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Initially stationed in England for the Air Force during the early '60s, American soul shouter Geno Washington fronted a British group known as the Ram Jam Band for a series of moderate U.K. chart hits during 1966-1967. Though he was born in Indiana, Washington had the grit of a deep soul testifier like Wilson Pickett or Don Covay. While stationed in East Anglia, Washington became known as a frequent stand-in at gigs around London. When guitarist Pete Gage saw him at a club in 1965, he asked Washington to join his new group with bassist John Roberts, drummer Herb Prestige, organist Jeff Wright, Lionel Kingham on tenor sax, and Buddy Beadle on baritone.
Geno Washington stayed in England after his release from the Air Force, and the band earned notice around the Southeast for an infectious live show that packed dozens of up-tempo R&B/soul nuggets into a half-hour. Signed to Piccadilly by early 1966, the group just broke into the Top 40 with "Water." Though it was their highest-charting single, Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band hit the charts three times in the next year with "Hi-Hi Hazel," a cover of "Que Sera Sera," and "Michael." The band's first two LPs -- Hand Clappin' Foot Stompin' Funky-Butt...Live! and Hipsters, Flipsters, Finger-Poppin' Daddies! -- were much better documents of the band at work, and both hit the British Top Ten. Still, Geno Washington recorded only two more albums with the Ram Jam Band before splitting by 1970. Gage went on to join Vinegar Joe, while Washington returned in 1976 with Geno's Back! Four years later, Washington earned his only number one hit (of a sort), when Dexys Midnight Runners took the tribute track "Geno" to the top of the charts. He recorded another LP (Put Out the Cat) in 1981, and continued to tour sporadically during the '80s and '90s, often incorporating a blues stance as well as a hypnotism act. ~ John Bush