larry demps, elbert wilkins, ron banks, roderick davis and larry cleveland reed
Ronald Dean Banks (b. 10th May 1951, Redford, Michigan, U.S.A. d. 4th March 2010, Sinai Hospital, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.) - 1971 to 2010
Larry Cleveland Reed (lead singer) (b.1948, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.) - 1962 to 1968
Roderick Davis - 1964 to 1969
Elbert Wilkins (d. 13th December 1992, from a massive heart attack - formerly of the Theatrics) - 1962 to 1973
William 'Weegee' Howard (b. William Franklin Howard II, 13th July 1950, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A., d. 22nd February 2000, Bronxville, New York, U.S.A.) - 1968 to 1973 then 1986 to 1989
Willie Lee Ford Jnr. (b. 10th July 1950, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. d. 28th May 2019, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. - formerly of the Capitols) - 1968 - 2019
Robert Ellington - 1964
Craig Jones - 1981 to 1982
Larry 'Squirrel' Demps (b. 23rd February 1949, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.) - 1962 to 1981
Leonard Cornell Mayes (b. 5th April 1951, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. d. 7th November 2004, Southfield, Michigan, U.S.A.) - 1973 to 2004
James Mack Brown (d. 28th November 2008)
L. J. Reynolds (b. Larry James Reynolds, 27th January 1952, Saginaw, Michigan, U.S.A.) - 1973 to 1981 then 1986 to today
Winzell Kelly (b. 16th January 1953, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. - ex: the Capitols, Five Special, TFO Band, and the Floaters) - 1994 to today
Steve Barnett-Boyd - 1989 to 1994
Bo Henderson - 1981
Michael Brock - 2006 to today
The Dramatics were formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1962.
The Dramatics initially released two singles on the Wingate imprint (including 'Somewhere' b/w 'Bingo', a 45 that was misprinted as being recorded by the Dynamics, a fault later corrected on further pressings) and 'Inky Dinky Wang Dang Do' b/w 'Baby I Need You' both released in 1966.
Robert Ellington left the band at an early stage in the Sixties.
The group were mistakenly named the Dynamics, back in 1962, however, as the Dramatics they achieved major success with their songs, 'In the Rain' and 'What You See Is What You Get'.
'All Because Of You' b/w 'If You Haven't Got Love' - 1967 / Inky Dinky Wang Dang Doo - 1966
In 1967, the Dramatics achieved a small hit with the Ivy Joe Hunter produced song 'All Because Of You' b/w 'If You Haven't Got Love' by the Dramatics, released on the small Detroit label, Sport Records (Sport 101).
During that year, The Dramatics were staying at the Algiers Motel, following a performance at Detroit's Fox Theatre, during an alleged murder by members of the Detroit Police Department.
This became one of the incidents which sparked the Detroit Riots of 1967.
The details of the event led to a movie entitled 'Detroit' becoming released in 2017, which articulates the events surrounding the riots.
Roderick Davis was in the hotel at the time, and was singled out by the Police Officers.
The film was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, and starred the Star Wars actor, John Boyega and Algee Smith in the role of the Dramatics singer, Larry Cleveland Reed.
larry cleveland reed
Larry was so affected by the incident, he never recorded again with the group, leaving to work and sing in the local church.
Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get - 1972 / Dramatically Yours - 1973
It wasn't until 1971 when the Detroit producers Don Davis and Tony Hestor signed the Dramatics to the Memphis-based Stax Records in 1971, where the group saw greater success with their song 'Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get'.
Originally formed in 1962, the Dramatics (at various times) consisted of:
The song reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 9 back at the time.
The group were awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. later that year.
At this stage, The Dramatics comprised of:
William 'Wee Gee' Howard (ex. The Sir Primes, who died of a heart attack on the 22nd of February 2000 at the age of 49)
Elbert Wilkins (who died of a heart attack on the 13th of December 1992 at the age of 45)
James Mack Brown (who died on the 28th of November 2008 at the age of 58).
Following the release of the group's first album, William Howard and Elbert Wilkins left the group.
They were replaced by L.J. Reynolds (previously of Chocolate Syrup) and Leonard 'Lenny' Mayes.
A Dramatic Experience - 1973 / The Dells vs The Dramatics - 1974
In 1973, the group released the song 'Hey You! Get Off My Mountain' (taken from the 'A Dramatic Experience' album), which became an R&B number 5 and pop Top 50 that year.
During the Seventies, the Dramatics released several further popular sides, including the haunting ballad 'In The Rain'.
In 1974, the Dramatics left Stax Records, and the following year began an association with Los Angeles-based ABC imprint, while still recording in Detroit with Davis and Hestor.
The Dramatic Jackpot - 1975 / Drama V - 1975 / Joy Ride - 1976 / Shake It Well - 1977
U.S. hits at ABC included the ballad 'Me And Mrs. Jones' (R&B number 4 and pop Top 50, 1975, a song made popular by Philadelphia International star Billy Paul), 'Be My Girl' (R&B number 3, 1976) and 'Shake It Well' (R&B number 4, 1977).
The Dramatics appeared on Soul Train and also released the songs 'Toast to the Fool', 'Me and Mrs. Jones', 'I'm Going By The Stars In Your Eyes' and 'Be My Girl'.
In the meantime, William Howard and Elbert Wilkins formed their own version of the Dramatics.
They released the song 'No Rebate on Love', and called the group 'Ron Banks and The Dramatics'.
Do What You Wanna Do - 1978 / Any Time, Any Place - 1979
Relocating to the MCA imprint in 1979, the group achieved their last Top 10 hit with 'Welcome Back Home' (R&B number 9, 1980).
The Dramatic Way - 1980 / 10 1/2 - 1980
The same year, the group released the album 'The Dramatic Way', which contained the popular rare groove dancer 'Get It'.
Shortly afterwards L.J. Reynolds left to establish a solo career, and in 1981 Craig Jones was recruited in his place, but they disbanded in 1982 after Ron Banks left to start a solo career, releasing 'Truly Bad' for CBS in 1983 (featuring 'This Love Is For Real').
New Dimension - 1982 / Somewhere In Time (A Dramatic Reunion) - 1986
William Howard later rejoined the original group for the albums 'Somewhere in Time: A Dramatic Reunion' in 1986, and 'Positive State Of Mind' in 1989.
He then left the group again.
The Dramatics Live - 1988 / Positive State Of Mind - 1989 / Stone Cold - 1990 / Mellow Drama - 1994 / A Dramatic Christmas - 1997 / Look Inside - 2002
The Dramatics were reunited in the late 80's and released 'Look Inside' for the NCI label in 2002.
The Dramatics have worked with many diverse R&B acts, including Snoop Dog, and continue to tour.
The current line-up consisted of Ron Banks, L.J. Reynolds, Willie Ford, Winzell Kelly and Michael Brock, (who replaced Lenny Mayes, who died of lung cancer on the 8th of November 2004 at the age 53).
Ron Banks sadly passed away in 2010 at the age of 58.
He was at home with his family when he abruptly passed out, according to fellow Dramatics singer L.J. Reynolds, who had spoken to Ron just minutes earlier.
Ron passed away at the Sinai Hospital in Detroit.
His last hometown gig with the Dramatics was a November 2009 concert at Motorcity Casino’s Sound Board venue.
Ron Banks is survived by his wife, Sandy Banks, four daughters and two sons.
Willie Ford passed away in 2019.
There is an excellent piece here, regarding Willie's career:
More on the Dramatics here:
many thanks to Maria Asplund for her invaluable help with this page
William 'Wee Gee' Howard's ex wife, Sharon Howard asked me if I would post some of her memories regarding her late ex-husband. Only too happy to:
william 'wee gee' howard
1: WeeGee was raised in a close, loving, and supportive family by his parents, George and Elise Howard, now both deceased.
2: We met in 1970 and married in January 1971, with his parents as our witnesses because he was only 20 years old at the time. This was also a time when interracial marriage was not accepted by the majority. We struggled until "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" hit the airwaves. As our finances improved, and even at this young age, WeeGee was so grounded that he asked me to quit work, we bought a lovely home in Rosedale Park, a far west subdivision in Detroit, filled it with everything new and paid for, and made plans for a family. Our son, William Franklin Howard lll was born in 1974 and our world was complete.
3: WeeGee not only had a versatile voice that was golden, but he was absolute magic as an entertainer with his dancing, humorous banter with the audience, and could hold people hungry for more with every performance.
4: I want people to know that, although in later years he struggled with his own demons, WeeGee is one of the finest men I ever knew. He had the heart of a lion and took every new day as an opportunity to do more and do it better then the day before. Regardless of his circumstances, his compassion and desire to help those less fortunate, and to bring the gift of song and music to everyone, knew no bounds and carried no price tag.
5: Most importantly, WeeGee loved me, loved and adored his son, and remained over the moon with his 2 grandsons. To this day we all carry a big hole in our hearts that will never be filled. We are grateful to have had this gift in our lives, and every day we feel the great loss of the man, husband, father, and Grandfather who was simply WeeGee to us.
Willie Ford passed away in May 2019.
as the Dramatics:
Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get (Volt Records 1972)
Dramatically Yours (Volt Records 1973)
A Dramatic Experience (Volt Records 1973)
as the Dramatics with the Dells:
The Dells vs. The Dramatics (Cadet Records 1974)
as the Dramatics:
The Dramatic Jackpot (ABC Records 1975)
Drama V (ABC Records 1975)
Joy Ride (ABC Records 1976)
Shake It Well (ABC Records 1977)
Do What You Wanna Do (ABC Records 1978)
Anytime, Anyplace (MCA Records 1979)
The Dramatic Way (MCA Records 1980)
10 And A Half (MCA Records 1980)
New Dimensions (Capitol Records 1982)
Somewhere In Time (A Dramatic Reunion) (Fantasy Records 1986)
The Dramatics - Live (Volt Records 1988)
Positive State Of Mind (Volt Records 1989)
Stone Cold (Volt Records 1990)
Me & Mrs. Jones (MCA Records 1994)
Mellow Drama (Groovesville Records 1994)
Gimme Some Good Soul Music (Fantasy Records 1995)
A Dramatic Christmas: The Very Best Christmas of All (Fantasy Records 1997)
If You Come Back To Me (Fantasy Records 1999)
Look Inside (NCI Records 2002)
solo: L.J. Reynolds:
Travellin' (Capitol Records 1982)
Lovin' Man (Mercury Records 1984)
Tell Me You Will (Fantasy Records 1987)
L.J. Reynolds (Gospel album) (Capitol Records 1991)
with Ron Banks:
2 Of A Kind (Lifesong Records 1994)
Love Is About To Start (Volt Records 2000)
Through The Storm (Da Pit Bull Kat Records 2007)
The Message (Crystal Rose Records 2007)
solo: Ron Banks:
Truly Bad (CBS Records 1983)