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The Titans

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Los Angeles R&B group the Titans were formed in 1956 by bass Larry Green, an alumnus of East Coast acts including the Four Dots and the Heartbreakers -- according to Marv Goldberg's profile in the June 1977 issue of Yesterday's Memories -- Green relocated to Southern California in hopes of mounting a solo career, even contributing to a handful of Walt Disney soundtracks, but was so impressed by the caliber of talent working the club circuit that he opted to form a new combo instead. First tenor Charles Wright, second tenor Sam Barnett, tenor/baritone Alvin Branom, and baritone Curtis McNair completed the lineup, who originally called themselves the Egyptians before adopting the Titans in honor of the U.S. Air Force's new Titan missile. After signing to the Vita label, the group issued its debut single "So Hard to Laugh, So Easy to Cry" in early 1957. The record went nowhere, and "G'wan Home Calypso" followed in the spring, earning the Titans a spot in the rock & roll B-movie Bop Girl Goes Calypso. Upon moving to the Specialty label, the group resurfaced in the fall of 1957 with "Sweet Peach." They also backed Don & Dewey on the duo's "Just a Little Lovin'," but despite this additional exposure the Titans failed to break into the consumer consciousness, and after releasing a cover of Huey Smith & the Clowns' "Don't You Just Know It" to shrugs, Branom announced his resignation in early 1958. The remaining Titans forged on as a quartet for their final Specialty session, "Arlene," and soon after their new manager Bob Gordon packaged the group together with fellow clients the Nighthawks, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, and Mikki Lynn to create The Harlem Nocturne Revue, a variety showcase that ran for two years at Lakewood, CA's Squire's Inn. In January 1959 the Titans also issued a one-off single on the Class label titled "No Time." The Fidelity release "Everybody Happy" followed a little more than a year later. In the middle of 1960, McNair exited the lineup to care for his ailing father, and after a brief stint as a trio, the Titans split. Green later returned to the Squire's Inn as the "Singing Chef," cooking in a tuxedo and apron while singing to the restaurant's patrons. McNair later changed his name to Curtis Knight and assembled a backing band he dubbed the Squires. In October 1965, he hired a dazzling young guitarist named Jimmy James, who cut several records with the group before mounting a solo career under his given name of Jimi Hendrix. ~ Jason Ankeny

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