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the Highlighters / the Toledos

Toledo, late 1950s-early 1960s

The Highlighters were a vocal group from Toledo. The members were Frank Williams, Howard Bell, James Sutton, and John or Jay Hooker. 

They recorded 4 songs for the New Song label. On the two records they were backed by Fred Harris' Red Top Organ Trio. The first 45 is more R&B than vocal group. The next 45 has the group only on "Well", and that is mostly instrumental with the group singing a lor of doowop style syllables. The second record was released in 1962, 4 years after the first 45, but they sound like they were recorded at the same time. The "Well" 45 was the last release on New Songs, probably just a last gasp to clear out the leftover material.  The label lists the Red Top Trio members as Fred Harris on organ, Big Joe Burrell on sax, Swing Lee on drums, and Joe Massina on guitar.

They also sang backup on a 45 by Chuck Dockery on New Song.

The group recorded another 45 for the End label, which was also released on the Down label. The group was called the Toledos on the record. A website for vocal groups says they were originally named the Toledos but changed to the Highlighters, then back to the Toledos. There were other recording groups named the Highlighters, HiLighters, etc so End records probably forced them to change. The group finally has a chance to show off their harmonies and they came up with a really nice record. The A side "This Is Our Night" was credited to the four members.

Not much else we know about them for now. The booklet/discography "Toledo Rock N Roll" says they recorded later as the Rockmasters on Romulus and One-Derful. They were definitely not the Rockmasters on Romulus, the group on One-Derful were different, and almost certainly not from Toledo either.

Flang Dang Do / The Bull - New Song 115/6, 1958
Las Vegas Drive / Well - New Song 133/4, 1962
This Is Our Night / John Smith's Body - End 1094 / Down 2003 - July 1961