Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1961 Jarmels – A Little Bit Of Soap

1961 Jarmels – A Little Bit Of Soap

Five high school students in Roanoke, Virginia began singing together in school and church. Paul Burnett, Earl Christian, Tom Eldridge, Nathaniel Ruff, and Ray Smith initially called themselves The Cherokees.

Ben E. King appeared at a show in Roanoke, and the boys met up with him. He was able to talk the boys into making a trip to New York City. He hoped to introduce them to some music companies he was familiar with. One of their auditions was with Laurie Records, and their rendition of Ben’s hit Stand By Me convinced the company to sign them. Laurie Records required to change their name, and the group took their new name from a nearby street sign: The Jarmels.

Laurie assigned Jim Gribble to manage the group. The group’s first single came out in 1961. Little Lonely One appeared at #66 on WABC’s April 11 chart, which is probably why it sounds familiar to me. The record then disappeared, making no progress at all on the national charts.

The group did better with their second single. Bert Burns had worked with the Drifters and Ben and had written Twist And Shout. He wrote A Little Bit Of Soap using the pseudonym of Bert Russell. The Jarmels released the song as a single in 1961 and the record reached #12 on the Hot 100.

That turned out to be their only appearance on the Hot 100. Four more singles followed, but by 1963 the group had run out of luck. Some members left and singer Major Harris briefly joined the group.

Various members of the group continued to sing in oldies shows, but all of the original members have passed on.

Major Harris later joined the Delfonics.

Bert continued writing songs and became the manager for both Van Morrison and Neil Diamond.


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