James Keyes

About James Keyes

b. c.30s, Kentucky, USA, d. 22 July 1995, New York City, New York, USA. After growing up in Kentucky, Keyes moved to the Bronx, New York, in 1947, where he formed his first vocal group, the Four Notes. This band eventually evolved into the Tunestoppers, with Carl Feaster, Claude Feaster, Floyd McCrae, James Edwards and Rupert Branker appearing alongside him. They signed to the Atlantic Records subsidiary label Cat, and in March 1954, now billed as the Chords, recorded ‘Sh-Boom’, co-written by Keyes. An R&B/doo-wop song that also crossed over into the pop charts, it was considered by many as one of the first rock ‘n’ roll hits. It reached number 5 on the Billboard charts, while a cover version by the Crewcuts made number 1. However, the Chords never enjoyed another hit single, and in the late 60s Keyes joined soul band the Popular Five. Again, success eluded him, despite several singles for Mr Chand and Minit Records. However, recurrent interest in ‘Sh-Boom’ led to Keyes re-forming the Chords with Carl Feaster in the late 70s. When Feaster died in 1981 Keyes opted to keep the group on the oldies circuit, employing various sidemen. He suffered a brain aneurysm in 1995, and died following an operation in New York.

Kentucky, United States
May 22, 1930
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