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The Wanderers

The Wanderers

We Could Find Happiness

Harlem boasted the presence of a slew of great groups during throughout the '50s. That's where The Wanderers called home. Formed as The Barons in 1950, they originally consisted of tenors Bob Yarborough and Alfonso Brown, baritone Frank Joyner, and bass singer Sheppard Grant. The foursome changed their name to The Larks before finally settling on The Singing Wanderers.


In 1953, Brown left. Lead tenor Ray Pollard (born August 25, 1930 in New York) came in after serving in the Army over in Korea, and things started happening. The Wanderers (no 'Singing') signed with Herman Lubinsky's Savoy Records in Newark, New Jersey and made their Pollard-led debut single, We Could Find Happiness, on August 26, 1953 in New York. They were backed by a quintet populated by saxman Buddy Tate and jazz pianist Mal Waldron (all four Wanderers shared the B-side, Hey Mae Ethel). Two other titles, Tell Me How and Nothing I Wouldn't Do, languished in the vaults. A second Savoy session in December was split with Dolly Cooper, but My First, Last And Only Girl and What Do I Do were shelved. Two titles where they backed Cooper did see light of day. Savoy also dispatched their Did You See That, cut a couple of weeks later, to the vaults.

Manager Lee Magid moved the quartet over to Decca in mid-'54, where they reverted to their Singing Wanderers tag for Say Hey, Willie Mays, one of several tributes to the New York Giants outfielder then on the market. They followed it with Three Roses before taking a recording hiatus. But they weren't entirely off the scene, performing three numbers in the groundbreaking 1956 film 'Rockin' The Blues' (The Harptones, Hurricanes, Pearl Woods, and Linda Hopkins shared billing). The flick didn't do much for The Wanderers' recording fortunes; it was another year before Onyx issued their Thinking Of You.

Onyx was owned by Jerry Winston, and when he hired on with MGM's new Orbit imprint (soon renamed Cub), The Wanderers came along. A Teenage Quarrel was their first offering on the logo in May of '58, but it wasn't until 1961 that one of their Cub releases dented the pop charts when a Pollard-led remake of Ed Townsend's creamy '58 ballad For Your Love made a #93 impression. The next year they returned with a revival of Isham Jones' 1936 hit There Is No Greater Love that ventured five slots higher on MGM. The major label surrounded the group with lush violins, perhaps helping the quartet get on CBS-TV's 'The Ed Sullivan Show' in 1960-61.

Versatile enough to play the Apollo one week and the Catskills the next, The Wanderers cut two last singles for United Artists in 1963 and stuck together until the end of '64. Grant died the next year, but Pollard mounted a solo career, cutting mid-'60s 45s for the legendary Shrine logo in Washington, D.C. United Artists, and Decca. At the dawn of the '70s, Pollard was in the cast of the Broadway musical 'Purlie,' then joined The Joe Cuba Sextet. Cancer claimed him on January 26, 2005.

Various - Street Corner Symphonies Vol.05, 1953 The Complete Story Of Doo Wop

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