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The Chi-Lites 1973 Promotional Photo. The photo is also used on the back album cover of "A Letter To Myself".
|Origin||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Associated acts||The Whispers, The Gap Band, Rufus, Earth, Wind and Fire, The O'Jays, The Lost Generation, The Emotions|
|Members||Marshall Thompson *|
|Past members||Robert "Squirrel" Lester*|
Creadel "Red" Jones*
David "Doc" Roberson
Anthony Reynard Watson (*)Original members
The group's greatest fame came during the early 1970s. They scored eleven Top Ten R&B hits from 1969 to 1974. They also charted 21 songs in the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Chart, and had chart hits in Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada, as well as in the U.S.
The group was formed in Chicago in the late 1950s while still in high school. The original members were lead singer Eugene Record, Robert "Squirrel" Lester, Clarence Johnson, Burt Bowen, and Eddie Reed of The Chanteurs. All attended Hyde Park High School except for Record who attended Englewood High School. The group performed at their High School "Senior Varieties" talent show. Soon after, they released a single entitled, "You've Got A Great Love" written by Johnson. Bowen left the group and was replaced by Solly McElroy of The Flamingos, who was soon replaced by Marshall Thompson of The Desideros. In 1960, Reed died and Thompson brought in Creadel "Red" Jones who was a member of The Desideros to replace him. In early 1964 the group changed their name to The Hi-Lites and released a song entitled, "I'm So Jealous" with Record on lead.
Noting that the name Hi-lites was already in use and wanting to honor their home town they changed their name to Marshall & The Chi-Lites" in 1964. Under their new name they recorded four songs entitled, "Pretty Girl" written by Record, who also was on lead, "Love Bandit" written by Jones with Thompson on lead, "Price of Love" and "Baby It's Time". Clarence Johnson left he group later that year, and their name was subsequently shortened to the Chi-Lites. Eugene Record was the musical group's sole songwriter and lead singer. Record never collaborated with members outside his singing group.
In 1968, the group meet with record producer Carl Davis and signed a contract with Brunswick Records out of Chicago. The Chi-Lites with members Record, Thompson, Lester and Jones recorded their first charting song, "Give It Away" written by Davis and Record. The single became a top ten Billboard R&B hit spending nine weeks on the chart and peaking at No. 10 on March 15, 1969.
Their major hits came in 1971 and 1972, "Have You Seen Her" and "Oh Girl", the latter becoming a #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 on May 27, 1972. Each sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. Other transatlantic chart hits followed, although their output became more fragmented as the group's personnel came and went. Bass singer Jones left in 1973, and was replaced in quick succession by Stanley Anderson, Willie Kinsey, and then Doc Roberson. Shortly thereafter, Eugene Record left, and David Scott and Danny Johnson entered. More personnel changes ensued, when Johnson was replaced by Vandy Hampton in 1977. The Chi-lites cut some tracks for the Inphasion label in 1979, which appeared on an obscure album for the Excello label.
In 1980, Thompson, Jones, and Lester re-formed the group. Lester was the lead singer. The new group continued using the Chi-Lites established name. Creadel Jones left for a second time in 1982, and the group would remain a trio. In 1983, the group released the critically acclaimed Bottoms Up album and achieved notable club and R&B chart success with the title track and "Changing For You." Released on LARC Records, the album was also released in the UK on the R&B label under the distribution wing of PRT. "Changing For You" album version was released in the UK as a 12" single which became popular in London clubs including Flicks in Dartford and The Goldmine in Canvey Island. "Changing For You" also remained on the Caister Weekender playlist for two years. "Changing For You" and the title track "Bottoms Up" were heavily played and promoted by UK Jazz Funk Soul DJ Robbie Vincent. An edited version of "Changing For You" entered the UK Charts and reached No. 61. Record left again in 1988, and new lead Frank Reed joined to replace him. Singer Anthony Reynard Watson replaced Reed later that year and the duty of lead vocals would alternate between Reed and Watson over the course of the next decade. (Lester took over singing lead on "Oh Girl", while Watson led on their other songs).
In 1997, while returning home from a concert in Pennsylvania, the Chi-Lites were involved in a serious car crash which resulted in both Reed and Thompson's wife Constance being ejected from the vehicle. Constance died from her injuries and Reed had to have a metal plate inserted in his back. "Hold On to Your Dreams" was included on the Help Wanted (Heroes are in Short Supply) album in Constance's honor. Reed was subsequently replaced once again by Watson until Watson's permanent departure in 2002.
The Chi-Lites had a big year in 2004. Their early 70s hit, "Are You My Woman," was remade by Beyonce Knowles as the across-the-board hit and Grammy winning, "Crazy In Love." And their 1974 song "That's How Long" was used as the backdrop for one of the cuts on Jay-Z's Black Album. Also, the group reunited with former lead Eugene Record for the March 2004 PBS Soul Music special and they sounded great. Record died in July 2005 after a long bout with cancer. Marshall Thompson and Squirrel Lester, along with more recent addition Frank Reed and the group's first female member, wife Tara Thompson, continued the Chi-Lites tradition, recording sporadically and touring unceasingly over the last two decades with other classic soul groups such as the Stylistics and Ray, Goodman and Brown. In 2005 the group released the single "Mother Love" and followed the next with a Christmas song. Lester died in January 2010, leaving Thompson the sole remaining founding member of the group. Lester was replaced by Fred Simon (formerly of the Lost Generation). Then, in February 2014, Reed died after an illness.
As of 2020, Thompson is continuing The Chi-Lites' legacy as the last surviving member.
The group was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 2000 and Record appeared with the group on stage to perform and accept the award. The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2005, and were honored with an induction into the R&B Music Hall of Fame on August 17, 2013 at the Waetejen Auditorium in Cleveland.
- Current members
- Marshall Thompson – 1959–present (born August 24, 1942, Chicago)
- Tara Thompson – 1998–present (born June 29, 1971, Chicago)
- Fred Simon – 2010–present (born May 29, 1951, Chicago)
- Mack Miller – 2014–present (born May 1, 1955, Chicago)
- Warren Tipton – 2018–present (born June 12, 1958, Gary, Indiana)
- Former members
- Robert "Squirrel" Lester – 1959–2010 (born August 16, 1942, McComb, Mississippi; died January 21, 2010, Chicago)
- Eugene Record – 1959–1973, 1980–1988 (born December 23, 1940, Chicago; died July 22, 2005, Chicago)
- Creadel "Red" Jones – 1959–1973, 1980–1982 (born September 26, 1940, St. Louis; died August 25, 1994)
- Clarence Johnson – 1959–1964
- Stanley Anderson – 1973
- Willie Kinsey – 1973
- David "Doc" Roberson – 1973
- David Scott – 1976–1980
- Danny Johnson – 1976–1977
- Vandy Hampton – 1976–1980
- Frank Reed – 1988, 1990–1993, 1996–1998, 2001–2014 (born September 16, 1954, Omaha, Nebraska; died February 26, 2014)
- Anthony Reynard Watson – 1988–1990, 1993–1996, 1998–2002 (born Mobile, Alabama)
- Marzette Griffin- 2015–2018 Chicago, IL
- December 18, 1971 / Season 1 Episode No. 12
- March 18, 1972 / Season 1 Episode No. 25
- March 31, 1973 / Season 2 Episode No. 24
- October 19, 1974 / Season 4 Episode No. 7
- February 28, 1976 / Season 5 Episode No. 28
- January 31, 1981 / Season 10 Episode No. 16
- April 17, 1982 / Season 11 Episode No. 20
- January 13, 1973 / Season 16 Episode No. 12
- April 6, 1974 / Season 17 Episode No. 31
- January 18, 1975 / Season 1 Episode No. 12
The Sammy Davis Jr. Show
- January 10, 1976 / Season 2 Episode No. 15
- September 21, 1973 / Season 2 Episode No. 2
Eugene Record performed "Have You Seen Her" on April 8, 1978.
Into The Night
- October 29, 1990 / Season 1 Episode No. 75
- "The Chi-Lites R&B Single Chart". Billboard. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
- "The Chi-Lites Pop Chart Singles". Billboard. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
- Ahmed, Neima (November 4, 2018). "The Chi-Lites (1959- ) •". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
- "The Chanteurs". Discogs. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
- "Hi-Lites (2) - I'm So Jealous / The Mix Mix Song". Discogs. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
- Ahmed, Neima. "THE CHI-LITES (1959– )". Blackpast.org. Retrieved November 4, 2018.
- "Marshall* & The Chi-Lites - Pretty Girl". Discogs. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
- "Marshall* & The Chi-Lites - Price Of Love". Discogs. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 290 & 309. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- "The Chi-Lites R&B Single Chart". Billboard. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
- Halliburton, Karen (March 1, 2020). "Marshall Thompson, the last Chi-Lites member standing keeps the group alive". 50BOLD. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
- "BMI Announces Top 100 Songs of the Century". BMI.com. December 13, 1999. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
- Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
- "2021 Walk of Fame Class Announced". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
- Sisario, Ben (July 23, 2005). "Eugene Record, 64, Singer and Writer for Chi-Lites, Dies". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
- "January to June 2014". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
- The Chi-Lites on IMDb
- "The Chi-Lites TV Appearance". TV.com.
- "Sammy & Company: January 10, 1976". TV.com. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
- "The Midnight Special: Host: Wilson Pickett". TV.com. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
- "Into the Night: October 29, 1990". TV.com. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
- The Chi-Lites at AllMusic
- The Chi-Lites interview by Pete Lewis, 'Blues & Soul' June 1990 (republished March 2010)
- Chi-Lites st Rolling Stone
- Marshall Thompson Tells Tom the History of The Chi-Lites. YouTube interview with Tom Meros, September 9, 2017.