It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I don’t know how you feel about the season this year but for me, all the struggle and strife that’s going on in the world is making me appreciate the holidays this year even more than usual. I’ve enjoyed the shopping, I’ve enjoyed the eating (too much!), and I look forward to enjoying the rest of the season in the warm embrace of family and friends. What does all of this have to do with the Majors? Not very much unless you consider that the holiday season is something of a wonderful dream.
They were known as the Premiers when they first got together in their hometown of Philadelphia in 1959. The group’s original lineup included lead singer Ricky Cordo, esteemed for his wicked falsetto, Robert Morris, Gene Glass, Frank Troutt, Ronald Gathers, and guitarist Bobby Tate. Before long, Idella Morris replaced her brother Robert in the group.
By 1960, the Premiers had caught the ear of Ro-Cal Records owner Buddy Caldwell. He signed them to his label and because there was already a local group called the Premiers, they became the Versatiles. The first Versatiles single, “Lundee Dundee” b/w “Let Me Whisper in Your Ear,” caught some buzz locally but Ro-Cal, unlike some other local labels, had no arrangement for national distribution so Philadelphia was as far as things went for the record.
It seemed like things were at an end for the Versatiles when several members entered the military. But two and a half years later the very same lineup got back together and this time they called themselves the Majors.
Jerry Ragavoy was one of Philadelphia’s most prominent producers at the time. He was familiar with the Versatiles single and he liked what he heard from the newly re-formed Majors. He got them a deal with Imperial Records and the group went into the studio with Ragavoy in July 1962. They emerged with “A Wonderful Dream” b/w “Time Will Tell.” “A Wonderful Dream” was an immediate hit, reaching the charts in August and rising up to #22 on the Billboard chart by September.
The follow-up single was ”A Little Bit Now (A Little Bit Later)” b/w ”She’s A Troublemaker” and although the record didn’t have the same success as “A Wonderful Dream,” both sides made respectable appearances on the charts. Five more Imperial singles followed including “Anything You Can Do,” “Life Begins at Sweet Sixteen,” and “I’ll Be There.” Those three made the charts but failed to crack the Top 100.
When the Imperial contract ended, the Majors were without a label. They found a temporary home at ABC-Paramount in 1966. They undertook their final recordings with the same lineup but another new name, the Performers. Unfortunately, the resulting single failed to find any success. The Majors continued to tour in the 1960s but eventually split up.