George Jackson of The Orbits on the '50s R&B Show tonight

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Published on: April 9th, 2024

906 The Quails in 1956 [Photo provided by Neil Pellegrin]

The Quails in 1956 [Photo provided by Neil Pellegrin]
The Quails, later to be known as The Orbits, in 1956 [Photo provided by Neil Pellegrin]

Tune in to the '50s R&B Show tonight from 7-10pm CT to hear George Jackson, lead singer of The Orbits vocal group from Jackson, Mississippi, join host Neil Pellegrin in the studio!

In the summer of 1957, George and his group traveled to Cosimo Matassa's studio in New Orleans to record four sides for Chess Records' Argo subsidiary. Originally called The Quails, a name change was suggested to the group by New Orleans DJ Ken "Jack the Cat" Elliott...and the "Orbits" were born.

Singing backup were Joe Graham, Sam Jones and Charles Harper. Of the two tracks that were issued from their lone session, the uptempo "Mr. Hard Luck" got heavy regional airplay in New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast.

Fellow Chess/Argo recording artists Clarence "Frogman" Henry and Bobby Charles were also at Cosimo's to cut tracks that day. Taking advantage of an opportunity to add a little lagniappe to one of the Bobby Charles sides, Chess put the Orbits' vocal skills to task on Bobby's "Yea Yea Baby," a tune whose vocal-group sound would inspire a cover version by the popular New York harmony group the Cadillacs.

You'll hear the story of the Orbits told by their lead singer, George Jackson, along with both sides of their Argo 45, an unissued track from the session, the Bobby Charles tunes cut that summer day and lots of the music that inspired the Orbits' sound. Neil also plans to include recorded conversations with two other surviving group members, both present on the "Mr. Hard Luck" session in 1957.

For a detailed account of the group's history, check out vocal-group authority Marv Goldberg's terrific article at this link.

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