Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Soul Searchers

The Soul Searchers
John Buchanan, Lloyd Pinchback, Bennie Braxton, Lino Druitt, Donald Tillery, and Kenneth Scoggins (l-r) at The Panorama Room.

Blow Your Whistle – The Soul Searchers

Jazz flutist Loyd Pinchback had been to the Chase’s Lounge many times before but he’d never heard a band as tight as this. The Los Latinos, who were performing that evening, featured a guitarist named Chuck Brown. Pinchback was able to secure a spot with the band that night and along with Brown and bassist John Euell, splintered off to form The Soul Searchers. Starting with performances at backyard barbecues, The Soul Searchers’ musicianship quickly led to regular spots at the Ebony Inn, the Red Carpet Lounge, and Model’s Extraordinaire.

Inspired by the big sound of Baltimore’s Tommy Vann & The Professionals and And The Echos, The Soul Searchers added new members to their rhythm section. In 1972 they recorded their debut LP “We The People” at Track Studios in Silver Spring, Maryland and released it on Sussex Records.

The lineup was:

Chuck Brown – Guitar, Lead Vocals
Lloyd Pichback – Flute, Saxophone, Vocals
John Euell – Bass, Vocals
John Buchanan – Trombone, Piano
Lino Druitt – Percussion
Hilton Felton – Organ
Kenneth Scoggins – Drums, Percussion
Donald Tillery – Trumpet, Vocals

The album’s title track was inspired by The Chambers Brothers “Love, Peace, and Happiness” and elements of Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” and “On The Corner.” The success of “We The People” let to a spot on the Soul Train Tour alongside acts like Bobby Womack, The Dramatics, and The Moments.

After the release of their debut LP The Soul Searchers were considered to be the top band in DC along with The Young Senators. Playing four times a week to crowds at go-gos–including The Burgundy Room, The Panorama Room, the Masonic Temple, and Northwest Gardens–The Soul Searchers began to extend their songs with instrumental breaks in order to keep people on the dance floor. Their percussion-heavy extension of Grover Washington’s “Mr. Magic” along with Chuck Brown’s call and response with the crowd was a predecessor for what later became known as go-go music. According to Pinchback’s book, “The Soul Searchers: 1968-1978,” some of the other bands performing in the area at the time were Aggression, Black Heat, Scacy & The Sound Service, Lead Head, Brute, Father’s Children, Ashanti, Spectrum Ltd., and New Breed.

In 1973 The Soul Searchers returned to the studio to record “Salt of The Earth,” also on Sussex Records, this time with Bennie Braxton on organ. Recorded at American Star Recording Studio in Falls Church, VA the 1974 LP contained regional hits “Blow Your Whistle,”  “If It Ain’t Funky” and “Ashley’s Roachclip,” one of the most sampled tracks in history. Scoggins’ drum break from “Ashley’s Roachclip” can be heard on Milli Vanilli’s infamous smash hit “Girl You Know It’s True.”

Due to the emergence of DJs, gigs began to slow down for The Soul Searchers shortly after the release of “Salt of The Earth. In 1976 they recorded “Bustin’ Loose ” at Arrest Recording Studios in N.W. DC, which Brown wrote lyrics to in response to his frustration with the group’s stagnation, but the record was never released.

In 1978 Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers re-recorded “Bustin’ Loose” with nearly all new members with the exception of Brown, Tillery, and Buchanan for the LP of the same name on Source Records. The single reached #34 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979, launching the band to national fame.

Chuck Brown went on to be recognized as the “Godfather of Go-Go,” inspiring such bands as Experience Unlimited (EU), Rare Essence, and Trouble Funk. He sadly passed away in 2012, drawing an overwhelming expression of emotion from all corners of Washington, DC. Pinchback and Buchanan currently perform with the go-go band Proper Utensils. Tillery performs with the band Truth Groove and was recently interviewed for WAMU’s Metro Connection.

You can purchase Chuck Brown’s music here.

Mmm, mmm, mmm.

In Memory: Terry Huff

The first time I heard Terry Huff and Special Delivery‘s album “The Lonely One” I was astonished by the unparalleled pitch of Huff’s falsetto voice. It was beautiful. I read more about Huff in Ted Scheinman’s excellent 2010 piece, “Terry Huff’s Lost Soul,” and got his contact info from the author. We met at Huff’s daughter’s house and and he was game for the shoot, even when neighbors informed us we were standing in poison ivy. When I left he sang a bit of a new song he was working on and his voice sounded as good as ever.

I knew Huff had cancer and was saddened to learn about his death a few months later. I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to meet him. His voice was undoubtedly one of a kind and “I Destroyed Your Love” is one of my top 10 favorite songs of all time.

This post is in memory of Terry Huff.


I Destroyed Your Love Part 1 – Terry Huff & Special Delivery

Terry Huff started singing on Capitol Hill street corners with his brother Andy and friends from the neighborhood as a teenager. Discovered by John “Johnny Boy” Katsouros, Andy and The Marglows recorded four singles on Liberty Records—“Superman Lover,” “Just One Look,” “I’ll Get By” and “Symphony” in 1963.

Huff became a DC police officer in 1969 but in 1973 quit the force and delved into songwriting. He met George Parker, Reginald Ross, and Chet Fortune of DC vocal group Act One through a friend. In 1975 they released the single “I Destroyed Your Love” on Mainstream Records under the name Special Delivery and Huff’s limitless falsetto helped propel the record around the country.

Terry Huff and Special Delivery released the LP “The Lonely One” on Mainstream Records in 1976, which featured many of the songs Huff wrote after leaving the police force including “I Destroyed Your Love,” “Where There’s A Will (There’s A Way),” and the title track. The late Al Johnson arranged and conducted the record and Huff sang lead on all of the songs while Parker, Ross, and Fortune performed background vocals. Unfortunately Terry Huff and Special Delivery split up prior to the record’s release. Huff and his brothers Andrew and Jimmy, who sang background on “The Lonely One,” tried to secure a new deal with Philly International Records but were unable to due to legal complications.

Huff was seldom heard from thereafter. In 2010 writer Ted Scheinman, who lived near Huff, wrote “Terry Huff’s Lost Soul,” a cover story about Huff for the Washington City Paper, shining a spotlight on the DC soul legend once again while revealing that he had been homeless and had cancer. Despite his illness Huff planned a return to music and secretly performed at Open Mic Night at the Channel Inn’s “Engine Room.”

Huff sadly passed away in December 2012 at age 65 before he could attempt a comeback. In January 2013 a concert featuring Peaches & Herb, Skip Mahoney and The Casuals, Al Johnson, The Winstons, The Choice Four, and Special Delivery helped raise money for his funeral. You can purchase Terry Huff and Special Delivery‘s music here.

Most of the content for this article is from Ted Scheinman’s City Paper cover story.

Mmm, mmm, mmm.
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