The Shades Of Blue
In the Spring of 1966, a, suburban Detroit vocal quartet called The Shades Of Blue, skyrocketed to the top of charts with their "Blue-Eyed Soul" smash, "Oh How Happy".
Originating from Livonia, Michigan, The Shades of Blue were: Nick Marinelli (lead vocals), Ernie Dernai (first tenor), Linda Allen (second tenor), and Bob Kerr (baritone).
The Shades of Blue got started in the ninth grade at Junior High, singing Doo-Wop type things on street corners. Not long after, they formed a group called The Domingos, singing at school, at Union Halls and even Elks-Clubs. Their sound was influenced by groups such as The Flamingos and The Temptations.
In 1965, The Domingos landed their first recording audition with the help of another Livonia, Michigan based group, The Reflections (who had recorded, "Just Like Romeo and Juliet" for the Detroit-based Golden World label. They put them in touch with a guy named Ed Wingate, who owned the Golden World label. The four continued to hang around the Golden World studios at nights and on weekends. It was here where they met engineer/producer John Rhys, who worked for the label. Rhys thought the act needed a name that better suited their vocal style, and suggested, The Shades of Blue. Everyone agreed, and the name stuck. One day at Golden World, The Shades of Blue were introduced to Edwin Starr, who recorded for the label. Starr showed the group a song he was writing called, "Oh How Happy". It was just the right kind of tune that the quartet was looking for. The Shades of Blue worked with Edwin to complete the song and recorded it at the Golden World studios in January 1966. Producer John Rhys was so impressed with the finished master that he immediately took the tape to Harry Balk, owner of the Detroit-based Impact label. Balk, signed The Shades of Blue to a multi-record contract.
On March 30, 1966, "Oh How Happy" made its public debut on Detroit radio stations WKNR and WXYZ, as well as Windsor, Ontario's 50,000 watt giant, CKLW. The platter took off like a "shot out of the blue", and blasted to the #1 spot on all three stations in less than three weeks. The record spread like wildfire into other major markets abroad, hitting #12 on the national pop charts, #7 on the R&B listings, and reaching the top ten in Canada.
The overnight success of "Oh How Happy" caught everyone by surprise, as Nick Marinelli remembers: "We literally hit the road running. All of us were still in college at the time, and suddenly, Harry Balk is calling us up saying, "I've got all kinds of bookings lined up for you guys". It was crazy". In addition to a grueling cross-country tour schedule, the Shades TV appearances included several spots on Dick Clark's "Where The Action Is", and Jerry Blavat's Philly-based "Discophonic Scene" teen show. In the Detroit area, they were regulars on Robin Seymour's "Swingin Time".
On September 17, 1966, the LP, "Happiness Is The Shades of Blue", hit the shelves. A September 1966 Billboard album review described the eleven-track offering as, "A well-performed, sure-fire winner".
The Shades of Blue concentrated on live performances through the end of the late sixties, but the end of the road was clearly in sight. Around 1967, the whole music scene started to change, Acid Rock was becoming popular and The Shades of Blue didn't want to go in that direction. So in 1970, four years after their Blockbuster hit "Oh How Happy" was recorded The Shades of Blue disbanded.
In 2003 after a 33 year hiatus recording with The Shades of Blue, Nick Marinelli received a phone call from the legendary Motown Group, The Valadiers. The Valadiers recorded with Motown Records in the early 60's and where the first White Recording Group Motown ever signed. Their most successful hit was "Greetings (This is Uncle Sam)". The Valadiers lost one of their members and needed a replacement. Vocal group veterans Stuart Avig (original lead singer of The Valadiers), Andy Alonzo and Donald Revels called upon Nick to join the group.
The Valadiers first performance with Nick was in April of 2003 in Washington DC. On that show were also The Cadillacs, The Teenagers and The Platters. Shortly after the show the group thought it would be a good idea to change their name to The Shades of Blue.
In October of 2003 The "New" Shades of Blue would form their partnership around Andy Alonzo, Stuart Avig, Donald Revels and Nick Marinelli. The Shades of Blue have performed for numerous sold out audiences all over the world ever since. Combining their Motown roots with their Blue-Eyed Soul sound they quickly became one of the finest entertainment groups in the world.
The Shades of Blue would go on to perform over 40 dates a year all over the world in cities such as: Detroit, Columbus, Seattle, New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Grand Rapids, Cleveland, Omaha, Minneapolis, Boston, St. Louis, Washington D.C., Charlotte, Miami, Buffalo and Toledo just to name a few. In addition, The Shades of Blue performed on three Caribbean cruises, The Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame and The Motown 50th Anniversary Party.
The Shades of Blue would go on to perform on the same shows with the legendary artists from the 50's and 60's such as: The Four Tops, The Platters, The Teenagers, The Contours, The Spaniels, Ben E King, The Drifters, The Skyliners, The Flamingos, Tommy Hunt, Dion, Bowzer and Jay Black to name a few.
In 2006, Donald Revels decided to take a break from touring and he was replaced with former Detroit Police officer, Charlie Valverde. The Shades of Blue continued to tour and perform all across the country.
In 2009, Nick Marinelli decided to leave the group to pursue a solo career in Country and Spiritual music. The Shades of Blue needed a replacement and they enticed Donald Revels to make a comeback to the stage.
In 2011, Andy Alonzo decided to leave the group. The Shades of Blue replaced Andy with the multi-talented Charles Davis from The Contours featuring Joe Billingslea.
The Shades of Blue now consisting of Stuart Avig, Donald Revels, Charlie Valverde and Charles Davis are still going strong. They continue to perform all of their hits including the two that put them on the map, "Oh How Happy" and "Greetings (This is Uncle Sam)".