1970 Gene Chandler – Groovy Situation
Eugene Drake Dixon was born in Chicago in 1937. In 1957 he began singing as a member of the Dukays, and he quickly became their lead singer. He left the group when the draft took him into the military but rejoined as soon as he returned to civilian life. The Dukays released the single The Girl’s A Devil on Nat Records in 1961 and the record reached #64 on the Hot 100.
That success resulted in a recording session that produced four more songs. Nite Owl did nearly as well as their last single, reaching #73 in 1962. At the same time, Eugene took another one of the songs to Vee Jay Records and they released Duke Of Earl as a single, crediting Gene Chandler as the singer rather than listing the group. The record hit the top of both the Hot 100 and the R&B chart.
Gene bought a cape, a monocle, and a top hat and began appearing as the Duke Of Earl. He appeared in the film Don’t Knock The Twist singing his big hit in his full costume. He released his next single as The Duke Of Earl instead of using his stage name again, but after that single stalled at #91 on the Hot 100, he returned to using Gene Chandler.
Gene had just two more top forty singles on the Hot 100 in the next seven years: the single Just Be True reached #19 in 1964, while the single Nothing Can Stop Me reached #18 in 1965. During that time period, he placed more than a dozen singles into the R&B top forty, including four that reached the top five.
Gene moved into producing music rather than just singing on records and in concerts, and in 1969 he produced Backfield In Motion for Mel and Tim. The single reached the top ten, and Gene also produced the rest of their first album, including the song Groovy Situation. When Mel and Tim’s did not release their version of the song as a single, Gene recorded and released his own version in 1970. His very similar single peaked at #12 on the Hot 100 and #8 on the R&B chart and became Gene’s last top forty single on the pop charts.
He had another seven top forty singles on the R&B chart before his string of charting releases ran out in 1986.
They used Duke Of Earl on the soundtrack of Hairspray in 1988 and Groovy Situation found a new home in Anchorman: Music from the Motion Picture. Duke Of Earl was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.
The city of Chicago reflected Gene’s music and his civic and charitable efforts in the city by naming a street after him in 2016.
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