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Chubby & The Turnpikes

Posted by Jim Botticelli  November 13, 2013 10:25 PM

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Tavares_at_WTBS.jpg
Tavares in the early 70's at Cambridge radio station WTBS-FM, now WMBR-FM
Photo by Richard Armirault

Tavares, five Cape Verdean brothers originally from New Bedford, are commonly referred to as a Boston soul group. They began performing as early as 1959 as Chubby & The Turnpikes when the youngest brother was only nine years old! Under that moniker, the brothers were able to leave behind two collectible 45's on Capitol Records: "I Know The Inside Story" was released in 1967 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcOObqA_vHQ. The following year "Nothing But Promises" was issued but the lead singer's name "Chubby" was dropped perhaps for marketing reasons. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFmRqf4UriA. The group was simply called The Turnpikes for that recording.
Local performances and local name recognition kept them afloat but it wasn't until 1973, when they changed their name to Tavares, that the elusive national and international audiences were reached, and the group from Boston became a force to be reckoned with in both the soul and pop genres. Their first hit as Tavares was 1973's "Check It Out", a ballad reflecting the group love songs of the time. In 1974 the group scored its first #1 R&B hit with Hall & Oates' "She's Gone", a tune that the writers themselves wouldn't record for two more years. 1975 was the real big launch for the brothers. "It Only Takes A Minute" went to the top spot on the R&B charts and into the top 10 Pop. Discos, then in their infancy, picked up on the song as well and Tavares was soon a household word. A trio of massive hits soon followed. In 1976 they had two hits both on radio and in the clubs. "Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel", has long been a Boston favorite and a staple of any DJ worth his/her name. Quickly followed by "Don't Take Away The Music", 1976 was a banner year for the 17 year show biz veterans. This writer's personal favorite arrived in 1977. "Whodunit" was a masterpiece mash of TV culture with midtempo soul. It utilized  popular TV/Film detectives McCloud, Baretta, Kojack, Dirty Harry, Ellery Queen and Charlie Chan in the lyrics, and opened with a kitschy but tasty cop show lick. It went straight to the top of the R&B chart as well. It's worth a listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBYmDdZwIp4 . In 1977 they also recorded the Bee Gees "More Than A Woman" which found a spot on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, earning Tavares a Grammy Award.
Fun Fact: Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer is alleged to have briefly been the "token white guy drummer" in Tavares' infancy. The group performs to this day.

Wikipedia was instrumental in clearing up loose ends for this story.

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About the author

Jim Botticelli, a 1976 Northeastern University graduate, is a retired Boston Public Schools teacher. In college, he drove a cab and learned the city's cow paths. An avid collector of More »

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