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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Legendary Group: The Impressions

Formed in Chicago in 1957 and originally known as the Roosters, this group comprised:

Jerry Butler (b. 8th December 1939, Sunflower, Mississippi, U.S.A.)

Curtis Mayfield (b. 3rd June 1942, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.)

Sam Gooden (b. 2nd September 1939, Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.A.),

and brothers Richard Brooks and Arthur Brooks (both born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.A.).

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The Impressions are an American music group from Chicago that formed in 1958. Their repertoire includes doo-wop, gospel, soul, and R&B.

The group was founded as The Roosters by Chattanooga, Tennessee natives Sam Gooden, Richard Brooks, and Arthur Brooks, who moved to Chicago and added Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield to their line-up to become Jerry Butler & the Impressions. By 1962, Butler and the Brookses had departed, and after switching to ABC-Paramount Records, Mayfield, Gooden, and new Impression Fred Cash collectively became a top-selling soul act. Mayfield left the group for a solo career in 1970; Leroy Hutson, Ralph Johnson, Reggie Torian, and Nate Evans were among the replacements who joined Gooden and Cash. Inductees into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, The Impressions are best known for their 1960s string of hits, many of which were heavily influenced by gospel music and served as inspirational anthems for the Civil Rights Movement.

Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield met while singing in the same Chicago church choir. After singing in a number of local gospel groups, the two of them joined a doo-wop group called "The Roosters" in 1957, whose members included Chattanooga, Tennessee natives Sam Gooden, Richard Brooks, and his brother Arthur. By 1958, The Roosters had a new manager in Eddie Thomas, a record deal with Vee-Jay Records, and a new name: "Jerry Butler & the Impressions".

The group's first hit single was 1958's "For Your Precious Love", which hit #11 on the US pop charts and #3 on the R&B charts. However, soon after the release of the R&B Top 30 hit "Come Back My Love", Butler left the group to go on to a successful solo career. After briefly touring with the now-solo Butler as his guitarist, Curtis Mayfield became the group's new lead singer and songwriter, and Fred Cash, a returning original Roosters member, was appointed as the new fifth member.

Mayfield wrote a number of Butler's early solo hits, and used the money to get The Impressions to move to Chicago, Illinois. There, they got a new deal with ABC-Paramount Records in 1961, and released their first post-Butler single. That single, "Gypsy Woman", was their biggest single to date, hitting #2 on the R&B charts and #20 on the pop chart. Successive singles failed to match "Gypsy Woman"'s success, and Richard and Arthur Brooks ended up leaving the group in 1962.

The Impressions returned to Chicago as a trio, and soon aligned themselves with producer Johnny Pate, who helped to update their sound and create a more lush soul sound for the group. The result was "It's All Right", a 1963 gold single that topped the R&B charts and made it to #4 on the pop charts, and became one of the group's signature songs. "It's All Right" and "Gypsy Woman" were the anchors of The Impressions' first LP, 1963's The Impressions.

1964 brought the first of Mayfield's Black pride anthem compositions, "Keep on Pushing", which became a Top 10 smash on both the Billboard Pop and R&B charts.It was the title cut from the album of the same name ,Keep On Pushing, which also reached the Top 10 on both charts. Future Mayfield compositions would feature more and more of a social and political awareness, including the following year's major hit and the group's best-known song, the gospel-influenced "People Get Ready", which hit #3 on the R&B charts and #14 on the pop charts.

n the mid-1960s, The Impressions, were compared with Motown acts such as The Temptations,The Miracles, and The Four Tops. After 1965's "Woman's Got Soul", and the #7 pop hit "Amen", The Impressions reach the R&B Top Ten for three more years, finally scoring in 1968 with the #9 "I Loved and Lost". "We're a Winner", which hit #1 on the R&B charts that same year, represented a new level of social awareness in Mayfield's music. Mayfield created his own label, Curtom, and moved The Impressions to the label. Over the next two years, more Impressions message tracks, including the #1 R&B hit "Choice of Colors" (1969) and the #3 "Check Out Your Mind" (1970), became big hits for the group.

After the release of the Check Out Your Mind LP in 1970, Mayfield left the group and began a successful solo career, the highlight of which was writing and producing the Super Fly soundtrack. He continued to write and produce for The Impressions, who remained on Curtom. Leroy Hutson was the first new lead singer for the group following Mayfield's departure, but success eluded The Impressions, and Hutson left the group in 1973. New members Ralph Johnson and Reggie Torian replaced Hutson, and The Impressions had three R&B Top 5 singles in 1974–1975: the #1 "Finally Got Myself Together (I'm a Changed Man)" (which also reached the Pop top 20 ) , and the #3 singles "Same Thing it Took" and "Sooner or Later". In 1976, The Impressions left Curtom and Mayfield behind for Cotillion Records, and had their final major hit with "Loving Power". The same year, Ralph Johnson was replaced with Nate Evans, who remained in the group for three years, during which time The Impressions switched to 20th Century Records. Singles and albums sales continued to slip, and Evans left in 1979, reducing the group to a trio. Their final album, Fan the Flames, was released in 1981, and Reggie Torian, Fred Cash, and Sam Gooden (who remained in the group throughout its entire existence) disbanded two years later. Ralph Johnson rejoined the group in 1983 and was with them until 2000 at that time the group consisted of Fred Cash,Sam Gooden,Vandy Hampton,and Ralph Johnson and these four guys recorded with Eric Clapton on his "Reptile" album.There is also a new album that was recently released called a tribute to the memory of Curtis Mayfield that these four guys are singing all the songs. Since the early-1980s, The Impressions periodically rebanded in various formats, usually recreating the classic line-up of Mayfield, Gooden, and Cash, and sometimes including Jerry Butler in the line-up. On August 14, 1990, Mayfield was severely injured when lighting equipment fell on him during an on-stage performance. Paralyzed from the neck down, he could no longer play and could barely sing. He eventually was able to make a brief, well-received, comeback in 1997 with his New World Order album, and he died in Roswell, Georgia, on December 26, 1999 at the age of 57.

The Impressions were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, and into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003. The members who got to take part in this honor, as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, were Sam Gooden, Jerry Butler, Richard Brooks , Curtis Mayfield. Arthur Brooks, and Fred Cash.

The group performs today, with Fred Cash, Sam Gooden, and Reggie Torian. In 2008,Universal Music & Hip O Records released "Movin' On Up"- the first- ever video compilation of The Impressions , featuring brand new interviews with original Impressions members Sam Gooden and Fred Cash,along with taped interviews with the late Curtis Mayfield,and video performances of the group's greatest hits and several of Mayfield's solo hits.





Discography:

The Impressions (ABC Paramount 1963)
The Never Ending Impressions (ABC Paramount 1964)
Keep On Pushing (ABC Paramount 1964)
People Get Ready (ABC Paramount 1965)
One By One (ABC-Paramount 1965)
Ridin' High (ABC Paramount 1966)
The Fabulous Impressions (ABC 1967)
We're A Winner (ABC 1968)
This Is My Country (ABC 1968)
The Versatile Impressions (1969)
The Young Mod's Forgotten Story (Curtom 1969)
Check Out Your Mind (Curtom 1970)
Times Have Changed (Curtom 1972)
Preacher Man (Curtom 1973)
Finally Got Myself Together (Curtom 1974)
Three The Hard Way (1974)
First Impressions (Curtom 1975)
It's About Time (Cotillion 1976)
Loving Power (Curtom 1976)
Come To My Party (1979)
Fan The Fire (20th Century 1981)

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