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Striders

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Biography

Sibling R&B group the Striders -- tenor Eugene, baritone Charles, and bass James Strider (along with family friend Ernest Griffin on second tenor) -- began their career on the family's Columbus, OH, front porch, devoting years to fine-tuning their lush harmonies on neighborhood streets and stoops before moving on to local nightclubs. According to Marv Goldberg's profile in the December 2003 issue of Discoveries, after one such club date the group met local promoter Bob Rock, who became their manager and arranged gigs across the state. During World War II the Striders went their separate ways, with Eugene and Charles joining the Wings Over Jordan Choir, but when the war ended all four members reunited with Rock, relocating to New York City in 1946. The Striders signed to Capitol two years later, during the summer cutting their first session. The label shelved the finished results, although a subsequent studio date yielded "Pleasin' You (As Long As I Live)," issued as a single in late 1948. By the following autumn, the Striders were signed to the small Mystery label, releasing "So Long." The quartet also backed singer Dolores Martin on her "I'm the Lonesomest Gal in Town." A move to Apollo Records preceded the Striders' third single, "Cool Saturday Night" -- released in May 1950, the record coincided with the group's appearance at New York City's famed Apollo Theater. Extended engagements at clubs in Newark and Washington, D.C., followed, but despite the increased visibility, "Cool Saturday Night" went nowhere. The Striders next resurfaced in late 1950 on the Manor label's Arco subsidiary, backing singer Savannah Churchill on "Changeable You." They remained in support of Churchill on her follow-up, 1951's Regal release "Once There Lived a Fool," cementing a collaboration that continued on the subsequent "And So I Cry." Although in mid-1951 Eugene Strider enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, he continued performing with the Striders during leaves of absence, and over the next year the group backed Churchill on four singles for RCA -- "In Spite of Everything You Do," "My Affair," "Waiting for a Guy Named Joe," and "If I Didn't Love You So," respectively -- although the label failed to credit their contributions on all of them. By mid-1952 the Striders were signed to the Derby label, backing Bette McLaurin on her "I Won't Tell a Soul I Love You" and Maureen Cannon on "Did I Speak Out of Turn?" Their lone headlining effort for Derby, "Rollin'," was released in mid-1954, but was likely cut some time earlier. Eugene Strider returned from military duty in 1955, around the same time Apollo Records inexplicably released the Striders' "I Wonder," recorded some six years earlier. The quartet toured regularly for the remainder of the decade, but dissolved around 1961. A year later, Eugene -- now credited as Gene Stridel -- issued a solo single on Verve, "Let Her Go," followed in 1964 by a Columbia LP, This Is Gene Stridel. One final Atlantic single, "The Zebra," appeared in 1968. Eugene Strider died in 1973, followed in 1982 by Griffin and in 1993 by brother James. ~ Jason Ankeny
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