Four Shades of Rhythm

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Generally considered the first R&B group to emerge from the fertile Cleveland area, the Four Shades of Rhythm formed in 1939 -- according to Marv Goldberg's profile in the May 1998 issue of Discoveries,…
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Generally considered the first R&B group to emerge from the fertile Cleveland area, the Four Shades of Rhythm formed in 1939 -- according to Marv Goldberg's profile in the May 1998 issue of Discoveries, singer/drummer Oscar Lindsay, guitarist Willie Lewis, pianist Sims London and bassist Macon Sims were all neighborhood friends who gigged around the area throughout World War II, developing a large repertoire of standards and jazz tunes. Following the war the original Four Shades split, although Lindsay retained the name for a new lineup comprising guitarist Oscar Pennington, bassist June Cobb and pianist Eddie "Bones" McAfee. Cobb balked when the group landed an extended residency at a Chicago nightclub, however, and in 1946 bassist Eddie Meyers signed on as his replacement. The Four Shades of Rhythm returned to Chicago to cut their first session for the Vitacoustic label, issuing "One Hundred Years from Today" in 1947 -- they supported the single with club stints as far ranging as Des Moines, IA and Rochester, MN, and in early 1949 cut a follow-up, "My Blue Walk," for the Old Swing-Master imprint. "I Can Dream" and "Yesterday" appeared in quick succession at mid-year, and when none of them sold, Pennington resigned, the first in a series of lineup changes. By the time the Four Shades of Rhythm re-recorded "Yesterday" for the Chance label in late 1952, the roster again retained only Lindsay from previous incarnations -- guitarist Adam Lambert, pianist Ernie Harper and bassist Booker Collins now completed the lineup, which did not resurface on record until the fall of 1957 with the Mad label release "Ghost of a Chance." After one final single -- a 1960 remake of "One Hundred Years from Today" recorded for the Apex imprint -- the Four Shades of Rhythm split for good.