Classics: The Whispers – Tonight (SOLAR)
Why ever would you change a winning team? On the heels of gems such as ‘It’s A Love Thing’ and ‘In The Raw’, The Whispers comin’ back with another cracker by the likes of the infectious bass-driven ‘Tonight’. Opening their 1983 ‘Love For Love’ album, it just spreads an irresistible feeling. Not only musicwise. But also because of its uplifting lyrics… “Tonight, we’re gonna paint the town. No more messin’ around. Tonight, I want to show the world this love I’ve found.” Not talkin’ about its vocal arrangements under the direction of former Raydio member Jerry Knight. A singer and bassist whom you might remember for the classic ‘Overnight Sensation’…
“I want to take it to the edge of your fantasies. Let me take you anywhere you think we should be…”. Well, looks like that’s pretty much what The Whispers did on this, huh?
– Texas natives Walter and Wallace Scott formed The Whispers soon after moving to Los Angeles, CA back in 1964. Eventually joined by Nicholas Caldwell, Marcus Hutson and Gordy Harmon whom Leaveil Degree replaced in 1973 after he injured his larynx in a car crash. The Whispers releasing their self-titled debut-album back in 1969 on Soul Clock.
The band had moderate success though until they started working with producer Leon F Sylvers III (Shalamar, Dynasty, Lakeside…). Their second eponymous album, released in 1979 including the memorable ‘And The Beat Goes On’ and ‘Out The Box’. 2 gems in an infectious vein which The Whispers set their new reputation on. Following the vibe with tracks such as ‘It’s A Love Thing’ and ‘I Can’t Make It Better For You’. But also ‘In The Raw’, ‘Tonight’, ‘This Kind Of Lovin’ then ‘Contagious’. Not to mention ‘Rock Steady’ which saw them collaborating with the then emerging production pair made of L.A. & Babyface. As a matter of fact, it’s fair to say the band had their heyday on SOLAR.
Switching to Capitol Records with the release of their ‘More Of The Night’ album featuring the Robert Brookins produced ‘Innocent’, they started losin’ their status from then. Delivering a majority of M.O.R. R&B/Soul cuts.
Marcus Hutson left the group in 1992 due to prostate cancer and sadly died of it in 2000.
Nicholas Caldwell sadly passed of congestive heart failure on Jan. 05, 2016 at his Stockton, San Joaquin County, CA home.
– A native of Los Angeles, CA, bassist/singer Jerry Ernest Knight first made his classes as a member of Master Fleet in the mid 70’s. The group releasing an album – ‘High On The Sea’ – on the Sussex label back in 1974. He would get though to a higher recognition 3 years later when invited to join Raydio by Ray Parker, Jr. Then, he most likely contributed to the biggest classics of the group. From ‘Jack And Jill’ to ‘Rock On’, ‘Hot Stuff’ and ‘Two Places At The Same Time’. But also ‘It’s Time To Party Now’, ‘Until The Morning Comes’ and ‘For Those Who Like To Groove’. This before leavin’ the band to start a solo career back in 1980.
He released 3 albums under his own banner between 1980 and 1982. With all of them unfortunately meeting moderate success. This despite the presence of ‘Overnight Sensation’ on his debut-album. The latter standing as his most famous cut for the period. Knight would nvertheless find the way back to the spotlights. This while teamin’ up with Raydio drummer Ollie Brown on the title track to the soundtrack of the 1984 Breakin’ movie, which peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Meanwhile, he would work with countless luminaries, as a songwriter, producer or musician. From Bill Withers to Howard Hewett. Not to mention The Whispers (‘Tonight’), The Jets or Herb Alpert (‘Rise’) to name a few…
Jerry Knight sadly died of cancer in Los Angeles on Dec. 29, 1996, aged 44.