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Group Members: L.J. Reynolds
All Music Guide:
Before assuming the name the Dramatics, the vocal sextet comprised of Rob Davis, Ron Banks, Larry Reed, Robert Ellington, Larry "Squirrel" Demps, and Elbert Wilkens initially released two singles as the Dynamics on the Wingate imprint that saw no chart action. The group became a quintet upon Ellington's exit, and also changed their name to the Dramatics. They migrated to the Sport label and in 1967 released their first single to hit the charts, "All Because of You," which peaked at number 42 on the R&B charts. However, in spite of the exposure and limited record sales, some groupmembers became discouraged, which facilitated a major personnel change. William "Wee Gee" Howard replaced lead singer Reed, and Willie Ford of the Capitols replaced bass Rob Davis. Also during this time, the Dramatics had signed with producer Don Davis' production company.
Even though the group managed to stay together, the ensuing years were unproductive for chart action and sales. Between 1967 and 1971, the Dramatics made very little noise on the national scene. By the end of 1971, Davis summoned the group to the studio to record producer/songwriter Tony Hester's "Watcha See Is Watcha Get." The single was the Dramatics' first major national hit, peaking at number three on the R&B charts, and sustaining chart action for 15 weeks. That single was followed by the R&B Top Ten single "Get Up and Get Down."
The following year the Dramatics released "In the Rain," which was also penned by Hester. The single torpedoed its way to the number one spot on the R&B charts, maintaining that position for four consecutive weeks; the single also peaked at number five on the pop charts. Ironically, in spite of the national attention the group was receiving, another personnel shuffle was simmering.
Larry "L.J." Reynolds, who had been a member of Chocolate Syrup and was pursuing a solo career during this time, met Dramatics member Banks at the Apollo following a performance by the group. It just so happened that Howard was absent that night. Reynolds auditioned for Banks backstage; it was not too long afterwards that Reynolds, who was also signed to Don Davis' production company, began to occasionally sit in with the Dramatics during Howard's absences.
In 1973, Howard's decision to leave the group opened the door for Reynolds' entrance; Reynolds' vocal presence and permanent entry into the group was manifested with the release of the R&B Top Ten single "Hey You! Get Off My Mountain." And while Reynolds was replacing Howard, Lenny Mayes was replacing Wilkens, which spelled out identity problems for the remainder of the group. Wilkens formed his own version of the Dramatics and began touring. During this time and pending legal procedures, the name of the group was changed to Ron Banks & the Dramatics.
The Dramatics' success continued with mainly R&B Top 20 hits during the heyday of disco, cracking the R&B Top Ten just once more with "Welcome Back Home" in 1980. In 1981, Reynolds went solo; the group disband after Banks went solo in 1983. The group managed to stay active, reuniting to record new material every three or four years since the early '80s. They occasionally reunite for concert events.
The Dramatics (formerly The Dynamics) are an American soul music vocal group, formed in Detroit, Michigan, in 1964. They are best known for their 1970s hit songs "In the Rain" and "Whatcha See is Whatcha Get", both of which were Top 10 Pop hits.Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 292 & 312. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
The Dramatics originally formed in 1964, recording as the Dynamics in 1965. Their first release in 1965 was entitled "Bingo" and the B-side was entitled "Somewhere". It was recorded for the late Ed Wingate's "Wingate" record label, a division of Golden World Records in Detroit, Michigan. Wingate changed the name of the group had a mis-print was called the Dynamics to The Dramatics in 1966 for the group's second release: "Inky Dinky Wang Dang Doo", the B-side was entitled: "Baby I Need You", also released on the Wingate Records label. By 1967, Motown had absorbed the entire Golden World Records operation, including their publishing: Myto Music BMI, The Golden World, Ric Tic, and Wingate Record labels, as well as recording artists. The Dramatics moved to Sport Records where they garnered their first minor hit single, "All Because of You."
The Dramatics signed to Stax-Volt Records in 1968. However, the group did not break through until their 1971 single, "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get," which broke into the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #9. Their first million selling disc "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" was awarded gold disc status by the R.I.A.A. in December 1971.
Their members at this time were Ron Banks (who died of a heart attack on March 4, 2010, at the age of 58), William "Wee Gee" Howard (who died of a heart attack on February 22, 2000, at the age of 49), Elbert Wilkins (who died of a heart attack on December 13, 1992, at the age of 45), Willie Ford, Larry Demps and keyboardist James Mack Brown (who died on November 28, 2008, at the age of 58). Shortly after the success of their first album, Howard and Wilkins left the group. They were replaced by Larry James "L.J." Reynolds and Leonard "Lenny" Mayes. Through the 1970s, the group appeared on Soul Train and continued to have hits, including the #1 R&B hit, "In the Rain", "Toast to the Fool", "Me and Mrs. Jones" (originally by Billy Paul), "I'm Going By The Stars In Your Eyes" and "Be My Girl." "In the Rain" also sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. Many of the Dramatics' songs were written by Tony Hester, a Detroit writer/producer who was shot to death in a street robbery in 1980.
In the meantime, Howard and Wilkins formed a Dramatics splinter group, and came up with a minor R&B hit, "No Rebate on Love." To distinguish themselves from this group, the core group temporarily dubbed themselves 'Ron Banks and The Dramatics'. Howard eventually returned to the group for two albums, Somewhere in Time: A Dramatic Reunion and Positive State Of Mind, before departing again.
The Dramatics also were guests on the Snoop Doggy Dogg song, "Doggy Dogg World". The song appeared on Snoop's 1993 debut album, Doggystyle. In 2002 The Dramatics appeared on Snoop Dogg's sixth studio album Paid tha Cost to Be da Boss on the song "Ballin'", produced by Battlecat.
The group continues to tour and presently consists of Reynolds, Ford, Winzell Kelly and Michael Brock, who replaced Mayes (who died of lung cancer on November 8, 2004, at the age of 53).
The Dramatics were also mentioned in the book The Algiers Motel Incident by John Hersey (ISBN 0-8018-5777-5). They were staying at the Algiers Motel, following a performance at Detroit's Fox Theatre, during an alleged murder by members of the Detroit Police Department, which was one of the incidents that sparked the Detroit Riots of 1967.
The Dramatics "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" appeared in the 2003 documentary 8 Wheels & Some Soul Brotha' Music, in the 2005 documentary Sunday Driver, as well as the movies, Wattstax and Darktown Strutters, and the 2007 Petey Greene biopic, Talk To Me. The Dramatics were officially inducted into the R&B Music Hall of Fame at Cleveland State University's Waetejen Auditorium on Saturday August 17, 2013.Cite error: The named reference The_Book_of_Golden_Discs was invoked but never defined (see the help page). McCollum, Brian (2010-03-04). "Dramatics founder Ron Banks dead at 58". freep.com. Retrieved 4 March 2010.