These days the eyes of the world are focused on Washington, DC as we face the looming question of who is going to be living in the big white house on Pennsylvania Avenue for the next four years. But don’t worry, I’m not going to launch into a political diatribe here. For that, I direct you to Facebook. No, I’m going to do what I always try to do, which is to provide you with some classic soul music. This week, that music just happens to come from our nation’s capitol.
They called themselves the Presidents because they came from Washington, DC. Makes sense, right? Tony Boyd, Archie Powell, and Billy Shorter were the members of the vocal trio, and they were another one of those one-hit-wonders whose one hit was a great one.
The Presidents recorded for a couple of smaller labels, Hollywood Records, and Deluxe Records, before finally landing at Sussex. It was there that they would have their big hit in 1970 with a song called “5-10-15-20 (25-30 Years of Love)”. The song was written by Boyd and Powell, and produced by Van McCoy who would go on to have enormous success in the disco era with his 1975 smash, “The Hustle.”
“5-10-15-20″ made it all the way to #11 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #5 on the Black Singles chart. The album of the same name reached #158 on the Billboard Hot 200, and #15 on the Black Albums chart. Three more singles, including the Van McCoy-written “For You,” and “The Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven,” followed on Sussex, but the Presidents never managed to hit the Top 30 again.
They weren’t ready to quit though. First they changed their name to Trilogy, and then to Anacostia (after a DC housing project). They kept recording for labels like Columbia, MCA, Tabu, Roulette well into the ’80s, but never found much success.
So when you turn your attention to Washington, DC this fall, remember that it’s not all about politics. Some great soul music came out of that city. The Presidents may have been a one-hit-wonder, but more than 30 years later we’re still singing their song.