" - 20
1975 "Heaven Right Here on Earth" - 68
"Love's So Wonderful" - 87
1976 "Free" - 71
"It's the Music" - 82