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The Royal Five

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A publicity photo depicts the Royal Five as five slick cats with shiny processed conks adorning their heads like a second layer of skin. The lineup consisted of brothers: Billy & Ronnie Stokes, Reggie & Jerome Marshall, and Ben Durr. They formed at Simon Gratz High in 1963, and resided in the Broad & Erie section of North Philly. Phil Graber's P & L Records issued their debut single "The Boston Boo-Ga-Loo" b/w "Over The Rainbow," in 1966, it went unnoticed and a second recording "Nobody Else" b/w "Don't Stop," stayed shelved for more than 30 years. The sides finally appeared on Philly Soul, Volume 1 on Philly Soul Records. Three years later Arctic Records issued "Peace Of Mind" b/w "Ain't No Big Thing," but the results mirrored the first, in spite of Jimmy Bishop's clout; Bishop was a Philly DJ and Arctic Records owner. "Say It To My Face" b/w "Gonna Keep Lovin' You," released on Tyler Records was their last recording. The members wrote "Gonna Keep Lovin' You," with Joao Naboe replacing Jerome Marshall. Nothing changed, the Royal Five's few recordings never got to first base despite a solid following in Philadelphia. The Stokes' brothers are barbers in North Philly, and Reggie Marshall sings with older brother James, who recorded with the Informers, a.k.a. the Fabulous Performers; Ben Durr sings with one of the many Platters groups. ~ Andrew Hamilton