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bullet [New!]TNT with Vic Donna Group & Charlie Horner
 
bulletAsbury Angels 2014, Bobby Thomas
 
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African American
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bulletRe-MemberThen
at NJ Doo Wop Singers Club 2013

 
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bulletRichard Nader's Doo Wop Celebration XXVI
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2013 Asbury Angels Plaque Dedications
 
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bullet Time Capsule Show 50th Anniversary
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2013 Portsmouth, VA Gospel Concert
 
bulletRe-MemberThen
at Manchester, NJ

 
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at New Providence Library

 
bulletJohn Moore's Middle Room Records Closes
 
bulletLittle Isidore in Fair Lawn, NJ
 
bulletNJ Doo Wop Singers Club Jan 2013
 
bulletCelebrating Asbury Park's West Side Harmony
 
bulletDoo Wop Singers Club 4th Anniversary
 
bulletChuck Berry Honored by the R&R Hall of Fame
 
bulletQuiet Storm at Somerset Run
 
bulletAsbury Angels 2012 Induction Ceremony
 
bullet2012 Philly Doo Wop Festival
 
bullet2012 Lead East
 
bulletTNT R&B and Doo Wop Party, Aug 2012
 
bulletPam Nardella's Frankie Lymon Tombstone BBQ
 
bullet Classic Urban Harmony Celebrates Vocal Harmony & the Masqueraders 50th Anniversary
Multi-Part
 
bulletFrankie Lymon Tombstone Finds a New Home
 
bulletStormin Norman Seldin & Return of Ray & Darchaes in Monmouth Beach NJ
 
bullet2012 Portsmouth VA Gospel Concert
 
bulletTNT North Jersey R&B and Doo Wop Party - 2nd Anniversary
 
bulletAcappella Extravaganza at Molloy College 2011
 
bulletDoo Wop Singers Club (NJ) Third Anniversary
 
bulletSoul of Asbury Park Concert
 
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Oct 2009
 
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bulletWVLT Cruisin' 92.1 Concert
 
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bullet2009 Charleston Beach Music & Shag Festival
 
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Beach Haven

 
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bullet [New!]Robert Murphy, Neighbors Complaint
 
bullet Walter McNeil, Gospel Nobleaires
 
bullet Jewel Akens, 4 Dots
 
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The Avalons

 

 

The Tidewater area of Virginia (Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton Roads, Virginia Beach) has long been a hotbed for quartet singing.  From it's roots with the Norfolk Jubilee Singers and Golden Gate Quartet to the Five Keys, the Avalons and Chateaus of the 1950's, the area has been known for it's great singers.

The Avalon's George Cox began singing during the late 1940's in Booker T. Washington High School's school choir, the same Norfolk high school attended years earlier by several members of the Golden Gate Quartet.  At the same time, he started a vocal group there called the Bob-O-Links.  Besides George, the group contains Bernard Branch, a fellow called Bachelor D. and a couple of other members whose names have been lost with time.  The Bob-O-Links soon landed their own weekly radio show on station WRAP, hosted by Bob King and aired every Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, across the river in Newport News, two other singing groups were attracting attention.  The Sentimental Four, a group that would eventually evolve into the Five Keys, consisted of two pairs of brothers, Rudy and Bernie West and Rafael and Ripley Ingram.  They added Edwin Hall as a fifth member.

A second Newport News group formed, initially consisting of Bernard Purdie, his brother-in-law Charles "Bobby" Crawley, Ulysses Hicks and George Leroy Harris.  At some point Maryland Pierce replaced Ulysses Hicks.  This group was at different times called the Chimes, the Four Bees and the Five Chimes.  It would eventually evolve into Encores and then be renamed the Avalons.

As is often the case with groups from the same locale, the Sentimental Four and Four Bees ended up exchanging members frequently.  This was not done intentionally.  It's just that when one singer found himself out of one group and another needed a singer, things happened.  Thus, at one time or another, Edwin Hall and Rafael Ingram sang in the Four Bees, while Ulysses Hicks and Maryland Pierce ended up in the Five Keys.

Thus the Encores ended up composed of James Dozier (tenor), George Cox (tenor), Bobby Crawley (baritone) and Bernard Purdie (bass).  In the early 1950's, the Encores joined the Silas Green tent show which took them into Canada for the first time.  Even after leaving Silas Green some months later, the Encores decided to remain in Canada, playing clubs there, mostly in Montreal and Quebec.

In 1955 the Encores acquired Fanny Wolff as manager and she got them a recording contract with RCA's Groove label subsidiary.  At Groove, the group would change its name to the Avalons and record the classics "Chain Around My Heart" and "It's Funny But It's True".

 

 

In 1955, the Avalons joined the Hortice Allen Dance Troop and toured Canada and the eastern United States.  In 1956, they joined the Raymon Bruce Rock & Roll Review that toured New Jersey with the Spiders, Sensations, Clovers, Gloria Mann and many other acts.  One of the most memorable shows was at the Stanley Warner Theater in Camden NJ on April 8, 1956.

The Avalons eventually left Canada for an extended gig at the Club Harlem in Atlantic City (NJ) with stars like Eartha Kitt, Billy Daniels and Richard Pryor. Meanwhile, songs that they had recorded both in Canada and the U.S. began finding their way onto vinyl.  "Hearts Desire," first released in Canada on the Sandryon label, was re-recorded and released on Unart.  It was to become their most endearing song.  Barry Golder and Jocko Henderson, who leased "Hearts Desire" to United Artists, also released "You Can Count On Me" on their own Casino label.

 

 

Sometime around 1959, Bobby Crawley left the Avalons while they were playing Atlantic City and was replaced by Huey Lewis.  Lewis was a friend who often traveled with the group, so he knew all the arrangements.

By the early 1960's the original Avalons had broken up.  George Cox formed a new Avalons group that recorded "Picture of You" on Ernest Kendricks and Viviane Green's Ken-Gren label.  The Avalons then changed their name to the Squires and released the George Cox composition, "Why Should I Suffer" for the Herald label.

[New!]

(Label photo courtesy of George Frunzi)

 

 

During this period, the group joined the Leon Claxton Road Show and toured throughout the United States.  Claxton produced the black side show for the traveling Royal American Carnival.  The Royal American Carnival, one of the country's biggest traveling shows, maintained separate black and white shows for when they were in the segregated South.

When the Avalons broke up in the late 1960's, George Cox joined Bernard Purdie's New Century Platters.  Purdie had left the Avalons around 1960 and began singing with a Platters group.  He then formed his own New Century Platters consisting of Gene Moore, George Cox, Joe Odom, Laurie Anderson and himself.  Laurie Anderson, wife of Gary "U.S. Bonds" Anderson, was also Lucy Cedano of the Love Notes (Holiday label) and Lucy Rivera (End label). 

In the late 1970's George Cox left the New Century Platters to tour the Rock & Roll Revival Circuit with his own group, Cox, Wiggins and Moore.  After that, he sang with Ray Richardson's Ink Spots in Canada before rejoining Bernard Purdie's Salute to the Platters (Bernard Purdie, George Cox, Billy Lee Hughes and Laurie Anderson) in the 1980's.

Today George Cox, Rafael Ingram and Bobby Crawley have all passed away.  In 2006, James Dozier performed at the United In Group Harmony's Collector's Show, backed by the Four Dots.  On May 16, 2007 the Avalons reunited for a PBS Special in Elizabeth, NJ.  They sang "Heart's Desire".

 

 

 

James Dozier (backed by the Four Dots), UGHA 2006

 

Charlie, Pam and James Dozier (2006)

 

Avalons Singles Discography

As the Avalons

Groove 0141         – Chains Around My Heart / Ooh She Flew             2/56

Groove 0174         - It's Funny But It's True / Sugar Sugar               10/56

Sandryon 27503    - You Are My Heart's Desire / Dear One                    58

Unart 2007           - Hearts Desire / Ebbtide                                   12/58

Casino 108           - You Can Count On Me / You Do Something To Me    59

Ken-Gren 243        - Picture Of You / I Need Your Loving                      ca. 63

Bim Bam Boom 106 - You Can Count On Me / You Do Something To Me  (Reissue of Casino 108)   72

Casino 4064         - What's Wrong / You Do Something For Me            2003
                            (Side A unreleased Casino, Side B same as Casino 108)

As the Squires

Herald 580           - Why Should I Suffer / Walkin'                               63

 

 

Thanks to Ed Ainsley for his interview with George Cox.

For a more detailed article on the Avalons, follow our LINK Page to Marv Goldberg's R&B Notebook.

 

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