Volcanos
Volcanos
@volcanos
 

Excerpted from Cooler Than Ice: Arctic Records and the Rise of Philly Soul

The Volcanos consisted of lead singer Eugene Jones, first tenor Stanley Wade, his brother Harold “Doc” Wade on baritone, second tenor Stephen Kelly (born December 28, 1943 in Philadelphia), and bass singer William Luby.

Patsy Holte sang lead when they were known as Patsy & the Epsilons, but she soon left to front the Blue-Belles and became Patti LaBelle. 

Each member learned an instrument. “We were called a self-contained group,” Kelly says. “I was playing drums and singing. Harold was the guitar player. Gene was playing guitar. Stanley was the bass player.” When they were sufficiently polished, it was time to locate a label.

“I went to [radio station W]DAS, and I met Jimmy Bishop,” says Stephen. “Kenny Gamble was in the sound booth with Jimmy Bishop, talking about his dreams, I guess.” Gamble had dropped by Kelly’s house not long before, inviting him to collaborate on a song. “I told him I didn’t want to be a writer,” says Kelly. “I wanted to be a singer.

“Kenny must have told Jimmy about the group. So Jimmy Bishop gave me a chance to audition, and told me to go up to 60th and Chestnut and meet with three fellows by the name of Weldon McDougal, Johnny Stiles, and Luther Randolph,” he says. “When these three guys heard us up there at 60th Street in this office, they said we were so dynamic, they said, ‘We gotta change the name! We want y’all! You’re so dynamic, we’re gonna call y’all the Volcanos!’” There the group met Earl Young. “I made him part of the Volcanos as well, as drummer,” says Kelly. Keyboardist John Hart, Jr. would eventually join the ranks too.

The Volcanos cut their debut at Frank Virtue’s studio. Working all night, they waxed the spine-chilling “Baby,” penned by lead singer Eugene Jones. “It was like a blues thing,” says Stephen Kelly, who organized the group out of John Bartram High School in Southwest Plilly. “It was a ballad. He just had it in his head. Eugene had a hollow-box guitar, and he would bring it to rehearsals. He was very talented. He would just sit down and say, ‘Look, man, I’ve got this song, man, and it goes a little bit like this.’ And we were like, ‘Okay, go ahead! Go ahead, Gene!’ And we would put that sweet harmony behind it, the harmony, blowing the notes and everything, and arranging the notes. Next thing you know, we put it all together, and it was there.”

Johnny Stiles handed the Volcanos the dance workout on the flip, “Make Your Move.” “We were just told to show up at Frank Virtue’s. We got a song, more or less they would let us hear it, and then tell us to rehearse it. And we rehearsed it a couple of weeks, and then when we felt we were ready, we would come in and make time for Frank,” says Kelly. “Sometimes we would get there like eight o’clock, and Frank’s wife would be on the door. I’ll never forget it. We had to climb all the way up these steps. And sometimes we would not get out of that studio ‘til like four or five o’clock in the morning. Just over and over and over and over, until number one, Gene got hoarse, because they were always looking for that raspy voice to make things right.”

 

Cooler Than Ice: Arctic Records and the Rise of Philly Soul

Title
Genre
Philly Soul
Philly Soul
Philly Soul
Philly Soul

Philly Original Soul Classics Volume 1 Storm Warning

Title
Genre
Philly Soul
Philly Soul
Philly Soul
Philly Soul
Philly Soul