Youngstown, 1957- 65
The Edsels were from the Youngstown suburb of Campbell, mainly a community for blue collar workers at the local steel plants. The group included George Wydell Jones on lead, with James Reynolds (tenor), Larry Greene (tenor), Harold Reynolds (James's brother, baritone), and Marshall Sewell (bass). Several of the members had been born in the south, but moved to Ohio to work in the local mills. The group sang at local hops where they were discovered by Warren based talent scout/music publisher Jim Maderitz. Maderitz encouraged the group to put together some songs and recorded 4 songs at Schneider Recording in Cleveland, around 1957/, with Del "Saint" Sinchak and his band backing them. Since NE Ohio barely had any local recording industry, Maderitz had to do a lot of hustling to get a couple songs, the classic group styled ballad "Bells" and the uptempo "Rama Lama Ding Dong", both published with his Jimbo publishing, to be released on Dub records from Arkansas. George Jones had wrote "Rama Lama" while in the Air Force before the Edsels started. James Reynolds had also been in the Air Force, and was briefly a member of the Del-Vikings before they recorded.
When the record was pressed it was mistitled "Lama Rama Ding Dong", but it probably didn't matter much as the record didn't go anywhere. This initial failure didn't completely discourage the group, as they continued to perform. The next year, they made some more recordings with help from Tony March, who was just getting his Tammy label up and running. George Jones wrote most of the group's songs. The group got the songs, similar to the first 45, placed on Roulette records, with "Do You Love Me" (not the Contours song) getting some action. The group then released a 45 on Tammy with the Generals backing them.
By 1961, the group probably thought they were going to be playing the OH/PA club scene, but then one of those thing that seem like a storyline taken from a cliche'd early rock and roll movie, "Rama Lama Ding Dong" was r Marshall Sewell's call of the song title sounding a lot like the classic bass line of "Blue Moon", it was an obvious follow up. "Rama Lama" was re-released on the Twin label from NYC and became a national hit, inspiring a bootleevived thanks to some enterprising DJs who were playing off the huge success of "Blue Moon" by the Marcels and withg pressing on a counterfeit Dub records using a slightly different take.
The success brought record companies calling and over the next year they released new recordings on Ember and Capitol records, and by way of Jim Maderitz, released two songs from the group's initial recording session on Dot records. The follow ups were minor hits (doing well in Ohio, PA, NY) and the group went out on the road for a year or so riding the wave of success.
After a couple more non-successful 45s on
Capitol, the group returned to Youngstown and recorded a few more songs
that were released on Tammy on three 45s over the next few years. The
songs marked the group's move into the early soul sound, as their
doowop sound was falling out of style. Around 1965 the group went
dormant, with Larry Greene and George Jones (as George Wydell)
recording 45s on their own.
Over the years, the group would reunite for oldies shows. James Reynolds has kept the Edsels name alive by performing in a group called the Reynolds Brothers, with help from George Jones' song Maurice. George Jones and Marshall Sewell are deceased.