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The Dells

Original Dells vocalist Johnny Funches died of pneumonia on January 23, 1998, at the age of 62.

Johnny Carter died of cancer on August 21, 2009, at the age of 75. Carter is one of the few artists to be a double Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, having been inducted with The Flamingos in 2001, and the Dells in 2004.

On May 29, 2013, founding member Marvin Junior died in his sleep at his home in Harvey, Illinois, succumbing to complications of kidney failure and a weak heart at the age of 77.

Chuck Barksdale is also said to be gravely ill.


The Dells grew up in Harvey, Illinois and began singing together while attending Thornton Township High School. Forming in 1952 under the name the El-Rays, the group initially consisted of Marvin Junior, Mickey McGill, Lucius McGill, Verne Allison, Chuck Barksdale, and Johnny Funches. Lucius soon left the group and the remaining quintet signed with Checker Records, releasing their first single, "Darling I Know," which flopped.

In 1955, the group renamed themselves the Dells and signed with Vee-Jay Records. In 1956, they recorded their first hit, "Oh What a Night" (a song co-written by Johnny Funches, who also sang lead on the recording alongside Marvin Junior, which hit the Top 5 of the R&B singles chart. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. The song is ranked #260 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In November 1958, the Dells suffered a car accident that left McGill in a hospital in Ohio for six months. The group temporarily disbanded and Barksdale sung as a member of Harvey Fuqua's spinoff Moonglows act, Harvey and the Moonglows, which included a young Marvin Gaye. In 1961, the Dells reunited and auditioned for Dinah Washington. After Washington agreed to hire them, Johnny Funches left the group to take care of his family. Funches was replaced by Flamingos founding member Johnny Carter and sung background for Washington for two years. In 1966, Ray Charles hired them to be opening acts, only to fire them after their performance gave them several standing ovations. The group would also sing background for Barbara Lewis, mainly on Lewis' 1963 hit, "Hello Stranger", while also working with Quincy Jones, who helped to fine tune their vocals for standards and jazz material.


The Dells are an influential R&B musical group who were one of the few groups to span music genres resulting in successful recordings surpassing more than four decades. Formed in 1952 after attending high school together, the Dells' repertoire has included doo-wop, jazz, soul, disco and contemporary rhythm and blues. Unlike many of their contemporaries, the group's lineup hasn't changed much since 1960 and has consisted of falsetto leader Johnny Carter, baritone lead singer Marvin Junior and background singers Mickey McGill, Verne Allison and Chuck Barksdale.

50s, 60s Hits

Oh What A Night

Members of this Group


Jeff

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