Introduction to Lee Andrews (and the Hearts)
Lee Andrews was born Arthur Lee Andrew Thompson in Goldsboro, NC, the son of Beechie Thompson of the Dixie Hummingbirds gospel group. Lee’s family moved to Philadelphia, PA when he was two. Lee grew up at a time when the Philly Soul and Doo-Wop sound was created on the streets of Philadelphia. Doo-Wop was created when groups of three to six performers would sing by harmonizing rather than using musical instruments, since most of them could not afford them. Doo-Wop music became popular nationally with many Philadelphia groups being created. Lee’s group belonged to one of them which was originally called The Dreamers, but in 1954 he took his two middle names as his performing name and formed Lee Andrews and the Hearts. The group never really hit the big time but recorded on several different labels from 1952-1968 trying to. They did, however, have three Billboard Hot 100 hit songs in 1957 & 1958, “Long Lonely Nights (#45), Tear Drops (#20) & Try the Impossible (#33). Joining Lee during their successful two years on the charts were Ted Weems (baritone), Gerald Thompson (Piano), Roy Calhoun (first tenor), Tommy “Butch” Currey (second tenor), Wendell Calhoun (bass vocals) & John Young (bass guitar). Lee Andrews later formed a group called Lee Andrews and the Neons and also attempted a solo career without much success. Lee continues to have a large following and there are several Compilation albums of his available on iTunes and Amazon. Other Lee Andrews songs include: “The White Cliff of Dover,” “Personally,” “The Clock,” “Quiet As It’s Kept,” “You, You, You,” “Maybe You’ll Be There,” “Baby Come Back,” “Just Suppose,” “Boom,” “Why Do I,” “Nobody’s Home,” “I’ve Got a Right to Cry,” “A Night Like Tonight,” “P.S. I Love You,” “Aunt Jenny,” “Aisle of Love” and “Cold Gray Dawn.”
Lee Andrews’ early life
Best remembered by the 50s music era hit song “Long Lonely Nights,” Lee Andrews is a singer and leader of a former doo-wop group Lee Andrews and the Hearts. He was born Arthur Lee Andrew Thompson in 1938 in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Arthur is the son of Beechie Thompson of the Dixie Hummingbirds. At the age of two, he and his family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he spent most of his adolescence. He had his first group in 1952 called The Dreamers, consisting four of his friends at Bertram High School named Roy Calhoun (first tenor), Butch Curry (second tenor), Jimmy McAlister (baritone) and John Young (bass). Around that time, The Dreamers later became The Hearts, comprising of Arthur, Roy Calhoun (first tenor), Butch Curry (second tenor), Jimmy McAlister (baritone) and John Young (bass). The group started performing gospel music, being influenced by Butch’s aunt but soon switched to secular music and recorded several songs for a short while.
The start of the of Lee Andrews and the Hearts
in 1954, The Dreamers passed the audition for Kae Williams, a Philadephia deejay who later became their manager. When they learned that there was already a group from California with the same name, they quickly changed it to The Hearts and included “Lee Andrews” along with it, Arthur’s middle name. 1955 was not a good year for them; they did not record any material, McCalister left the group and the contract they signed with Williams was invalid, for they were just minors when they signed the contract without their parents’ consent.
In 1956, McCalister was replaced by Ted Weens, and the group was later signed to Gotham Records where they cut three R&B singles which were not promoted by the label because Ivan Ballen (label owner) was more interested in gospel music. The next year, they made it to the then-new Mainline label after auditioning for its owner, disc jockey and manager Jocko Henderson. But since the record distribution was limited, major labels Atlantic and Chess took place. In 1957, Lee Andrew and The Hearts finally started recording their old Gotham material and achieved their first hit single with “Long, Lonely Knights,” peaking at #45 on the pop charts. It was followed by a bigger pop hit with “Tear Drops” which charted at #20. The group’s single for United Artists “Try the Impossible” became a hit as well, making to the pop charts at #33 in 1958.
After issuing four more singles for United Artists, Lee Andrews and The Hearts started to fall apart. Weems joined the US Army while Andrews pursued a solo career. He had numerous singles from several labels (Swan, Parkway and RCA) but saw no notable successes. The group Andrews left behind, now called the Five Hearts, continued to perform as the Five Hearts but hits dried up for them.
Andrews retired from the music business and started a dress shop.