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The Rollers

The Continental Walk

The Rollers sprang from a latter-day incarnation of The Jewels, an L.A. group that had waxed the original Hearts Of Stone in 1954 only to see it blasted out of the water by The Charms' polished cover. The Jewels continued to record for R and B Records (their Oh Yes I Know is on the '54 edition of 'Street Corner Symphonies').

Tenor Johnny Torrence, who led several Jewels sides for R and B, Imperial, and RPM as well as the Pentagons’ lone single for Specialty, put together a fresh lineup in 1959 in San Bernardino: bass Willie Willingham (briefly a Jewel in '56), lead singer Don Ray Simpson (like Willie, then a member of The Episodes), and brothers Eddie Wilson on tenor and Al Wilson as baritone. Sampson wrote both sides of The Jewels' '59 single for Buck Ram's Antler logo, The Wind and Pearlie Mae. Torrence eventually moved on, but the remaining quartet forged an alliance with songwriter Dallas Frazier, writer of The Hollywood Argyles' '60 chart-topper Alley-Oop. He changed The Jewels' name to The Rollers.

Frazier managed to get The Rollers in at L.A.-based Liberty Records, home to teen idols Bobby Vee and Johnny Burnette. There they would work with the same producer, Texan Snuff Garrett. The Rollers' first Liberty outing in January of '61 paired Got My Eye On You and the Eddie Wilson-penned Bonneville, but it was their Liberty encore that March that made chart noise. Don Covay and John Berry (ex-members of The Rainbows out of Washington, D.C.) conceived The Continental Walk, a deliberate dance number that The Rollers took to #28 R&B/#80 pop that spring with I Want You So, written by Frazier and fellow country singer Billy Mize, on the B-side (Eddie Wilson fronted both). The Rollers had formidable competition on The Continental Walk from Hank Ballard and The Midnighters on King, who emerged victorious with a #12 R&B/#33 pop showing in head-to-head battle.

The Bounce b/w The Teenagers' Waltz didn't manage the same feat late that summer for The Rollers, ending their Liberty tenure. After a last single on Bel-Star in '62, The Rollers ceased recording. Al Wilson found a lot more success as a solo soul singer. Born June 19, 1939 in Meridian, Mississippi, he scored two hip hits on Johnny Rivers' Soul City logo in 1968 and then a gold record in 1973 for the pop chart-topper Show And Tell, written and produced by Jerry Fuller for the Rocky Road label. He died April 21, 2008 of kidney failure in Fontana, California.

 

Various Street Corner Symphonies 1961 Vol.13Read more at: https://www.bear-family.com/various-street-corner-symphonies-1961-vol.13.html
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