International doo-wop band Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers used their diverse backgrounds to create smooth, upbeat music. While the members all hail from Canada, the group formed in San Francisco, California under the name ‘Little Daddy and the Bachelors’ and later ‘Calgary Shades’ before deciding on Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers. The band consisted of Bobby Taylor on vocals, Tommy Chong and Eddie Patterson on guitar, Wes Henderson on bass, Robbie King on organ, and Ted Lewis (also known as Duris Maxwell) on drums. In 1965, The Supremes’ Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard discovered the group performing a set of Motown covers and alerted Berry Gordy. He arranged for an audition and signed them to Motown.
Bobby Taylor and the Vancouver’s first release came in 1968 with “Does Your Mama Know About Me,” a song about interracial dating, which charted at #5 in US R&B charts and #44 on Canadian pop charts. Their breakout hit was followed by “I Am Your Man,” which broke the top 100 of US pop charts and peaked at #40 in US R&B. “Malinda” was also released that year and reached #48 in the US pop charts and #16 on US R&B. The group took off and began to tour their new album Bobby Taylor And The Vancouvers (1968) across the country, making a stop at the Regal Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. For their opening act, they recruited a young group called The Jackson 5. Impressed by the group’s immense talent, Bobby Taylor personally arranged for them to audition for producer Suzanne de Passe who encouraged Berry Gordy to sign them.
Despite Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers growing in popularity, by the end of the 1960s the group would break up to pursue other projects. While Bobby Taylor stayed on at Motown as a soloist and producer for the Jackson 5, the other members left Motown in pursuit of other opportunities. Tommy Chong later gained fame as half of the iconic comedic duo Cheech and Chong. During Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers’ short time at Motown, they made music that enticed crowds and embodied the doo-wop sound they loved so much.
Malinda (Live At Fox Theatre, Detroit, MI/1969)[AUDIO]
Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers “Does Your Mama Know About Me” My Extended Version!
Despite rumors, the famous guitarist Jimi Hendrix was not a part of the group. According to Tommy Chong, the group knew Jimi Hendrix and played with him on occasion, but he was never an official member.
Gordy, B., 1994. To Be Loved. New York: Warner Brothers, Inc, p.279.
Hank, F., 1968. Record Sales Head For Peak; Tape 20% Of Tap. Billboard,.
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Hawthorn, T., 2017. Vancouver-based singer Bobby Taylor brought the Jackson 5 to Motown. [online] The Globe and Mail. Available at: <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/music/vancouver-based-singer-bobby-taylor-brought-the-jackson-5-to-motown/article36033820/> [Accessed 19 July 2022].
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Knopper, S., 2017. Bobby Taylor, Motown Singer Who Discovered Jackson 5, Dead at 83. [online] Rolling Stone. Available at: <https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/bobby-taylor-motown-singer-who-discovered-jackson-5-dead-at-83-202100/> [Accessed 19 July 2022].
BobTaylor, T., 2017. Tommy Chong Remembers Former Bandmate and Motown Singer Bobby Taylor. [online] CelebStoner.com. Available at: <https://www.celebstoner.com/blogs/tommy-chong/2017/07/24/tommy-chong-remembers-bobby-taylor/> [Accessed 19 July 2022].
Soulwalking.co.uk. n.d. Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers Page. [online] Available at: <http://www.soulwalking.co.uk/Bobby%20Taylor%20&%20Vancouvers.html> [Accessed 19 July 2022].
McCollum, B., 2018. Behind the scenes: When Motown met Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5. [online] Freep.com. Available at: <https://www.freep.com/story/entertainment/music/2018/03/31/michael-jackson-jackson-5-motown-audition-detroit-behind-scenes/475222002/> [Accessed 19 July 2022].
Lau, J., 2014. Inside Story- Bobby Taylor. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtRWeoOStJc> [Accessed 19 July 2022].