“Get On Up” by the Esquires was a huge record on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in the summer of 1967. It was a perfect song for the a cappella groups that lived for the echo, with its dynamic bass part and outstanding group harmonies. It seemed like everyone in town was singing it all the time.
Keep in mind that this was in the era of the Beatles, the Stones, et. al. The thing is, the Philly kids who hung out at Chelsea Avenue and the Boardwalk didn’t give a damn about the latest thing from England. It was all about soul for them, and it was the music coming from Detroit, Memphis, and in this case Chicago, that made all the difference for them.
Gilbert and Alvis Moorer, with their sister Betty, formed the Esquires in Milwaukee in 1957, but Betty left the group before they relocated to Chicago in 1966. There, with a lineup that included Sam Pace, Shawn Taylor, and Millard Edwards, they auditioned for Curtis Mayfield, who made one his rare mistakes by not signing them. They eventually signed with Bunky Records, which had emerged from the wreckage of Constellation Records, which went under in 1966. Bunky was distributed nationally by Scepter. “Get On Up” was their debut single for the label, and it reached all the way to #11 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #3 on the R&B Chart.
In October of that year, the Esquires had another hit with their follow-up, “And Get Away” (see video below) which reached #22 on the Hot 100, and #9 on the R&B Chart. They had several lesser hits including “Why Can’t I Stop,” and “You Say” before leaving Bunky at the end of 1968 and signing directly with Scepter. After a year, they were briefly back at Bunky before moving on to Capitol, where they released just one single, 1970’s “Reach Out.” They had chart success in 1971 with “Girls In the City,” on Lamarr Records, which reached #18. Though they continued perform, they didn’t make the charts again until 1976 when they re-cut their biggest hit as “Get On Up ’76,” which saw a little success.
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