Rose Royce emerged from South Central Los Angeles in the mid-1970s to become one of the top-selling groups of that decade. Nurtured by legendary Motown producer Norman Whitfield (Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Gladys Knight), the group topped the charts with their first LP, a soundtrack for the movie "Car Wash" that sold three million copies and spawned such hits as "I "Wanna Get Next to You," and "I’m Goin Down." With vocalist Gwen Dickey leading the way, this nine-member ensemble combined classy pop stylings with funky R&B riffs, a pop-funk blend that paved the way for Michael Jackson’s breakthrough at the end of the decade.
But after three consecutive platinum albums and lasting hits like "Wishing on a Star" and "Love Don’t Live Here Anymore," both of which have since been widely covered, Rose Royce succumbed to the too-frequent stresses of overnight success. Dickey, not yet 20 when she joined in 1975, was so burnt out and disillusioned that she left the group at its peak some band members say she was fired and refused to perform or record for years. As the group floundered, bassist Lequeint "Duke" Jobe, a musical phenom who was widely considered one of the top R&B bass players in the world, fell prey to drugs and wound up homeless and in jail. Despite it all, the core of Rose Royce has managed to stay together for 35 years, while Dickey has developed a successful solo career in the UK, where she has lived for the past two decades.
What do you think of this Unsung story? Who do you think is unsung? Tell us in the comments, below.