The Midnighters were a American R&B group from Detroit Michigan. They were one of the most important groups of the early 1950's with numerous ground-braking hit records that helped define the R&B music of that era . They were also notable for launching the career of lead singer Hank Ballard , and the world-wide dance craze The Twist.Other big hits included the Billboard Top 10 Pop Hits Finger Popping Timeand Let's Go,Let's Go,Let's Go.Top 10 R&B hits included "Work With Me Annie","It's Love Baby (24 Hours A Day)","Annie Had A Baby","The Hoochi Coochi Coo", "Teardrops On Your Letter","Get It", "The Float" and "Nothing But Good" .
Origin and Early Years
The Midnighters actually formed in 1952 as The Royals. The group was was formed in Detroit by guitarist and songwriter Alonzo Tucker. During the groups' early years, such notable future stars as Jackie Wilson,Little Willie John , and Levi Stubbs (later to go on to worldwide fame as lead singer of Motown Records group The Four Tops) were members. After several personnel changes,the group finally stabilized, with members Tucker,Henry Booth,Charles Sutton,Sonny Woods,and Lawson Smith.Hank Ballard and Sonny Woods worked on the same auto assembly line in Detroit, and that is where they met.The two became friends, and when Smith, the group's lead singer, was drafted, Ballard joined the group. This was the Royals lineup when they were discovered by legendary bandleader and producer Johnny Otis in 1953. Otis became the Royals' manager, and obtained a record deal for them with Cincinatti-based King Records on it's DeLuxe subsidiary label.Initially, Henry Booth took over Smith's role as lead singer,while Ballard sang back up with Woods,Sutton,Tucker,and Sutton.Early Royals/Midnighters recordings featuring Henry Booth were Doo-Wop ballads,including the original version of "Every Beat Of My Heart", written by Otis, (which , years later, became the first million-selling hit for Gladys Knight & The Pips ), and "Starting From Tonight" (written by group member Alonzo Tucker) .Although these songs were mild successes,they didn't cement the group's success.They weren't really ,at the time,doing anything to distingush themselves from other Doo-Wop groups of the era.But, major changes were coming .Hank Ballard began writing for the group, and quickly became the group's lead singer, and this one change caused the group to experience major success for the first time. Also, around this time , they were moved to another King Records subsidiary, Federal Records, and with Ballard leading, the Royals had their first major hit with "Get It", With Ballard (who also wrote the song) leading, the Royals'style totally changed, from soft Mills Brothers-like ballads to raunchy Rhythm and Blues. Also around this time, the group's name changed as well. Their name , "The Royals",was too similar to another group on the King roster, The "5" Royales, so, to distinguish themselves from this group, their name was changed to The Midnighters.