b. Lou Ragland, 18th July 1942, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.
d. 19th August 2020, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.
Lou Ragland was born in 1942 in Cleveland, Ohio.
His first musical break was when Kim Tolliver help launch his musical career.
Never Let Me Go b/w Party At Lesters - 1964 / I Travel Alone b/w Big Wheel - 1967
Lou's first release came in 1964, entitled 'Never Let Me Go b/w Party At Lesters' on the Cleveland based Way Out label.
The single was released under the group name Lou Ragland & The Bandmasters.
It was in Cleveland the Lou met and befriended Edwin Starr in 1964.
When Starr moved away from Cleveland, Lou got a deal with Bell Records and in 1967 he released on their Amy subsiduary, 'I Travel Alone' b/w 'Big Wheel'.
Although the track didn't make the impact it deserved, it later became popular on the U.K. Northern Soul Scene.
In 1968, he formed the Saru Record label and became the label's Vice President.
Although with Saru, Lou released his next single on Way Out.
'Red Robin' b/w 'I've Got Something Going On' was followed in 1970 by 'We Had The Love' b/w 'Good For The Gander'.
His first album came in 1971 with 'Lou Ragland And Hot Chocolate' on Coco Cleveland Records.
By 1973, he landed a major deal with Warner Brothers and enjoyed national distribution with the single 'Since You Said You'd Be Mine' b/w 'I Didn't Mean To Leave You'.
Lou left Warners and teamed up with SMH Records where his 1974 single 'What Should I Do' b/w 'Understand Each Other' was released.
hot chocolate - 1971 / understand each other - 1978 / and the great lakes orchestra - 1983 / the prime time gospel - 1986
His second album was released on the same label and was entitled 'Understand Each Other' in 1978.
In 1979 Lou became one of the Directors of Great Lakes Records, who were responsible for the Jan Jones tune 'Independent Woman'.
After recession hit Cleveland, Lou moved to Las Vegas, where he set up Casino Records.
Here he released the single 'This Night Is For Loving' b/w 'Didn't I Tell You' under the name of Lou And The Great Lakes Orchestra.
In 1983, Lou was invited, by his long time friend, Edwin Starr to join on the Ric Tic Revue Tour of the UK.
It was on this tour that Lou discovered the high regard that UK fans had for him and his music.
He returned to Las Vegas and released a cassette album entitled 'Lou Ragland And The Great Lakes Orchestra'.
The band continued to record releasing the EP 'Love Moods', on the Casino label, in 1984.
1985 saw the death of Lou's long time friend RC Johnson, who was one of the original members of Hot Chocolate.
Following this, Lou moved more into gospel music producing and writing for various artists and released a further album, for the Spirit label entitled 'The Prime Time Gospel'.
Later in 1986, Lou joined The Inkspots and toured with them as lead for a while.
In 1988, Lou became Company President at Casino records and released 'Romancing You' that year.
i travel alone (3 cd box set) - 2012
The album 'Understand Each Other' was re-issued in 2002 on the Soul Brother Records label in the U.K.
In 2012, the Numero Group released a three-CD box set retrospective of Lou's work (covering the Hot Chocolate era, along with solo material), entitled 'I Travel Alone'.
Lou passed away, at his home, in Nevada, in 2020.
Lou Ragland And Hot Chocolate (Coco-Cleveland Records 1971)
Understand Each Other (SMH Records Records 1978)
Lou Ragland And The Great Lakes Orchestra (Casino Records Records 1983)
The Prime Time Gospel (Spirit Records Records 1986)
Romancing You (Casino Records Records 1988)
Understand Each Other (Soul Brother Records 2002)
Lou Ragland Is The Conveyor (Soul Brother Records 2002)
I Travel Alone (Numero Group Records 2012)
top of the page