The Exits

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The Los Angeles-based Exits made only four singles -- three on Gemini and one on Kapp Records (really three, their debut came out twice) -- but two of them, "Under the Streetlamp" and "Another Sundown…
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The Los Angeles-based Exits made only four singles -- three on Gemini and one on Kapp Records (really three, their debut came out twice) -- but two of them, "Under the Streetlamp" and "Another Sundown in Watts," feature some of the '60s finest soul group harmony. Their sound married late-'50s doo wop with mid-'60s soul and the material was a teary-compound of aspiration and hope and despair and hopelessness. They recorded their first song and biggest hit nameless and the producer came up with their name as James Conwell (lead), Godey Colbert, Esko Wallace, Louis Hendricks, and Charles Colbert were leaving the studio under the gleaming exit sign over the door. A new name was in order as they had recorded "Love Can't Be Modernized" b/w "There's That Mountain" in early 1967 as the Trips for Soundsville Records.

Some of the members had prior and post musical experience. Conwell (the Vice Roys, the Minortones, and Smoked Sugar), G. Colbert (the Pharoahs, the Cufflinks, the Visitors, and Free Movement), and Esko Wallace (the Visitors).

Conwell was the Exits' x-factor, a magnificent lead singer with a voice similar to Howard Tate's, but a more melodic, soaring, and harmonious instrument that could jerk tears from a mummy. They made noise in pockets across America with their first release, "Under the Street Lamp" b/w "You Got to Have Money" on Gemini Records (August 1967). It was their most successful record, success being a relative term, as it got aired on many soul stations and was well-received where played. True to its astrological traits, impatient, flighty Gemini didn't work the record long enough, and before 1967 ended released a second recording, "I Don't Want to Hear It." It didn't take off, so ever-changing Gemini reissued "Under the Street Lamp" in early 1968.

Not in it for the long haul, Gemini Records went out of business; Jimmy Conwell had also recorded as a solo act for the label, but those 45s withered as well. They went with Kapp Records for one glorious single in 1969, entitled "Another Sundown in Watts" fronted by "I'm So Glad," and therein lies the problem: the B-Side should have been the A-Side. Except for an album credited to Conwell released in 1977, Let It All Out, nothing else by this marvelous group ever surfaced. And while Conwell's album, which has been re-released on CD by United Kingdom's AM Tracks Records, contains some Exits' tracks, it's not definitive as Conwell's most successful solo, "Cigarettes Ashes," is missing.