This episode of Unsung featuring The Manhattans was straight up NOSTALGIA! Their music from this era was in the pocket of my Dad’s favorite music so I heard it all the time!!!! I definitely didn’t know the story behind The Manhattans but when you watch Unsung you know off the TOP that WE ARE GONNA DEFINITELY LEARN SOMETHING!!!!
The Manhattans Humble Beginnings
Everybody who strives to make it in the music business experiences humble beginnings. The Manhattans went from singing on a street corner, to making $15 a piece for an entire weekend of gigs, to getting a record contract from their performance on the world famous stage of The Apollo Theatre … that’s the stuff that artists dream of but The Manhattans ACTUALLY did it!!!!
When I joined Salt-N-Pepa, they were already a year and a half in but I definitely heard the struggle stories! LOL! The struggle is REAL and part of the journey but everybody’s hustle doesn’t always necessarily pay off. The fact that The Manhattans struggled and never gave up says A LOT. I mean, look at what they had to go thru to essentially MAKE IT. They all joined the armed forces making a pact to follow thru with their music when they got out. And they succeeded!!!
Spinderella on Doo-Wop
My dad would always tell me about the days of street corner doo-wop and when they talked about it on this Unsung episode, that was how it really was back then. It was common place for young guys to be on the corner just singing… “doo-woping” – NOT SELLING DRUGS, NOT CAUSING NO COMMOTION, NOT ROBBING AND STEALING — just singing and trying to impress the ladies. I look at the art of “doo-woping” like our version of "free-stylin!” Like "free-stylin," "doo-woping" was a creative outlet for youth looking for something to do and some were actually good at it!!!
Spinderella On The Manhattans’ MAJOR CHANGES
After The Manhattans first lead singer (George “Smitty” Smith) took ill, we quickly learned that it was nothing but God’s DIVINE INTERVENTION that lead them to their second singer; a college student by the name of Gerald Alston they met by chance who ended performing THAT NIGHT!
Really! When one door closed for them another one opened LITERALLY!
And they didn’t lose a lead singer just once… they lost a lead singer twice (Richard Taylor left later for religious reasons) and they still reached star status!
The Manhattan’s Music & Style
That’s why families had so many kids back then (mine included) because of the music of that era. LOL! Those love ballads were SERIOUS and The Manhattans definitely put it down in the love department.
Manhattan group member Winfred “Blue” Lovett is one cold cat! LOL! The way he stops and talks on records (Kiss and Say Good-Bye, I Kinda Miss You) is still sexy to this day! If you listen to songs from other Unsung profiled artists like Teddy Pendergrass, Barry White and Isaac Hayes their baritone voiced interludes stole the show! That’s not my era of music but nevertheless, I can see how it melted ladies hearts!
Everything was BIG in The Manhattans era! LOL!!! Big afros, big collars, big shoes (platforms) and especially big bow-ties. Those bow-ties they were rocking were HUGE! LOL!!!!
The Manhattans Got KNACK
It seems like The Manhattans had a KNACK of timing – meaning being in the right place at the right time and being able to scout out new talent. This was definitely the case of R&B singer Regina Belle who joined the group in the 80s. I had no idea The Manhattans brought her in and they basically launched her career.
The Manhattans’ music speaks for itself! I have mad respect for them because they knew who they were– great ballad singers and they were GREAT at it. They knew what worked and didn’t work for them and they are still out there doing their thing!
Manhattans member Gerald Alston’s ultimate statement of humanity really touched me and summed it up best when he said, “We weren’t doing them a favor by performing for them (the fans). They were doing US a favor.”
Yes!!!! That’s how you treat your FANS! That statement was HUGE for me. I never put it in that exact term but he definitely hit it on the head for me with that observation.
I’m glad to see The Manhattans are still out and about and doing their thing. The Manhattans had 11 top charting hit songs (Kiss and Say Goodbye, I Kinda Miss You and Shining Star to name a few) and even a Grammy for best R&B Group! They definitely deserve a place in music history!!!!
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