Bobby Peterson was a pianist / vocalist from Chester, Pennsylvania, who started out imitating Ray Charles in smoky little bars on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Further musical apprenticeship was served as piano player for a vocal outfit known as the Apollos. In 1958 Bobby teamed up with sax player Joe Pyatt, who needed a singer and key- board player for his new combo and the Bobby Peterson Quintet was born. The other members were David Butler (drums), Chico Green (bass) and Jamo Thomas (congas and bongo). They made six remarkable singles for Buddy Caldwell's Philly-based V-Tone label between 1959 and 1961, before disbanding permanently in 1962.
The band started to play in clubs with a mixed repertoire of current R&B hits, Ray Charles favourites and a few originals, when Lawrence Kerrin, a local talent scout and promoter, heard them at the Skyway Inn in southwest Philadelphia. Kerrin and Joe Pyatt collaborated writing the Quintet's first single, a simple sax/piano instrumental called "The Hunch". Kerrin introduced the combo to Buddy Caldwell, who operated his new V-Tone and Len labels out of the back of his upholstery store on Ridge Avenue. "The Hunch" (c/w the vocal "Love You Pretty Baby") managed to climb to # 71 on Billboard's national pop charts, but a note-for-note cover by Paul Gayten on the Gordy family's embryonic Anna imprint did slightly better, peaking at # 68 in November 1959.
The quintet followed this up with a powerful two-part instrumental, "Rockin' Charlie", which was used as a theme by ace deejay Jocko Henderson. They began doing one-nighters up and down the eastern seaboard, and were brought to Chicago by Buddy Caldwell to record their third single, the great "Irresistible You" (written by Luther Dixon), coupled with a wild instrumental, "Piano Rock". "Irresistible You" went to # 15 R&B and # 96 pop in the autumn of 1960 ; Bobby Darin would record the song a year later and take it to # 15 pop. The group was now touring all over the country, with stars like Jackie Wilson, Jerry Butler and Smokey Robinson.
"Been Saving My Love For You"/"Three Street" was the fourth V-Tone single for the Bobby Peterson Quintet. Released in early 1961, it was not as strong as the first three, but still sold quite well. "One Day"/ "Mama Get Your Hammer" probably got the least airplay of all six singles. The wild "Mama Get Your Hammer" should have been the A-side IMHO. This was followed by another great instrumental, "Smooth Sailin', Parts 1 & 2", which sold a fair amount. But the young musicians were already tiring of the hard road life and drummer David Butler chose to settle down and get steady work. Joe Pyatt, the real leader of the group, joined Dave "Baby" Cortez's combo as sax man in 1962, while Chico Green went on to work with Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. Jamo Thomas joined several combos and scored a # 98 pop hit in 1966 with "I Spy For the FBI". Bobby Peterson himself did a one-off session for Atlantic in November 1961 (resulting in one single release) and returned to the rounds of Chester's clubs. In the 1980s he was playing in a funky aggregation called Self-Destruct.
The six V-Tone singles (which I can warmly recommend, exciting piano and sax work) were reissued on an LP called "Piano Rock" (V-Tone/Relic 8007), in the late eighties. Certainly not in 1996 as is alleged in Pete Hoppula's discography at http://koti.mbnet.fi/wdd/bobbypeterson.htm
An extended version of this LP was issued on CD (Relic CD 7138) in 1999 under the title "Irresistible You - Piano Rock". There are 25 tracks, but only 13 of these are by the BPQ (including an unissued alternate of "Smooth Sailin'"). The other tracks are by other V-Tone artists like Big Al Downing (Yes I'm Loving You) and Bobby Parker (Watch Your Step).
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