The pride of Jackson, TN, began in 1968 as the Jacksonians. The members were Faris Lanier Jr., lead singer (born in 1949), his brother Fenoye, drummer (born in 1952), Sam Frazier (tenor sax), Lee Freeman (guitar), Mark Brown (trumpet and background vocals) and Joseph McKinney (keyboards and background vocals). Faris Lanier Sr. managed them and named them the Jacksonians.
Work was easy to find and they backed the likes of Eddie Floyd and others from the outset. A guitar player, Billy Moten got the band noticed by someone at MGM Records. The label was trying to make some inroads in the R&B field by financing small soul labels in various cities. One label MGM assisted was Cleveland, OH's Wayout Records. Reportedly MGM advanced the label principals 80,000 dollars to produce records. The label sent the Jacksonians to Cleveland to record but Wayout paired them with Fred Towles, a soulful singer, for one release "Hook It to the Mule" credited as Fred Towles & the Jacksonians; the flip, an instrumental of the A-side, was all Jacksonians. Wayout had the Sensations under contract, and signed Jesse Fisher, the Soul Notes, Bobby Wade and others to their roster. Unfortunately for the Jacksonsonians and Towles most of the money went toward the Sensations, and "Hook It to the Mule" failed to hook listeners or sell many copies.
Nothing was happening in Cleveland, so the band went back to Jackson to record for Sounds of Memphis Records (another MGM project). For their SOM and subsequent recordings Marlon Lanier, alto sax & background vocals (2-3-1955) joined. SOM release "California Dreaming" b/w "Sparkle Eyes" to a deafening silence around 1971. Other recordings remain unreleased and for the next 11 years the band played behind many of the South's major recording artists.
Another recording opportunity came in 1982 via the Los Angeles-based LARC Records, no longer the Jacksonians, they were now Lanier & Co. The association produced three singles and an album. The first single, Philip Mitchell's "After I Cry Tonight" (1982), got the most airplay, it featured a stirring lead from Faris, the group's focal point. LARC dropped an album produced by Gene "Bowlegs" Miller, and issued two more singles: "I Just Got to Have You" b/w "Come on out Let's Party" (1983) and "Fallin' in Love Again" b/w "Share Your Love With Me" (1983). An appearance on American Bandstand was a highlight; a scheduled shot on Soul Train, however, never materialized. The singles stiffed and LARC soon dissolved. According to Marlon, LARC wanted to advance the band a tour bus, money, and other extras, but they declined the label's generosity. They had heard the horror stories of groups held as virtual slaves by recording companies and management companies because of generous advances that they never seemed able to pay back and wanted no part of that scenario.
Lanier & Co. made one last go of it on Willie Mitchell's Waylo Records. Waylo issued an album Dancing in the Night and two 12" singles: "Dancing in the Night" and "I Don't Know What to Do About You," in 1987. They also cut "Let's Go for It" a duet featuring Faris and Stephanie Beard. The group now consisted of singer Stephanie Beard, Arvill Wiley, Marvin Hill, Van Beard, and the Lanier brothers. While neither disk flew, they kept trooping until 1991 when Faris became ill and couldn't sing or tour anymore. Losing the heart of the group caused them to disband. The other members hooked up with other artists and situations. The only Lanier to continue with music is Fenoye who currently drums behind Denise Lasalle.