Groupe Doo Wop US formé en 1954 à New Heaven (Connecticut) et comprenant
Leroy Griffin, James "Sonny" Griffin, James Tyson et Billy Emery puis Leroy McNeil.
The Nutmegs are remembered today for their enduring East Coast doo wop classic, 1955's R&B smash hit "Story Untold" (number two in the U.S.). The group continued to have regional success in the northeastern U.S., scoring a Top 20 regional hit with "Ship of Love." Nearly a decade later, the Nutmegs unwittingly became the founders of an a cappella craze that swept the East Coast between 1963 and 1966, scoring numerous Top Five regional hits with a cappella versions of previously recorded singles. "Let Me Tell You" (number five), "The Way Love Should Be" (number three), "Why Must We Go to School" (number four), "Down in Mexico" (number five), and "You're Crying" (number four) were all popular in the greater New York-area, but the group was never able to gain enough national exposure to chart across the country again. After their first tenor and songwriter Leroy Griffin died in an accident, they broke up and then reformed, calling themselves the Rajahs.
Hailing from New Haven, CT, (home of the Five Satins, the Scarlets, the Chestnuts, and the Four Haven Knights), the original Nutmegs -- lead Leroy Griffin, Sonny Griffin (born James, he was Leroy's brother), Dieder Cobb, and a second Leroy Griffin (yes, there were two men with the same exact name) who later became Leroy Gomez -- all sang together with other members -- Walter Singleterry, Bill Emery, and Gomez's brother Tommy Griffin -- moving in and out of the lineup. The group performed on the street corners of New Haven, especially Webster and Dixon Streets, where Jimmy "Co Co" Tyson was asked to join the key lineup and soon they were a quintet. (Tyson left the group that he was singing with behind, three of whom eventually formed the rival Chestnuts combo). The Nutmegs fragmented again and some of the members left to form a group of their own, the Lyres; the Gomez brothers formed the Four Haven Knights.
Now comprised of a lineup that included Bill Emery (lead), Walter Singleterry (first tenor), Sonny Griffin (second tenor), Jimmy Tyson (baritone), and Leroy Griffin (bass), the new Nutmegs met promoter Charlie Johnson in 1953, who fell for their sound and decided to record two of Leroy's songs, "Ship of Love" and "Playboy," for his small J&G label after the group was passed over by the local Klik label (who had actually recorded the session). The single failed to sell, however, and Johnson lacked the funds to promote it properly.
By 1954, the Nutmegs revised their hierarchy and Leroy Griffin switched over to lead, with Sonny Griffin now filling in as first tenor, Tyson (second tenor), Emery (baritone), and they added yet another Leroy, Leroy McNeil, for the bass vocals. Leroy Griffin's nephew Harold (Harry James, not the musician), would often sit in and listen, little knowing the part he would come to play in the group.
Late in 1954, the quintet traveled to New York and met RCA/Groove recording artists the Du-Droppers, who introduced them to Herald Records executive Al Silver. By then, the Nutmegs had recorded four more sides, including a song called "Story Untold." Three of the four would eventually become the group's first singles for Herald, who opted to tack on the new name the Nutmegs for the first of these, "Story Untold," after the group decided on the name, telling Silver they were from Connecticut, the "nutmeg" state.
In March 1955, "Story Untold" was released and leaped immediately into the R&B charts; by July, it was number two in the nation. Meanwhile, the Crew Cuts covered the song (scoring number 16 on the pop charts), which effectively eliminated the Nutmegs' version from staying on the charts any longer than it did. In August, Herald followed up with "Ship of Love" which, by October, had climbed to number 13 R&B and number five pop in the New York area, but failed to catch on across the country.
The group traveled to N.Y.C. to appear at the Apollo, where they were accused to doing an obscene dance. When DJ Alan Freed caught wind of it, he pulled the group off his play list and they had to go back to Freed and apologize before they would get any additional airplay from him. McNeil and Emery actually went on Freed's show and apologized for the stunt, explaining that they were only doing a dance called the "Hunch" which amounted to "pulling your arms in and out at the sides." Freed accepted the explanation and apology and forgave them enough to add them to his next Brooklyn Paramount show. He also added them to his touring road show, where they performed alongside the Moonglows, the Spaniels, the Harptones, Chuck Berry, and others. Meanwhile, "Whispering Sorrows" was the next single released, but Herald opted to push "Betty Lou," the flip side, which failed to connect. Soon, Bill Emery was leaving the group and was replaced by Sonny Washburn of the Five Dukes ("Cross Your Fingers" on Atlas).
The Nutmegs' fourth single, "Key to the Kingdom," was released in June and was even reviewed in the pages of Billboard (June 16, 1956), who called it "a ballad in the refined, celestial groove, garnished with a few ecstatic sighs." It failed to sell, however. The next single, "Comin' Home," was released in December, but by then the Nutmegs had lost their momentum and a final 45, "My Story" proved it.
By now, Sonny Griffin had also fled their ranks; he was replaced by Eddie Martin (late of the Chestnuts). The group was now bravely soldiering on, but the next single was issued under a different name: the Rajahs. "Shifting Sands" (Klick 7805, released January 1958) bore the same results and slipped through the cracks, as did the group's next single, "A Dream of Love" (released on Morty Craft's Tel label in 1960). Leroy Griffin's nephew, meanwhile, joined the group in 1962. Now the lineup featured Griffin, Sonny Washburn, Leroy McNeil, Jimmy Tyson, and new kid on the block Harry James. The group released one more single for Herald in 1962. Then something quite remarkable happened.
Times Square Records, a label based in New York City, began issuing 45s by the Nutmegs culled from mid-'50s demos which featured no musical accompaniment. They were called a cappella singles. The Nutmegs quickly became the leaders of a new strain of the doo wop genre and held up the standard for others to follow.
In 1963 and 1964, Times Square issued a handful of a cappella Nutmegs singles, including "Let Me Tell You," which reached number five on Times Square's 1963 Top 150 survey. "The Way Love Should Be" scored number three in July of 1963 and "Why Must We Go to School" topped out at number four in December of 1963. The new year began with more a cappella hits: "Down in Mexico" scored number five on the charts in January and "You're Crying" reached number four at the end of the year in December.
Herald Records was obviously aware of what was happening with their former group, so they too got into the act, issuing a cappella versions of "Story Untold" and "Ship of Love" that year to great success.
The story was left untold that same year, however, when Leroy Griffin died in a mysterious factory accident. Harry James, who had painstakingly worked to duplicate his uncle's vocal ability, took over the lead. The group -- now calling themselves the Rajahs -- recorded a few singles for Lana Records, but they didn't last without Griffin's leadership and eventually disbanded for good.
In 1972, the Nutmegs reformed briefly and saw a superlative a cappella LP issued with versions of their previous hits from the '60s, adding to it a terrific version of "Over the Rainbow" sung in a Moonglows style, backed with a fine version of "In the Still of the Night." It was issued as a single by the Pyramid label. No further recordings appeared from the group.
Talents : Leroy Griffin : First Tenor - James "Sonny" Griffin : Second Tenor - James Tyson : Baritone - Billy Emery : Bass : Leroy McNeil : Bass
Style musical : Doo Wop, Rhythm 'n' Blues
Ship Of Love
STORY UNTOLD (1955) (Nutmegs)
Rock Me (1955) (Nutmegs)
Shifting Sands (1957) (Rajah)
Betty Lou (1957) (Nutmegs)
Rip Van Winkle (1962) (Nutmegs)
Years in activity :
78 t., Singles & EP
|1953||SP J&G 101 (US)||.||LYRES - Ship Of Love / Playboy|
|1955||78 t. & SP HERALD H-452 (US)||.||Make Me Lose My Mind / Story Untold|
|1955||78 t. & SP HERALD H-459 (US)||.||Rock Me / Ship Of Love|
|1956||78 t. & SP HERALD H-466 (US)||.||Whispering Sorrow / Betty Lou|
|1956||78 t. & SP HERALD H-475 (US)||.||Key To The Kingdom / Gift O' Gabbin Woman|
|1957||78 t. & SP HERALD H-492 (US)||.||A Love So True / Comin' Home|
|1957||SP Klik 7805 (US)||.||Rajahs - Shifting Sands / I Feel In love|
|1957 ?||EP HERALD HEP 452 (US)|
|1958||SP HERALD H-538 (US)||.||My Sweet Dreams / My Story|
|1960||SP Tel 1014 (US)||.||
A Dream Of Love / Someone Somewhere (Help Me)
|1962||SP HERALD H-574 (US)||.||Crazy 'bout You / Rip Van Winkle|
|1963||SP Time square 1 / Candlelite 434 (US)||.||
Down To Earth / (The Admirations)
|1963||SP Time square 6 / Relic 531 (US)||.||Let Me Tell You / Hello|
|1963||SP Time square 14 / Relic 533 (US)||.||The Way Love Should Be / Wide Hoop Skirts|
|1963||SP Time square 22 / Relic 535 (US)||.||
Why Must I Go To School / (The Volumes)
|1963||SP Time square 27 / Relic 528 (US)||.||Down In Mexico / My Sweet Dreams|
|1964||SP Time square 103 (US)||.||You're Crying / Wa Do Wa|
|1964||SP LANA 128 (US)||.||Story Untold / Beautiful Dreamer|
|1964||SP LANA 129 (US)||.||Ting A Ling / ?|
|07/1965||SP Flashback 16 (US)||.||Story Untold / Make Me Lose My Mind|
|1965||SP Relic 1006 (US)||.||Shifting Sands / Out Of My Heart|
|1972||SP Baby Grand 800 (US)||.||Story Untold 72 / Tell Me|
|1973||SP Night train 905 (US)||.||Shifting Sands / Take Me And Make Me Yours|
|1973||SP Klik 1019 (US)||.||Rajahs - Rose Ann (a capella) / You're Crying (a capella)|
|1973||SP Klik 1020 (US)||.||Story To You (a capella) (Rajahs) / I Love You So (Five Satins)|
|1976 ?||SP Hi-Oldies 444 (US)||.||Story Untold / Rip Van Winkle|
|1977||SP JANUS GOLD JG-724 (US)||.||Story Untold / Rip Van Winkle|
|19??||SP COLLECTABLES COL-1477 (US)||.||Story Untold / Make Me Lose My Mind|
|19??||SP COLLECTABLES COL-1479 (US)||.||Comin' Home / A Love So True|
|19??||SP LOST-NITE LN-412 (US)||.||Story Untold / Make Me Lose My Mind|
|19??||SP LOST-NITE LN-430 (US)||.||Ship Of Love / Rock Me|
|19??||SP LOST-NITE LN-445 (US)||.||Comin' Home / A Love So True|
|19??||SP TIME MACHINE 45 572 (US)||.||My Story / My Sweet Dream|
|1956||HERALD unissued||The Joker|
|1958||Unissued||Rajahs - Help Me (demo)|
|1971||Relic unissued||I Like To Cha Cha|
|19??||LP 12" HERALD 5011 (US)||GREATEST HITS - Story Untold / Betty Lou / Key To The Kingdom / My Story / Rock Me / A Love So True / Shifting Sands (a cappella) / Ship Of Love / Gift Of Gabbin' Woman / My Sweet Dreams / Make Me Lose My Mind / Whispering Sorrows / Coming Home|
|1971||LP 12" RELIC 5002 (US)||THE NUTMEGS FEATURUNG LEROY GRIFFIN - Let Me Tell You / Hello / You're Crying / I Like To Cha Cha (Wa-Do-Wah) / Down To Earth / Roseanne (with unknown lead) / Why Must We Go To School / Shifting Sands / Out Of My Heart / Help Me (Foolish Fool) / Wide Hoop Skirts / The Way Love Should Be / Down In Mexico / My Sweet Dreams|
|197?||LP 12" COLLECTABLES COL-5018 (US)||THE NUTMEGS' GREATEST HITS - Story Untold / Key To The Kingdom / The Ship Of Love / Whispering Sorrows / Gift Of Gabbin' Woman / Make Me Lose My Mind / My Story / Rock Me / Coming Home / A Love So True / Betty Lou / My Sweet Dreams|
|1976||LP 12" STRAWBERRY STW 6003 (US)||STREET CORNER SOUL - Story Uuntold / Mexico / Down To Earth / Comin' Home / Whispering Sorrows / Hello / Shifting Sands / Ship Of Love / Make Me Lose My Mind / Beautiful Dreamer / Wide Hoop Skirts / Over The Rainbow / Rip Van Winkle|
|11/1992||CD RELIC 7038 (US)||STORY UNTOLD - Story Untold / Rock Me / My Sweet Dream / Rip Van Winkle / Whispering Sorrows / Make Me Lose My Mind / Hello / Betty Lou / Ship Of Love / Ting-A-Ling / Key To The Kingdom / Comin' Home / My Story / Crazy 'Bout You / Love So True / Gift 'O Gabbin' Woman / My Sweet Dream [Outtake] / Story Untold [Outtake]|
|03/1993||CD QUICKSILVER 1001 (US)||SHOO-WOP-A-DOO-WOP - Down To Earth / Whispering Sorrows / Mexico / Ship Of Love / Story Untold / Wide Hoop / Comin' Home / Beautiful Dreamer / Shifting Sand / Over The Rainbow / Rip Van Winkle / Make Me Lose My Mind|
|02/1993||CD NEW ROSE 422410 (F)||THE NUT MEGS LIVE AT THE CAMBRIDGE ARMORY, MASS. 1973 - Story Untold / Medley : Whispering Sorrows - You're Crying - A Love So True - Key To The Kingdom - Hello / Down In Mexico / I Fell In Love Aka The Way Love Should Be / My Sweet Dreams / Shifting Sands / Somewhere Over The Rainbow / Down To Earth / Coming Home / Ship Of Love / In The Still Of The Night / Ting A Ling / Chicken Scratch / Down In Mexico (encore) / Rip Van Winkle / Story Untold (encore) / Wide Hoop Skirts / Beautiful Dreamer|
|04/1994||CD COLLECTABLES 5018 (US)||THE NUTMEGS' GREATEST HITS - Story Untold / Key To The Kingdom / The Ship Of Love / Rip Van Winkle / Whispering Sorrow / Gift O' Gabbin' Woman / Make Me Lose My MInd / A Dream Of Love / My Story / Rock Me / Story Untold (Outtake) / Comin' Home / A Love So True / Someone, Somewhere / Betty Lou / Crazy 'Bout You / My Sweet Dream|
|09/1994||CD RELIC 7078 (US)||THE RAJAHS OF A CAPELLA - Hello (Put My Baby On The Line) / Down In Mexico / Help Me (I've Been Treated Wrong) / Shifting Sands / You're Crying / My Sweet Dreams / Let Me Tell You / The Way Love Should Be / I Like To Cha Cha (Wa Do Wa) / Why Must We Go To School? / Help Me (Foolish Fool) / Wide Hoop Skirts / Out Of My Heart / Hello (Put My Baby On The Line) / Playboy / Giddyup Horsey / Take Me and Make Me / Change Of Heart / Shifting Sands / I Fell In Love (The Way Love Should Be) / Beautiful Dreamer|
|05/2000||CD ABM 1264 (US)||THE NUTMEGS - Let Me Tell You / Hello / You're Crying / I Like To Cha Cha / Down To Earth / Roseanne / Why Must We Go To School / Shifting Sands / Out Of My Heart / Help Me / Wide Hoop Skirts / The Way Love Should Be / Down In Mexico / My Sweet Dreams|
|2008||CD Blue Label SPV 50982 CD (EUR)||The Nutmegs Meet The Diamonds - NUTMEGS : Let Me Tell You / Hello / You're Crying / I Like To Cha Cha / Down To Earth / Roseanne / Why Must We Go To School / Shifting Sands / Out Of My Heart / Wide Hoop Skirts / The Way Love Should Be / Down In Mexico / My Sweet Dreams / Story Untold / Whispering Sorrows / Diamonds : Daddy Cool / Walking Along / The Stroll / Dance With Me / Little Darling / Words Of Love / Cool Cool Baby / Why Do Fools Fall In Love / Ev'ry Minute Of The Day / My Judge And My Jury / Zip Zip / Silhouettes / Church Bells May Ring / Ka-Ding Dong / Don't Say Goodbye|
|2008||CD Acrobat Music 4251 (UK)||
The Nutmegs vs. the Turbans - Turbans : When You Dance / Let Me Show You (Around My Heart) / Sister Sookey / I'll Always Watch Over You / B-I-N-G-O / I'm Nobody's / It Was a Night Like This / All Of My Love / Bye And Bye / Valley Of Love / Congratulations / The Wadda Do / Farewell To Arms / NUTMEGS : A Story Untold / Make Me Lose My Mind / The Ship Of Love / Rock Me / Whispering Sorrows / Betty Lou / Gift O Gabbin Women / Key To The Kingdom / A Love So True / Comin' Home / My Story / My Sweet Dream / Someone, Somewhere (Help Me) / A Dream Of Love / Crazy 'bout You / Rip Van Winkle / A Story Untold
© Rocky Productions 24/07/2016