The Four Tempos

Native Texans the Four Tempos gave it one hard shot before disbanding with a lifetime of memories. Milton Vincent Davis, Herman Bean, Al Foy, and Benny Reed hailed from Houston, TX, and walked similar paths. All sang in their respective churchs' choirs, and all attended M.R. Wood High School in Sugarland, TX, a suburb of Houston, enrolled in the school's Future Farmers of America program. They formed at high school to entertain at school affairs then branched out to become one of the area's most popular singing groups and performed at halls, clubs, hospitals, and colleges.

After finishing high school in 1966, they saved their money and went to Los Angeles to hone in on their dreams of making records and becoming stars. After arriving and pounding the pavement for months, they discovered others from all over came to the City of Angels with the same idea. When their seed money reached an all-time low, and it looked like eating and affording a place to sleep could be problematic, they went hunting for any job that paid a wage. Milton found a gig at Sunkist, where he met a guy who played saxophone in a band. Discovering that Milton sang with a group, he invited the Four Tempos to sing with them at a school gig. Impressed, the sax player introduced them to Eddie Davis, head of Fara Productions, who got them a deal with Rampart Records.

"Memories" b/w "Shake Down at the Union Hall" hit the streets in April 1967; it got some local, regional, and spot play as far away as St. Louis, and Memphis, but it never charted very high. Billy Joe Beal and Wayne Edwards wrote "Memories"; Beal was Milton Davis' half-brother. Rampart worked the record for seven months before issuing the less-successful but torrid two-sided dancer "Come on Home" b/w "Got to Have You (Can't Live Without You)." March 1968 brought "This Is the Way I Feel," but jocks never jumped on it; it became popular years later with the Northern soul crowd and was compiled by Goldmine/Soul Supply Records on The Northern Soul of L.A., Vol. 1. The tally: three singles and only a modicum of success, even Rampart's executives were losing faith. A final Rampart single, "Lonely Prisoner," had the same B-side "If I Had a Strange Dream," off their third single, but it flopped and the Four Tempos disbanded. The Vikings, another Rampart group, redid "Lonely Prisoner." Milton went on to write and produce for others, his biggest song was "I Know," a hit for Dionne Farris. ~ Andrew Hamilton

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