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The Hornets

They only had a few releases, and no hits, but the Hornets were one of Cleveland, OH's most talked about groups of the '50s and 60's. The original Hornets were Ben Iverson, Johnny Moore, James "Sonny" Long, and Gus Miller, but except for Iverson, the lineup wasn't etched in stone. Bill Brent, Carl Brown, Bobby Woods, and Eddie Woods (unrelated to Bobby) also stake claims as one-time Hornets. The group opened doors and provided hope for local hopefuls when they landed a deal with Chicago's States Records in 1953, making them one of Chicago's first recording groups. Originally the Mellotones, they formed in 1951 at Central High School where they spent more time using the hallways and restrooms' echo effects than studying. State was the sister label to United Records, owned by Lew Simpkins, one of the first minority owned recording company's in America; Excelsior and Exclusive Records (Los Angeles, CA) owned by the Rene Brothers may be the first. Johnny Moore led both sides of "Lonesome Baby" b/w "I Can't Believe You're in Love With Me" in 1953. Other recordings such as "Big City Bounce," "Ridin' and Rockin'," and "You Played the Game" stayed shelved until 1981 when P-Vine Records, a Japanese company, released the tracks on an album with the Five C's entitled Chicago Doo-Wops: Black Music in the 50's, Vol. 3. They took a hit when the Drifters snatched Johnny Moore in 1954. Drifters' Bill Pinkney discovered Moore in Cleveland at a concert both groups were playing. Moore was singing so good in the men's room that Pinkney extended an invitation to join the Drifters, which he accepted. The contract with States wasn't an issue, Simpkins passed May 27, 1953. The Hornets sole single appeared six months later, but Simpkins' untimely demise voided the deal. Ironically, both the Hornets and the the Drifters debuted on record in 1953. Moore didn't give a two-week notice, he left after the Cleveland gig with the Drifters, which left the Hornets in a lurch in the middle of promoting their single. Moore made his presence known immediately; his tenor was featured on "Adorable," which aced the R&B chart in 1955. He also led "Ruby Baby," which soared to number two pop and number five R&B. In 1958, manager George Treadwell fired most of the Drifters and recruited new guys. Uncle Sam drafted Moore shortly afterwards and temporarily halted his drifting. In 1961 after fulfilling his obligation, he rejoined the Drifters who now featured Rudy Lewis on most leads. Lewis, unfortunately, died a year later making, Moore the primary lead; he stayed with the group until 1971. He distinguished himself the second time around by leading many hits, including their last pop Top Ten record, "Under the Boardwalk." When the hits dried in the '70s, Moore took a crew of the Drifters to England and performed as Johnny Moore & the Drifters until 1980; they scored a few European hits, "Kissing in the Back Row of the Movies" and "Down on the Beach Tonight," and played the clubs, cabarets, and parties. Moore was the Drifters' most prolific lead singer; he's featured on 51 A and B sides exceeding numbers by more touted leads: Clyde McPhatter, Ben E. King, and Rudy Lewis. The Hornets continued as Ben Iverson & the Hornets; though Iverson rarely led a song, he was the group's driving force. For a minute, according to Ike Perry, Iverson sang with Ike Perry & the Lyrics, a Cleveland group who traveled the United States recording for little recording companies. Iverson reunited a group of Hornets for three releases on Lester Johnson and Bill Branch's Way Out Records -- "I'm Not Ashamed," "Jamaica Farewell," and "Fools Rush In" b/w "Love Me" -- around 1962. They didn't go and the group disbanded. Iverson moved to New York City and gave it one last stab as Ben Iverson & the Nue Day Express on Britne Records with "I Tried My Best" b/w "Look What You're Doing to Me"; it did nothing and Ben Iverson gave up his dream. Bill Brent served as a six-month temp in the Drifters. The rest of the Hornets, except for Eddie Woods who recorded with other locals and cut some solo tracks on Boddie Records, are reportedly deceased. Johnny Moore died in London en route to the hospital January 1, 1999. He was 64 years old, and he is survived by his wife Jennifer and three sons. ~ Andrew Hamilton
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 4

Disc 1

1. Castles In The Sand

2. Thank You (For Loving Me All The Way

6. Shambles

8. The Way You Do The Things You Do

9. Just Let Me Know

10. If Your Heart Says Yes

11. I'll Cry Tomorrow

12. He's A Good Guy (Yes He Is)

13. Goddess Of Love

14. How Can We Tell Him

15. Better Late Than Never

16. Run, Run, Run

17. I'm Giving You Your Freedom

20. (You Can't Let The Boy Overpower) The Man In You

21. Heartbreak Road

22. Only You

23. Right Now

24. Give Me A Kiss

25. She's My Baby

26. You're A Wonderful One

27. When I'm Alone I Cry

Disc 2

1. Can You Do It

2. I'll Stand By You

3. Set Me Free

5. Poor Girl

6. (Like A) Nightmare

7. If You Were Mine

8. Midnight Johnny

9. Keep Me

10. My Guy

11. Oh Little Boy (What Did You Do To Me)

14. Devil With The Blue Dress

15. Wind It Up

16. Every Little Bit Hurts

17. Land Of A Thousand Boys

18. Bringin' In The Gold

19. I've Been A Long Time Leaving

20. Satisfied Mind

21. That's What's Happenin'

22. Once Upon A Time

23. What's The Matter With You Baby

24. Just Ain't Enough Love

25. I'll Be In Trouble

26. The Girl's Alright With Me

Disc 3

1. Hey Harmonica Man

2. This Little Girl

3. Little Acorn

4. Cold As Usual

5. You're Just Like You

6. Here Comes That Heartache

7. Try It Baby

8. If My Heart Could Sing

10. I Like It Like That

11. You're So Fine And Sweet

12. You're My Remedy

13. A Little Bit Of Sympathy, A Little Bit Of Love

14. Where Did Our Love Go

15. He Means The World To Me

16. Jimmy Brown

17. Everybody's Angel

18. I'll Always Love You

19. Sad Song

20. When I'm Gone

21. Guarantee (For A Lifetime)

22. Baby I Need Your Loving

23. Call On Me

24. Since I've Lost You

25. I Want Her Love

26. You Make Me Happy

27. You Never Looked Better

28. Candy To Me

29. If You Don't Want My Love

Disc 4

1. Dancing In The Street

3. Baby I Miss You

4. Leaving Here

5. My Smile Is Just A Frown Turned Upside Down

6. I'll Come Running

7. Looking For The Right Guy

8. Feel Alright Tonight

9. Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)

10. Baby Baby I Need You

11. My Lil's Run Off

12. Spanish Lace And Memories

13. Satan's Blues

14. Monkey Jump

15. Bread Winner

16. You've Got To Change

17. It's A Crying Shame (The Way You Treat A Good Man Like Me)

18. Out To Get You

19. That's What Love Is Made Of

20. Would I Love You

21. Lifetime Man

22. Mr. Lonely Heart

23. Baby Don't You Do It

24. Walk On The Wild Side

25. Needle In A Haystack

26. Should I Tell Them

27. Happy Street

28. Sad Boy

Disc 5

1. Baby Love

2. Ask Any Girl

4. I'll Be Available

5. Soul Stomp

6. Hot 'n' Tot

7. What Good Am I Without You

8. I Want You 'round

9. Who You Gonna Run To

11. Sweet Thing

12. How Can I

13. Hello Love

14. The Further You Look, The Less You See

15. Tonight's The Night

16. You're Bad News

17. Too Many Fish In The Sea

18. A Need For Love

19. Come See About Me

20. You're Gone (But Always In My Heart)

22. Tears In Vain

25. Love Has Gone

26. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)

27. Forever

28. A Little More Love

29. Go Ahead And Laugh

Disc 6

3. When Someone's Good To You

4. My Heart

5. Can You Jerk Like Me

6. That Day When She Needed Me

7. Come On Do The Jerk

8. Baby Don't You Go

9. Randy, The Newspaper Boy

10. Happy Ghoul Tide

11. Talkin' To Your Picture

12. Our Rhapsody

13. Ever Since The World Began

14. Long Long Time Ago

15. This Is The Life

16. My Way

17. My Girl

18. (Talkin' 'Bout) Nobody But My Baby

19. Come See About Me

20. Pride And Joy

21. Put Me In Your Pocket

22. The Miles

23. He Was Really Sayin' Somethin'

24. Throw A Farewell Kiss

x

Track List: Vocal Groups: Classic Doo Wop

Disc 1

2. Sweet Georgia Brown

3. Sweet And Slow

4. Swing Is The Thing

5. My Walking Stick

6. I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water

7. If I Didn't Care

9. Whispering Grass

11. That's The Rhythm

12. I Like Pie, I Like Cake

13. Milk Shake Stand

15. The Blues Can Jump

17. Hoe Cake, Hominy And Sassafras Tea

19. Wig Blues

20. Write Me A Letter

21. Around About Midnite

22. Ever Lovin' Slick

23. It's Too Soon To Know

24. Five O'Clock Blues

25. Jumping Jack

26. Rival Blues

Disc 2

1. Too Much Of A Little Bit

2. What's The Matter With You

3. Lemon Squeezing Daddy

4. Please Don't Leave Me

5. My Baby's Gone

6. How Could You

7. One More Time

8. Will You Be Mine

9. Sixty Minute Man

10. Make Me Thrill Again

11. Mary Jo

12. Ting-A-Ling

13. Stormy Weather

14. Eyesight To The Blind

15. The Glory Of Love

17. Good Googa Mooga

18. Just Walking In The Rain

19. I Wasn't Thinkin', I Was Drinkin'

20. Money Honey

21. Gee

22. I Found Out

23. A Sunday Kind Of Love

24. Get With It

Disc 3

1. Be Bop Wino

2. Feel So Good

3. Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite

5. Tell Me

6. Big Leg Mama

8. Is It A Dream

11. Hearts Of Stone

12. Baby Let Me Bang Your Box

13. The Stars Are Out Tonight

15. Gloria

16. Riot In Cell Block No.9

17. Oop Shoop

18. Grief By Day, Grief By Night

19. What Do You Do

20. Mary Lee

23. Buick '59

24. Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)

25. Newly Wed

Disc 4

1. Smokey Joe's Cafe

2. You Didn't Learn It At Home

3. Witchcraft

4. Chop Chop Boom

5. Rollin' Stone

6. No No Cherry

8. I'm Leavin' (Clickity Clack)

9. The Door Is Still Open

10. That's Your Mistake

11. Baby Let's Play House

12. Be Bop Baby

14. Hug A Little, Kiss A Little

15. I Need You So

16. When You Dance

17. At My Front Door

18. Lonely Nights

19. Red Hots And Chili Mac

20. Bye Bye

21. A Story Untold

22. Don't Play No Mambo

23. Peace And Contentment

24. Nobody Knows

26. The Great Pretender

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