When Johnny’s brother Eugene Tanner joined the group, taking on some leads himself, he reinforced the more assertive, declamatory style of quartets and soul singers.
Songwriter and bass/baritone singer Lowman Pauling wrote lyrics full of down-home wisdom and humor, and suddenly emerged, late into the group’s career, as a concise but explosive guitarist.
They signed with Apollo Records in 1951 and released only two singles before going secular (at first as the Royals) with the boozy boogie “Too Much of a Little Bit.” But they hit their stride a year later with “Baby Don’t Do It,” Tanner’s melismatic voice straining against the top of its range and buttressed by emphatic group harmonies.
As a result, when they’re recognized at all, it’s usually for three songs: “Think,” covered by James Brown; “Dedicated to the One I Love,” taken to No.
3 on the pop charts by the Shirelles in 1961 and then to No.