Troy Keyes

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Best known among soul aficionados for his cult-classic 1968 single "Love Explosions," singer Troy Keyes was born in Pantego, NC, on March 13, 1940. A member of his church's choir throughout childhood,…
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Best known among soul aficionados for his cult-classic 1968 single "Love Explosions," singer Troy Keyes was born in Pantego, NC, on March 13, 1940. A member of his church's choir throughout childhood, from the age of ten he grew up in Brooklyn, New York, there singing in street-corner doo wop groups in addition to studying dance at the Fred Astaire Studio. In 1955 Keyes joined a vocal group dubbed the Starlites, which earned a record deal with the tiny Peak label as a result of winning a local talent contest. Their single "Missing You" went nowhere, and in 1958 he joined the Velours, which cut several singles for the Cub label and an LP for Onyx, Remember with the Velours, before dissolving. After a brief tenure with the Rays, in 1960 Keyes signed to Atco as a solo act, crediting his 1961 single "The World Without You" to Mitchell Keyes. With fellow Atco act Jimmy Williams, he then formed the High Keyes, which threatened the Billboard Top 40 with its 1963 rendition of the Doris Day chestnut "Que Sera Sera." Soon after, Keyes was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving several years in Europe. Upon returning stateside, he and Williams revived the High Keyes, notching a future Northern soul classic with their lone Verve single, "Living a Lie." Keyes then resumed his solo career, signing to ABC and squeaking into the Hot 100 with "Love Explosions." Subsequent efforts including "No Sad Songs" and the Norma Jenkins duet "A Love Gone Bad" failed to launch the singer to stardom, however, and he next surfaced in 1971 on VMP with the self-penned anti-Vietnam anthem "If I Had My Way," another should-have-been hit only appreciated after the fact by Northern soul club-goers. After the commercial failure of 1973's "See No Evil," Keyes for several years made a living singing advertising jingles, in 1977 returning to performing in a latter-day version of the Crests. Apart from backing vocals on Peabo Bryson's early-'80s sessions for Bang, Keyes spent much of the next two decades out of music, pursuing a career in telecommunications. He finally returned to the stage in the late '90s, playing Northern soul weekenders to a new generation of fans.