The History of the Fabulous Peps by Joe ( pep) Harris.
Although we were inevitably mistaken for Gladys Knight's Pips, The Peps were vocally more akin to The Impressions, but pigeonholing them as another opportunistic copycat group would be a mistake, their high-energy live performances defined the 60's all-singing-all-dancing groups that relentlessly toured the USA during that go-go decade.
The three of us turned professional at Thelma Records around 1962, cutting a few 45s and doing background on various sessions. Before that we were all involved in singing around Detroit, Ronnie Abner used to be in The Vibratones, I "Little Joe" Harris sang lead on one of Robert West's Bumble Bee label records - "Trouble In A Candy Store" - and Tommy Hester had won talent show contests during the late 50s and sang with The Turnpikes.
We joined Mike's D-Town setup around 1965 with a hard-earned reputation as one of the Motor City's liveliest acts and weren't labelled Fabulous for nothing. Back-flips, jumps, spins and splits peppered our live shows, we inadvertently got likened to Curtis Mayfield's seminal group. "Tommy and Ronnie had the soft high tenor and I had the Jerry-Butler, Fred-Cash sound, so we sounded like The Impressions, in fact our range was higher than theirs. We do one Impressions' song a show, and the rest is us. But record-wise. everybody wanted us to sound like The Impressions!
During our spell at Thelma we travelled down to Dayton, Ohio where we took root for about a year and started to develop an identity. We fine tuned our slick moves and learned the ropes of performing while singing with Robert Ward's accomplished group, The Ohio Untouchables. Once we were back in Detroit we continued to add finishing touches to our routine.
We cut a wall-to-wall drum and bass Wheelsville 45, "Love Of My Life," thatwas also released in '65. Ronnie penned and sang lead on "My Love Looks Good On You" - our up-tempo, 1966, D-Town disc - and by then guitarist "Little Charlie" Herndon had become an integral part of the group's act and we were sometimes billed as The Four Peps. We gradually drifted away from Mike and started to revolve around Pete Hall, who I remember sent us down to Memphis to add some southern-soul flavor to our recordings.
Our version of "Gypsy Woman" was released on Premium Stuff and another admiral cover of an Impressions' classic, "I've Been Trying," was If I remember correctly, cut at the same time, this latter song was released on the Wee 3 label in 1967 and that May we paraded it at Detroit's famed Chit Chat Lounge where the resident Funk Brothers backed us.
Although Motown had periodically invited us to join Hitsville's stack of talent, we steadfastly refused to sign to simply end up on the proverbial shelf. But after almost a decade of singing together I eventually left in 1971 to front The Undisputed Truth, hitting the big-time with Norman Whitfield's sublime "Smiling Faces Sometimes."
It's a pleasure to be back on stage again as the Fabulous Peps , I just loved those early days and the music In Detroit , The peps have always had a soft spot in my heart even though I had bigger hits with the Undisputed Truth and winning a grammy award , Its all come back again to me. Thanks to The Fabulous peps and I'm really looking forward to meeting the Uk fans at New Century Soul at Wolverhampton on Saturday 26th January 2008. I would like to thank my dear friend Hitsville Chalky and promoter Chris waterman for making this all happen again.
Joe ( pep) Harris.
As tickets for The Fabulous Peps show at the NCSC Allnighter in Wolverhampton have been selling really well at venues it is recommened to purchase online asp as they are expected to sell out before the actual event. Ticket can be bought via the New Century Shop with payment via paypal or cheque
Brookfields Club (The Stables) Cannock Road, Shareshill, Wolverhampton, WV10 7LZ
just off M6 J11. A460 towards Wolverhampton then 400 yards on the left.
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