Singer, writer, and producer Ronald McCoy kept the Topics viable for nearly two decades; the New York-based group only had a few local hits but kept busy working around the Big Apple. McCoy was born in Augustus, GA, on December 26, 1946, the sixth of seven children of Frank and Geneva McCoy. He was raised in both Augustus and Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and attended schools in both cities. His mother moved to Philadelphia and enrolled him in Thomas Edison High; shortly thereafter she moved to the Bronx where he finished at Morris High. He holds an F.C.C. Third Class Radio License and is a graduate of QP TV Productions in Jamaica Queens, NY.
McCoy started singing when he was four in Ft. Lauderdale; his grandmother took him to church and encouraged him to sing for the members. He arrived in New York in 1964 and met John Wesley Adams who auditioned him on the Tymes' "So Much in Love" before inviting him to join a street corner group consisting of himself and Vaughn Curtis. They performed in their first talent show in December of 1964 at P.S. 67; the next month, January of 1965, they auditioned for Chess records and cut a demo produced by Richard and Bobby Poindexter entitled "Come Back Baby" that never was released.
A stint with Tuff Records proved fruitless, but McCoy did befriend Landy McNeal who invited him back to write songs and cut demos with the object of putting him on the label, but nothing happened. A girl Curtis knew was acquainted with a member of the Manhattans. They got a look with Joe Evans (the owner of Carnival records) doing a McCoy original, "That's What Love Will Do." Originally, McCoy, Adams, and Curtis were the Cymbals, but Evans had a group with that name, so they became the Topics.
Evans released two singles by the Topics, the first on Chadwick records (his first label) and the second on Carnival, the label he started in Newark, NJ; Chadwick was based out of Manhattan, but Evans' partner bailed so he moved the operation to Jersey and renamed it Carnival records.
Evans prized McCoy's songwriting skills and used the transplanted New Yorker's material for Lee Williams & the Cymbals who recorded McCoy's "I Love You More" (inspired from watching a Fruit of the Loom commercial) and "Peepin' Through the Window." Charles Stodghill joined the Topics for their second release. Stodghill later sung with the Persuaders ("It's a Thin Line Between Love and Hate"); they actually wanted McCoy, but he wasn't interested. He was going through a bad period becuase his apartment had been broken into three times, and he made plans to move to Ohio, so he recommended Stodghill. Evans released the Topics' tryout song "That's What Love Will Do," on a female group called the Symphonies a few years after the Topics split. He never did move to Ohio.
After two years they left Carnival and became associated with an ex-member of the Larks who proved unscrupulous. The Topics next entered a long handshake management agreement with Bruce Clark. With Clark they recorded their biggest hit, "All Good Things Can't Last," on Brothers III records in 1974. More than 30 people sang as the Topics throughout the years; McCoy's wife Yvonne McCoy joined in the mid-'70s. In 1987, McCoy formed Triple Threat with his wife and daughter for one release, This Heart of Mine with "We Got Love."
McCoy loves conversing about the old days gigging around New York, particularly the jobs at Sylvia and Joe Robinson's Blue Morocco club in Harlem sharing the stage with the Pace Brothers, Lonnie Youngblood, and Willie Feaster.
McCoy lives in Jamaica Queens, NY, and loves rollerblading (at his age) and still writes songs but has never made much money doing so. With nearly 40 titles registered with B.M.I. for performance payments, the biggest check he's ever received at one time was for $100. According to McCoy, "B.M.I. nickel and dime you to death, the checks I get are mostly for $10 or $20." But at least he gets those; the mechanical monies (what you get from the physical sale of a record, cassette, or compact disk) have been non-existent. Often the singers and writers don't even know their songs have been released.
You can listen to the Topics and hear McCoy's songs on compilation disks, including Kent records' series of Carnival records issues and a similar series by Collectable records. The Topics recorded one album by themselves on Brothers III records in 1974 entitled All Good Things; Japans' P-Vine Records issued The Topics & Friends on CD in 1999, which includes the Brothers III album tracks, plus additional cuts by Marion Butler, the Electras, Loreli, and Empress Kilpatrick.