There are multiple artists named The Pyramids: 1) American surf rock band. 2) Reggae group from UK. 3) American free jazz orchestra. 4) Detroit doo-wop group. 5) Side project of S. Windett and Arp from Archie Bronson Outfit. 6) Finnish independent artist.
1) The Pyramids were a surf rock band from Long Beach, California, United States. One of the last surf bands to emerge, The Pyramids were one of the best marketed. Formed circa 1961, the Pyramids formed in California and was comprised of Skip Mercier (Lead Guitar), Willy Glover (Rhythm Guitar), Steve Leonard (Bass Guitar), Tom Pitman (Saxophone), and Ron McMullen (drums). When their initial single "The Pyramid Stomp" fizzled nationally, the group's bassist Steve Leonard decided to analyzed the Chantays' "Pipeline" and came up with a clever variation of that opening reverb riff. In early 1964, The Pyramids made the Top 20 with "Penetration, helped by the promotion of John Hodge, the group's manager. The Long Beach, California group achieved some notoriety after Hodge convinced them to shave their heads just as the British Invasion and became "America's answer to the Beatles." During their concerts they'd wear Beatles wigs which they would throw to the audience halfway through the show revealing their bald heads. Hired girls would then storm the stage. Other gimmicks were arriving at a job on elephants or in a helicopter. The gimmicks worked and they were soon appearing on Bandstand and Hullabaloo and in the beach movie Bikini Beach. Hodge wasn't as good at investing the money as he was at helping them earn it. After several bad investments they disbanded after recording one album and a few non - hit singles.
2) The Pyramids (also known at various stages of their career as Symarip, The Bees, Seven Letters and Zubaba) were a ska and reggae band from the United Kingdom, originating in the late 1960s when Frank Pitter and Michael Thomas founded the band as The Bees. The band's name was originally spelled Simaryp, which is an approximate anagram of the word pyramids. Consisting of members of West Indian descent, Symarip is widely marked as one of the original skinhead bands, being one of the first to target skinheads as an audience. Their style of music became known as skinhead reggae, and their hits included "Skinhead Girl", "Skinhead Jamboree" and "Skinhead Moonstomp", which is based on the Derrick Morgan song, "Moon Hop".
They moved to Germany in 1971, performing reggae and Afro-rock under the name Zubaba. In 1980, the album Skinhead Moonstomp was re-issued in the wake of the 2 Tone craze, hitting the UK pop charts for the first time. The band officially split in 1985 after releasing the album Drunk & Disorderly as The Pyramids. The album was released by Ariola Records and was produced by Stevie B. Trojan Records released a best of album in 2004 with a new single, "Back From the Moon", performed by two former band members, Monty Neysmith and Roy Ellis.
In 2005, Neysmith and Ellis performed together at Club Ska in England, and a recording of the concert has been released on Moon Ska Records as Symarip - Live at Club Ska. In April 2008, they headlined the Ska Splash Festival in Lincolnshire as Symarip, and later performed at the Endorse-It and Fordham Festivals. Pitter and Thomas now perform in a different band as Symarip/Pyramids, and starting in autumn 2008, will perform on the their Back from the Moon Tour 2008-2009, along with The Pioneers.
3) The Pyramids are an American free jazz orchestra from Yellow Springs, Ohio, United States, formed by Idris Ackamoor (saxophone), Margo Simmons (flute), Kwame Kimathi Asante [Thomas Williams] (bass, harp, percussion), Bradie Speller (percussion), Mark "Heshima" Williams (bass), Kenneth Nash (vocals), Donald Robinson (bongos, drums, percussion), Kash Killion (cello),
4) The Pyramids were a Detroit doo-wop group.*
5) The Pyramids is the side project of S. Windett (vocals, guitar) and Arp (drums) from Archie Bronson Outfit.
6) The Pyramids is an independent artist from Helsinki, Finland.
* 4) Detroit doo-wop group. Like the first Correc-tone 45s, The Pyramid’s disc was released on both CUB and Sonbert and is an ‘answer record’ to the Marvelettes’ 1962 Tamla hit “Playboy”. The group’s lead, Vernon Williams, used to be part of Motown’s Satintones and Rayber Voices with Sonny Sanders and Robert Bateman. Sonbert is an amalgam of Sonny and Robert.
Sonbert was a subsidiary label to Correc-tone, its name is an amalgam of Sonny and Robert. Prior to starting the label, the two were members of The Satintones, a group that had some of the first records on the Tamla and Motown labels.
Sonny had actually started his career in The Quailtones when he was just 14. With fellow members Freddy Gorman, Ted Scruggs, John Franklin and James Martin, the group cut a 78 with bandleader Sax Kari for Josie records around 1955.
The Rayber Voices, the primary Motown group that had sung background on the very first Motown recordings - including Marv Johnson’s 1959 Tamla disc, “Come To Me”.
Sonny soon teamed up with Dale Warren and Miss Raynoma Giles to sing background and were collectively known as the Ray-son-dale singers. However, it wasn’t long before Sonny joined Robert Bateman, Chico Leverett and Jim Ellis in The Satintones. And his resume also includes touring for a while with the first Motor City Review - as a member of the Love Tones.
It didn’t last too long: “I quit the road because of lack of pay for one thing… when you’re only being paid as a background artist and especially when you got to take care of some of your expenses. And, when you want to be an arranger and when you’re out on the road, some other guy is doing the arranging.”
Back in the studio, The Satintones cut a handful of 45s on both the Tamla and Motown labels before Sonny and Robert began to get involved in arranging and producing - it was Sonny who wrote the string arrangement for Eddie Holland’s mini-hit of 1962, “Jamie”.
Vernon Williams joined and sang on the group’s latter 45s. However, it wasn’t long before he left Motown’s Hitsville studio on West Grand Boulevard for Mr. Golden’s Correc-tone on 12th Street, following in the footsteps of his pals Sonny and Robert.
At the time Mr. Golden was flush with cash, but it wasn’t long before his savings were depleted and to get around the problem of not paying his key staff, he proffered a deal, as Sonny explained:
“Money is usually is good incentive. Instead, Sonbert was supposed to be our incentive to work for no salary. I wanted the label to succeed. There was just certain artists that we were allowed to do on Sonbert, and the rest of them would go on Correc-tone - we were still working on Correc-tone stuff. We didn’t make a lot of money out of that ”
The label’s first 45 was a couple of songs by The Pyramids, a group that included ex-Satintone Vernon Williams, plus Bobby Jones, Damon “Rocky’ Rockland, Norm Worthy and Robert Gibson. Vernon sang lead on “I’m The Playboy”, which was released not very long after The Marvelettes’ smash “Playboy” had climbed into the national charts - in May ‘62.
Regardless, “I’m A Playboy” isn’t a weak clone and is arguably more polished than the Tamla label original. Like the initial Correc-tone releases, it was also farmed out to Cub Records and around that same time Robert Bateman sold another Pyramids’ 45 to Vee-Jay records in Chicago – the raucous “Shakin’ Fit” with a flip titled “What Is Love?”, which sounds very much like The Isley Brothers’ Wand label chart-topper from ’62, “Twist and Shout”.
“There was a lot of despondency around then.”
Sonny Sanders, songwriter and arranger
Unfortunately these two Pyramids’ discs were nowhere near as commercially successful and consequently Correc-tone started to feel the pinch even greater, as Sonny recalled:
“It takes so much money just to get into the business. What happens is, if you don’t get those big smashes, your investment has got you so far under that you can’t manage to pay anybody. There was never that big record. We had that one shot at it with Wilson Pickett - and Solomon Burke covered it and killed it. There was a lot of despondency around then.”
After Wilson scored that hit, Robert Bateman began to work more in New York, while Sonny started working in a restaurant and at a couple of car washes to support his family - doing arrangements for Correc-tone in his spare time.
The next Sonbert release was by Yvonne Vernee, a singer who had been a member of The Donays, the group that had originally recorded “Devil In His Heart”. This – their only 45 - had been sold to the Brent label and although many people know The Beatles included three Motown hits (‘Money’ - ‘Please Mr. Postman’ - ‘Do You Love Me’) on their second LP, not so many know this song was a fourth cover of a Detroit recording. Liverpool’s Fab Four had got to hear them as all four were released in the UK on the Oriole label.
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