The Magic-Tones

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The Magic-Tones were among the myriad Baltimore/D.C. doo wop outfits to emerge in the wake of local heroes and R&B icons the Orioles. According to the profile at Marv Goldberg's R&B Notebooks website,…
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The Magic-Tones were among the myriad Baltimore/D.C. doo wop outfits to emerge in the wake of local heroes and R&B icons the Orioles. According to the profile at Marv Goldberg's R&B Notebooks website, lead tenor Joe "Rice" Reed, first tenor Arthur "Boxy" Williams, second tenor/guitarist Gene Hawkins, and bass Willie Stokes formed the group in Baltimore in 1951. Originally dubbed the Five Kings, they briefly performed as the Dreamers before settling on the Magic-Tones. After becoming a staple of the Baltimore club circuit, the quartet in 1952 signed a management deal with Bill Robertson and Homer Murray, fresh off their success negotiating an Atlantic Records deal for local act the Tilters -- Robertson and Murray also bequeathed the Magic-Tones a clutch of original songs, among them "When I Kneel Down to Pray," which served as the A-side of the group's 1953 King label debut. "How Can You Treat Me This Way?" followed a few months later, and when neither disc garnered much attention at radio, King halted plans for a third session. In early 1954, Stokes was drafted into military duty, and with new bass Henry Abrams, the Magic-Tones played the famed Apollo Theater as part of a King Records showcase headlined by the Midnighters and the Checkers. A full-fledged tour was planned, but Abrams opted to return to his previous group, the Marylanders, and the Magic-Tones soon dissolved. In early 1956, Stokes returned to Baltimore following his service discharge and recruited Williams and Hawkins for a new Magic-Tones lineup that also featured lead tenor Bobby "Trey" Jackson and second tenor Robert "Shue" McGhee. Two years later, this version of the group cut "Spanish Love Song" for the tiny Howfum label before splitting.