Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band Biography
Originally conceived as an instrumental group, Bernard Blackman (guitar), Raymond Jackson (trombone), John Rayford (1943; tenor saxophone), Melvin Dunlap (bass) and James Gadson (drums), were still known by their former name, the Soul Runners, when a 1967 release, Grits N Corn Bread, reached the US R&B Top 40. Having changed their name in deference to the Watts district of Los Angeles, they enjoyed further success with Spreadin Honey the same year. The group also backed comedian Bill Cosby, whose influence helped secure a recording contract with Warner Brothers Records. The new signings then acquired a featured vocalist, Charles Wright (b. 1940, Clarkdale, Mississippi, USA), and following two 1969 singles, Do Your Thing and Till You Get Enough, the bands name was changed to Charles Wright And The Watts 103rd Street Band. Subsequent singles Express Yourself (1970) and Your Love (Means Everything To Me) (1971) both reached the R&B Top 10, but their unstable personnel constantly undermined the groups potential.
Wright later left the group for a solo career but revived the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band in the late 90s. The bands Express Yourself, High As Apple Pie and I Got Love have been sampled on several rap and pop records, by artists including Zapp, Puff Daddy and Naughty By Nature.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.