Alvin Cash and the Crawlers was a group consisting of Alvin Cash (1939-1999) and his brothers. From his hometown in St. Louis, Missouri, Cash and his three brothers moved to Chicago, Illinois where they eventually got signed to One-der-ful Records. Their biggest was a single called “Twine Time,” which was released on One-der-ful’s Mar-V-Lus subsidiary imprint. It went to the Top 20 of both pop and R&B singles charts during the early 60s music era. After a few more singles with the Crawlers, Cash went solo, and also acted occasionally. He died in 1999 from ulcer problems. More on Alvin Cash and the Crawlers in this article.
Alvin Cash and the Crawlers’ career
Alvin Cash and the Crawlers was an R&B group formed and fronted by Alvin Cash, of course.
Cash was born Alvin Welch in St. Louis, Missouri on February 15, 1939. He finished high school at the local Sumner High School where other famous R&B artists such as Luther Ingram, Tina Turner and Billy Davis also studied.
In 1962 Welch and his brothers relocated to Chicago, Illinois, in hopes to break into show business. Originally, Welch — who would call himself Alvin Cash as a stage name — and his brothers were a dance act. To survive, they had dance for tips. They were discovered by Andre Williams (no, not Andy Williams) an artist, songwriter and record producer who was employed at One-der-ful Records. At the time of the group’s discovery, they were called the Crawlers.
Williams had Alvin Cash and the Crawlers record a tune entitled “Twine Time,” which he wrote with Verlie Rice. It was then released on Mar-V-Lus, One-der-ful’s subsidiary imprint. It became a big hit both on the pop and R&B singles charts at #14 and #3 respectively. On the single’s record, the artist was listed as Alvin Cash and the Crawlers, although it’s still disputed if Cash’s brothers actually took part on the record. But Cash’s backing band, the Nightlighters, did record the single with him.
The Nightlighters eventually changed their name into the Crawlers and toured together with Cash.
Although Alvin Cash and the Crawlers never scored another hit that had the magnitude of “Twine Time,” they went on to have minor hits up to 1968: “The Barracuda” (#59 pop, #29 R&B), “Un-Wind the Twine” (#134 pop), “The Philly Freeze” (#49 pop, #12 R&B) and “Alvin’s Boo-Ga-Loo” (#74 pop, #42 R&B). However, these songs still capture the hearts of the oldies music fans.
Alvin Cash’s later life and career
After Cash’s tenure with the Crawlers, he embarked on a solo career. His first charting single was 1968’s “Keep on Dancing.” In the 1970s he released an album which was a tribute to legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. Its single, “Ali Shuffle,” went to #51 on the British singles chart in 1977. He also acted for a time, with his best-known work being Petey Wheatstraw and a few other “blaxploitation” movies.
Cash continued to perform in Chicago until he died there from stomach ulcer on November 21, 1999. He was 60 years old.