The Flamingos were on the roll of their career. The Chicagoans had been recording since 1953, first for Chance and then Parrot and then Checker (where they hit in '56 with I'll Be Home and A Kiss From Your Lips) before signing with Decca in '57. Then they landed at George Goldner's New York-based End Records.
Founders Jake (their bass singer) and tenor Zeke Carey were still on board when The Flamingos signed with End, along with original baritone Paul Wilson and lead tenor Nate Nelson, who came in during their tenure on Parrot. Future soul star Tommy Hunt was there, as was tenor Terry 'Buzzy' Johnson, who doubled on guitar. He and Wilson co-wrote and co-fronted the group's first End hit Lovers Never Say Goodbye. Both that and their '59 smash I Only Have Eyes For You, their career peak (it's on our previous edition), were dreamy ballads. Sam Cooke's pen provided an upbeat change of pace.
"I had asked Sam to write us a song, because I loved Sam Cooke," says Johnson. "We were very dear friends. And I wanted a song like 'You Send Me' or 'For Sentimental Reasons,' all those beautiful slow ballads that he sang. And I was waiting for him. He said, 'I'll write you a song! I'll write you a song!' He had his own office. He had really elevated in life. He said, 'I'll write you a song.' And every time we'd see him, I'd say, 'Where's the song?' He'd say, 'I'm working on it.'
"One day at the Regal Theater, Sam came in and he said, 'Buzzy, give me a guitar! I got your song!' And he played it, and it was slow, the way he did it. And George Goldner heard it fast. And I liked it slow, because it had more of a feeling. But then George Goldner wanted it to sound more like 'Shout,' those chords.
And Sam didn't mind. He said, 'Well, just get the song out there. I don't care.'"
Released in February of 1960 as Nobody Loves Me, End quickly repressed Cooke's tune, led by Nate and Terry, as Nobody Loves Me Like You (Besame Mucho gave way to a Johnson-penned You, Me And The Sea as the flip). Nobody Loves Me Like You rose to #23 R&B and #30 pop.
The Flamingos scored four more charters at End, but Mio Amore, a lilting Your Other Love (a Drifters-styled Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman composition), Kokomo (which they'd previously cut for Parrot), and Time Was failed to crack the Top 40. Hunt, Johnson, and Nelson left before the end of 1961, Hunt scoring a solo hit that year for Scepter with the dramatic Human. The Careys pointed The Flamingos in a soul-oriented direction that led them back to the R&B charts in '66 with The Boogaloo Party. Nelson died June 1, 1984; Wilson passed May 6, 1988; and Jake and Zeke Carey left us in December 10, 1997 and December 24, 1999 respectively.