Sunday, March 03, 2013

Virgil Johnson of the Velvets

Virgil Johnson, lead singer of the Velvets, one of the smoothest of all doowop groups, has died aged 77. Virgil grew up in Lubbock, Texas, and formed the group in Odessa where he was working as a teacher. They were discovered by Roy Orbison, who recommended them to Fred Foster, the owner of Monument records in Nashville. Their two best known singles - That Lucky Old Sun and and Tonight (Could Be the Night) - both featured lush string arrangements and had B sides written by Roy. The B side of their third single, Laugh, was Lana - later a hit for Roy himself.
The Velvets were a black group who sounded white and never gained a black following. Despite a number of follow up singles for Monument they failed to repeat their early success and Virgil went back to teaching, before making his mark as a DJ in Lubbock.  The Velvets had three 45s released in the UK and the two featured below are well worth a listen.
The Velvets - Tonight (Could Be The Night)/ Spring Fever. London HLU 9372.

The Velvets - That Lucky Old Sun/ Time And Again. London HLU 9328.


At 4:51 am , Anonymous richard dowdy said...

I bought The Velvets "Tonight," and "Lucky Old Sun" on Monument Records in 1961. I played them both over and over as I painted our home's stairwell, bathroom and upstairs hall in the summer of '61. About four years ago I wrote to Virgil Johnson to tell him what the songs meant to me way back then. I never heard from him; he had a radio show on a station in Lubbock. I was writing to a friend recently and went to a site to get details on Virgil's life...that's when I learned he had passed away. Those songs--Spring Fever, Tonight and Lucky Old Sun are still among my favorits.


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