BIOGRAPHY AND DISCOGRAPHY

 

Short-lived vocal group who had the distinction of recording for multiple major record labels in 1949/50 when virtually all rock artists were confined to independent labels, which says as much about their musical intent as their records do.

The Beavers were formed in the early days of 1949 by a vocal instructor named Joe Thomas who’d held that role early on with The Ravens, the first of the rock vocal groups. Two of the members of The Beavers – bass Raymond Johnson and tenor Dick Palmer – were his students and the others, lead tenor Freddy Hamilton and baritone and sometime lead singer John Wilson, came from outside his orbit.

In many ways the group was Thomas’s pet project, a way to establish himself as someone who could oversee a popular act, much in the way Billy Ward would do with The Dominoes the next year with much greater success.

They managed to cut sides with RCA-Victor in the late spring of 1949, which is remarkably quick for a novice act without much – if any – experience even in clubs, particularly considering the fact it was on a major record label. Those sides never got released however and the group spent the summer biding their time by singing backup on records cut by black pop star Herb Lance on the Sittin’ In With label, which resulted in a hit that fall with his version of “That Lucky Old Sun”.

Though they weren’t credited for their role on that record they soon parlayed Thomas’s connections to another major label contract, this time with Decca who signed them to appear on their new Coral subsidiary, hoping no doubt to use them as a mild – and thus acceptable – rock act to give the company a foothold in this expanding market.

Thomas convinced his old friend, The Ravens pianist, songwriter and arranger Howard Biggs to leave that group who were still at their commercial peak in order to take on those same duties with The Beavers and the two of them penned the group’s initial sides which vacillated between pop and rock. Neither of their releases were hits however although Decca wound up getting their money’s worth by relegating The Beavers to background vocals again on Lionel Hampton’s huge early 1950 hit, “Rag Mop”. They had one last session in June but while they were the featured singers on the songs the sides were actually credited to pianist Roy Ross. None of those hit either and with that their recording career was over.

The Beavers played the club circuit for much of the year they were together but lacking any hits – and without receiving credit for the hits they sung on behind others – they were unable to have a viable career in that realm for very long and consequently they broke up before 1950 was out. Johnson and Wilson both wound up briefly joining The Blenders without much to show for that stint either and so as far as history is concerned their most notable contributions to music remain the fact they were fairly anonymous footnotes on some hits of two non-rock acts.
 
 
THE BEAVERS DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

I GOTTA DO IT
(Coral 65018; October, 1949)
A fair first effort in the rock field, though also fairly compromised in its mild arrangement and the character’s viewpoint, as all parts fit together nicely without any of them standing out and giving them much reason to be noticed. (5)