Bleus

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Blue-eyed soul combo the Bleus formed in Gadsden, AL, in mid-1965. Singer/percussionist Tony Lumpkin, guitarists Larry Sivley and Paul Smith, and bassist Terry Moore comprised the original lineup, with…
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Blue-eyed soul combo the Bleus formed in Gadsden, AL, in mid-1965. Singer/percussionist Tony Lumpkin, guitarists Larry Sivley and Paul Smith, and bassist Terry Moore comprised the original lineup, with Lumpkin moving solely to vocal duties with the addition of drummer Cliff Blackwood. Keyboardist Dana Loconto completed the roster, and in the fall the Bleus made their public debut following a high-school football game. A series of "battle of the bands" competitions followed; at one such event in Tuscaloosa, the Bleus defeated the Hour Glass, featuring then-unknowns Duane and Gregg Allman. As the band's regional popularity grew, they signed to local booking agency Southeastern Attractions, quickly becoming the company's highest-grossing act.

In early 1967, local musician and promoter Fred Styles signed on as the Bleus' manager, quickly lining up their first recording session. Their debut single, a cover of the Marvin Gaye classic "Stubborn Kind of Fella," was released on the Swing-Ltd. label and proved a local smash. Producer Eddie Hinton agreed to helm the follow-up, a cover of the Bacharach/David classic "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself" recorded at the famed Muscle Shoals studio. The single appeared on New York City's Amy label, as did the follow-up, "Milk and Honey" (recorded with studio backing from the aforementioned Allman brothers). Amy affiliate Bell issued the Bleus' fourth single, "Julianna's Gone," but the band grew frustrated by the company's lack of promotional efforts, and released their next single, "I've Been in Love Before," as the Colours; producer Chips Moman was so convinced the record was going to hit that he set up the Blue Seal label just to release it, but it went nowhere.

After the group recorded "What'Cha Gonna Do" for the tiny Diamond Records label, Blackwood left the Bleus in 1968 to enlist in the U.S. Marines. Former Soul Machine drummer Bobby Sproul signed on his replacement, and with the subsequent exit of Smith, Loconto moved from keyboards to guitar. One final single, the Certron release "Everything's Gonna Be Alright," was credited to the Electric Hand Band without the Bleus' consent. In 1969, Moore signed up for Navy duty, and with new bassist Philip Howell the band forged on until finally dissolving in 1971. In 2001, surviving members Lumpkin, Sivley, Smith, Moore, Locosto, and Sproul reunited, playing live gigs and even recording new material in the years to follow. Their vintage singles were compiled on 2004's The Complete Recordings 1966-1971.