From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Moonglows (musical group)

The Moonglows, the group that perfected blow harmony, are recognized as one of the most innovative vocal groups. The group began in Cleveland, OH, with members Harvey Fuqua from Louisville, KY; Danny Coggins, singing lead; and Prentiss Barnes. (Fuqua is the nephew of Charlie Fuqua, who sang with the Ink Spots.) They were originally known as the Crazy Sounds. Coggins would leave the group, and Bobby Lester [nee Robert L. Dallas] from Louisville and Alexander Graves were added to the group. Their first recording was "I Just Can't Tell No Lie," a song composed by Harvey Fuqua and Bobby Lester; the two had sung together as teenagers in Louisville. The group's name was soon changed to the Moonglows, and they moved to Chicago, where their first recordings were "Baby Please" and "Whistle My Love."

They continued recording on the Chance label until 1954 when they signed with Chess Records; they later signed with the Checker label. In 1956, the group appeared on film in Rock Rock Rock. Over the next few years, the group continued recording and performing around the U.S. Harvey Fuqua met 14-year old Marvin Gaye in Washington, D.C.; when the Moonglows split up in 1960, Fuqua and Gaye went to Detroit, where Fuqua helped found Motown Records.

In 1964, Alexander Graves formed a second group known as the Moonglows with Doc Green, George Thorpe, and Bearle Easton; the group did not last very long. In 1970, Bobby Lester was back in Louisville, where he formed a third group known as the Moonglows, with Albert Workman, Gary Rodgers, Robert Ford, and Billy McPhatter; this version, too, was short-lived. In 1972, the Moonglows were once again restructured with Lester, Fuqua, Alexander Graves, Chuck Lewis, and Doc Williams. The group recorded the chart hit album The Return of the Moonglows. The group was again restructured in 1978 and stayed together until the death of Bobby Lester in 1980, after which Billy McPhatter took over the group that continued performing into the 1990s. The Moonglows were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

For more see Moonglows' entry in American Singing Groups, by J. Warner; Doo-Wop, by R. Pruter; Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock and Soul, by I. Stampler; and Encyclopedia of Rhythm & Blues and Doo-Wop Vocal Groups, by M. Rosalsky. View the video from the 1956 movie Rock, Rock, Rock with The Moonglows - I knew from the start on YouTube.

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Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Fuqua, Harvey, Jr.
NKAA Source: I just can't tell no lie (song)
NKAA Source: Baby please (song)
NKAA Source: Whistle my love (song)
NKAA Source: Rock, rock, rock! (film)
NKAA Source: The Return of the Moonglows (album)
NKAA Source: American singing groups : a history from 1940s to today
NKAA Source: Doowop : the Chicago scene
NKAA Source: Encyclopedia of pop, rock & soul
NKAA Source: Encyclopedia of rhythm & blues and doo wop vocal groups

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Lester, Bobby [nee Robert L. Dallas]

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Moonglows (musical group),” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 2, 2023,

Last modified: 2020-09-21 16:58:33