The Story and the Music of The Esquires


Introduction to The Esquires

The Esquires were an R&B/doo-wop vocal group hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin; originally they had been a family act. They were know for their hit “Get On Up” during the mid-60s music era. Siblings Gilbert, Alvis and Betty Moorer formed the Esquires in 1957 while still in high school. The group had undergone several changes before Betty departed, and the final lineup consisted of brothers Gilbert and Alvis Moorer, as well as Sam Pace and Shawn Taylor. Trying their luck for a recording contract, they first auditioned for Curtis Mayfield, who bore no interest to sign them up. Then the Esquires attempted to approach the Constellation Records, but the label was headed for closure due to financial troubles in 1966. Finally, the quartet got to sign with Constellation’s successor, a new record label named Bunky whose distributor was Scepter Records. The Esquires’ first single “Get on Up” became a national smash in 1967, charting high on both the Hot 100 and the R&B charts. The success led the Esquires to play at big venues such as Chicago’s Regal Theater and New York’s Apollo Theater. The band’s following singles were also considerable successes including “And Get Away” and “You’ve Got the Power”. Next, they signed up directly to Scepter, which released their subsequent records on its subsidiary imprint, Wand. A year after, the Esquire returned to Bunky, and then moved to a major label, Capitol Records where they issued a single “Reach Out.” They later jumped to Lamarr label where they recorded “Girls in the City” which became a Top 20 R&B, and finally to Ju-par where they re-recorded their biggest hit titled “Get on Up ’76”.

Meet The Esquires

The R&B/doo-wop group The Esquires were formerly called as Betty Moorer and the Esquires, consisting of the Moorer siblings Gilbert (born Gilbert Moorer Jr. August 20, 1941), Alvis (born Alvis V. Moorer, January 18, 1940) and Betty who was the female in the group. They were formed in 1957 and originated in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was later shortened to The Esquires when Betty, their lead singer, left the group; however, Sam Pace (born Sammie L. Pace, September 22, 1944) was added as a tenor. Throughout the decade, The Esquires had been into several personnel changes, trying to achieve popularity within their area. 

The Esquires’ recording journey

Moving to Chicago in 1966, The Esquires joined an audition organized by Curtis Mayfield,  the legendary singer-songwriter and record producer. However, Mayfield was not really giving them attention. Then the Esquires tried to get signed to Constellation Records, unfortunately, the label was about to close by the end of that year. Instead, they ended up with Constellation’s successor Bunky Records whose national distributor was Scepter Records.

In 1967, The Esquires released their debut single “Get on Up” that would become a big hit nationwide. The song charted at #11 and #3 on the pop and R&B charts, respectively. Immediately after the single was released, the Esquires had the opportunity to perform at several important venues such as Chicago’s Regal Theater and in the prestigious Apollo Theater in New York City. They also had several hits after the “Get on Up” fame such as “And Get Away” (#22 pop, #9 R&B, 1967), “You’ve Got the Power” (#91, pop, #29 R&B, 1968) and “Girls in the City” (#18 R&B, Lamarr Records, 1971).

On August 28, 2008, Gilbert Moorer was claimed by throat cancer. He was 67 years old. Sam Pace died at the age of 68 after battling his illness on January 7, 2013. Edwards was the only the living Esquire remaining. He now resides in Chicago.

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