This week we return to the Windy City to meet one of the finest, though too little remembered, vocal groups of the 1970s. The Independents got together in Chicago in 1971. The original lineup included Chuck Jackson (no relation to Chuck Jackson of “Any Day Now” fame but he is the half-brother of the Reverend Jesse Jackson), Maurice Jackson, Helen Curry, Eric Thomas, and Marvin Yancey. Their thing was the love ballad and over the next four years, they proved that they could do it oh so well.
The group signed with Wand Records and it was four that label that they would release all of their original recordings. They debuted with a single called “I Just Want to Be There” in 1972 and while it failed to crack the pop chart is was a respectable R&B hit, reaching #38. “Just As Long As You Need Me,” released as a single the same year did better. While it didn’t quite crack the Top 100 on the pop chart, it was a Top 10 R&B hit.
The next single, “Baby I’ve Been Missing You,” was their most successful single to-date reaching #4 on the R&B chart while just barely missing the Top 40 on the pop chart. The best was still ahead for the Independents.
Late in 1973, the Independents released the single that they would be best remembered for. “Leaving Me” was written by Maurice Barge and Jimmy Jiles and it soared up the pop chart all the way to #21 and remained on the chart for four weeks. The single also topped the R&B chart. “Leaving Me” was a million-seller and the Independents were awarded a Gold Disc by the RIAA for their effort.
The following year the Independents released what would be their last three singles. “Arise and Shine (Let’s Get In On),” “Let This Be a Lesson to You,” and “The First Time We Met” all found Top 20 success on the R&B chart. The Independents broke up after that, as groups do. Chuck Jackson went on to release a couple of solo albums and found great success when he teamed with Marvin Yancey to produce and write for artists like Natalie Cole (married to Yancey at the time), Ronnie Dyson, and Phyllis Hyman.