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charles wright and the watts 103rd street rhythm band

charles wright and the watts 103rd street rhythm band

b. Charles Wright, 1940, Clarksdale, Mississippi, U.S.A.

Originally an instrumental group known as the Soul Runners, the original line up consisted of:

Bernard Blackman (guitar)

Raymond Jackson (trombone)

John Rayford (b.1943, tenor saxophone)

Melvin Dunlap (bass)

Al McKay (guitar)


James Gadson (drums)

Charles Wright is a singer, pianist, guitarist, and leader of the eight-member band.

The group were from Watts area in Los Angeles.

As the Soul Runners, they released 'Grits and Cornbread' in 1967 for the Keymen Imprint.

That album reached the U.S. R & B Top 30.

The 'Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band' album contained the popular 'Spreadin' Honey' and was produced by the late Fred Smith (b. Fred Sledge Smith, 18th May 1933, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., d. 29th July 2005, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.).

Fred wrote 'Harlem Shuffle' for Bob & Earl.

Fred owned the Keymen imprint and passed away on the 30th of July 2005, following a heart attack.

Fred Smith fred smith

The American comedian, Bill Cosby, assisted the group with performances at his own gigs.

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Relocating to the Warners imprint in 1968, the group scored with the songs 'Do Your Thing' and 'Till You Get Enough' both of which were Top 20 R & B hits and saw the arrival of Charles Wright.

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The following year saw the groups biggest hit in the form of 'Express Yourself'.

'Your Love (Means Everything Thing To Me)' followed in 1971 which reached the soul Top 10 and became the groups final hit, peaking at number nine R & B and number 12 pop.

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The group continued recording for Dunhill in 1973 before disbanding.

The drummer James Gadson and the guitarist Al McKay (who later joined Earth, Wind & Fire) were among the members of the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.

Charles Wright later left the group for a solo career.

Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band


By Phil Brown

Charles Wright my love affair with doo wop

Possessing one of the most distinctive voices in modern music history, renowned composer and multi-instrumentalist Charles Wright’s moniker on the international music landscape is as deep as the Grand Canyon and is a true barometer for timeless music for future generations.

From a precocious youngster growing up in rural Mississippi to an avant-garde recording artist, Charles Wright’s contribution to funk, R&B, and pop is incalculable. The sheer intensity of his soul and peerless vocal timbre are expressed through his classics and on his latest 14-track release My Love Affair With Doo-Wop, a throwback to his doo-wop group The Galahads.

It would take a city library to list all of Charles’ compositions, and his affection for doo-wop is no secret. The first track on this bountiful disc, “Be Fair,” is pure ear-candy; and “You Cheated,” a monster hit for The Shields back in the day, will glaze you with nostalgia; “Good Night My Love,” first recorded by Charles’ mentor, Jessie Belvin, is one of the finest love-songs ever recorded and is resurrected on this disc with a superlative arrangement.

Charles’ career began when he left his A&R post at Delphi Records and started the band Charles Wright and the Wright Sounds. The group then exploded onto the LA nightclub scene with a unique sound that grabbed the attention of industry movers-and-shakers.
Charles’ innovative virtuosity on guitar was constantly showcased in LA recording studios. He quickly became one of LA’s most sought after session musicians, backing up the likes of Bill Cosby. This association led to the band’s 1967 deal with Warner Bros. Records as The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. The band became the label’s first successful R&B group.

Jessie Belvin, a songwriter and superb singer who set the tone for many aspiring LA artists, greatly influenced Charles’ illustrious career. Belvin mentored the fledgling artist and supplied him with tools for success, and Charles listened like an honor student.
Charles’ music has touched a chord with nearly everyone: Companies such as Chrysler, Nike, Hanes, and Burger King use “Express Yourself” to advertise their products. And TV, radio, film, and sports franchises borrow “Express Yourself” to promote their many events. Television shows like I Hate Chris and American Idol Rewind have anxiously showcased the tune to millions.

Charles’ latest CD on A Million $ Worth of Memories Records label, My Love Affair With Doo-Wop, is a musical smorgasbord of new and classic numbers and a few surprises. Charles Wright’s mark on music history and the rich legacy that he established is one that is time-tested and is one that will flourish indefinitely.

My Love Affair with Doo-Wop may be purchased at or For media interviews with Charles Wright, contact Phil Brown at or (817) 681-6068.

Real Player


Cornbread & Grits (Keymen Records 1967)

The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band (Warner Bros Records 1968)

Together (Warner Bros Records 1968)

In the Jungle, Babe (Warner Bros Records 1969)

Express Yourself (Warner Bros Records 1970)

You're So Beautiful (Warner Bros Records 1971)

Rhythm and Poetry (Warner Bros Records 1972)

Doin' What Comes Naturally (Dunhill Records 1973)

Ninety Day Cycle People (Dunhill Records 1974)

Lil' Encouragement (ABC Records 1975)

The Time Is Wright (CWT Records 2000)

My Love Affair With Doo-Wop (A Million $ Worth of Memories Records 2009)

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