The Southlanders

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The Southlanders was a Jamaican / British vocal group[1] formed in 1950 by Edric Connor and Vernon Nesbeth.[2] Nesbeth had been receiving singing coaching from Connor, and when Connor decided to record an album of Jamaican songs, he asked Nesbeth to assemble a group to provide vocal backing for it. Members of the group were Vernon Nesbeth, Frank Mannah, and brothers Harold (Harry) and Allan Wilmot. "Songs from Jamaica" (Argo RG33) was released in 1954 with the group credited as "The Caribbeans". Connor then persuaded the group to appear with him in cabaret in London's Celebrity Restaurant to promote the album.[3]

During the following year, the group was briefly known as "The South Londoners" and "The Southerners", but by the time of the group's second recording, again providing harmony vocals to Connor on "Songs from Trinidad" (1955, Argo RG57), it had settled on The Southlanders as its name, and went on to record a third album with him.[4]

The group's biggest commercial hit, and its only appearance in the UK Top 40 Singles Chart, was their 1957 cover version of "Alone", which sold over one million copies. "Alone", released by Decca Records, entered the Chart on 22 November 1957 and spent a total of ten weeks in the chart, peaking at #17 on 28 November.[5][6]

Its final single, "Imitation of Love", was released in 1961.[7]

The song the group is most identified with is "I am a Mole and I Live in a Hole" (also known as "Mole", "The Mole" and "The Mole in a Hole"). The title line from the song was spoken by the group's bass voice Harry Wilmot, father of Gary Wilmot. Harry Wilmot died in 1961, when his son was six years old. The song failed to make the UK Singles Chart in 1958, but has been performed at every Southlanders' event since its release. Group founder Vernon Nesbeth said that the group tried to take the song out of their set but that club managers and audiences insisted upon hearing it. "It's become protected. Untouchable. We've even sung it in Japanese", said Nesbeth.

After its popularity began to wane, the group performed with success in cabaret on cruise ships and in hotels until it disbanded. Nesbeth semi-retired in January 2004 to reside in Spain; he died on 6 March 2017 in Torrevieja.[8]. Allan Wilmot retired and resides in South London.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 517. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. ^ Calypso and Other Music of Trinidad, 1912–1962: An Annotated Discography. McFarland. 2015-04-27. ISBN 9781476619316.
  3. ^ Notes, "(1954) Edric Connor and the Caribbeans – Songs from Jamaica", folkcatalogue.
  4. ^ Notes, "(1955) Edric Connor and the Southlanders – Songs from Trinidad", folkcatalogue.
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 517. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  6. ^ "Official Charts - The Southlanders"
  7. ^ "The Southlanders". December 23, 2010. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  8. ^ Nicol, Keith (March 7, 2017). "Death of Vernon Nesbeth". EWN Media Group. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  9. ^ Fisher, Bob; Theo Morgan (2011). 1957 British Hit Parade — Part 2: July–December (booklet). various artists. UK: Acrobat Music. ACQCD7025.

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