The Ravens

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The Ravens | Vocal Group Harmony | tc139

The Ravens are a famous vocal group who were active in the 1940s and 1950s. They were innovators, being the first group to make continuous use of a bass vocalist – Jimmy Ricks – and a falsetto tenor – Maithe Marshall – on lead, the first vocal group to incorporate dance steps into an R&B act, and – the first to be named after a bird!

As with the Drifters and other groups of the period, there were a number of personnel changes during the years and the group also recorded for a number of record companies.

When they signed with Chess Records in 1956, the Ravens were Joe Van Loan, Willie Ray, Willis Sanders and David Bowers (pictured). The recording “A Simple Prayer”/”Water Boy” features that line up. Shortly afterwards, the line up became Joe, Paul and James Van Loan, and David “Boots” Bowers. They continued in the style of earlier line ups.

Joe Van Loan died in 1976.

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