The Velons are an incredibly talented vocal group with 60 years of performing and recording under their belt. They have dazzled audiences with their blend of harmony, which recaptures the sounds and spirit of a time when love songs echoed in the hearts of the young and young at heart. Their polished vocals and use of "blow" harmony have been compared to these legendary vocal groups: The Moonglows and the Flamingos.
It all started in 1958 when Jimmy Falwell, Gilbert Farrell and John King – who attended McKinley Tech High School in Washington, DC - formed a singing group. A young Marvin Gaye, who attended Cardozo High School in DC, played drums in the band behind Falwell, Farrell and King. According to Falwell, he met fellow DC groups the Rainbows and Jewels while in high school when they participated alongside his group in talent shows sponsored by city schools for up-and-coming black groups.
The group became The Velons and began their professional career in 1968. Consisting of John King, Jimmy Falwell, Gilbert Farrell and James “Buddy” Owens, The Velons cut their first record which was a dedication to the soldiers in Vietnam entitled “Why Don’t You Write?” (The song was released on the BJM label, which was operated by the group's long-time manager Lawrence E. Berry.) The same year they recorded “That’s What Love Can Do”. The Velons' 1979 version of “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart” went to number 16 on the Beach Music charts. This tune featured bass vocalist Bobby Horn, who joined the group in the early 1970's. (Horn is a cousin of jazz singer and pianist Shirley Horn, who was a DC native.)
In 1988, The Velons, along with four other DC vocal groups who had local and national hit recordings, were featured on a Christmas holiday album, “A Capitol Christmas”. The album was recorded on the BJM label, in association with the Washington Hit Makers. The Christmas album was re-released in 1994 on Collectables records as “A Rhythm & Blues Christmas – Volume 2”. In 1997, Collectibles also released “Come Get These Memories” – a great collection of previous recordings by The Velons which included Carrie Mingo, formerly of The Jewels.
In February 1999, The Velons released a CD “It’s All Good, It’s All Right”. This CD has all original songs written by members of the group and it was arranged and produced by composer Al Johnson of the DC R&B group, The Unifics. The CD features the return of Jean Quander Cheeks, whose sultry alto brought additional color to The Velons’ harmonies.
A few months later, The Velons appeared in the historic photograph, “The Pioneers of Rhythm & Blues, Rock & Roll and Doo-Wop,” which was taken on Sunday, June 6th, 1999. This photo features legends and trailblazers of early Rhythm & Blues such as members of The Orioles and The Teenagers, who paved the way for the popular music of today. The photograph is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution and the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University, both in Washington, D.C.; The Schomburg Center for Research in Black History in New York City and the Auburn Library for Black History in Atlanta, Georgia.
In October 2007, The Velons released their most critically acclaimed recording of their career, “The VELONS and their Divas”, which featured three incredible female acts – The Jewels, Justine “Baby” Washington, and The Clickettes.
In the spring of 2013, George Spann - an original member of the DC-based Motown act, The Dynamic Superiors ("Shoe Shoe Shine") - joined The Velons. His addition to the group came after James “Buddy” Owens, a long-time beloved member of The Velons, passed away in January of that year. The last recording Owens made with the group was “Never Let Me Go” (b/w “Baby Don’t Go”). Other former members of The Velons - namely Gilbert Farrell and Robert “Snobby” Brown, Jr. (formerly of the Chessmen and the Cashmeres) - recently passed away as well. The Velons’ manager Lawrence Berry, who was also Buddy Owens' brother-in-law, passed in 2017.
Over the years, The Velons have shared the stage with great artists such as The Five Satins, Mary Wells, Ben E. King, The Skyliners, The Shirelles, Baby Washington, The Heartbeats, The Cadillacs, Eugene Pitt and the Jive Five, and more.
Why don't you write sometime, why not just drop me a line?
- Why Don't You Write