A group that existed under three different names for four different labels with a few different leads, none of which resulted in any hits, yet they showed enough promise to keep getting sporadic opportunities to make records for much of the Nineteen-Fifties.

The group was from Washington D.C., one of many who formed in the late Nineteen Forties as the national success of local act The Orioles gave countless high school kids the belief that they too could make it big.

Consisting of lead singer Buck Mason, along with James Walton and Walter Taylor (tenors), Herbert Fisher and John Bowie as baritone and bass respectively, and calling themselves The Jets, they added a sixth member in guitarist Charles Booker when they turned professional in 1950 and started getting regular gigs at local clubs and even got some appearances on a local TV show.

With the group able to write their own material, and with Booker to arrange it, they had more potential than those who were merely singing other people’s songs and as a result they attracted the attention of Earthaline Lee who became their manager and got them a deal cutting songs in New York for Rainbow Records in late 1952.

But while the single turned out alright, even with Booker stepping in for Taylor to take the lead on the uptempo B-side after the latter strained his voice singing too much that week, Rainbow Records failed to sign them to a contract and so after one single they were on the move again.

On top of that they lost Mason to the draft and replaced him with Robert Russell and continued singing in clubs around the nation’s capital where they were spotted at a show by Amos Milburn who contacted his bosses at Aladdin Records raving about The Jets who were quickly signed by the label. But because the company had already released songs by another act named The Jets, the label chose The Bachelors as their new name and gave them a session in New York that July.

But once again after a lone single – with another remaining on the shelf – they were quietly dropped and they struggled to interest someone else in them and for two years were nothing more than a live local act until finally signing with Royal Roost where they had first crack at Otis Blackwell’s new composition “Don’t Be Cruel”, which they rejected, choosing another of his songs instead.

In a more troubling replay of their first session where Booker had to replace Taylor on lead, the same thing happened here, but not because Taylor was too sore to take it himself but because Blackwell felt Booker was the better choice for his other song, and in the fallout Taylor quit the group, followed soon thereafter by Fisher. Ironically Booker’s time with them was now becoming more sporadic as well, so of the original members just Walton and Bowie remained along with Russell and new member James Taylor.

Still, they managed to get another deal, this time with Lou Krefetz, The Clovers manager who was originally D.C. as well, on his Poplar label in 1957. That led nowhere, other than Krefetz using one of their songs to pad a Clovers LP, and the following year – after splitting up and re-forming with Walton who brought back Fisher along with three others – they showed up on the tiny Teenage label under the name The Links for one last single.

But the individual members did continue in various capacities over the years, with Bowie joining the post-Harvey Fuqua Moonglows and Walton and Russell becoming members of The Clovers after their heyday had passed… a position that Bowie then took when Russell died young in 1969. Ironically he stayed with them through the end of the Twentieth Century when he too passed away. So while the group, under any of their three names, didn’t leave much of a mark, and their singers didn’t appear on any notable records at later stops, most of them continued to have a career in music long after most acts of their era had stopped.
THE BACHELORS DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Rainbow 201; December, 1952)
As The Jets… A strong lead by Buck Mason highlights a fairly atmospheric ballad written by John Bowie that doesn’t stand out in any way, but also doesn’t fall significantly short in any department either. (6)

(Rainbow 201; December, 1952)
As The Jets… A makeshift lineup as the song’s writer and group’s guitarist Charles Booker steps in for an ailing Walter Taylor on lead and delivers a strong and lively performance, though the first half’s enthusiasm gives way to a more chaotic finish that weakens your impression. (6)