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Cleveland, 1952-1960

The Coronets were Cleveland second most famous R&B vocal group behind the Moonglows. The group started around 1952 when they were students at Edison High School. The group included Sammy Griggs, brother Bill Griggs, Lester Russaw, and George Lewis. Not long after they started performing, Charles Carruthers joined as primary lead singer.

The group made a couple demos to WJW DJ Alan Freed and he was able to get them signed to Chess records, at least a year before the Moonglows. The group wrote "Nadine" and that was the A side of their first 45 on Chess, and it was a big R&B hit. When the record was released, Alan Freed had put his name as writer, not the first and last time that happened. They were backed by the Sax Mallard Combo when they recorded at Chess.

The group returned to Chess and cut some more songs, two of them were released on a second., less successful 45. Meanwhile the success of "Nadine" got them shows at chitlin circuit stops in the Great Lakes and Midwest.

Russaw and Carruthers left and the group replaced them with Bobby Ward. By 1955, Chess was no loger interested in them, and Freed and long given them up as both Chess and Freed picked the Moonglows to promote. The Coronets recorded  a bunch of new songs locally (believed to have been done at Schneider), and were signed on to Sterling records, a short lived label run by Shelly Haims and Irving Lief. On the recordings, they were backed by the Cleveland R&B group the Bill Reese  Quintet, who also recorded on their own for Sterling. Other names show up on the Sterling 45, LaMotta and Schroeder. Sterling was able to get RCA's R&B subsidiary Groove records to release 2 Coronets 45s apparently simultaneously. 

None of these records got much action, and the group continued to perform in the Cleveland area. Bobby Ward left and was replaced by the returning Charles Carruthers. In 1960 they made one more 45, with Charles singing lead and Sam Griggs writing the songs. The 45 was on the JOB label, a one-off which seems to have been their own. The record was recorded at Audio, with one side using Joe Petito's Big Song publishing.

The group disbanded at the end of 1960. 

Sam Griggs continued to be active in Cleveland music, although not in ways that you might expect. He seems to have gotten into the 1960s teen rock scene, most notably backing the Denmarcs