Marvin & Johnny

One of the first notable rhythm & blues duos, Marvin & Johnny weren't so much a permanent act as Marvin Phillips (b. Oct. 23, 1931) and several partners that he would name "Johnny." Although Emory Perry was the most frequent of these, Phillips also duetted with Jesse Belvin (making number two in the R&B chart, as Jesse & Marvin, with "Dream Girl"), Carl Green, and others, though Phillips called Perry "my main Johnny." Whoever was singing, Marvin & Johnny were significant, if not major, figures in the transition from West Coast jump blues to hotter sax-driven R&B sides that began to approach rock & roll; they were also forerunners of doo wop with their appealingly grainy harmonies and occasional sly sense of humor. Recording for Specialty and Modern, they had a couple of Top Ten R&B hits, "Baby Doll" (1953) and "Tick Tock"/"Cherry Pie" (1954), and also issued several other strong singles, sometimes in a sort of updated Louis Jordan style. They faded after the mid-'50s, although they would also record for Aladdin and several other small Los Angeles labels. ~ Richie Unterberger

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