Buckeyes / Stereos


Steubenville, 1955-70

This long lasting R&B vocal group - and much later, band = started out by singing in local halls. There were a lot of early members, but by 1956 the group included Bruce Robinson, Howard Alsbrooks, Leroy Swearingen, Ronnie Collins, and Ray Manson. Esther Thompson also sang with thrm on occasion. They went to New York City to audition for a few record companies, and were signed by King records to record for Deluxe. They made two 45s for Deluxe

The group continued to perform, and with Pittsburgh being the closest big city, appeared there often. After some personnel changes - Samuel Profit replacing Ray Manson and George Otis replacing Esther Thompson. Howard Alsbrooks rejoined the band he had been fronting, the Earl Brown Orchestra. The group returned to NYC and got a deal with the short lived Gibraltar label, where they made one 45. Gibraltar asked the group to change their name so they became the Stereos. Unfortunately, the Gibraltar label was nowhere near the namesake rock for stability and folded not long after the 45. Someone grabbed their Rolodex when they were re-employed by Cub records and the Stereos were brought over. Around this same time Nathaniel Hicks replaced Leroy Swearingen. The group's first NYC recording session for Cub gave them their signature song and biggest hit, "I Really Love You",  a classic uptempo doowop sound with nifty rhythmic vocal backing.

Having a hit record opened up the prospects for performing, and the group peformed a few times at the Apollo Theater and numerous places on the east coast and midwest. The Stereos released two more 45s on Cub, neither was a strong seller, and either the group was dropped or Cub (a subsidiary of MGM) went out of business. In the fall of 1962 they returned to NYC again and while recording some demos in a studio owned by Columbia records, the label took an interest and pressed up a45 for test marketing in a couple cities. Supposedly only a handful (100 or so) 45s were pressed up and the record is now a famous rarity. 

After trying and failing to get a national release, the group put out three 45s on the Pittsburgh labels World Artists, Ideal, and Val. By this time their old doowop style was fading and soul music was the current sound, so the group started to evolve, first with Ronnie Paris replacing George Otis, and the group changed to a self contained band, with Nathniel Hicks playing guitar with Ronnie Parris, Bruce Robinson, and Ronnie Collins singing. They added more musicians on guitar, bass and drums. 

A local Steubenville entrepeneur, Jerry Hyde, wanted to get into the record business and since Steubenville's most famous artist, Dean Martin, was busy, Hyde approached the second most famous local act and recorded them in his home studio. The song was the funky dance song "Stereo Freeze" and it was a local and regional hit. Chess picked it up for national distribution a few months later. Although the group seemed to be on their second big break, they would end up recording only one more record, I Can't Stop These Tears, on Chess, and finally giving up on their career a year or so later in 1969/70.

Discography:
Since I Fell For You  / By Only You - Deluxe 6110
Dottie Baby / Begging You Please - Deluxe 6126
Sweetpea's In Love / A Love For Only You - Gibraltar 105
I Really Love You / Please Come Back To Me - Cub 9095, 1961
Sweet Water / The Big Knock - Cub 9103, 1961
Unless You Mean It / Do You Love Me - Cub 9106, 1962
Echo In My Heart / Tick Tack Toe - Columbia 42626
Mumbling Word / Good News - World 1012
Don't Let It Happen To You / The Best Thing To Be Is A Person - Val 2 / 5762, 1965
Stereo Freeze Part 1 / Stereo Freeze Part 2 - Hyde 1001 / Cadet 5577
I Can't Stop These Tears / I Feel Soul A'Coming - Cadet 5626