Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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CLOVERS, The

Black US vocal group formed as quartet in Washington DC late '40s: John (Buddy) Bailey, lead tenor; Matthew McQuatar, second tenor; Harold (Hal) Lucas Jr, baritone; Harold Winley, bass: signed with Atlantic '50; Billy Mitchell (b '31, d 5 Nov. 2002, Washington DC) replaced Bailey when Bailey was drafted '52 and stayed on when he came back: the Clovers had two lead tenors a decade before the Temptations featured dual leads. Guitarist was Willie (Bill) Harris. They had 13 consecutive top ten R&B hits '51-4 incl. 'Don't You Know I Love You' and 'Fool, Fool, Fool' (the first two, both written by Ahmet Ertegun, both at no. 1; the second covered by Kay Starr); 'Ting-A-Ling' (also no. 1), 'One Mint Julep', 'Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash', 'Lovey Dovey', 'Devil Or Angel' (later a hit for Bobby Vee). The hits did not cross over to the pop chart until '56 but white kids certainly bought them: they were much-loved as the first rock'n'roll vocal group. Top 30 pop hit '56 was 'Love, 'Love, Love'; switched to UA and had 'Love Potion No. 9' (lead vocal by Mitchell) in top 30 of both charts '59. Five Cool Cats on Edsel UK had 16 of the Atlantic hits. They label-hopped, split up '61; Winley and Lucas led revival editions. Harris (b 14 April '25, Nashville TN) had studied classical and jazz guitar; encouraged by Mickey Baker (see Mickey and Sylvia), who heard him practicing in his dressing room, later became a prominent jazz guitarist with LPs on Mercury, Black and Blue and his own Jazz Guitar label.