The Charades

The Charades is a doo-wop, r&b group which was mostly active in California in the early to mid-1960s and has released a number of singles on various labels. One of the songs it recorded, which was associated with the surf genre, was "Surf 'n Stomp" on the Northridge label. The band also recorded for Tony Hilder's Impact label, and even had a release on a label owned by Fred Astaire. They had a minor hit with "Please Be My Love Tonight". The group, though it has been through some changes, still continues today, and has a history that spans six decades.

The Charades
OriginTulare, California, U.S.
GenresR&B, Doo-wop, Surf music
Years active1960s most active, still going today
LabelsNorthridge, Impact, Äva, Original Sound, Charade Records
Past membersJohnny T.Johnson
Syl Grigsby
Alex Pilkinton
Lavern Butler
Leon Baradat (until 1958)


They started out in Tulare, California, in the late 1950s under the name The Latin Knights. The Charades were popular in the San Joaquin Valley in California doing local functions etc.[1] As the Latin Knights, they recorded for both Swingin' and Weber Records labels. The recordings were not released.[2] The name was changed to The Charades in 1962.[3] By 1962, they had signed with Anthony J. Hilder.[4] They had their first release on Northridge Records. Another label they had a release on was Äva Records which was owned by Fred Astaire.[1] Hilder, who in those days was called Tony Hilder, is credited as co-composer and producer of "Please Be My Love Tonight" which was the A side of the single. Robert Hafner was credited as co-composer for the B side.[5][6] Other 45 releases were on Original Sound Records[1] and Impact Records.[7]

Note: There was a group from Nashville bearing the same name that released a politically motivated single in 1966, "Hammers and Sickles" / "Left Wing Bird" - Monument 921. They were unrelated.[8][9] They are also not connected with the surf group The Charades who released the singles "North west of Broken Hill" and "The lonely beach". That particular Charades group was an Australian act.[10]



Having released two singles in 1962, one on the Northridge label and another on Tony Hilder's Impact label,[11][12] "Please Be My Love Tonight" b/w "Turn Him Down" was released on Äva in 1963.[13] "Turn Him Down", which was written by Hafner and Reeth, was also recorded by The Cupons as "Turn Her Down" b/w "I'll Be Your Love Tonight" (by Materlyn And The Cupons) and released on Impact.[14] In a short review of "Please Be My Love Tonight", Cashbox said in its December 28 issue that the group with its lovey-dovey song was dipping back into the teen-ballad harmony of some years back. A comparison to The Channels was made. It also said that the song could get some airtime headway.[15] In February 1964, Mickey Wallach of MGM-Verve informed Cashbox that the song, plus "Mondo Cane #2" by Kai Winding along with some others, was getting a strong response.[16] Also that year, a song they recorded, "Delano Soul Beat", appeared on the KPOI's Battle Of The Surfing Bands! compilation album which was released on Del-Fi Records.[17] Also that year, "Take A Chance" b/w "Close To Me" was released on the Original Sound label.[18] In May 1964, the band recorded two instrumentals under Tony Hilder's supervision. They were "Christina" and "Sophia".[19][20] Also that year, Ray Baradat was drafted into the army. The group went back to Tulare County, playing local gigs until he returned.[21]

Some time in 1967, the group was joined by Tom Johnston who stayed with them for a couple of years. He was replaced by guitarist Bobby Dennison. Johnston who would go on to become a member of The Doobie Brothers.[19][22]


In 1973 Ray Baradat went to Los Angeles to try to find Tony Hilder, who had produced for the group. He was wanting to see if there were any surviving recordings by the group that were left on tape. By that time Hilder was no longer in the music business. However, in a Santa Monica carport there were master tapes there and under cover. Hilder said to Baradat to take what he wanted, and see if he could release them if wished to. This also led to Hilder asking the group if they would be interested in recording some songs for a movie soundtrack. Two songs that were recorded by The Charades for the movie were "Bad Lolita" and "All My Love". "Bad Lolita" was the title song for the movie of the same name. It was a Blaxploitation film.[23][21] The film Black Lolita featured Yolanda Love as Lolita, Anthony Mannino and Jefferson Richard.[24] As a result of the session, they met Motown Records engineer/producer Art Stewart which resulted in them having a relationship with him and Motown.[23] In 1976, the single "Corruption" was released. In the soul / funk genre, it was produced, co-composed and arranged by Art Stewart.[25]

1980s and 1990sEdit

In 1983, Sally Watson joined the group and was the first female to join the ranks. In 1992, the group ceased performing full-time.[26]

Later yearsEdit

In 2009, Ray Baradat had recently retired from the Tulare Joint Union High School District, which he had a career for the past 33 years. As of July that year, the group consisted of Ray Baradat, Syl Grigsby, Sally Hamilton, Bob Dennison, Gary Defoe, John Keith, Joe Luis and Hunt Graves. Also that month, from July 2 to August 30, an exhibit by Baradat was being held at the Tulare Historical Museum. It featured memorabilia of The Charades as well as other acts.[27]

In its review of the 2012 compilation, Surf-Age Nuggets: Trash & Twang Instrumentals 1959-1966, Reverb Central gave "Sophia" a five star rating, mentioning the big surf tone and the marvelous progressional riff, also mentioning the perfect tone and composition.[28][29]

In the Fall of 2017 they played their 2017 World Tour, One Night Only concert for the Class of 1962 reunion for Porterville High School.[30]

The Charades, with original members Ray Baradat and Syl Grigsby, continue to perform and record. The group had a two-CD release in 2010, "Connections", and a release in 2015, "Echoes of Yesterday".

Covering CharadesEdit

Kenny Vance recorded "Please Be My Love Tonight" which appears on his Acapella album, released in 2013.[31]


  • Johnny T.Johnson (tenor, lead)
  • Syl Grigsby (falsetto, baritone, lead)
  • Alex Pilkinton (bass, baritone, lead)
  • Lavern Butler (baritone)
  • Ray Baradat (tenor, baritone)
  • Leon Baradat (Latin Knights only)



Title Label and cat Year Notes #
"For You" / "Surf 'n Stomp" Northridge 2002 1962 [32]
"Be My Love Tonight" / "Turn Him Down" Äva 154 1963
"Christina" / "Sophia" Impact Records 32 1964 As Charades Band[33][19][20]
"Luau" Impact Records 34 (B-side only) 1964 As The Charades[34][19][20]
"Take A Chance" / "Close To Me" Original Sound 47 1964 [1]
"All My Love" / "Bad Lolita" Charade Records 501 1975 From the movie Black Lolita[citation needed]
"Corruption" / "Corruption" (Instrumental) Charade Records 502 1976 [35]
Shared singles
Artist & title A Artist & title B Label and cat Year Notes #
The Charades - "Please Be My Love Tonight" Charlie And Ray - "Love You Madly" Collectables "Back To Back Hit Series" COL 4040
Admirations - "Bells Of Rosa Rita" Charades - "Please Be My Love Tonight" Popular Request 107 [36]


Album title Label and cat Year Format Notes #
Corruption LP Produced by Art Stewart[37]
Looking Like Love Charade Records CLP 8702 1987 LP [37][38]
Looking Like Love Charade Records CLP 8702 1987 Cassette Engineered by Bryan "BC" Campbell[37]
Looking Like Love 1987 CD [citation needed]
Please Be My Love Tonight Collectables COL-5728 1996 CD [39]
The Imaginations meet The Charades Collectables COLCD 1438 2009 CD Imaginations and the Charades[40][41]
Connections CCD-2010 2010 CD Produced, engineered by Art Stewart[42]
Echoes of Yesterday CCD-2015 2015 CD [43]

Compilation appearancesEdit

Artist Title Label and cat Year Tracks Notes #
Various Artists Lucky Records A1. "Cherry" (The Rivingtons), A2. "Please Be My Love Tonight" (The Charades)
B1. "Everybody's Gotta Lose Someday" (The Del-Cords), B2. "A Slow Dance" (Ronnie And The Hi-Lites)
Artist Title Label and cat Year Tracks(s) Notes #
Various Rare L.A. Tracks: Collection R&B & Doo Wop Bacchus Archives 1134 1999 "Please Be My Love Tonight", "The Soul"
"Take a Chance", "Surf and Stomp"
Al Garcia and the Rhythm Kings
with Tracks by the Charades Band
Exotic And Rockin' Instrumentals, 1963-1964 Bacchus Archives BA1135 1999 "Christina", "Sophia" [46]
Various Artists Surf-Age Nuggets: Trash & Twang Instrumentals 1959-1966 Rockbeat Records ROC 3098 2012 Sophia As Charades Band[28]


  1. ^ a b c d Mitch Rosalsky, "Charades (Los Angeles)", Encyclopedia of Rhythm & Blues and Doo-Wop Vocal Groups, The Scarecrow Press, 2008, p. 73.
  2. ^ White Doo-Wop Collector - THE CHARADES_Turn Him Down
  3. ^ The Brymers website - 1960's ROCK-N-Roll BANDS - FROM THE SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY (1960 - 1970) - Rampage
  4. ^ White doo-wop collector THE CHARADES_Turn Him Down
  5. ^ 45Cat C-154
  6. ^ Artist direct The Charades Please Be My Love Tonight
  7. ^ Global Dog Productions 45 Discography for Impact Records
  8. ^ "Monument Records", Soulful Kinda Music.
  9. ^ Atomic Platters Hammers And Sickles: The Charades [1966]
  10. ^ National Film and Sound Archive of Australia - Page 52 The Sixties: Australian rock and pop recordings (1964–1969), THE CHARADES
  11. ^ The Illustrated Discography of Surf Music, 1961-1965, Compiled by John Blair - Page 24
  12. ^ Billboard, May 8, 1961 - Page 4 MUSIC AS WRITTEN, Hollywood
  13. ^ The MGM Labels: Additional recordings, Michel Ruppli - Page 368
  14. ^ 45Cat - The Cupons - Discography
  15. ^ Cashbox, December 28, 1963 - Page 76 Record Reviews
  16. ^ Cashbox, February 22, 1964 - Page 32 Record Ramblings, New York:
  17. ^ Discogs - Various – KPOI's Battle Of The Surfing Bands!
  18. ^ 45Cat - The Charades (California) - Discography, USA
  19. ^ a b c d The Charades Website - Charades History
  20. ^ a b c The Illustrated Discography of Surf Music, 1961-1965, Compiled by John Blair - Page 24
  21. ^ a b Tulare Advance-Register, Friday, February 13, 1987 - Page 6 Accent on entertainment, 30 years of The Charades
  22. ^ Milwaukee Sentinel, July 21, 1973 *** Young America *** Part 1 Page 7, Doobies' Basic Rock Conquers All By Martin Hintz
  23. ^ a b The Charades Website Charades History
  24. ^ Black Lolita at IMDb
  25. ^ Popsike - rare Soul Funk 45 CHARADES corruption Listen
  26. ^ Then and Now, Fall 2017 - Page 1 The Charades: Tulare’s Ambassadors Of Song
  27. ^ Porterville Reporter , Thursday, July 2, 2009 - Page 8 What's On
  28. ^ a b AllMusic - Various Artists, Track Listing - Disc 4
  29. ^ Reverb Central - Collection: Surf-Age Nuggets: Trash and Twang Instrumentals 1959-1966
  30. ^ Then and Now, Fall 2017 - Page 4 The Charades: Tulare’s Ambassadors Of Song
  31. ^ The Huffington Post, 03/13/2013, Updated Dec 06, 2017 - THE BLOG, Kenny Vance’s Acapella Album Lovingly Revisits 1950s Music By Steven Rosen
  32. ^ Popsike auction details > CHARADES 45 For You 1962 Doo Wop SURF Northridge
  33. ^ 45Cat - The Charades (California) - Discography
  34. ^ 45Cat - The Charades (California) - Discography
  35. ^ Popsike Rare California Funk 45 - THE CHARADES (Charade) Corruption
  36. ^ 45Cat The Charades - Discography
  37. ^ a b c "Charades History", The Charades website.
  38. ^ Discogs Charades, The – Looking Like Love
  39. ^ "The Charades | Please Be My Love Tonight", All Music.
  40. ^ Allmusic The Charades/Imaginations The Imaginations meet The Charades
  41. ^ The Rock & Country Encyclopedia & Discography Charades
  42. ^ All Music Connections, Credits
  43. ^ "The Charades", cdbaby.
  44. ^ 45Cat - Lucky Records - Label Discography, USA
  45. ^ AllMusic - Various Artists, Rare L.A. Tracks: Collection R&B & Doo Wop
  46. ^ Discogs - Al Garcia And The Rhythm Kings* – Exotic And Rockin' Instrumentals, 1963-1964

External linksEdit