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The Chandeliers

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Doo wop quintet the Chandeliers formed in Kansas City in 1954. According to Marv Goldberg's profile in the April 1998 issue of Discoveries, first tenor/second lead William Watson and his bass brother Jesse co-founded the group with tenor/lead Luther Rice, first tenor Reginald "Sandy" Johnson, and second tenor George Chambers. Deriving their name simply by looking up at the ceiling during rehearsal, the Chandeliers honed their harmonies playing one-nighters and cabarets across the Kansas City region. In mid-1957, manager Saul Davis arranged an audition with Atlas label exec Bobby Robinson, and weeks later the group recorded the Davis-penned "Blueberry Sweet," issued on Atlas in early 1958. The single emerged as a hit at home and in St. Louis and New York, and the Chandeliers mounted a brief Midwest tour highlighted by a Kansas City date on the same bill with the fledgling James Brown. "Dolly" followed in the summer, but fared poorly and Atlas chose to shelve a proposed third single, "Wild Cherry." In mid-1959 William Watson enlisted in the Navy, effectively spelling the Chandeliers' demise. Jesse Watson and Luther Rice soon joined him in the service, and together they continued harmonizing on an informal basis, but only Rice returned to music full-time, working for a series of radio stations. ~ Jason Ankeny

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1954 in Kansas City, MO

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