The Foote Files: Billy Ward & His Dominoes

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(CBS11) – In the early 1950’s, one of the first R&B groups emerged on the music scene. Formed by a guy named Billy Ward (born Robert L. Williams), his plan was to ride the wave on the emerging vocal trends of R&B music. The group initially included Clyde McPhatter, Charlie White, Joe Lamont and Bill Brown. After performing at the Apollo Theatre and appearing on the Arthur Godfrey Show, they got a recording contract from Ralph Bass of Federal Records. At that point the group was renamed, “The Dominoes” (although they are sometimes referred to Billy Ward & His Dominoes).

Their first single was “Do Something For Me,” released in early 1951, charting at #6 on the R&B charts. But the song that made them famous was “Sixty Minute Man” with Bill Brown on the lead vocals. It reached #1 on the R&B charts in May 1951 and remained there for 14 weeks. It charted well on the pop charts, too and was voted Song Of The Year for 1951.

What make this song important in rock n’ roll history was: its lyrics pushing the limits on what could be said and played on the radio, crossing the boundary between gospel and blues, and its appeal to many white as well as African American listeners. Some musicologists have deemed this song to be “the first rock and roll record.” McPhatter and future Dominoes member Jackie Wilson enjoyed very successful solo music careers into the 1960’s. McPhatter was a member of The Drifters in 1954. Both he and Wilson were both inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987.

So here they are…….Billy Ward And His Dominoes….on the Federal Records label…… with Sixty Minute Man!

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