Alright, you caught me. Yes, I played hooky last week. But after all, I was on vacation at the beautiful Jersey shore, and it was the first week I missed in more than six years, so I’ve earned a little slack, right? Besides, I’m back this week with a really cool song that was a huge hit in 1963.
Who was this Ruby of Ruby and the Romantics? She was Ruby Nash of Akron, Ohio, and while she was still studying at Central High School in Akron she began singing in groups that included her sister and three friends. And what about those Romantics? Well, some of them had been in a group called the Embers who eventually became the Supremes (no, not those Supremes), and then the Fellos.
Leroy Fann, one of the Fellos, knew Ruby from Akron, and occasionally asked her to sing with his group. Eventually, a group coalesced around Ruby that included Fann, Ronald Mosley, Ed Roberts, and George Lee. In 1961 they signed with Kapp Records out of New York and became Ruby and the Romantics at the behest of Kapp A&R man Allen Stanton.
Crooner Jack Jones was supposed to be the one to record “Our Day Will Come” but Ruby and her group liked the song, saw its potential, and pressed Kapp to let them record it. They were right of course as their recording of “Our Day Will Come” shot up the Billboard Hot 100 to #1 in 1963 and gained the same lofty position on the R&B chart.
“Our Day Will Come” was written by Mort Garson and Bob Hilliard. In order for them to allow Ruby and the Romantics to record it, Stanton had to promise the songwriters that if group’s version failed to become a hit, Jack Jones would record it. With Stanton at the helm, two versions of the song were recorded, but it was the one with the bossa nova beat and Leroy Glover’s striking organ solo that was chosen for release and became a smash. Other backing musicians on the record were guitarists Vinnie Bell, Al Gorgoni, and Kenny Burrell, bass player Russ Savakus, drummer Gary Chester, and percussionist George Devens.
The follow-up single for Ruby and the Romantics, “My Summer Love,” did respectable business too, reaching the Top 20. And then they came back with the original version of “Hey There Lonely Boy” (later a smash for Eddie Holman as ‘Hey There Lonely Girl’), which worked its way up to #27 on the Pop chart. Kapp released several other singles but none of them saw much success. Ruby and the Romantics moved on to ABC Records, where three singles and an album failed to match their earlier chart successes.
Ruby and the Romantics recorded one single for A&M Records in 1969. “Hurting Each Other” was notable due to the fact that it reunited the group with Stanton. Unfortunately, the old magic failed to materialize, and it was the final single that Ruby and the Romantics recorded before breaking up in 1971.
The full-range harmonies of Ruby and the Romantics were an acknowledged influence on the Temptations, and the Carpenters gathered inspiration from the group as well, recording three of their songs. There have been over 60 cover versions of “Our Day Will Come” including takes on the song by Bobby Darrin, Frankie Valli, Dee Dee Sharp, Amy Winehouse, the Supremes (yes, those Supremes), and James Brown.
Ruby Nash returned to Akron when the group broke up and still lives there. She is the only surviving member of Ruby and the Romantics. Sadly, neither she or any of the heirs of the Romantics see any royalties from the hit records.
In 2013, Ruby and the Romantics were part of the first class of inductees into the newly established Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame.