Thursday, October 18, 2012

THE SOUL-JERS



Brothers Chuck and Ray Brannon and Tony Wilcher together started The Soul-Jers. Ray and Tony had played together in high school and when Chuck got out of the Navy the three moved to Atlanta to try to start a band. They were joined by Phil Thomas (guitar) and Jim Cole (keyboard).  Shortly they moved to the Auburn Alabama area playing nights anywhere they could and practicing days. They bonded like brothers and during that summer in Alabama worked very hard and gained experience.
Returning to Atlanta with Ray as the front man and Chuck on drums and vocal harmony, they quickly became successful playing for WQXI radio, school proms and dances and clubs. The Soul-Jers nonstop 45 minute James Brown Show was always a big hit with Ray's voice and footwork. At one show girls pulled him off stage and tore off his shirt during "Please Please Please". 


Within six months the Soul-Jers built a huge following and appeared on the cover of Atlanta Magazine.
Pat Hughes, at the time a DJ at WFOM AM in Marietta, GA, became their manager and they played at his club the Stingray Club. They also played at Hugh Jarrett's teen club, Big Hugh Baby's Hoparooni. Hugh Jarrett was the former bass singer with The Jordanaires, who backed Elvis Presley.  He later was a popular DJ at WQXI AM in Atlanta.
Left; The Soul-Jers in action at The Armory in Alabama

The Soul-Jers also opened for many shows and played on bills with Joe South and Billy Joe Royal. Billy Joe's made a comment "Everywhere I go, that's all I hear is Soul-Jers, Soul-Jers, Soul-Jers!" They also worked for Bill Lowery Agency, as most of Atlanta acts did and The Arnold Agency.
One time they ended up backing Clifford Curry who had hit song called "She Shot a Hole in My Soul" when he showed up without a band at the Hoparooni. Band members Jim and Phil were still going to Cross Keys High School at the time and were asked to sign autographs at high school.
The original Soul-Jers who dreamed the dream and did all the work going to gigs in a 1953 Cadillac hearse, before having a van.  Later Steve Cook and John Fristoe played with the band. Sometime later Chuck and Ray decided to join forces with Ted Trombetta and Will Boulware, both incredible musicians who went on to form Booger Band. Will Boulware is still active in music today. 

Sad to say but Soul-Jers drummer and singer Chuck Brannon passed away in early 2011. 
Also would like to thank Bill Hardin for some of these photos. Also thanks to original Soul-Jers Tom Wilcher for his input.

2 comments:

  1. Such a joy to see my husband's photo (Steve Cook) in those first and second pictures. He passed away in August 2012 but he was a proud and talented musician every single day of his life. Thanks again for sharing these photos and story.

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