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The Marathons

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Biography

The five singers who sang on "Peanut Butter," a popular R&B novelty tune, were really the Vibrations masquerading as the Marathons. These same guys, save for a couple of changes, had previously recorded as the Jay Hawks, charting with "Stranded in the Jungle" in 1956. "Stranded in the Jungle" was a novelty tune and probably was the first instance of "sampling" — sound bites from popular songs jumped from the lyrics like news bulletins. Don Bradley (bass), Carl Fisher (second tenor), Dave Govan (baritone), Jimmy Johnson (lead), and Richard Owens (first tenor) had a hit as the Vibrations with "The Watusi"; the dance song peaked at number 25. Multi-talented H.B. Barnum thought the group's sound was ideal for "Peanut Butter," a novelty tune he had co-written. Few imagined the tune would become as big as it did.

A lawsuit resulted when Checker Records discovered the charade. The Vibrations' members had individual contracts with Checker, and the label won the rights to market copies of "Peanut Butter" under their logo. Not to be denied, Arvee Records promptly secured the rights to the name the Marathons. Arvee released "Tight Sweater," written by a young Sonny Bono, as the follow-up. The recording failed to further the Marathons' name, as did Arvee's album release by the Marathons. Arvee rounded up some more singers to record "Peanut Butter"'s successor and the album tracks; the same group also performed as the Marathons.

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