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MONDAY, MAY 25, 2015

Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Barksdale’

Marvin Junior


Mr. Marvin Junior, the long time surviving lead singer extraordinaire of

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

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.

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