The Manhattans are a popular R&B vocal group with a string of hit records over three decades, but best known for their million-selling songs "Kiss and Say Goodbye" and "Shining Star" in 1976 and 1980, respectively. The Manhattans, originally from Jersey City, New Jersey, formed in 1962 with members George "Smitty" Smith, Edward "Sonny" Bivins (born 15 January 1942, in Macon, Georgia), Winfred "Blue" Lovett (born 16 November 1943), Kenny "Wally" Kelley (born Kenneth Kelley, 9 January 1943 in New Jersey), and Richard "Ricky" Taylor. Bivins, Lovett, and Kelley were graduating from Lincoln High School, whilst Taylor and Smith were graduating from Snyder High School. All five enlisted in the armed forces, and came together as a group following their discharges from their respective branches.
The group's first single was "For The First Time", released in 1964 by Carnival Records. In 1968, the group received the award "Most Promising Group" by NATRA. The group continued recording through the 1970s with Alston on lead. They hit it big in 1976 with "Kiss and Say Goodbye", written by Blue Lovett and arranged/co-produced with the group by top Philadelphia-based musician/producer Bobby Martin, a former member of the MFSB band of session musicians. The song, with an impassioned vocal by Alston and a memorable opening rap by Lovett, quickly became a #1 chart-topper on both the Billboard Pop and R&B charts. It also became only the second single ever to go platinum.
Taylor left in 1976 to concentrate on his conversion to Islam, (but died in 1987 after a long illness). The group continued as a quartet and hit it big again in March of 1980, with the release of "Shining Star", which reached #5 on the Billboard pop charts and #4 on the R & B chart. Produced and co-written by established Chicago producer, Leo Graham, it received a Grammy award the following year.
The group's largest shake-up occurred in 1990, when Blue Lovett left due to health problems, and Kenny Kelley returned to college, for his PhD. Bivins, now the only original member left, took over management of the group. He recruited new members Alvin Pazant, Harsey Hemphill, and Charles Hardy. This brought the group back to a quintet. Harris proved to be only a short-term lead, however, as he left in 1991, and was replaced by new lead Wade Taylor. Taylor also only remained for a short time, leaving just a few months later. Bivins then recruited Lee Williams, the person who they had originally wanted to replace George Smith.
For what would be their 30th reunion, former member Blue Lovett decided to return to the music scene with his own Manhattans in 1995, bringing back Gerald Alston to be lead in his group. They are currently a quartet with Troy May and David Tyson, brother of The Temptations' Ron Tyson. In the past, the group also featured Eban Brown, now the lead of The Stylistics. This group has also released some CDs, including Even Now. This group was featured in two PBS specials. [wikipedia]