Chairmen of the Board was an American soul group mostly active during the 70s music era. Their famous hits include “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” “Pay to the Piper,” “(You’ve Me) Dangling on the String,” and “Everything’s Tuesday.” They are considered one of the most popular and smoothest soul acts to originate from Detroit, Michigan, and their soul and R&B hits have now become oldies music classics. More on the Chairmen of the Board in this article!
Chairmen of the Board was started by singer-songwriter and the group’s front man General Johnson (born General Norman Johnson on May 23 1941 – died on October 13, 2010). He had been to other groups, most notably the Showmen, whose most memorable song is “It Will Stand” in 1961.
He decided to leave the Showmen for a solo career during the late 1960s. Then he moved to Detroit, Michigan where he signed with Invictus, a record label started by the legendary songwriting/producing team of Holland/Dozier/Holland (aka HDH) who had just left Motown Records. At Invictus, Johnson formed a new group which also consisted of other members: Danny Woods (his band mate at the Showmen), Harrison Kennedy (formerly of the Stone Soul Children), and Eddie Curtis (or Custis), who previously sang with Huey Smith and the Clowns as well as Lee Andrews and the Hearts. Initially the group was named the Gentlemen but the name was later changed to Chairmen of the Board.
Although all of the members sang, it was Johnson who was more prominent in his role as a lead vocalist of the group. The Chairmen of the Board’s debut single “Give Me Just a Little More Time” (written by Holland/Dozier/Holland and songwriter/A&R man Ron Dunbar) became a transatlantic hit. Released in late 1969, it rose to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #8 on the Billboard R&B charts in early 1970. It also went to #3 on the UK singles chart that same year. It sold over a million copies and was certified gold. It album, also titled Chairmen of the Board, peaked at #133 on the Billboard 200 and #27 on the R&B album chart.
They also scored other hits during the early 70s music era: “(You’ve Got Me) Dangling on a String,” (#38 pop, #19 R&B), “Everything’s Tuesday” ((#38 pop, #14 R&B) and “Pay to the Piper” (#42 pop, #10 R&B) as well as other minor chart placings such as “Chairman of the Board,” “Hanging on to a Memory,” “Try on My Love for Size,” “Men Are Getting Scarce,” etc. Gradually, Johnson came out of his own as the group’s primary songwriter.
By the time their second album In Session was released, Curtis quit the group. Kennedy, Woods and Johnson embarked on their solo careers while still in the group. But Kennedy finally left the group though, while Johnson and Woods continued to record and tour with other musicians, still as Chairmen of the Board. In 1976 the group members parted ways, and Johnson embarked on a solo career.
Re-formation and “second career”
However, two years after the Chairmen of the Board broke up, Johnson re-formed the group with newer members Danny Woods and Ken Knox. The group also established their own label Surfside Records, which is based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Over the next two decade the tour held successful concert tours especially in the southeastern US.
Johnston remained the group’s front man until his death in 2010.