the mighty, mighty Dells went home to glory today (05-29-13).
Unfortunately we don’t have any specific details of his death, but accord-
ing to a May 23, 2013 report in the Soulful Detroit blog, Mr. Junior was re-
ported to be very ill “and is not expected to be with us for very much
The report also mentioned that another member of The Dells, Mr. Chuck
Barksdale, was also very ill.
We’ll have more details as they become available.
Marvin Junior Bio via AllMusic.com:
As the lead singer of the Dells, Marvin Junior‘s warm, earnest baritone
vocals helped define the Harvey, IL, R&B/soul music group during its
’60s/’70s heyday (along with Johnny Carter’s mesmerizing falsetto). One
example of his vocal prowess is his ability at holding a note, as heard on
the 1968 remake of their own “Stay in My Corner.”
It’s no secret that producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff wanted
Marvin Junior on their Philadelphia International Records label. When
the group signed to Chess, they went with the similar-sounding Teddy
Pendergrass. Gamble & Huff finally got to work with the Dells in 1992 on
the I Salute You album.
Junior, along with the rest of the Dells, was a key influence on Robert
Townsend in the making of his movie The Five Heartbeats. In the early
’50s, the group initially formed as the El Rays when the members were
students at Thornton Township High School. The lineup was Marvin
Junior, Johnny Funches, Verne Allison, Chuck Barksdale, Mickey McGill,
and his brother Lucius. After doing their share of street-corner harmoniz-
ing, the vocal group auditioned for Leonard Chess of Chess Records in
nearby Chicago. Their first release on Chess’ Checker imprint was the a
cappella song “Darling I Know” with “Christine” on the flip side. The 45
was a small regional hit. Not long afterwards, Lucius McGill quit the group.
Now a quintet, the group was taken under the wing of Harvey Fuqua of the
Moonglows who schooled the group on five-part vocal harmony.