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Friday, March 30, 2012

The Dramatics

Originally formed in 1962, the Dramatics (at various times) consisted of:

Ronald Dean Banks (b. 10th May 1951, Redford, Michigan, U.S.A. d. 4th March 2010, Sinai Hospital, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.) 1962 to 2010

Larry Reed (lead singer) 1962 to 1968

Roderick Davis 1962 to 1968

Elbert Wilkins (d. 13th December 1992, from a massive heart attack - formerly of the Theatrics) 1962 to 1973

William 'Weegee' Howard (b. William Franklin Howard II, 13th July 1950, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A., d. 22nd February 2000, Bronxville, New York, U.S.A.) 1968 to 1973 then 1986 to 1989

Willie Ford (b. 10th July 1950, LaGrange, Georgia, U.S.A. - formerly of the Capitols) 1968 - today

Robert Ellington 1964

Craig Jones 1981 to 1982

Larry 'Squirrel' Demps (b. 23rd February 1949, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.) 1962 to 1981

Leonard Cornell Mayes (b. 5th April 1951, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. d. 7th November 2004, Southfield, Michigan, U.S.A.) 1973 to 2004

James Mack Brown (d. 28th November 2008)

L. J. Reynolds (b. Larry James Reynolds, 27th January 1952, Saginaw, Michigan, U.S.A.) 1973 to 1981 then 1986 to today

Winzell Kelly (b. 16th January 1953, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. - ex: the Capitols, Five Special, TFO Band, and the Floaters) 1994 to today

Steve Barnett-Boyd 1989 to 1994

Bo Henderson 1981


Michael Brock 2006 to today

The Dramatics were formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1962. The Dramatics initially released two singles on the Wingate imprint (including 'Somewhere' b/w 'Bingo', a 45 that was misprinted as being recorded by the Dynamics, a fault later corrected on further pressings) and 'Inky Dinky Wang Dang Do' b/w 'Baby I Need You' both released in 1966. Robert Ellington left the band at an early stage in the Sixties. The group were mistakenly named the Dynamics, back in 1962, however, as the Dramatics they achieved major success with their songs, 'In the Rain' and 'What You See Is What You Get'. In 1967, the Dramatics achieved a small hit with the Ivy Joe Hunter produced song 'All Because Of You' b/w 'If You Haven't Got Love' by the Dramatics, released on the small Detroit label, Sport Records (Sport 101). During that year, The Dramatics were staying at the Algiers Motel, following a performance at Detroit's Fox Theatre, during an alleged murder by members of the Detroit Police Department. This became one of the incidents which sparked the Detroit Riots of 1967.

It wasn't until 1971 when the Detroit producers Don Davis and Tony Hestor signed the Dramatics to the Memphis-based Stax Records in 1971, where the group saw greater success with their song 'Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get'. The song reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 9 back at the time. The group were awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. later that year. At this stage, The Dramatics comprised of Ron Banks, William 'Wee Gee' Howard (ex. The Sir Primes, who died of a heart attack on the 22nd of February 2000 at the age of 49), Elbert Wilkins (who died of a heart attack on the 13th of December 1992 at the age of 45), Willie Ford, Larry Demps and keyboardist James Mack Brown (who died on the 28th of November 2008 at the age of 58).

Following the release of the group's first album, William Howard and Elbert Wilkins left the group. They were replaced by L.J. Reynolds (previously of Chocolate Syrup) and Leonard 'Lenny' Mayes. In 1973, the group released the song 'Hey You! Get Off My Mountain' (taken from the 'A Dramatic Experience' album), which became an R&B number 5 and pop Top 50 that year. During the Seventies, the Dramatics released several further popular sides, including the haunting ballad 'In The Rain'. In 1974, the Dramatics left Stax Records, and the following year began an association with Los Angeles-based ABC imprint, while still recording in Detroit with Davis and Hestor.

U.S. hits at ABC included the ballad 'Me And Mrs. Jones' (R&B number 4 and pop Top 50, 1975, a song made popular by Philadelphia International star Billy Paul), 'Be My Girl' (R&B number 3, 1976) and 'Shake It Well' (R&B number 4, 1977). The Dramatics appeared on Soul Train and also released the songs 'Toast to the Fool', 'Me and Mrs. Jones', 'I'm Going By The Stars In Your Eyes' and 'Be My Girl'. In the meantime, William Howard and Elbert Wilkins formed their own version of the Dramatics. They released the song 'No Rebate on Love', and called the group 'Ron Banks and The Dramatics'. Relocating to the MCA imprint in 1979, the group achieved their last Top 10 hit with 'Welcome Back Home' (R&B number 9, 1980). The same year, the group released the album 'The Dramatic Way', which contained the popular rare groove dancer 'Get It'.

Shortly afterwards L.J. Reynolds left to establish a solo career, and in 1981 Craig Jones was recruited in his place, but they disbanded in 1982 after Ron Banks left to start a solo career, releasing 'Truly Bad' for CBS in 1983 (featuring 'This Love Is For Real'). William Howard later rejoined the original group for the albums 'Somewhere in Time: A Dramatic Reunion' in 1986, and 'Positive State Of Mind' in 1989. He then left the group again. The Dramatics were reunited in the late 80's and released 'Look Inside' for the NCI label in 2002. The Dramatics have worked with many diverse R&B acts, including Snoop Dog, and continue to tour.

The current line-up consisted of Ron Banks, L.J. Reynolds, Willie Ford, Winzell Kelly and Michael Brock, (who replaced Lenny Mayes, who died of lung cancer on the 8th of November 2004 at the age 53). Ron Banks sadly passed away in 2010 at the age of 58. He was at home with his family when he abruptly passed out, according to fellow Dramatics singer L.J. Reynolds, who had spoken to Ron just minutes earlier. Ron passed away at the Sinai Hospital in Detroit. His last hometown gig with the Dramatics was a November 2009 concert at Motorcity Casino’s Sound Board venue. Ron Banks is survived by his wife, Sandy Banks, four daughters and two sons.


as the Dramatics:

Solo: L.J. Reynolds:

with Ron Banks:
  • 2 Of A Kind (Lifesong Records 1994)
  • Love Is About To Start (Volt Records 2000)
  • Through The Storm (Da Pit Bull Kat Records 2007)
  • The Message (Crystal Rose Records 2007)

Solo: Ron Banks:

Info is credited to SoulWalking.


FurryBootsCityBoy said...

Great vocal band. Brilliant harmonies. I have some of their early songs. Thanks for posting this.

SelfScience said...

Your welcome FurryBoot! Thanks for your comment.

DviousMindZ said...

hey...some of the albums have the same link.... might want to double check them....

great post!

Anonymous said...

Yeah! Great post, but some of the links are are wrong. Could U fix them. Thanks

zand said...

Truly Bad - 1983
Two of a Kind

SelfScience said...

Everything is fixed now.

La Piazza Gancio said...

Inspired choice!

Thanks also for your continued efforts here, especially in this hostile climate.



Anonymous said...

great post ! great blog ! thanks !

Anonymous said...

re-up Dramatics Jackpot plz

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