Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5


The Real History


The Manhattans

Part 1


Group History
The Band
Tour Dates
What's Up
Manhattan Nites
Photo Gallery
Favorite Links


Part 1

The story reaches back to Jersey City, NJ and the graduating class that included Edward” Sonny” Bivins (Lincoln high,  Richard” Ricky” Taylor (Snyder High), Winfred ”Blue” Lovett (Lincoln High), George “Smitty” Smith (Snyder High) & Kenneth” Wally” Kelley (Lincoln High). They all enlisted into different Branches of the Armed Forces. Sonny, Richard, & Blue were scattered at US Air Force Bases in West Germany. Smitty served at an Air Force base in California, and Kenny Joined the Navy. When the paths of the first three men crossed in Germany, they promised to get together after the service and pursue their music, likewise Smitty & Kenny were always part of the group.

The Manhattans - 1964

Back home after their various service stints, they started singing together almost immediately. They took their name, not from the borough of New York as it is noted, but from the popular drink of whiskey, vermouth, and bitters. Nevertheless, the name stuck and the Manhattans would always be associated with the big city. Their big break came in 1964, when they won third prize at the Apollo Theater Amateur Night Contest. They were spotted by Joe Evans, a former alto sax player in the Motown touring Orchestra. He had just started Carnival Records. He signed the Manhattans on August 15, 1964 (Which they regard as their true anniversary date) and their first release was aptly titled, “For The Very First Time”, a local NYC hit that year, along with “There Goes A Fool”.

The Manhattans - 1969

"I wanna be (Your Everything)" written by Blue, broke out as a national Pop and R&B hit in the winter of 1965 on Carnival. The follow-up, “Searching For My Baby”, was later covered by The Persuasions as the lead track of their debut acappella album. Sonny wrote the next single entitled, ”Follow Your Heart“, which also broke on the Pop And R&B charts, selling over 500,000 copies. 1966’s "Baby I need You", “ When We Are Made As One” (re-done for the Too Hot To Stop It Album) and 1967’s "I Call It Love”, written by Sonny, also penetrated the Pop and R&B charts. These hits and the early touring earned The Manhattans NATRA’s “Most Promising Group” Award in 1968.

The Manhattans - 1969


1969 found the Manhattans moving over to King Records' Deluxe Label. Starting with “The Picture Became Quite Clear” and "It’s Gonna take A Lot To Bring Me Back”, the Group enjoyed high R&B sales and regularly crossed-over to the pop charts with their smoothly produced sound. Those Deluxe sides were highlighted by a version of a country song called “From Atlanta To Goodbye“, a cover of Little Willie John’s “ Let Them Talk”. Kenny’s “If My Heart Could Speak“ and Blue’s “ One Life To Live”, were the two titles that actually caught the attention of Columbia Records, leading to their signing the Group. (Those two songs were re-done as a medley in 1980, on the "After Midnight", album that included the Grammy Award winning “Shining Star”)

In 1970, The Manhattans were on a black college tour of the south. They were appearing at North Carolina’s Kittrell College with the New Imperials, a group that included student Gerald Alston. They were so impressed with Gerald that they asked him to join the group, but he declined. But as fate would have it, later that year, lead singer George Smith would become fatally ill, and Gerald would accept the groups offer this time. Within three weeks he would become the new Lead Vocalist of the Manhattans. Sadly to say, on December 16, 1970, founding member & Original Lead Vocalist George “Smitty“ Smith would pass away.

End of Part 1


Part1        Part2        Part3        Part4        Part5        Home


Home | Group History | Bios | The Band | Tour Dates | What's Up | Manhattan Nites | Photo Gallery | Favorite Links


This site was last updated 10/17/07

2004 © The Manhattans, All Rights Reserved.