The doo wopping Gainors (the origin of the name is a mystery), who scored regionally their first time out-the-box in 1958 on Red Top Records with "The Secret," were Garnett Mimms, Howard Tate, Sam Bell, Willie Combo, and John Jefferson. Mimms formed the group in Philadelphia (where he was raised) after a stint in the Air Force; born Garrett Mimms in Ashland, WV, his family relocated to Philly where he got his start singing gospel with the Evening Stars, the Harmonizing Four, and the Norfolk Four who he cut his first record with in 1953. Howard Tate, the group's other illustrious member, was born in Macon, GA, and previously sang with the Bill Doggett Band. Sam Bell, became a songwriter of some note, writing for the late Lorraine Ellison, Tate (as a solo act), Garnett Mimms & the Enchanters, and others. "The Secret" was their most successful record, but a cover by Gordon McCrae sold even better, making the lower echelons of the charts while the Gainors' rendition failed to register nationally. Red Top followed it with a sweet ballad "You Must Be an Angel," a lesser local/regional hit but a hot item if you can find the original Red Top 45, going for around 500 smackers. Cameo Records picked up both Red Top singles in an attempt to bust 'em nationally.
The quintet signed with Mercury Records from 1959-1960 and added three more singles, albeit unsuccessful, to their discography: "She's My Lollipop," "Please Consider," and "I'm in Love With You" b/w "Nothing Means More to Me." Two more droppings on Tally-Ho Records in 1961 -- "This Is the Perfect Moment" b/w "Where I Want to Be" and "Tell Him" b/w "Darlin" -- completed the Gainors brief history. They never had a national hit or even one that got as far as the Midwest despite the singing ability of Mimms and Tate.
In 1963, Mimms formed Garnet Mimms & the Enchanters with Sam Bell, Charles Boyer, and Zola Pearnell; they were a soulful group who hit nationally with "Cry Baby," "Baby Don't You Weep," and "For Your Precious Love" on United Artists Records. He went solo in 1964, though the Enchanters (uncredited) still backed him and cut unsung classics like "Quiet Place." Tate went solo in 1962 and made some seminal soul records that are lauded by aficionados, including "Nobody Homes," "Look at Granny Run, Run," and "Stop" -- all Top 20 R&B hits. He also cut brilliant sides that didn't chart as high including "Half a Man," "How Come My Bulldog Don't Bark," and the remarkable "These Are the Things That Make Me Know You're Gone" (number 28 R&B) on Lloyd Price's Turntable label. In all, Tate released singles on Utopia, Verve, Turntable, Atlantic, Epic, HT (for Howard Tate), and TBF Records. Jerry Ragovoy produced most of Garnett Mimms & the Enchanters', Tate's, and Lorraine Ellison's (who died August 17, 1985) hits. Tate's career ended around the time of Ellison's death, and he hasn't been spotted since. Mimms last recordings came out in the late '70s.
Ex-Gainors' Sam Bell managed Ellison and co-wrote many of her recordings. You can find recordings by all on numerous CDs but the one to look for is the out-of-print Garnett Mimms-Sensational New Star; the names of three recording companies grace the cover: Guest Star, Diplomat, and Ambassador. It contains the Gainors' rare Tally-Ho sides and more; they sound like Ben E. King & the Drifters on some cuts and Jackie Wilson on others. ~ Andrew Hamilton