Singer James Curtis was one of the original five male members of the Chestnuts at the time this '50s doo wop group signed its first recording contracts. Hailing from New Haven, CT, the group also featured Leroy Griffin, Frank Hopkins, Lyman Hopkins, Jr., and Reuben White, also destined to be names forever rippling in the wading pool of this city's musical history. Tracking Curtis through the group's complex legacy, even just trying to determine when he stopped being a Chestnut, may lead discographers to break into a few choruses of "Who Knows Better Than I," one of the group's hits. The 1959 Elgin release entitled "Chit Chat" is probably the best-known of the Chestnuts' chestnuts, and certainly a more reliable source of information. The singer Curtis should not be confused with a blues drummer of the same name, present on releases by artists such as Robert Nighthawk. A Hollywood biographer named James Curtis who has written about subjects such as W.C. Fields and James Whale has no family connection with either musical Curtis.
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