The Cadillacs Biography
From 1953 to 1962, the American rock & roll and doo-wop group The Cadillacs performed in Harlem, New York. The group gained notoriety with the Esther Navarro-penned 1955 hit song “Speedoo,” which played a significant role in introducing white audiences to black rock and roll musicians.
The founding members of the group, Earl Carroll (lead vocalist), Bobby Phillips, Lavern Drake (bass vocalist), and Gus Willingham, formed The Carnations in 1953. James “Poppa” Clark joined the group as a fifth member as they entered the recording studios, and they were dubbed “The Cadillacs” after this. The group’s debut album, Josie Records #765, which included the songs “Gloria” and “I Wonder Why,” was released in July 1954.
Some of the original members left and were replaced in 1955. The Cadillacs released a doo-wop rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” the same year, and it peaked at No. 11 on the Rhythm & Blues Records chart of Billboard magazine.
In 1957, disagreements over ideas led to the group’s dissolution. One trio, which included current bassist J. R. Bailey, previous bassist Lavern Drake, and newcomers Roland Martinez and Bobby Spencer, was first referred to as The Four Cadillacs. Barbie Gaye’s appearance in Alan Freed’s 1956 Christmas Show as Little Richard‘s opening act was made possible by Bobby Spencer’s pop song shuffle “My Boy Lollipop,” which he had written for her the year before.
The Jamaican adolescent Millie Small’s multi-million selling ska rendition of the song in 1964, which was also produced by Ernest Ranglin, made producer Chris Blackwell wealthy and allowed him to expand his Island Records label.
Carroll, Wade, Brooks, and Phillips, the remaining four members, later recorded independently under the name Earl Carroll and the Cadillacs. Jesse “Tex” Powell, a previous member of Bailey’s group, was also a member of the ensemble. Jesse Powell and the Caddys released their first album in early 1958. On Josie Records, both bands simultaneously recorded. The groups merged back into one later in 1958. Wade, Brooks, and Phillips, Carroll’s backup singers, all made the decision to retire, and Carroll joined Bailey, Drake, Martinez, and Spencer. After Spencer and Bailey were handed the lead roles, Carroll quit the group and formed a new one called Speedo and the Pearls, which only made a few recordings in 1959. The 1959 film Go Johnny, Go also featured the Cadillacs.
With Carroll, Martinez, Kirk Davis, and bassist Ronnie Bright, the quartet broke up and regrouped in 1960. Later, the ensemble included Carroll, Martinez, Milton Love, Reggie Barnes, Bobby Spencer who was back, and Bobby Spencer. The Solitares once included Martinez, Love, and Barnes as members.
The band’s musical style started to resemble The Coasters around 1961.Carroll, Martinez, Curtis Williams, Ray Brewster, and Irving Lee Gail are now in the lineup. By 1962, Carroll had left the band they had been copying to join The Coasters with Carl Gardner, Billy Guy, and Will “Dub” Jones. The group’s tenure with Josie Records came to an end in 1963.
Bobby Spencer and J. R. Bailey, former members of Brewster and Martinez, joined them as they continued to record through 1963. After the trio dispersed, Bailey joined the Jive Five. Former Cadillac/Solitare Milton Love was brought in by Brewster along with fellow Solitares Bobby Baylor and Fred Barksdale. In 1964, this ensemble released a single track. In 1969, Spencer joined the bubblegum music group Crazy Elephant as lead vocalist, with Joey Levine (Ohio Express, Reunion) serving as supporting vocals.
The Cadillacs were back in 1970 and split up once more in the middle of the decade. As part of the automaker’s “vehicle names” promotion, Earl Carroll, Earl Wade, Bobby Phillips, and Steven Brown collaborated on two Subaru advertisements in 1979 in which they sang, “Cadillac drives Subaru.”
Carroll had stayed with the Coasters at this time and quit to permanently resurrect the Cadillacs with Phillips, Brown, Gary K. Lewis, and musical director Eddie Jones in the early 1990s. In 2003, Brown departed. In March 2011, Phillips passed away.
On November 25, 2012, Earl “Speedo” Carroll passed away.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Members Were In The Original Lineup Of The Cadillacs?
The original lineup of the Cadillacs consisted of five members. These members were J.B. Fuqua, Earl Carroll, Willie Code, Joe Morrissey, and Gus Willingham. The group was formed in Harlem in late 1952 and early 1953. Their first big hit was “Gloria” in 1954. The Cadillacs were one of the most popular doo-wop groups of the 1950s. They continued to record and tour into the 1960s.
Who Is The Lead Singer Of The Cadillacs?
The lead singer of the Cadillacs is Earl Palmer. Palmer was a founding member of the group and sang lead on their most famous hits, including “Gloria” and “Rudy’s Rock.” He remained with the group until his death in 1984.
What Genre Is The Cadillacs?
The Cadillacs were an American doo-wop and R&B group from Harlem, New York City. They are best known for their song “Gloria”, which was a hit in the United States in 1955. The group’s other notable songs include “Speedoo”, “Rudy’s Rock”, and “Zoom Zoom Zoom”. The Cadillacs were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Who Were The Members Of The Cadillacs?
The original members of the Cadillacs were: Earl Carroll, Raymond Johnson, William Torrance, and Bobby Phillips. The group was formed in 1952 and originally performed under the name “The Carnations”. They changed their name to “The Cadillacs” in 1954. The group’s first hit song was “Gloria”, which was released in 1955. The Cadillacs were one of the first doo-wop groups to use multiple lead vocalists on their recordings. They were also one of the first groups to use echo and reverb on their recordings, which helped create their distinctive sound. The group disbanded in 1968, but reunion tours and new recordings have been occasional since then. The Cadillacs were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
How Many Versions Of Cadillacs Are There?
There are three versions of the Cadillac: the Base, the Luxury, and the Premium. The Base is the entry-level model, while the Luxury is the top-of-the-line model. The Premium is a step up from the Base, offering more features and amenities.