The Jive Five is an American doo-wop/R&B/soul combo that has gone through lineup changes. They were first formed in New York in the late 50s. During the early 60s music era their first single, “My True Story” gave them their first hit. The group took another shape in its lineup after the death of its original member, Jerome Hanna. In 1965 they scored another hit with “I’m A Happy Man.” They also switched names, such as “Shadow” and “Ebony, Ivory and the Jades” when they recorded under different labels. In 1978, they switched back to being “The Jive Five” and continued performing, including singing the a capella number for the kids’ TV network Nickelodeon. Throughout the course of the band’s career, Eugene Pitt has remained the constant member. At least they’ve somehow avoided being tagged as “one-hit wonders.”
The life and music of The Jive Five
Best remembered by their 1961 smash hit “My True Story,” The Jive Five was an American doo-wop group formed in the late 1950’s, originating in Brooklyn, New York. The lineup consisted of Eugene Pitt, Jerome Hanna, Richard Harris, Thurmon Prophet and Norman Johnson. They later reformed due to the Hanna’s death 1962; he was replaced by Andre Coles. Pitt and Johnson remained in the lineup and added two new members Casey Spencer and Beatrice Best.
The Jive Five with “My True Story” and other releases
The Five Jive recorded their debut single called “My True Story” which would later be released in Beltone Records. It became the group’s first single and first hit, peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 while it was a chart-topper on the R&B chart. Co-written by Pitt and Oscar Waltzer, the song became a fixture on several “oldies but goodies” radio stations.
“My True Story” was followed by lesser Billboard pop hits such as “Never Never” (#74, 1961), “These Golden Rings” (1962), “Hully Gully Callin’ Time” (1962) and “What Time Is It” (#67, 1962) and “Rain” (1963). However, in 1965, The Jive Five switched to United Artists Records where they had the Billboard Top 40 hit “I’m Happy Man” which peaked at #36. It also reached at #25 on the R&B chart. Moving to Decca imprint in 1970, they released their last and final single “I Want You to Be My Baby.” The Jive Five also had recording stints on labels Musicor, Eric and Avco. In 1974, they cut a song for Chess Records called “Shadow.” The next year, under the name “Ebony, Ivory and the Jades,” they recorded for Columbia Records as well.
Life after The Jive Five and their reunions
With the lineup of Pitt, Spencer, Best and Harris, The Jive Five reunited in 1974. In 1982, they reunited once again with the formation Pitt, Best, Charles Mitchell and Pitt’s brothers’ Herbert and Frank. Another reunion happened in the late 1990’s with Pitt, Best, Harold Gill, Maurice Unthank, Art Loria and Daniel Loria who filled in for Best who was then in poor health.
The New York TV branding consultants Fred Seibert and Alan Goodman hired Eugene Pitt and the group to work for the American kid’s television network Nickelodeon. They made the signature sound of the station and numerous jingles, singing in cappella doo-wop style. The group stayed in Nickelodeon for almost ten years.
The Jive Five performed from 2000 to 2006 with Unthank (as the bandleader), Pitt, Best, Art Loria, Danny Loria and Harold Gilly. In 2003, they released the Christmas album “It’s Christmas.”
In 2010, The Five Jive was still performing, along with Frank Pitt, Casey Spencer, Beatrice Best, Herbert Pitt and Eugene Pitt who was already 72 years old. Best died on September 15, 2014.