The Persuaders got together in New York City in 1969. The original lineup included guys who had been on the local scene singing with other groups. Douglas “Smokey” Scott, Willie Holland, James Barnes, and Charles Stodghill were signed by Atlantic Records in 1971. That same year brought them their indelible hit, “Thin Line Between Love and Hate.”
The song was written by Richard and Robert Poindexter, who produced the record as well, along with Jackie Members. The record topped the Billboard R&B Chart in late ’71, and crossed over to reach #15 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Persuaders were awarded a gold record for sales of a million copies of the single. Subsequent covers of the song have been released by the Pretenders (#83 on the Billboard Hot 100), and Annie Lennox, and a sample of the Persuaders original version was featured in the song “Washed Away” by Arrested Development.
The hit single wasn’t the end of the story for the Persuaders, although they never again equalled its success. The follow up single, “Love’s Gonna Pack Up,” was a worthy successor, reaching #8 on the R&B chart, and #64 on the pop chart. They had one more Top 10 R&B hit with the original version of “Some Guys Have All the Luck,” later a big hit for Rod Stewart, in 1973.
By the time of that last hit in 1973, the Persuaders lineup included lead vocalist Scott, along with new members Thomas Hill, William Coleman and Richard Gant. It was that lineup that also recorded the original version of “Best Thing That Ever Happened,” later a huge hit for Gladys Knight & the Pips. Most of their later recordings on Atco Records were produced in Philadelphia by Phil Hurtt, Tony Bell, and LeBaron Taylor.
In 1976 the Persuaders moved to CBS subsidiary Calla Records. They once again recorded in Philadelphia, this time with producers Norman Harris and Robert Currington. The resulting album, It’s All About Love, included the R&B hit “I Need Love.” There was one last single for Brunswick Records in 1981, with Scott still in the lead vocalist role. From then on group members came and went, and although the Persuaders continued on into the new century there are no longer any original members.
The Persuaders will be remembered by most for their one huge hit, but aficionados will recall their worthy lesser hits as well, along with the solid original versions of songs that went on to be classics by others.