Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 10/09/2019

John Hall was living in public housing in England in the mid-sixties. He suggested to a few of his fellow teenaged residents that they form a band. The result was one of the earliest integrated rock bands. One of the friends was Eddy Grant, a native of Guyana. Eddy became the lead singer and wrote most of their music.

The group began playing R&B songs but quickly added elements of ska, rock, and pop. They recorded a record in 1966 and followed that with Hold Me Closer. Neither record did well. Hiding on the B-side of their second single was the song Baby, Come Back. Several more unsuccessful singles followed until I Get So Excited reached #44 on the UK charts.

Somehow disk jockeys in Belgium and the Netherlands starting playing Baby, Come Back and the record reached the top ten in those two countries. Their record company reissued that single with the B-Side as the hit and in 1968 the record took off. The record reached the top five in seven countries and topped the UK charts. The reception in the US was not as strong, but the record did reach #32 there. Total sales for the single eventually exceeded a million copies. The group had another five top forty singles in the UK, but after 1970 their charting days were all but over.

Eddy quit touring with the group in 1969 after a car wreck and nearly died in 1971 when he suffered a collapsed lung and a heart infection. He returned to Guyana and eventually began a solo career. It took a while, but in 1983 he had the biggest hit of his career with the platinum single Electric Avenue.

The Equals were reformed a few times and continue to make appearances. Their music has gradually taken on a more reggae sound.

Baby Come Back became a chart-topping single in the UK a second time in 1994 when Pato Banton with Robin and Ali Campbell of UB40 covered the song. Several other groups have covered the song as well; perhaps the most unexpected cover came from ex-members of the Guess Who when Bachman Cummings released their version in 2007.


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