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Shep and The Limelites
As the new decade dawned, James Sheppard needed a fresh group to front. The native New Yorker had enjoyed an admirable run as lead singer of The Heartbeats, the Queens quintet (Albert Crump, Robbie Tatum, Vernon Sievers, and Wally Roker) that scored a major 1956 hit with the breathtaking A Thousand Miles Away for Bea Kaslin's Hull Records (soon reissued on George Goldner's Rama label). A string of fine follow-ups for Rama, Gee, Roulette, and Guyden couldn't stop The Heartbeats from breaking up in 1959, in large part due to Shep's alcohol intake.
Kaslin welcomed James back, producing a single that came out on APT as by Shane Shep. When that didn't fly, Sheppard teamed with two veteran doo-woppers from his Jamaica, Queens 'hood: tenors Clarence Bassett and Charles Baskerville. Bassett had been a charter member of The Five Sharps, whose sinfully rare version of Stormy Weather graces our 1953 edition of 'Street Corner Symphonies.' Clarence and Charles had been in The Videos; their Trickle, Trickle, penned by Bassett and produced by Sid Wyche, came out on the Casino logo. But Videos lead singer Ronald Cuffey died of leukemia in 1959, leaving the pair needing a new lead voice. That's how Shep and The Limelites were born.
Kaslin shuttled the trio's first single, I'm So Lonely (What Can I Do), to APT in September of '60, billing them as Shane Sheppard and The Limelites. With oldies interest peaking, Rama reissued The Heartbeats' A Thousand Miles Away in late 1960. It slipped onto the national pop charts for a week, inspiring Shep to write a sequel, Daddy's Home. Cut February 1, 1961 and issued the next month with This I Know the flip, the ballad was a smash that spring, rocketing to #2 pop and #4 R&B on Hull. There were ramifications to it being an answer record. The publisher of A Thousand Miles Away sued Hull's publisher, claiming the two compositions were the same song (apart from happier lyrics, they basically were).
Roulette's Kahl Music would eventually win the battle, but that didn't stop Shep and The Limelites from scoring more pop hits for Hull on a milder scale: Ready For Your Love and Three Steps From The Altar later that year, Our Anniversary (also a #7 R&B seller) and What Did Daddy Do in '62, and Remember Baby the next year. The trio stayed on Hull into 1965, but they'd broken up well before Sheppard's tragic January 24, 1970 demise; he was found frozen to death in Queens after being severely mugged. Daddy wouldn't be coming home anymore.
Various Street Corner Symphonies 1961 Vol.13
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