The Topics

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The Topics hung tough from 1966 to 1987, recording mainly for small New York recording companies. Beginning as the Uniteds, they signed with Chess Records in 1965 with a lineup of Ronald McCoy, Vaughn…
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The Topics hung tough from 1966 to 1987, recording mainly for small New York recording companies. Beginning as the Uniteds, they signed with Chess Records in 1965 with a lineup of Ronald McCoy, Vaughn Curtis, Wesley "Bobby" Adams, and Gerald Jones. Richard and Bobby Poindexter cut their first demo on Chess, but "Come Back Baby" and "Baby, Baby Yes I Love You" remain unissued, and they left after four months.

Now a trio comprising McCoy, Curtis, and Adams, they signed with Joe Evans' Carnival/Chadwick labels as the Cymbals. But Evans wanted to use that name on another group, so they became the Topics. Their debut, "I Don't Have to Cry" (1966), didn't chart, nor did a second, "Hey Girl Where Are You Going," in 1967, with a new member, Charles "Charlie" Stodghill. They stayed at Carnival for two years, leaving due to inactivity and because Evans was more interested in McCoy's songwriting skills than the Topics' singing abilities. McCoy wrote labelmates Lee Williams & the Cymbals' two biggest hits, "I Love You More" and "Peepin' Through the Window."

Stodghill left to join the Persuaders, and appeared on "It's a Thin Line Between Love and Hate." Robert Lewis replaced Stodghill and the quartet recorded some sides earmarked for either Musicor or Atlantic Records, but the Lou Courtney productions never saw daylight. Danny Evans, who sang with the Larks ("The Jerk"), became their manager. In 1968, an opportunity came to tour England, but once across the pond the promoter demanded they front as the Fabulous Impressions to give the tour name recognition. "We don't have a name act, and we need one to draw people," barked the promoter.

According to McCoy, the promoter issued an ultimatum, and told the group that they must either masquerade as the Impressions or go home unpaid. They toured England later as the Topics, but McCoy didn't make the second trip because of the flu and skepticism -- after all, the first tour was a disaster. They severed ties with Danny Evans after he got caught promoting bogus Aretha Franklins and James Browns in Florida and Texas; there was a big article in Jet magazine about these incidents.

The Topics are remembered by East Coast fans for "All Good Things Must End," a heart-tugging ballad recorded on Heavy Duty Records in 1972 that became huge in the New York/Jersey area, but received practically no exposure anywhere else. The revamped Topics now consisted of McCoy, Vaughn, Robert Radcliffe, and Yvonne McCoy (Ronald McCoy's wife). More than 30 people sang with the Topics. McCoy said, "The constant recruiting was essential; you had to be ready for unexpected gigs, members were flighty, and I needed substitutes to fill in."

The Heavy Duty deal proved lightweight, and Brothers III Records issued "Please Take This Heart Of Mine" (1972), but it only got a few local spins. Mercury Records released the Topics' "Booking Up Baby" in 1973, but it did nothing; nor did a final single on Noodle Records, entitled "God and You," in 1976 that was also recorded by Loreli. An album worth of material on T.S.G. Records remained unissued. Brothers III Records released an LP entitled All Good Things in 1974 by the Topics that was reissued on CD by Japan's P-Vine label in 1999, with additional tracks by other Brothers III artists: the Electras, Marion Butler, Loreli, and Empress Kilpatrick. The reissued album was renamed The Topics and Friends: All Good Things.

McCoy kept the Topics viable and never stopped trying. At one point, he took ill and was falsely diagnosed with cancer; doctors told him he had six months to live. He made plans to move to Ohio but never did.

Regrouping, McCoy performed and recorded briefly in 1986-1987 with his wife and daughter in a group called Triple Threat. After that, he decided to sing solo. Many of the Topics died: Bobby Adams was fatally shot in a bar defending Charles Stodghill, who got into an argument with someone, and Stodghill later fell ill and died at Jacoby Hospital in the Bronx. Robert Lewis, who joined Ringling Brothers, died also; Vaughn Curtis suffered a stroke in 2000 but remained alive.