The Vashonettes

Taking their name from a dance school they attended, The Vashonettes were formed in the late 1960s when four of the school’s singing group set up on their own. The group was led by Sheryl Swope but we do not have a complete line up for the group, who recorded briefly for Checker before going on to sing background vocals on a number of recordings including an Atlantic label album by the late Donny Hathaway, with whom they are closely associated. Their manager, Deke Atkins, renamed them The Oncoming Times, under which name they recorded for Duo Records (arranged by Hathaway).

Can anyone help, please, with an image and a full line up for this group? Thank you.


Kim Tolliver


Kim Tolliver LP cover | Chess Records | tc505

Kim Tolliver is a blues and R&B singer from Tennessee who mainly lived in Cleveland, Ohio. She recorded a number of unsuccessful singles for small labels including Sureshot and Rojac. She also recorded under the name of Kimberly Briggs. She left the music business to go into real estate, but is known to have fallen into illness. The lady’s current whereabouts are unknown.

Tenison Stephens


Tenison Stephens | Inside Jazz | tc482

Bay area and Hawaii jazz musician Tenison Stephens is best known for his work with Phil Upchurch, but little is known of this gentleman, who recorded for other labels including Back Beat.

Can anyone provide any further information about this artist, please?

Tony Gregory


Tony Gregory | Jamaica Observer | tc563


Tony Gregory LP cover | RCA | tc564

We think Tony Gregory, who had material issued on GRT Chess in 1965, is the Jamaican singer Tony Gregory, who has toured extensively around the world and after singing with Byron Lee and the Dragonaires in the 1960s became a session singer and solo singer in the US before moving to Europe in the early 1970s, where he met his wife. He is now celebrating more than 50 years in the music business and is still active.

If anyone has other or additional information, please get in touch.—50-years-of-making-beautiful-music

Ray Frazier and the Shades of Madness


Ray Frazier and the Shades of Madness | Copyright control | tc467

Ray Frazier and the Shades of Madness were a California band active in the 1960s and 1970s. They made a number of recordings, one of which was leased to Chess. I do not have a line up for this group. Can anyone help, please?

Lee Eldred


A Lee Eldred Mercury label LP Cover | Copyright control | tc465

No biographical details are available for Lee Eldred. Looking at the LP cover available and at the track listing, and listening to some of the lyrics, it is thought that Lee Eldred was an act targeted at the 1970s gay market and Lee may have been a trans or drag performer. Does anyone have any further information, please?

Bad Smoke


The Fabulous Counts | Copyright control | tc443

“Bad Smoke” was another name for a band known as the Counts or the Fabulous Counts, depending on which label they appeared; they hailed from Detroit and were primarily known as a backing group working with Richard “Popcorn” Wylie.

Known members of the band were Mose Davis, Leroy Emmanuel, Demo Cates, Jim White, Raoul Keith Mangrum, Jimmy Jackson and Jimmy Brown, but the exact lineup on the session released on Chess is unknown at the current time. The band split up in 1976 but has recently reformed.