The Manhattans were formed not in Manhattan as one would expect, but in Jersey City in 1962.
The group consisted of Winfred “Blue” Lovett, Richard Taylor, Kenny Kelley, George “Smitty” Smith and Sonny Bivins.
The Manhattans signed a deal with Newark, New Jersey based record label Carnival Records in 1964. The label issues The Manhattans’ first hit single, “I Want to Be Your Everything,” a Top 20 R&B hit.During their time with Carnival the Manhattans landed eight the top 30 R&B hits, with songs like “Can I,” “Follow Your Heart” and “Betcha Couldn’t Love Me,” all highly sought after records by collectors and fans alike.
In 1969 The Manhattans signed with the Deluxe label and released the album With These Hands, which featured The Manhattans recording a variety of standards, in addition to five, high quality original tracks.
In 1970, the group’s lead singer George “Smitty” Smith departed the group and died in 1971 after falling ill.
Smith eventually replaced by Gerald Alston, who was officially announced as the new lead singer of the group this week in 1971.
The first album to feature Gerald Alston was 1973’s breakout album There’s No Me Without You, which contains the single of the same name.
The single “There’s No Me Without You,” was the first of a series of successful collaborations with Philadelphia-based arranger Bobby Martin.
With Gerald Alston leading The Manhattan into a new era, the group remained a strong presence on the charts with Top 10 hits like “My Hurt,” We Never Danced to a Love Song,” “It Just Can’t Stay This Way,” and their biggest hit of their career, “Let’s Just Kiss and Say Goodbye,” which was a #1 Pop hit in 1976.
The Manhattans stormed into the 1980’s with the hit single “Shining Star,” taken from their album After Midnight.
“Shining Star” earned the group a gold record and a Grammy in 1980.
In 1985, singer Regina Belle joined the group and hit with the Bobby Womack-produced single, “Where Did We Go Wrong” and was featured on The Manhattans 1986 Columbia Records album, Back To Basics.
In August, The Manhattans celebrated their 45th anniversary.
Gerald Alston can be heard on Wu-Tang Clan’s song “Stick Me 4 My Riches” on the album 8 Diagrams.