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Les Humphries

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Les Humphries

Les Humphries Singers
Les Humphries Singers performing in Hamburg, Germany 1972
Background information
Origin Hamburg, Germany
Genres Pop, Gospel, Country
Years active 1969 - 1980
Past members Members

The Les Humphries Singers was a 1970s musical group formed in Hamburg, Germany in 1969[1] by the English born Les Humphries (born John Lesley Humphreys, 10 August 1940, in Croydon, Surrey, England - died 26 December 2007, in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England), who had been inspired to do his own version of the Edwin Hawkins Singers.

The Les Humphries Singers dissolved at the end of the 1970s, after Humphries had left due to tax liabilities to his English homeland, Alton, Hampshire.

In his later years, Humphries led a quiet life in London. In March 2008, the German newspaper Bild reported his death on 26 December 2007 in a London hospital from a heart attack after a severe bout of pneumonia.[2]

Members

The group consisted of a large number of singers of diverse ethnic origin, some of whom such as John Lawton also performed with other groups. Another member was Jürgen Drews,[3] who later started a long-running solo career, starting with his 1976 hit in Germany, "Ein Bett im Kornfeld", a cover version of "Let Your Love Flow" by the Bellamy Brothers. Linda Thompson (born 21 September 1948 as Linda Übelherr), who had previously been a member of the Cornely Singers and Love Generation, was a member from 1973 to 1974, and later joined Silver Convention, and had a solo career as Linda G. Thompson, sang as a duo with Jerry Rix, and later joined The Hornettes.[4][5][6][7] Henner Hoier (born 19 April 1945), who was a member from 1970 to 1971, had been a member of the Rivets from 1964 to 1968 and of the Rattles from 1968 to 1970. From 1972 onwards, he had a solo career, and from 1988 to 1993 he was a member of the Rattles and from 1994 of the Rivets. He has also composed and produced music, and appeared in the musical Only You.[8][9]

Additional members included Liz Mitchell, later front woman with Boney M., and John Lawton, who also sang for the German progressive/hard rock band Lucifer's Friend and would go on to be the frontman for Uriah Heep.

Former members

  • Les Humphries (1969-80)
  • Jimmy Bilsbury (1969–77, 1982, 1992)
  • Earl Jordan (1972–76, 1982)
  • Barry St. John (1972–73)
  • Victor Scott (1970–76, 1982, 1992)
  • Christopher Yim (1971–76, 1992)
  • Peggy Evers (1970–76)
  • Judy Archer (1970–76)
  • Elvira Herbert (1972–75)
  • Dave O'Brien (1973–76)
  • Sheila McKinlay (1973–75, 1982, 1992)
  • Enry David-Fascher (1970–72)
  • Myrna David (1971–72)
  • Malcolm Magaron (1970–72)
  • Claudia Schwarz (1974–76)
  • Emily Woods-Jensen (1974–76, 1992)
  • Dornée Edwards (1970–71)
  • Maddy Verhaar (1975–76)
  • Lil Walker
  • Don Adams (1975)
  • Tina Kemp-Werner (1970–74)
  • Barbara Johnson
  • Gail Stevens (1974)
  • Goldy Kloen-Evert (1970–71)
  • Irene Bendorf (1971)
  • Renate Andersen-Bilsbury (1974–76, 1982)

Musical background and style

The Les Humphries Singers performed a mix of popular music and gospel covers and had some success in Europe with this approach. Much like contemporary disco act Boney M., their music focused on Rhythm and blues, gospel, and disco, but often with psychedelic phasing or flanger effects on solos and bridges, and, much like James Last, much larger background choruses in the studio to emulate a live atmosphere. The Les Humphries Singers at the time brought something from the flair of the hippie movement into contemporary German-produced (but English-sung) pop music, especially due to their mixed ethnic background and peculiar fashion sense.

Hits and later reunions

Two of their earliest and best known hits were "Mexico" (1972) which was based on the 1957 Jimmy Driftwood country hit "The Battle of New Orleans", and "Mama Loo" (1973), based on "Barbara Ann" by The Beach Boys. In 1976 they represented Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest with the Ralph Siegel title "Sing Sang Song", reduced to only six singers (their usual line-ups consisted of 20 performers and up), and came in 15th place, which they regarded as their beginning of the end as a band. At the same time, they were the resident vocal band on the internationally syndicated TV series "The International Pop Proms", working with James Last and other renowned artists.

They disbanded shortly thereafter the same year, but enjoyed a short comeback as a pure live act from 1991 until 1993 performing their old hits.

In 2006, the original band members formed 'The Original Singers' without Humphries, but with new members Chris Dakota, David Tobin, Jay Jay van Hagen and Willi Meyer, re-recording their old hits and also releasing new material.

The former members, Jürgen Drews, Tina Kemp-Werner, Judy Archer and Peggy Evers-Hartig, formed a group called the Les Humphries Singers Reunion in 2009.[10]

Hit singles

Year Title Chart positions
DE AT CH NL
1970 "To My Father's House" 1
1971 "(We'll Fly You to The) Promised Land" 13 26
"We Are Goin' Down Jordan" 3 3 9
1972 "Old Man Moses" 14 4 17
"Take Care of Me" 31
"Mexico" 2 1 1 2
1973 "Mama Loo" 1 1 1 12
"Carnival" 14
1974 "Kansas City" 2 15 1
"Do You Kill Me or Do I Kill You?" 46
"Do You Wanna Rock and Roll?" 50
"New Orleans" 33
1976 "Sing Sang Song" 45

References

External links

  • Extensive Discography
  • Discogs
Preceded by
Joy Fleming
with Ein Lied kann eine Brücke sein
Germany in the Eurovision Song Contest
1976
Succeeded by
Silver Convention
with Telegram
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