Rufus was one of the most financially successful funk bands of the 1970s, best known for establishing the career of soul diva Chaka Khan, whose fiery lead vocals were easily the band’s center point. Rufus produced an astonishing streak of hit singles on both the mainstream and R&B charts, which lasted through the 1970s and up until Khan’s official departure in 1983, fueled by Khan — who was eventually billed in addition to the group — and an uncanny sense of groove.
Rufus arose from the Chicago band the American Breed, which had a hit with “Bend Me, Shape Me” on oldies radio in 1968. Before founding a new band, originally called Smoke, with vocalists Paulette McWilliams and James Stella, guitarist Al Ciner, bassist Chuck Colbert, drummer Lee Graziano, and keyboardist Kevin Murphy had all been in the band at one point or another. Colbert was shortly replaced by bassist Dennis Belfield, and Stella was quickly replaced by lead vocalist/songwriter/keyboardist Ron Stockert. The band’s name was altered to Ask Rufus, which was later reduced to Rufus. In 1972, Graziano was replaced by Andre Fischer, a former American Breed drummer, and McWilliams was replaced by Chaka Khan (born Yvette Marie Stevens), a young female vocalist. Stockert was still the guiding force when the band signed with ABC in 1973, and he lent a more pop/rock flavor to the group’s self-titled debut, released later that year. Although Khan’s dynamic stage presence helped this version of the band take off, Stockert was still the guiding force when they signed with ABC in 1973, and he lent a more pop/rock flavor to the group’s self-titled debut, released later that year.
Rufus acquired a fan in Stevie Wonder because of their cover of his song “Maybe Your Baby,” despite the album’s poor sales. Wonder introduced them to a new song, the slow-burning “Tell Me Something Good,” which he’d composed with Khan’s singing style in mind. “Tell Me Something Good,” from their second album, Rags to Rufus, was a Top Five hit that launched Khan’s career; she also co-wrote the R&B chart-topping follow-up, “You Got the Love.” Stockert quit the band, Belfield was replaced by Bobby Watson, and Ciner was replaced by Tony Maiden, indicating that the band had found its niche. Rufus reappeared with a solid new album, Rufusized, before the end of the year, which yielded two more successes in “Once You Get Started” and “Please Pardon Me (You Remind Me of a Friend).” Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan, released in 1975, cemented the singer’s stardom and yielded one of the group’s biggest singles, the R&B number one “Sweet Thing.” Dave “Hawk” Wolinski joined as a second keyboardist for 1977’s mellower Ask Rufus (the hit was “At Midnight (My Love Will Lift You Up)”), and William “Moon” Calhoun replaced drummer Fischer on 1978’s Street Player.
Despite scoring a significant hit with “I’m Every Woman,” Khan remained an official member of Rufus after the release of Street Player; she made what was perhaps an inevitable move into solo recording with the release of Chaka; despite scoring a significant hit with “I’m Every Woman,” she remained an official member of Rufus. Despite this, the band’s following album, Numbers, was recorded without her, and it was a flop when it was released in 1979. Later that year, Khan returned for Quincy Jones’ Masterjam, and the band (with new drummer John “J.R.” Robinson) was back on top of the R&B charts with “Do You Love What You Feel.” Khan and Rufus split up again for 1980’s Party ‘Til You’re Broke, and when she returned for 1981’s Camouflage, Rufus’ chart fortunes were fading. Khan returned for one last go-round in 1983 with Stompin’ at the Savoy, a double-disc compilation including three sides of live material and one side of new studio recordings, which was produced by George Duke. “Ain’t Nobody,” one of the new songs, became Rufus’ final number one R&B smash and also won a Grammy, allowing the trio to depart on a high note. Khan left for good after her contract was up, and owing to a cover of Prince‘s “I Feel for You,” she became a sensation.
|Seal in Red|
|Party ‘Til You’re Broke|
|Rufus featuring Chaka Khan|
|Rags to Rufus|
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Rufus Most Famous Song?
Rufus Wainwright is most famous for his song “Hallelujah.” The song was originally written by Leonard Cohen, but Rufus’ version has become the most popular. It has been covered by many artists, including John Cale, Jeff Buckley, and k.d. lang. Rufus’ version of the song was used in the film “Shrek” and has been featured on many television shows and films.
Who Was The Lead Singer Of Rufus?
The lead singer of Rufus was Chaka Khan.
What Was Rufus First Hit?
Rufus’s first hit was “Tell Me Something Good”, which peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1974. The song was co-written by band member Verdine White, and produced by Stevie Wonder.
How Many Albums Of Rufus?
Rufus has released a total of eight studio albums, the most recent being 2016’s A Night at the Ritz. Prior to that, the group’s last album was 2009’s Smile, which earned them a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Rufus is also known for their hit singles “Tell Me Something Good” and “Ain’t Nobody,” both of which reached the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.