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Episode #734 – The Midnighters, Pt. 2 – 1954-56

Air Week: May 27-June 2, 2024

The Midnighters, Pt. 2 – 1954-56

This week, the “Juke In The Back” continues a 3 show look at The Midnighters, one of early R&B’s most successful groups. Before they topped the R&B charts with “Work With Me Annie” in 1954, The Midnighters were known as The Royals, a rough and ready group from the east side of Detroit. Charles Sutton, the Royal’s first great lead singer, shaped their early recordings (1952-53) in the style of The Orioles’ leader Sonny Til. As 1954 begins, Charles Sutton is out as lead singer and Hank Ballard (real name John Kendricks) is in. Ballard had been with the group since ’52 and he now takes the Royals into a more gospel/blues direction. Syd Nathan, head of King/Federal Records changes their name to The Midnighters and they score one of the biggest records of the year with “Work With Me Annie.” This week, we’ll focus on the Midnighters prime R&B period of 1954-56. They had non-Annie hits “Sexy Ways” and “It’s Love Baby (24 Hours A Day),” but the Annie’s sequels dominated. We won’t be spinning any of the Annie sequels during this program as next week will be the “Annie” installment, but what you will hear are some fantastic Rhythm & Blues presented by one of the finest groups of the era. Grab some nickels, because “Juke” will be jumpin’ with Detroit’s own Midnighters. 


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