Introduction to the Cadets
The Cadets are a doo-wop group, formed in Los Angeles in the late 1940s.They started as a gospel group, and when they auditioned for Modern Records, they were accepted by the label who gave them the name The Cadets. The label then bestowed them with an alternate name The Jacks for its subsidiary label RPM. 1955’s “Why Don’t You Write Me?” was their first charting single, which broke into both R&B and Hot 100. But their following single in 1956, “Stranded in the Jungle” was (and remains) their biggest hit to date. In 1957, the group disbanded. After members of the group parted ways for their individual careers (Collins and Davis became members of the Flairs, Foxx took up post as a guitar instructor in his studio, Jones joined another group the Coasters), they reunited in the late 1990s, along with a new-ish member Tommy Turner. Jones and Davis both passed away.
From The Soul Seekers to The Cadets
The Cadets are an American R&B/doo-wop/rock and roll vocal group, formed in Los Angeles, California in the late 1940s. They orignially consisted of Lloyd McCraw, Willie Davis, Austin “Ted” Taylor, Aaron Collis, Glendon Kingsby and Will “Dub” Jones – Pete Foxx would later replace McCraw, and Prentice Moreland would take over Taylor’s duties.
The group first got together as a gospel group calling themselves as the Santa Monica Soul Seekers. In 1955, the group won in an audition for Modern Records. With the exception of Kingsby, who chose to continue to sing gospel, the group decided to shift to R&B. It was Modern who thought up of the name The Cadets.
“Why Don’t You Write Me” — the group’s first charting single; The Cadets as also The Jacks
The Cadets’ first-ever single was their cover of Nappy Brown’s “Don’t Be Angry,” sung by Collins (b/w “I Cry,” which was performed by Taylor). The group followed with several more singles, including their rendition of “Why Don’t You Write Me?” by the Feathers. It was sung by Davis. To keep themselves distinct from the Cadet, they released “Why Don’t You Write Me” on Modern’s subsidiary label RPM Records under the other name “The Jacks.”
“Why Don’t You Write Me” charted on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B singles chart, at #82 and #3, respectively. The group continued to issue singles as the Cadets on Modern, and The Jacks on RPM.
In late 1955 McCraw left the band, to be replaced by Pete Fox (or Foxx). Under a new management, the group continued to churn out singles. Taylor left to pursue a solo career, to be replaced by Prentice Moreland.
The group’s biggest hits with “Stranded in the Jungle”
In 1956, the band achieved their biggest hit with their cover of the Jay Hawks hit “Stranded in the Jungle.” The spoken verses were performed by Dub Jones, with the refrain performed in a duet by Davis and Collins, while Moreland pronounced the “Great googly googly, get me outta here!” line. It was the biggest hit for the band, peaking at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #4 on the R&B singles chart that year. But it was to be the Cadets’ sole major hit, so they could be considered as one-hit wonders.
The group’s disbandment, individual members’ careers, and reunion
The Cadets continued to record under both names but toured only as The Cadets even though they also performed songs by the Jacks. They also released albums under both names as well. Although they no longer hit the charts again, the group were still busy touring.
Different events happened upon the band members. At the end of 1957, the group disbanded. The following year Jones joined the Coasters where he stayed for the next nine years. In 1961 Collins and Davis joined the Flairs (not to be confused with The Flares). Taylor, who had already left the group, enjoyed his own solo career as a soul, blues and gospel singer. Meanwhile, Foxx became a guitar instructor and he still continues to conduct guitar lessons in Los Angeles.
The group reunited in the late 1990s (with recent member Tommy Turner), and in 2001 made their appearance on a television special called Doo Woop 51. Additional trivia related to Collins: his sisters Betty and Rose formed an act called The Teen Queens who also recorded for the Cadets’ old labels Modern and RPM. Jones died of stroke in 2000 – Davis would also pass away eleven years later.