Dayton, Ohio R&B vocal group the King Toppers formed in late 1955. Former highschool classmates Dave Colter (tenor) and Don Turner (baritone) founded the act while attending Central State College, in time adding bass Louis Day, second tenor Jesse Hines, high tenor Grant Kitchings, and finally guitarist Welton Young. Originally dubbed the Corvettes, the group quickly emerged as a fixture of the Dayton club and talent show circuits, and in the autumn of 1956 traveled to New York City to audition for the Apollo Theater's famed amateur showcase. When Hines opted out of the trip at the last minute, Young was promoted to second tenor duties -- although the Apollo gig was a success, the Corvettes did not earn top honors but nevertheless remained in New York, playing Harlem nightclubs and eventually befriending the Orioles' Aaron "Tex" Cornelius, who helped them wrangle an audition with RCA Victor. The label passed on the Corvettes' demos, and when Colter left the lineup to start a family, the remaining quartet rechristened themselves the King Toppers, and in late 1956 cut a session for the Jubilee imprint. Before year's end, Day was drafted into military duty, and when Kitchings was forced to follow suit, the King Toppers dissolved on the eve of their first and only release, 1957's "You Were Waiting for Me" (issued on Jubilee's Josie subsidiary). Eventually Young returned to Dayton, forming the duo Dean & Jean with singer Brenda Lee Jones and scoring a pair of Top 40 pop hits, "Tra La La La Suzy" and "Hey Dean, Hey Jean."
Share this page