The Funk Music of Bloodstone


Introduction to Bloodstone

Bloodstone is a American funk/R&B/soul act formed in Kansas City, Missouri during the early 1960s. Led by guitarist and lead singer Charles Love, they were initially a doo-wop group, but as the years followed Bloodstone had begun to change gears and evolve to become one of the most recognizable acts during funk’s and “black rock”‘s golden era. They only got to experience astronomical commercial success and popularity during the 70s music scene, with hits and now-oldies music classic songs such as “Natural High,” “Never Let You Go,” “Outside Woman,” and “My Little Lady.” By the mid-70s though, their popularity began to slide down. They attempted to stage a comeback in the 1980s but their success on the charts was pretty much short-lived. However, they have to perform live and record up to the present. More on Bloodstone here in this article.

From a vocal doo-wop group to an instrument-wielding band

High schoolers formed a doo-wop group called The Sinceres around 1962. By the late 1960s they found themselves in Las Vegas, Nevada performing their usual doo-wop/soul repertoire at local clubs and lounges. Then they headed off to Los Angeles, California as they continued to search for greener pastures.

While they were in L.A., they wanted to learn to play instruments, and did so. Eventually they made a radical transition from a mere vocal group into a real band. By the early 1970s, the lineup consisted of lead singer and guitarist Charles Love (born in Salina, Kansas, in 1945), bassist Charles McCormick, guitarist Willis Draffen and drummer/percussionist Harry Williams.

Becoming a legitimate funk-soul band

The group received no interest, however, from several record companies in Los Angeles. So through the advice of their manager, Bloodstone flew to London, England in 1971 in hopes of making it big.

While in London, the group encountered the renowned producer Mike Vernon, who’d handled the works of other artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Savoy Brown and Chicago pianist Savoy Brown. Vernon produced the song “Natural High” which was written by the band’s bassist McCormick. Released as a single on London Records label in 1973, “Natural High” became the group’s first and biggest hit yet, peaking at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #4 on the R&B singles chart that year. It also peaked at #20 on Billboard’s adult contemporary chart, and #40 on the UK chart; it received wide airplay on Radio Luxembourg in particular.

The album, also titled Natural High, went to #2 on the R&B albums chart and #30 on the Billboard 200.

Bloodstone followed this with other hits such as “Never Let You Go” (#43 pop, #7 R&B), “Outside Woman” (#34 pop, #2 R&B), “That’s Not How It Goes,” (#82 pop, #22 R&B), and “My Little Lady,” (#57 pop, #4 R&B), among others. Their albums Unreal, I Need Time, Riddle of the Sphinx, and Do You Wanna Do a Thing? became hits on both pop and R&B albums chart.

The success and popularity of Bloodstone put them in the position as being one of the major forces of funk and so-called “black rock” movement in the 1970s.

Soldiering on and their present career

Their popualrity and success on the chart began to slide by the 1980s. They attempted to come back by signing to a new label T-Neck (owned by the Isley Brothers) and having a moderately successful album and single, both named “We Go a Long Way Back,” Bloodstone’s reign on the charts, however, were pretty much over by then.

Despite that, Bloodstone still soldiered on, with all the original members still intact until the deaths of Draffen in 2002 and Love in 2014. Bloodstone now consists of Williams, McCormick, and most recent member Donald Brown.

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