Sonny Harris and the Soul Reflections


Cleveland, 1968

In the fall of 1968, Cleveland resident Sanford Potiker was checking out a Cleveland club called the Capri Lounge, on the corner of 28th and Cedar. On stage was a Cleveland group, Sonny Harris and the Soul Reflections. Sanford had an idea for a song, and one thing led to another and one excellent 45 of hard R&B/funk was created under a situation much different than most of the local records from the times.

Sanford Potiker grew up in Cleveland and attended East Tech High School, one of the few white students in a school that was the starting ground for many of Cleveland's R&B and vocal groups. After he grew up and started working, he would hang out at some of the many clubs on Cleveland's near east side that featured soul music. He was really impressed with Sonny's style, which was influenced by the masters, Jackie Wilson and James Brown. A year or so before, Sanford was visiting a friend who played musical saw. The vibration of the saw gave him the idea for a song about a "Vibration" and the idea was filled in for a desire to bring people together to do the same dance - "Number one in the nation..." - during the very turbulent year of 1968. Sanford and Sonny met, with Sonny bringing along an arranger to work out the song. Sonny also came up with a flip side, when he wrote it out, he thought of it as a "Hank Williams country song" which was arranged into soul. 

Sanford pulled together $1000 of his money and booked time at Cleveland Recording where the group (who were all black) assembled and recorded both songs with no outside musicians. The two sides were the only things they recorded. Sanford then drove down to the Kinig pressing plant and ordered 500 records, with a label name that referenced his first name and middle initial (L/El). Upon getting them, he took 5 copies a piece and delivered them to WJMO and WABQ, Cleveland's two soul music centered radio stations at the time. He also flew to New York with a few copies and hit up some record companies. Word got out to Mercury who was interested, but either wanted to re-record it with new producers, etc or wanted to make some other changes, but for various reasons, nothing came of that.

Other than a few more copies sent out for promotion, that was exent of the record's exposure. It was never really available for public sale. In the 1990s, collectors started discovering the record and contacting Sanford, who sold off about 300 or copies to a few different people. 

As far as the identity and fate of Sonny, the rest of the band, and the arranger, nothing has surfaced. It's not even known what Sonny's real name would be to find him.  Sanford Potiker still lives in the Cleveland area and has hoped to have the Vibration revived to a modern audience. 

Thanks to Sanford Potiker

Discography:
The Vibration  / You Were Only Making Believe - San-El 222 (King pressing account 1369)