the stridells

Osiris Marsh

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Osiris Marsh poses for a portrait in the auditorium at Eastern Senior High School in Washington, DC.

Consistency – Osiris

Reginald Marsh began singing bass in junior high school when he joined a vocal group called The Romantics. At Eastern Senior High School, which was a Freedom School at the time, Marsh hooked up with Alonzo Hart, Wardell Everett, John Graham, Clyde Burr, Charles Blagmon, and Bernard Ford, forming the vocal group, The Stridells. It was at Eastern that Marsh adopted the name “Osiris,” the Egyptian god of the afterlife.

After the release of two singles, “Mix It Up” in 1968—produced by Max Kidd—and “The Power To Dream” in 1969, The Stridells began to diverge musically and soon split up. Marsh transitioned to lead singer when he briefly joined another Eastern Senior High School vocal group, The Deacons.

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In 1975 Marsh teamed up with George Parker—later of Special Delivery—Ronnie Martin, and Willa Peters, and formed Destiny. They recorded one single, Faith Hope & Charity’s “So Much Love,” on RCA Records, produced by Van McCoy.

The Family was Marsh’s next project, with Tyrone Brunson, William Eugene Jackson, Reginald Walter McNair, and Maceo Bond. The Family put out one LP, “Music-Let It Thru,” in 1977 on Little City Records. The Family’s sound was pure funk, with Marsh’s raspy, bass vocals on lead.

Marsh left The Family to form his eponymous funk band, Osiris, bringing in Bond and Brunson, and other members including Tony Jones, Jimmy “Sha-Sha” Stapleton, Ron Holloway, Kevin Nelson, Jills Wells, Brent Mingle, Andy Neman, Kenny Jones, Jerome Bailey, Keith Stucky, and Waymen McCoy. Osiris released their debut LP, “Since Before Our Time,” in 1978 on TomDog Records in 1978. Warner Bros. Records, redistributed the album and released the single “Consistency,” which reached #77 on the Billboard Hot 100 R&B charts.

Osiris released a follow-up, “O-Zone” on Marlin Records in 1979, recorded with the Horny Horns’ Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, Richard “Kush” Griffith, and Rick Gardner. The LP’s song, “Grit On It” received significant airplay in Washington, DC. In 1981 the band released their self-titled third LP on TomDog Records. They issued one more, “War On The Bullshit,” in 1986 before separating.

Marsh himself has never left music. He still records periodically, but spends more producing music, especially for R&B vocal groups Nu-Era and Trilogy III, which are comprised of his eight sons. The two groups have recorded together as Strait 8 with Layzie Bone of Bone-Thugs-n-Harmony.

Marsh’s commitment to music may derive from coming of age in an era when Washington, DC was full of bands, singers, and vocal groups.

“It was really an inspiring vehicle to a lot of young people,” says Marsh. “It moved a lot of people and made people feel good…it was a way for people to move forward with their lives.”

You can purchase Osiris‘ music here, here, and here.

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Thanks to Grover Massenburg for the assist.

Mmm, mmm, mmm.

Alonzo Hart

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Mix It Up – The Stridells

Walking through the hallways of Alonzo Hart’s Eastern Senior High School in the 1960s was similar to roaming around an audition for American Idol today. Three part harmonies grew louder at the turn of each corner coming form the likes of The Love Tones, The Deacons, Jerry Cummings of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, and The Stridells—Hart, Reginald Marsh, Charles Blagmon, and Wardelle “Twin” Everett. The Stridells became a familiar presence to fans of the Showmobile, an orchestra-backed musical lineup that would travel from park to park, and were soon joined by two new members, Wardell “Twin” Everett and Larry Scott.

“We didn’t get into any trouble, we just sang,” says Hart. “If you gave us a light post and somewhere to sing that’s where you would find us.”

Producers Maxx Kidd and Bob Morgan discovered The Stridells at the Showmobile. Kidd and Morgan wrote “Mix It Up” and “I Remember Christmas” for the group, which they recorded at the Hit Factory in New York City over a period of 23 hours and 14 minutes. The 1969 Yvette Records release “Mix It Up” with Johnny Graham on lead vocals became a regional hit, helped by a second pressing on Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom Records.

“Before we recorded this song if we went to a party in someone’s neighborhood we might have to fight our way out,” says Hart. “After we put the recording out everyone was cool with us.”

The Stridells released a second 45, “The Power To Dream“/”Stick-Em-Up Kind Of Lovin” on Morgan Records in 1969, but the response was less enthusiastic. The group began to disagree about heading in a doo-wop or funk direction and they broke up in 1972. Marsh released several LPs as Osiris; Blagmon helped start The Choice Four; Scott and Graham began another group; and as was his destiny all along, Hart became a fifth generation pastor.

“I would just love to run into my boys,” says Hart. “Just to see them, even if we just sat down and break bread that would be worthwhile. I’m going to keep looking for them.”

Mmm, mmm, mmm.
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