The 1950s were volatile years in pop music (although the same could be said of most decades). Everything seemed to be in transition, with early rock and roll evolving from R&B, rockabilly and other influences, and beginning to find an identity of its own.
By the end of the decade a lot of popular acts began to fall off the radar, but others seemed to have the magic touch and remained successful in the 1960s and beyond. One of those was a group called the Jive Five, a bunch of guys who stayed busy for many years even though they did have their ups and downs.
The group came together in the late 1950s in Brooklyn — as did so many — and was made up of lead singer Eugene Pitt surrounded by Billy (Thurmon) Prophet , Jerome Hanna, Norman Johnson, and Richard Harris. After working their way up the ladder for a couple of years, they hit it big with “My True Story” in 1961.
The record reached the top of the charts and other solid sellers soon followed, including “Never, Never” and “These Golden Rings,” but problems began to occur, including the death of Jerome Hanna. Prophet and Harris soon left and the group ended up reorganizing around Pitt and Johnson, adding some new members along the way. Personnel would continue to periodically change over the next couple of decades, but Pitt remained the driving force of the group, which at one time performed under the names Jyve Fyve, and later Ebony, Ivory, & the Jades, before reverting to their original name.
Although the guys never again reached the top of the charts, they did have later hits with “I’m A Happy Man,” and “Sugar (Don’t Take Away My Candy).” Their popularity even continued into the 1990s as part of the Oldies circuit, and they put on a pretty good show while performing the old hits. (Video below.)
Not too much is being heard from the guys these days, but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that they’re still performing somewhere, keepin’ it alive.