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the stylistics

The Stylistics

The Stylistics were the perfect example of the term 'Sweet Soul', during the early Seventies.

Their association with Thom Bell and Linda Creed produced some of Soul Music's finest songs covering the previous half century.

At various times, the Stylistics line-up featured:

Russell Thompkins, Jr. (b. 21st March 1951, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. - 1968–2000)

James Dunn (b. 4th February 1950, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. - 1968–1980)

Herbie Murrell (b. 27th April 1949, Lane, South Carolina, U.S.A. - 1968–present)

James Smith (b. 16th June 1950, New York City, New York, U.S.A. - 1968–1980)

Airrion Love (b. 8th August 1949, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. - 1968–present)

Raymond Johnson (1980–1986)

Harold Eban Brown (b. 14th June 1972, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A. - 2000–present)

Van Fields (b. 12th November 1952, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. - 2000–present)

The Stylistics were originally formed by the merging of certain members of the two Philadelphia based groups, The Percussions and The Monarchs.

Russell Thompkins Jr., James Smith, and Airron Love sang with the Monarchs, whilst James Dunn and Herbie Murrell vocalised with the Percussions.

The Monarchs overcame the Percussions in a talent show at the Benjamin Franklin High School at one time.

They were formed in 1968, and signed to the AVCO imprint.

The Stylistics

AVCO approached Thom Bell, who had been previously working with the group the Delfonics, with a view to him providing writing input for their new signings.

They auditioned for Thom, particularly seeing potential in the lead vocalist, Russell Thompkins Jr. and began working with the group.

In 1970, the Stylistics recorded 'You're a Big Girl Now', a song penned their road manager Marty Bryant and Robert Douglas, a member of their backing band called Slim and the Boys.

The song was released on the Sebring Records and AVCO Embassy labels, and was recorded in the Virtue Studios in Philadelphia.

After the move to AVCO, the single reached number seven in the charts in early 1971.

The first tune recorded with Thom Bell and Linda Creed was 'Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)', a tune later covered by Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye, amongst other artists.

The StylisticsRound 2You're A Big Girl NowRockin' Roll BabyLet's Put It All TogetherFrom The Mountain

the stylistics - 1971 / round 2 - 1972 / you're a big girl now - 1972/45 / rockin' roll baby - 1973 / let's put it all together - 1974 / from the mountain - 1975

'Betcha by Golly, Wow' was then released, reaching number 3 on the U.S. charts, followed by the evergreen tunes 'I'm Stone in Love with You', 'Break Up To Make Up' (U.S. number 5), 'You Make Me Feel Brand New' (also featuring the vocals of Airron Love), 'You Are Everything', 'You'll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart)' and 'Rockin' Roll Baby' (which reached number 14 on the national charts).

'You Make Me Feel Brand New' became the group's biggest U.S. hit, reaching number 2 on the charts in 1974.

Thom Bell & Linda Creed

thom bell and linda creed

The period in which the group collaborated with Thom Bell and Linda Creed, saw almost constant chart success, being seen by many as the groups golden period.

Three classic Soul albums were released with this particular team, namely:

'The Stylistics' (in 1971 - featuring 'Stop, Look Listen (To Your Heart)', 'Betcha By Golly Wow', 'You Are Everything' and 'People Make The World Go Round')

'Round 2' (in 1972 - featuring 'I'm Stone In Love With You', 'If You Don't Watch Out', 'Children Of The Night', 'You'll Never Get To Heaven (If You Break My Heart)', Break Up To Make Up' and 'You're As Right As Rain')


'Rockin' Roll Baby' (in 1973 - featuring 'Rockin Roll Baby', 'Payback Is A Dog' and 'You Make Me Feel Brand New').

When The Stylistics and Thom Bell parted company in 1974, the group's chart consistency suffered.

HeavyThank You BabyYou Are BeautifulFabulous

heavy - 1974 / thank you baby - 1975 / you are beautiful - 1975 / fabulous - 1976

They began working with the producers Hugo and Luigi, along with Van McCoy, having some success with the songs 'Hey Girl, Come and Get It' in 1975 and 'Can't Give You Anything (But My Love)', which charted at number one in the U.K. the same year.

As the U.S. market began to be somewhat disheartened with the poppier new sound, the group's popularity increased in the U.K.

Further U.K. chart hits followed, including 'Na Na is the Saddest Word', 'Funky Weekend', 'Sing Baby Sing' and 'Can't Help Falling in Love'.

They left AVCO and moved, briefly to the Amherst label, before moving on to the H&L imprint during 1976, however, the songs lacked the substance of previous offerings, and with trends changing, Russell Thompkins Jnr. was becoming restless within the group.

Once Upon A JukeboxSun & SoulIn FashionWonder Woman

once upon a jukebox - 1976 / sun & soul - 1977 / in fashion - 1978 / wonder woman - 1978

At the end of the decade James Dunn departed due to health problems (in 1978), and James Smith left soon afterwards.

In 1980 they were recruited to the TSOP / Philadelphia International stable, which resulted in some improved recording, but problems within the company undermined the group's progress.

Black SatinLove SpellThe Lion Sleeps TonightHurry Up This Way AgainCloser Than Close1982

black satin - 1979 / love spell - 1979 / the lion sleeps tonight - 1979 / hurry up this way again - 1980 / closer than close - 1981 / the stylistics 1982 - 1982

The highlight of this period was the Dexter Wansel produced song (and album) 'Hurry Up This Way Again', which although only a minor R & B hit, became highly regarded by purists in later years.

Some Tghings Never ChangeA Special StyleLove TalkLove Is Back In Style

some things never change - 1985 / a special style - 1985 / love talk - 1991 / love is back in style - 1996

The Stylistics continued to release albums, recruiting Raymond Johnson to their ranks, and releasing the album 'Some Things Never Change', in 1985.

Raymond Johnson's stay proved short-lived and the group became a trio of vocalists, Airron Love, Herb Murrell, and Russell Thompkins Jnr., who continued to tour until the end of the Nineties.

As the new millennium kicked in, Russell Thompkins, Jr. departed the group.

Airron Love and Herb Murrell recruited two new members, Harold 'Eban' Brown, as the new lead and the tenor, Van Fields.

By 2004, Russell Thompkins, Jr. formed the New Stylistics, whose line up featured Raymond Johnson (for a second stint), James Ranton, and Jonathan Buckson.

In October 2009, this version of the group performed on the 'Friday Night with Jonathan Ross' on the BBC in the U.K.

'People Make the World Go Round' also featured in the Spike Lee movie vehicle 'Crooklyn', during 1994 (a song covered by many artists including Angela Bofill).

The Stylistics

Real Player


The Stylistics (Avco Records 1971)

Round 2: The Stylistics (Avco Records 1972)

Rockin' Roll Baby (Avco Records 1973)

Let's Put It All Together (Avco Records 1974)

From The Mountain (Avco Records 1975)

Thank You Baby (Avco Records 1975)

You Are Beautiful (Avco Records 1975)

Fabulous (H&L Records 1976)

Once Upon A Juke Box (H&L Records 1976)

Sun And Soul (H&L Records 1977)

Spotlight (H&L Records 1977)

Wonder Woman (H&L Records 1978)

In Fashion (H&L Records 1978)

Black Satin (H&L Records 1979)

Love Spell (Mercury Records 1979)

Live In Japan (Flyover Records 1979)

The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Dash Records 1979)

Hurry Up This Way Again (TSOP/ Philadelphia International Records 1980)

Closer Than Close (MOP/Philadelphia International Records 1981)

1982 (TSOP/Philadelphia International Records 1982)

Some Things Never Change (Streetwise Records 1985)

A Special Style (Streetwise Records 1985)

Love Talk (Amherst Records 1991)

Christmas (Amherst Records 1992)

Love Is Back In Style (Marathon Records 1996)

In Concert 2005 (Brilliant Records 2008)

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