1957 Little Joe and the Thrillers – Peanuts
Joseph Cook was born in Philadelphia in 1922. His mother was a blues singer, and his grandmother was a Baptist preacher, so it’s not surprising that when he was 12 he and three friends formed a gospel quartet. They had a one-hour weekly radio show and even recorded a gospel record in 1949.
Joseph began using the stage name Little Joe.
The Soul Stirrers was a gospel group that performed beginning in 1926. Sam Cooke began singing with the group as their lead vocalist in 1950. When he left the group, they offered to hire Joe to replace Sam, but Joe decided he wanted to sing non-religious music instead.
Joe formed The Thrillers with Farrie Hill, Richard Frazier, Donald Burnett, and Henry Pascal. The group signed with Okeh Records in 1956. Okey released their first single, Do The Slop, with the label showing the group as Little Joe and the Thrillers. The Slop turned out to be a popular dance, but their single, not so popular.
Joe wrote the group’s second single, and it came out in 1957. Peanuts featured Joe’s falsetto and that helped carry the record to #22 on the Hot 100.
The Four Lovers released some records from 1956 to 1958 that sounded similar to Joe’s falsetto. The group changed their name to the Four Seasons and had three number one records in 1962 and early 1963. In late 1963, the group released a cover version of Peanuts from their most recent album. The record didn’t get much airplay because disk jockeys were flipping the record over to the B-side and playing Stay instead. Their record company stopped shipping Peanuts and reissued the single with Stay on the A-side and Goodnight My Love on the B-side. That turned out to be a successful move when Stay reached #16 on the Hot 100.
Little Joe and the Thrillers continued releasing singles until 1961, but never recaptured the magic of their big hit. Joe began performing as a solo act and toured as an opening act for B. B. King and Bobby “Blue” Bland.
Joe created a new group that featured two of his daughters (Delphine and Dinell Cook), their cousin Delores “Honey” Wylie, and Tammi Montgomery. A dance craze started for The Popeye, and the group recorded a song written by John Medora and David White, The Pop Pop Pop Pie. The group used the name The Sherrys. The single reached #25 on the R&B chart and #35 on the Hot 100 in 1962. The Orlons covered the song on their greatest hits album in 1963 but don’t appear to have reached any charts with their recording.
The group even appeared on American Bandstand but could not capitalize on the hit and broke up soon after. Tammi changed her last name to Terrell and left for Motown, where she became Marvin Gaye’s favorite singing partner.
John and David later wrote 1-2-3 and You Don’t Own Me. They joined a group called the Spokesmen and reached #36 with another composition, The Dawn Of Correction, an answer song to Barry McGuire’s The Eve Of Destruction.
Joe kept performing as a solo act based in Boston until his retirement in 2007. He died in 2014 at the age of 91.
My books are on sale on Amazon (or free with Kindle Unlimited) and contain a lot more Lost or Forgotten Oldies. You can visit my author page to see them and you can read them for free with Kindle Unlimited!