If you’re a fan of 1950s rhythm and blues, then you need to check out The Clovers.
This vocal group from Virginia became one of the biggest selling acts of their time, thanks in part to their hit song “Love Potion No. 9.” They started out as a doo-wop group in the early 1950s, and eventually evolved into a more soulful sound.
Let’s learn more.
The early years of The Clovers
The Clovers were one of the most successful early R&B groups, and their sound helped to shape the course of popular music.
The group was formed in 1946 by Harold Lucas, Billy Shelton, and Thomas Bates. They began performing at local clubs and bars in Philadelphia, and soon caught the attention of record producers.
In 1954, they signed with Atlantic Records and released their first single, “Don’t You Know I Love You.” The song was a hit, reaching the top of the R&B charts. The Clovers continued to have success with songs like “Love Potion #9” and “Good Lovin’.”
They were one of the first R&B groups to cross over into the pop charts, and their music had a profound influence on rock & roll. The Clovers were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.
Behind the scenes and songs
Though they only had a handful of charting singles, their songs have been covered by countless artists and their records have been sampled by everyone from the Beach Boys to Dr. Dre. Here are seven essential Clovers tracks, along with the stories behind them.
“Love Potion No. 9” is perhaps the Clovers’ best-known song. Released in 1959, it reached the top of the Billboard R&B chart and crossed over to the pop top 40. The song was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who also wrote hits for Elvis Presley, Ben E. King, and the Coasters. “Love Potion No. 9” was originally intended for the Coasters, but when they turned it down, the Clovers recorded it instead.
“Don’t You Know I Love You” is another Leiber and Stoller composition that was a hit for the Clovers in 1952. The song features some of lead singer Harold Lucas’ most impassioned vocals and is notable for its use of seventh chords – a chord typically associated with jazz music.
“One Mint Julep ” is a Clovers classic that was written by Rudy Toombs and originally recorded by the group in 1952. The song tells the story of a man who’s trying to forget about his lost love by drinking mint juleps. “One Mint Julep” has been covered by everyone from Ray Charles to the Grateful Dead.
The Clovers were one of the most successful early R&B groups, and their sound helped to shape the course of popular music. If you’re a fan of 1950s rhythm and blues, then you need to check out The Clovers.
Awards the band earned
Rhythm and Blues Foundation, Pioneer Award, 1988; induction, Vocal Group Hall of Fame, 2002; induction, United in Group Harmony (UGHA) Hall of Fame, 2002.