Alvin Cash was born Alvin Welch, February 15, 1939, in St. Louis, MO, to a large family. One of eight children, Alvin formed a song and dance group with three of his brothers, doing tap and soft shoe. He attended Summers High in St. Louis with future R&B luminaries Luther Ingram, Billy Davis (Fifth Dimension), and Anna Mae Bullock (Tina Turner).
In 1961, Alvin and three of his brothers moved to Chicago, IL, seeking a record deal, but had to dance for tips their first few years in the Windy City. Former Fortune and Motown artist/songwriter/producer Andre Williams, who worked for One-derful/Mar-V- Lus/M-Pac Records whenever he and Berry Gordy disagreed, caught the newly named Crawlers' act and invited them to the studio to chant over a dance track he'd written (with Verlie Rice) called "Twine Time." It was in the same format as Williams' 1957 hit "Bacon Fat," a funky instrumental augmented by chants and sayings, and was a take-off of the Five Du-Tones' "Woodbine Twine." "Twine Time" surprised everybody by zooming to number 14 on the pop chart in February 1965. On the label the artist was listed as Alvin Cash & the Crawlers, though it's unclear if his brothers participated in the recording; but his band, the Nightlighers, did.
The Nightlighters changed their name to the Crawlers and accompanied Alvin Cash on gigs, eventually changing again to the Registers. Cash abandoned his siblings after a few records and went solo. His post-"Twine" recordings never measured up commercially, though many were far better recordings; the most successful was "The Philly Freeze," which reached number 49. Subsequent releases -- "The Barracuda," "Mr. Penquin," "Unwind the Twine," and "The Philly Freeze" -- hit the R&B charts, but weren't pop successes. He recorded many tributes to pugilist Muhammad Ali, including an LP Alvin Cash Does the Greatest Hits of Muhammad Ali. Cash appeared in the Buddy Holly movie as a member of the Five Satins and in a few black action films including Petey Wheatstraw and Black Jack. The flamboyant dancer/entertainer, known in Chicago's blues clubs for his colorful lavender, pink, and yellow outfits, succumbed to stomach and ulcer problems on November 21, 1999.