Hornets / Ben Iverson


Cleveland, 1952-62

The Hornets formed in the original R&B vocal group era. The group was made up of teenagers, most notably James Long, Johnny Moore, and Ben Iverson. This was the time of bird named groups so they became the Hornets - not a bird, but still a flying creature.

The group started out performing locally. By 1953 they were strong enough to go to Chicago and record for the States label located there. They recorded a few songs, including "I Can't Believe" and "Lonesome Baby", which were released on a 45 and a 78. The 45s were pressed on red vinyl and standard black vinyl. The record wasn't much of a hit even in Cleveland. In the 1970s and 1980s, when R&B vocal groups were considered the most collectible genre of records, the record was considered to be one of the top rarities and copies sold for more than $10,000. In recent years copies have dropped down to the $2000-$3000 range as the R&B group collector scene has significantly diminished.

In late 1954 Johnny Moore left the group to join the Drifters, whose original lead singer Clyde McPhatter had been temporarily drafted into the military. This turned out to be a great move for Moore, who stayed with the Drifters for many years and sang lead on classics such as "Under the Boardwalk" and "Saturday Night at the Movies". 

The Hornets continued to peform in the local Cleveland clubs and also in the neighboring cities such as Detroit and Cincinnati. For a while the group had Eddie Woods, who later sang with the Monclairs. 

In 1962 the group signed up with Way Out records - at last Cleveland now had a label that specialized in black groups - and appeared on the label's first two 45s, the first one backing label co-owner Lester Johnson, who was not a member of the Hornets. The other 45 was group, credited as Ben Iverson and the Hornets. Both of these 45s, backed with decent promotion, were local hits, the Ben Iverson one especially. The sound was definitely still much in the vocal group style. 

Not much is known to us about the group's history after that, except for Ben Iverson. Sometime before the late 1960s he moved to New York and had one 45 under the name of the Nue Day Express. They changed their name to Crown Heights Affair and had several big hits in the mid-late 1970s including "Dreaming a Dream". Iverson had left the group by the time they recorded those hits. He passed away in 2008.

Discography

I Can't Believe / Lonesome Baby  - States 127, Nov. 1953
Wedding Day / Jamaica Farewell - Way Out no #, 1962 (Lester Johnson and the Hornets)
Love Me / Fools Rush In - Way Out no #, 1962 (Ben Iverson and the Hornets)

The Hornets on Flash, VIP, and others not listed here are different groups.