You wouldn’t normally think of Akron, Ohio, an average Midwestern city, as the birthplace of a R&B group with a number-one hit in the 1960’s, but that’s exactly what happened when Ruby and the Romantics hit the top. Their 1963 recording of “Our Day Will Come” was a huge success, topping the charts in the U.S. and finding overseas success too.
Ruby Nash attended high school in Akron, and although she was not necessarily looking toward a professional career, she did enjoy singing with her friends. They often entertained at local dances and talent shows, and she eventually caught the eye of Leroy Fann, an Akron entertainer who had already had some experience as a part of various singing groups. He asked Ruby to sing from time to time with him and his buddies George Lee, Ronald Mosely, and Ed Roberts, and it soon led to an audition for Kapp Records, a New York company.
Kapp named the group Ruby and the Romantics, and for their first record the combo convinced their record producers to let them perform a song that had been intended for the label’s star vocalist, Jack Jones, a crooner who had Grammy-winning hits like “Lollypops and Roses” and “Wives and Lovers”. As it turned out, the song — “Our Day Will Come” — became a huge hit for the new group, reaching number-one on the charts.
The song was by far the group’s biggest hit and earned them a Grammy, but they would later find some success with songs like “My Summer Love” and “Hey There Lonely Boy” before eventually going their separate ways in 1971.
But the success of Ruby and the Romantics can’t be measured by the number of hits they generated. The style and sound of their music was admired by many of their contemporaries, who appreciated their silky-smooth harmonies, ranging from tenor to deep bass. They furnished inspiration to a wide variety of ensembles like the Temptations, the Carpenters, Martha & The Vandellas, and even Donny and Marie Osmond. On top of that, their big song — “Our Day Will Come — has been recorded by more than sixty other artists, including Frankie Valli, Cher, Bobby Darin, Pat Boone, Nancy Wilson, the Supremes, and many others.
Ruby and the Romantics were unusual in that the group remained stable during their decade-long existence, rather than suffering the volatility that led many others to change personnel regularly. Since the breakup, not a lot was heard from the group’s members, but all of the Romantics have now passed on by natural causes. Ruby is still alive at last report and living in Akron. Neither she nor any of the group’s members (or their heirs) have received any royalties from their records.
2 thoughts on “Ruby And The Romantics – The Pride Of Akron”
Always one of my favorites. Even added it to my repertoire when I was playing keyboards as a single act back in those days. Couldn’t quite compete with Ruby and the gang vocally so played it as an instrumental! 🙂
Actually wasn’t familiar at all with their version of “Hey There Lonely Boy” so thanks for including it in your post…
Intriguing to hear that little snippet from your wild past, Alan. I bet you’ve got some tales to tell.:)