A short-lived rock vocal group that was hampered by signing with RCA-Victor who attempted to push them into the pop realm when they showed an inclination towards more emotion-laded rock.

Originally formed in the late-1940’s in the fertile Washington D.C. area by James Ross and his brother who was drafted just before the group started to get noticed in 1949 with the addition of singer and songwriter Bobby Evans.

The Heartbreakers had worked up Evans’ self-penned song named after the group as their showpiece and after making a good impression on a local radio show were able to get an audition with a local talent scout when two of their members were drafted.

Undeterred RCA signed the group, now consisting of Bobby Evans (lead), James Ross (tenor), two baritones in Lawrence Tate and Lawrence Green and bass singer George Davis Jr., which marked the first real attempt by the major label to move into rock ‘n’ roll vocal groups, as The Four Tunes, an older established act, had flirted with it occasionally without ever making the transition permanently.

Two sessions resulted in four singles, none of which managed to crack the charts as RCA’s enthusiasm for them waned thanks in large part to their own inability to understand rock ‘n’ roll or to reach those markets through their normal distribution and marketing channels. Not surprisingly the label seemed to have preferred them to head in a pop direction which the group was not comfortable in and while they retained a small following in the Mid-Atlantic states, they broke up in early 1953.

Years later unreleased sides surfaced, as did a rare live cut of their signature tune from a show at the Howard Theater in their hometown of Washington D.C., providing a rare glimpse into the rock scene at the time.

Their historical reputation likely suffered due to their affiliation with a pop oriented label and despite some credible singles they never reached the artistic heights of rival acts at the time to give their legacy a retroactive boost. Though largely forgotten in the years since, their biggest achievement – getting signed by a major label – ironically wound up being their downfall.
THE HEARTBREAKERS DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(RCA 20-4327; October, 1951)
A well sung, reasonably soulful performance by Bobby Evans which gets rounded out by decent harmonies and a sparse, but fairly effective guitar led arrangement which could’ve used a sax rather than the piano as a second sound, but overall this is a pleasant surprise. (6)

(RCA 20-4327; October, 1951)
An interesting – if not altogether successful – experiment in rock exotica with a Middle Eastern melody masquerading as a Native American one which may not be as demeaning as it seems on paper, helped by the hypnotic singing and mesmerizing textures of the music itself. (5)

(RCA 20-4508; February, 1952)
An expected, but entirely unwelcome, foray into more pop-leaning material and deliveries that were expected by the major label they recorded for, giving them a song that was inappropriate and diametrically opposed to the rock attitude they desperately needed to convey. (2)

(RCA-20-4662; April, 1952)
A legitimate, honest-to-goodness, no-holds barred rock song with an overtly sexual theme that is sung with the requisite lust by the group and backed with an admirably efficient arrangement, giving them the credibility they need toiling for RCA. (7)

(RCA 20-4849; July, 1952)
The arrangement is marred by a dainty piano that seems to suck the life from the group, as Bobby Evans only shows brief flashes of emotional urgency and while it gets a little better in the bridge and what follows, that’s only making it tolerable, not admirable. (3)

(RCA 20-4849; July, 1952)
A more uptempo song than the flip bodes well for making this stand out, but those hopes are quickly dashed with an underwhelming performance and an arrangement that, aside from a decent sax solo, is too timid as well, sticking with RCA’s accepted presentation. (3)