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The Spaniels

The Spaniels are best known for their massive 1954 hit, "Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight" (number five R&B). They were the first successful Midwestern R&B group, coming from Gary, Indiana by way of Chicago. Lead vocalist James "Pookie" Hudson was a graceful lead singer who influenced many who came after him, most notably Aaron Neville. They were also one of the first (if not the first) R&B groups to perform with the lead singer on one microphone and the rest of the group sharing another, and initiated a trend toward using tap dance routines in live shows. Their often a cappella recordings showcase the purity of a sound and style uniquely their own. It was also the Spaniels who partially brought about the formation of one of R&B's legendary labels, Vee-Jay, which became one of the most successful black-owned record companies in the country.

The story of how the Spaniels came to prominence begins in late 1952, when lead singer Hudson was convinced by four of his Roosevelt High classmates -- Ernest Warren (first tenor), Opal Courtney, Jr. (baritone), Willie Jackson (second tenor), and Gerald Gregory (bass) to join them for a school talent show. They had debuted as Pookie Hudson and the Hudsonaires for the Christmas show and fared so well they decided to continue. Not wanting to join the bird group club (Orioles, Ravens, etc.), they decided on the name Spaniels.

In the spring, the group visited the local record shop owned by James and Vivian Bracken, who had begun developing a record label called Vee-Jay Records. They soon moved their operation to Chicago, in a garage off 47th Street (later they would relocate to offices at 1449 South Michigan Avenue). The Spaniels were one of the first two artists signed to the label (the other was blues guitarist Jimmy Reed). On May 5, 1953, the Spaniels recorded "Baby It's You," released in July. On September 5, "Baby" hit number ten on the national R&B best-seller charts.

The Spaniels' next session produced additional singles, including "Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight," which took off in March 1954, but it took about six months for the record to break nationally, charting at number five on the R&B charts. Its success prompted the McGuire Sisters to cover it for the "white" market, stealing a lot of the Spaniels' thunder when their version landed in the Top Ten (number seven).

The Spaniels' next single, "Let's Make Up," earned more for songwriter Hudson as someone else's B-side when it appeared on the flip of the Top 20 hit "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" (number 14, 1955). On June 11, 1954, the Spaniels made the first of numerous appearances at the Apollo Theatre and began touring the greater Midwest. Another single, "You Painted Pictures," reached number 13 R&B in October.

After Opal Courtney, Jr. was drafted, Vee-Jay A&R man and Spaniels producer Calvin Carter was pressed into service during their road trips for a few months until James "Dimples" Cochran took over permanently. Shortly thereafter, Ernest Warren was drafted and the group continued recording as a quartet. Two subsequent Spaniels singles failed to connect. Disappointed, Pookie Hudson and Willie Jackson both decided to leave the group. The Spaniels bravely continued on, with Carl Rainge (lead), Gerald Gregory (bass), James Cochran (baritone), and Don Porter (second tenor). This contingent lasted for only one single until Pookie rejoined.

In April 1957, Vee-Jay released the first full-length album, Goodnight, It's Time to Go. By mid-summer, the group was back to turning out terrific singles. Incidentally, around this same time Hank Ballard (of Hank Ballard & the Midnighters) had just rewritten the Drifters' 1955 number two pop hit "What'cha Gonna Do" -- already a revision of an old gospel tune, "What're You Going to Do" -- and offered his rewrite, called "The Twist," to the Spaniels, but they passed on it. It later became a number one hit for Ernest Evans, who recorded it under the name Chubby Checker.

By 1960, the Spaniels were Hudson, Ernest Warren, Gerald Gregory, Bill Carey, and Andy Magruder (former lead of the Five Blue Notes). They recorded the group's last Vee-Jay single "I Know" in 1960; it reached number 23 R&B that summer. Meanwhile, Vee-Jay Records issued a second full-length album.

A year later, Magruder and Gregory left the group, and the group broke up briefly after trying to sort out what to do. Road manager Ricky Burden took over on bass for the group's recording for Neptune. Hudson did a few solo sides for Jamie and in 1962 recorded with the Imperials (minus Little Anthony) for Lloyd Price's Double-L label. In the late '60s, Hudson formed his own North American Records and issued "Fairytales," which was picked up by Nate McCalla's Calla Records (distributed by Roulette). It became Pookie's last charting single (number 45 R&B) in the fall of 1970.

Two more singles were issued in the early '70s with a new Spaniels lineup: Hudson, Charles Douglas (first tenor), Alvin Wheeler (second tenor), Alvin Lloyd (baritone), and former guitarist for the group Pete Simmons (bass). He was later replaced by Andrew Lawyer (the Truetones) when the group recorded a remake of "Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight" for Buddah. Their last release was for Henry Farag's Canterbury label of Gary, Indiana in 1974. Up until the time they disbanded, Hudson and the Spaniels were one of the more in-demand acts on the oldies circuit. ~ Bryan Thomas
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Complete Releases 1953-62

Disc 1

1. Baby It's You

2. Bounce

3. The Bells Ring Out

4. House Cleaning

5. Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight

6. You Don't Move Me

7. Play It Cool

8. Let's Make Up

9. Do-Wah

10. Don'cha Go

11. Painted Picture

12. Hey, Sister Lizzie

13. False Love

14. Do You Really

15. Dear Heart

16. Why Won't You Dance

17. Since I Fell For You

18. Baby Come Along With Me

19. Please Don't Tease

20. You Gave Me Peace Of Mind

21. I.O.U.

22. Everyone's Laughing

23. You're Gonna Cry

24. I Need Your Kisses

25. I Lost You

Disc 2

1. Crazee Babee

2. Great Googley Moo

3. Tina

4. Stormy Weather

5. Here Is Why I Love You

6. Baby It's You (Re-Recorded Version)

7. Heart And Soul

8. Trees

9. I Like It Like That

10. These Three Words

11. 100 Years From Today

12. People Will Say We're In Love

13. I Know

14. Bus Fare Home

15. A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening

16. Little Joe

17. The Posse

18. So Deep Within

19. Baby Sweets

20. I Love You For Sentimental Reasons

21. Meek Man

22. Turn Out The Lights

23. John Brown

24. Boot-Um

25. A Rockin' Good Way

26. I Ain't Givin' Up Nothing

x

Track List: Rockin' With The Spaniels

1. Baby It's You

2. Bells Ring Out

3. Crazy Baby

4. Dedicated To The One I Love

5. Everyone's Laughing

6. Goodnight Sweetheart

7. Hundred Years From Today

8. I Know I Know

9. I'll Be Waiting

10. Let's Make Up

11. A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening

12. Peace Of Mind

13. Play It Cool

14. Since I Fell For You

15. Someone

16. Stormy Weather

17. Trees

18. (You Gave Me) Peace Of Mind

19. You're Gonna Cry

20. Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart

x

Track List: Essential R&B Masters

1. Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight

2. A Stranger In Love

3. Lovely Dovey Baby

4. A Hundred Years From Today

5. False Love

6. Do-Wah

7. The Posse

8. I'll Be Waiting

9. Three Little Words

10. Baby It's You

11. Danny Boy

12. Trees

13. Jesse Mae

14. Automobiles

15. Great Googley Moo

16. Bounce

17. Everyone's Laughing

18. Play It Cool

19. I'm Gonna Thank Him

20. Since I Fell For You

21. (Get Away Child) You Don't Move Me

22. I Like It Like That

23. Heart And Soul

24. I Need Your Kisses

25. The Bells Ring Out

26. Hey, Sister Lizzie

27. Lucinda

28. Red Sails In The Sunset

29. I Know

30. Baby Sweets

x

Track List: Zing

1. Baby It's You

2. Stormy Weather

3. Peace Of Mind

4. Lovely Way To Spend An Evening

5. Play It Cool

6. Bells Ring Out

7. Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight

8. Trees (Acappella)

9. Someone

10. I Know I Know

11. Zing

x

Track List: Play It Cool

1. Hey Sister Lizzie

2. Everyones Laughing

3. Bounce

4. Play It Cool

5. Come Along With Me

6. Jesse May

7. Baby Its You

8. Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight

9. Stormy Weather

10. You Gave Me Peace Of Mind

11. Red Sails In The Sunset

12. Lovey Dovey Baby

13. Why Wont You Dance

14. (Get Away Child) You Don’t Move Me

15. House Cleaning

16. I Need Your Kisses

x

Track List: Cryin In The Chapel

1. Cryin In The Chapel

2. C.C. Rider

3. Tell Me So

4. Mas Overade

5. In The Chapel

6. Baby Please Don't Go

7. Most Of All

8. Once I Had A Secret Love

9. Does She Love Me

10. Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight

x

Track List: The Very Best Of The Spaniels

1. Baby It's You

2. I Need Your Kisses

3. Let's Make Up

4. Play It Cool

5. You Painted Pictures

6. House Cleaning

7. Do-Wah

8. Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight

9. Bounce

10. The Bells Ring Out

11. Please Don't Tease

12. A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening

13. Do You Really

14. You Gave Me Peace Of Mind

x

Track List: 40th Anniversary (1953-1993)

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Always the last song of the night Good night sweetheart.
Report as inappropriate
tvhyde1
We had more when we had less the music was better life was good
Report as inappropriate
Before rock and roll became a phenomenon, there was Doo Wop and we LOVED it!! The Penguins, The Moonglows, The Flamingos, The Spaniels, etc...it's nostalgia now but great nostalgia nevertheless .
Report as inappropriate
wish music was still like this
Report as inappropriate
Tears In my Philly eyes. Great song ,class act
Report as inappropriate
Good night Sweet heart was, and is the best love song of all......... . I t ' ' s hard to find the words, when It is time to say good night Sweet heart.....Ex c e p t , , , , , , y o u r place or mine......
Report as inappropriate
mike3345mike
that was called JOHNNIES !!!
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mike3345mike
love this song...and I remember it!! oh the teenage years!! at Custer MI..ROLLER SKATING RINK!!!
Report as inappropriate
jrtllf01
Had the pleasure of seeing them perform their signature hit on one of the PBS Doo Wop shows. Simply fabulous!
Report as inappropriate
eufeflores
Goodnight sweetheart goodnight...
Report as inappropriate
jnicanorg
Love the song Goodnight sweetheart, Goodnight
Report as inappropriate
BENDICIONES ,.-´+´-., BENITO BARRETO JIMENEZ ,.-´+´-., RECORDANDO AQUELLOS AYERES ,.-´+´-., CALLE 28 Y MAPLE STREET ,.-´+´-., WEST LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA ,.-´+´-., LOS DUKES DE WEST SIDE ,.-´+´-., GRACIAS ,.-´+´-.,
Report as inappropriate
3529
And then the Brits came along and ruined everything.
Report as inappropriate
Very Nice. Love This Song!!
Report as inappropriate
I was there and heard this song many times. Oh what a great time, sure would like to return.
Report as inappropriate
WOW the fifties groups were so great.
Report as inappropriate
joseph44mill e r
Another sing along.. ..MB/ JA
Report as inappropriate
RIP pookie!
Report as inappropriate
1591425100
Wow! Love these guys!
Report as inappropriate
Excellent non can compare cookie or base from old. School. Who knew them personal l
Report as inappropriate
marvins39
pookie was an amazing lead. saw them about 10 yrs. ago. still sounded great. rip pookie
Report as inappropriate
Great group! Didn't have many hits.
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10p in Italia
Report as inappropriate
Love The Spanials
Report as inappropriate
Best last call song ever !!!
Report as inappropriate
This song reminds me of stopping at the old Dept. store where they had a soda shop, you could order a vanilla sake or soda pop and a burger.The music was playing over the intercom speakers, (Goodnite sweetheart), WOW what a great time to be growing up in those days.
Report as inappropriate
Goodnight sweetheart, Goodnight was usually the last song at the dances at The Grove & Lebanon Lodge in Pittsburgh
Report as inappropriate
bigvalley7
Don't read this because this actually works u get kissed on the possible Friday by ur love of your life however if u don't post this on 3 other songs u will die in 2 days now u have started reading this don't stop This is scary put this on at least 5 other song in 143 min when u are done your lover name will appear in big letters on the screen this is scary
Report as inappropriate
wasn't Eddie Cocker the front man for the Spaniels??? if he wasn't, he should have been...Star Fetch... Rover & Out
Report as inappropriate
There is something eerie about old time music, like Stephen King eerie. ....ya know?
Report as inappropriate
american graffitti got it on record and also have vhs movie wish i could go back in time those were the good times
Report as inappropriate
Give me a old coke in a bottle and a burger
Report as inappropriate
Its funny because the rest of the group used to make fun of Pookie for being a half beat late. What a great group.
Report as inappropriate
Pookie was cool
Report as inappropriate
djjp1049
I HAVE TO TELL EVERYBODY WHY HE WROTE THIS SONG, HIS GIRLFRIEND WAS BUNNY LAKE AND NHER PARENTS ALWAYS CHASED HIM HOME SO ON THE WAY HOME HE WROTE THIS SONG
Report as inappropriate
I'm stuck in a timp warp, this is the only music i really enjoy listening to, grew up on it and still enjoy listening to it. Grew up in Brooklyn and used to sign on the corners to all of this....
Report as inappropriate
My wife and I used to see him at most of the cabarets we went to. DC representing all the way. He was an icon to the Doo-Wop/my parents generation. I remember my parents partying to this music all the time. Dam I wish I could sing!!!..... .
Report as inappropriate
I'm glad this group was reunited for 1 of the DooWop specials; so amazing!!!
Report as inappropriate
I had the pleasure of meeting these guys @ UGHA New York in the 90's, very warm, humble and talented indivduals. Pooky Hudson was a class act.
Report as inappropriate
jonell1428
memories, memories, memories.... w i s h I could go back
Report as inappropriate
Classic "DOO-WOP" and it sounds great! More, please.
Report as inappropriate
cd30318
Iwas sadden to hear that pookie hudson
had passed and thus taking with him that great lead voice that was so much the spaniels.
Report as inappropriate
I HAVE THE SPANIELS COLLECTIONS FROM THE DOO WOP DAYS AND MANY MORE DOO WOP ARTIST I TRY TO SEE AS MANY SHOWS AS I CAN WHEN THEY COME TO FLORDIA. EVEN THO I GREW UP IN NY
Report as inappropriate
LOVE IT......LOVE IT......LOVE IT!!!!!!
Report as inappropriate
THE BEST LEAD BEST BASS GROUP HARMONY SOUND EVER.HAD THE PLEASURE OF SEEING THEM BEFORE GERALD GREGORY PASSED ON. U.G.H.A WILL LIVE ON FOREVER IN MEMORY WITH THEM.
Report as inappropriate
Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight is a very memorable song. DJ's used to play it at the end of their stints. Bowser from Sha Na Na gave it new life in the 70's, singing it at the end of every show.
Report as inappropriate
One of the best groups I have ever heard, and it our loss that Pookie hudson isn't with us any more!!!!!!!! !
Report as inappropriate
lennybrown3
This Is a great song. It reminds me of being in NYC and listening to the DOO WOP Shop with Cousin Brucie on WCBS 101.1.
Report as inappropriate
gamemom
I know this dates me, but you could understand the singers during this era. Early rock n roll...love it.
Report as inappropriate
A GREAT DOO WOP SONG FOREVER
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