A rare sextet in the 50s R&B scene, this Pittsburgh group’s ranks featured Leon Daniels (lead), sister Anna Mae Jackson (lead), brother Joey Daniels (baritone), Daniel Jackson (first tenor), Leon Taylor (second tenor) and Bernard Palmer (bass). They began on the familiar street-corner career route in 1955, eventually signing with RCA Records, where they were placed on their Groove Records R&B subsidiary. A few months later ‘Geraldine’, written by Taylor, was released to instant favour. The song was played on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand television show, but the possibility of a live appearance was lost when the members were unable to raise the finance for the journey to Philadelphia. Instead the El Venos were forced to content themselves with local shows, often conducted with major artists such as the Heartbeats who were passing through Pittsburgh. They transferred to a second RCA affiliate, Vik Records, for their second single, ‘You Must Be True’, but this failed to match the impact of their debut. The next two years were spent raising money in order to travel to New York for auditions. However, Calico Records chose not to release the two songs the El Venos recorded with them. The same fate befell two more songs recorded for Mercury Records’ Amp 3 subsidiary. Dispirited, the group broke up, with Anna Mae Jackson changing her name to Anne Keith and releasing a solo record, backed by the Altairs (the band formed by their erstwhile sponsor, Pittsburgh disc jockey Bill Powell).
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