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The Sunbeams

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The launching pad for a young Joe Tex, R&B vocal group the Sunbeams formed in Long Island, New York in 1950; tenor lead Bobby Lee Hollis, first tenor Bobby Coleman, second tenor James Davis, baritone lead John Cumbo and bass William Edwards comprised the original lineup, according to Marv Goldberg's profile in the April 1997 issue of Discoveries. Unlike the vast majority of their contemporaries, the group spent close to two years in rehearsals before even seeking out professional gigs, finally making the rounds of the New York City and Long Island club circuits in 1952 -- circa 1953, the lineup included Tex, who soon exited to mount a solo career. In early 1955 the Sunbeams signed to the Herald label, quickly recording four Cumbo originals with Hollis on lead -- the single "Tell Me Why" appeared in the spring, but Herald had its hands full promoting concurrent hits from the Nutmegs ("Story Untold"), the Turbans ("When You Dance") and Al Savage ("Paradise Princess"), and the Sunbeams slipped through the cracks. Hollis left the lineup in 1956, and with new lead tenor Henry Williamson, the group waited out the remainder of its Herald deal before signing to Acme in mid-'57, releasing "Please Say You'll Be Mine" to little notice a few months later. The Sunbeams split in 1958, with Coleman going solo and Williamson joining one of the many Ink Spots lineups then on tour. ~ Jason Ankeny

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