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Crescents (Billy Wells and the Crescents) / Wigs

Cleveland,  1955-64

The Crescents started out while high school students. The original group included Albert Banks. Garfield "Buddy" Jackson, Leroy McQueen, and William Burrell, who was a few years younger, as lead. Burrell used the stage name Billy Wells. 

The group recorded a 45 for Reserve which featured a standard R&B vocal group pairing of the uptempo "Julie" and the ballad "I Love Only You". The group was managed and booked by Syd Friedman. The Crescents 45 (billed as Billy Wells and the Crescents) sold a decent amount of copies locally. 

After a while Billy Wells was forced from the group for personal reasons. He was replaced by Lawyer "Henry" Curtis. James Porter replaced Buddy Jackson. This version of the group sings backing on a 45 by Clark Vaden on the Dolly label. 

Later, Art Blakey replaced Curtis and Art's strong voice and stage presence gave the group a fresh start. This was around 1963. Friedman decided to change the group's image and sound so he came up with the idea of calling them the Wigs, and dress in the style of 1800s politicans inclduing white wigs, apparently drawing a connection to the Whig political party of that old time. The group recorded "Chicken Switch" and "You're Sweeter Than Wine" at Cleveland Recording, and Friedman used Carl Maduri to get the record on the Golden Crest label. The record had a decent amount of sales, probably helped by their widely distributed promo pic - and maybe by the Beatles, whose long hair inspired a fresh run of wigs for performing artists. The record's success prompted Maduri (with a business partner)  to start Sunburst records.  The Wigs don't see to have lasted much longer. 

Art Blakey joined the Hesitations. Billy Wells of the Crescents is not the same Billy Wells who recorded for RAN and moved to Florida.

Julie / I Love Only You - Reserve 105, 1956
Chicken Switch / You're Sweeter Than Wine - Golden Crest 592, June 1964

"Chicken Switch" was also released in Canada.