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The Spiders

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Biography

New Orleans R&B was best known for its solo artists, but the Spiders rank among the Crescent City's pre-eminent vocal groups, and were certainly the best the city produced during the '50s. The Spiders actually began life circa 1947 as a gospel group called the Zion City Harmonizers; they later changed their name to the Delta Southernaires, and made a few recordings and radio appearances from 1952-1953. With encouragement from legendary New Orleans studio head Cosimo Matassa, the group switched to secular R&B and signed with Imperial in late 1953. The newly christened Spiders were centered around brothers Hayward "Chuck" Carbo and Leonard "Chick" Carbo, the latter a bass singer who sometimes split lead vocals with his brother; the other members of the quintet were Joe Maxon, Matthew West, and Oliver Howard. Their first single, "I Didn't Want to Do It," went to number three on the R&B charts in early 1954, and other sides like "You're the One," "Tears Begin to Flow," and "I'm Slippin' In" were top sellers as well, making the Spiders a hot concert draw. Maxon and West both left the group in 1955 and were replaced by Bill Moore and Issacher Gordon. The Spiders' string of R&B Top Tens continued that year with "21" and the Dave Bartholomew-penned "Witchcraft," their second Top Five hit and biggest overall seller (it was later covered by Elvis Presley). Imperial began grooming Chuck Carbo for a solo career in 1956, which caused dissent within the group; by the end of the year, Chick Carbo had signed to Atlantic as a solo artist himself, and the Spiders effectively dissolved. A final single in 1957, "That's My Desire," failed to catch on, as did a posthumous from-the-vaults release in 1960, "Tennessee Slim." Neither of the Carbo brothers scored any significant chart hits, although Chuck did return in the late '80s and early '90s, cutting an album for Rounder in 1993. Chick passed away in 1998. ~ Steve Huey
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