Meet The Sylvers [PHOTOS, VIDEOS]
When you think of a family band, you instantly think of the Jacksons. But, they were not the only all-family band on the music scene in the 1970s! Meet the Sylvers!!
This family act started out in Memphis, Tennessee, but would relocate to Los Angeles.
In the early years, the four oldest Sylvers siblings (Olympia, Leon, Charmaine, and James) recorded as The Little Angels. They also appeared on 1950’s TV shows “Make Room For Daddy,” and Groucho Marx’s “You Bet Your Life.” On stage, they were an opening act for Johnny Mathis and Ray Charles! During this time, two singles were released: “Santa Claus Parade” and “Says You.”
In 1972 Edmund and Ricky joined the act (as seen above, at full strength, 9 Sylvers would sing in the band). The Little Angels officially became The Sylvers. The newly-named band would release three albums on the MGM label between 1972 and 1974, called: The Sylvers, The Sylvers 2, and The Sylvers 3!
“Fool’s Paradise” reached #14 on the pop charts in the Fall of 1972.
“Wish That I Could Talk to You” was the next single, and in early 1973, it became the siblings’ first top-10 hit!
In 1975 Foster, Angie, and Pat joined their older brothers and sisters, and signed an exclusive contract with Capitol Records, the same label they recorded on as The Little Angels. Now nine members strong (as mentioned above), Capitol teamed the family with legendary R&B producer Freddie Perren (who also, coincidentally, produced the Jackson 5). The marriage paid off immediately, as Perren, with co-writer Keni St. Lewis produced the two-million seller “Boogie Fever.”
“Boogie Fever,” one of “Jersey’s Favorite Hits” would go to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the R & B charts!
This would be followed by “Cotton Candy,” which would struggle to #59 in early 1976.
At this time, the group began playing their own instruments for certain live performances, with Ricky on guitar, James on piano, Edmund on drums, and Leon playing bass guitar.
The Sylver’s next single, “Hotline,” would redeem them…it became a #5 record later in 1976.
“High School Dance” would reach #17 in 1977. These two singles firmly entrenched the siblings in the bubble-gum, teeny-bopper demo! Charmaine would leave the Sylvers.
A round of changes would result: In an effort to reach a wider, more mature audience, The Sylvers (now down to seven, following Olympia’s retirement to have kids) decided not to re-team with Freddie Perren in the summer of 1977, and began writing and producing for themselves!
Despite positive reviews, the album, “New Horizons” was a commercial disappointment.
Undaunted, the family went right back into the studio and, with Leon as producer, recorded what would become their most critically acclaimed album “Forever Yours.”
Capitol Records did not like the new sound, and rejected the album! The Sylvers shopped it around, and by mid-1978, had signed with Casablanca Records. At the same time Leon would become the in-house producer for the new “Solar” label from “Soul Train” founder and host Don Cornelius! Leon would be associated with Shalamar, The Whispers (remember “Rock Steady”), Lakeside, and Dynasty (he became a member of Dynasty).
With brother Leon at Solar, the rest of the Sylvers (still at Casablanca) teamed up with Oscar-winning disco producer Giorgio Moroder (“The Chase” from the movie “Midnight Express). Moroder also produced records for Donna Summer!
The 1979 Sylvers album “Disco Fever” was the result. The first single, “Mahogany (Do You Know)” was big at the clubs, and got a lot of play on disco stations…but followups went nowhere. Solo efforts by both Edmund and Charmaine also fell flat.
The Sylvers appeared in the 1979 film “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.” Check your “On Demand” on a rainy day….
With the disco backlash of the early 1980s, so went the fortunes of The Sylvers. After several unsuccessful album releases, on several labels, the band officially disbanded in 1985.
Several Sylvers would continue to do studio work, playing and singing background vocals for artists including Janet Jackson.
Over the intervening years, the (surviving) members of The Sylvers would experience highs and lows in their personal and professional lives…
To find out what they’re up to now, click here!
Through the years, the band has consisted of: Olympia Ann (Olan), Leon, Charmaine, James, Edmund, Joseph Richard (Ricky), Angelia Marie (Angie), Patricia Lynn (Pat), and Foster!