Fred on the porch of Number 218 Josephine in May 2003

By the time Fred had joined Hutchins Middle School at 8820 Woodrow Wilson, he was discovering how music was taking a hold of his life. "Like most folks, we would buy our records from White's in Ferry Park. I liked most music styles but recall being particularly fond of the Imperials, The Midnighters, The Dominos and The Platters.

I was singing along to all those songs and to be honest felt that I had something special going."

Fred's new found talent was soon put to the test at Hutchins when the Melody Skylarks were born. With Fred on Lead, the rest of the group were Clarence McCain (False Tenor), Charles Chandler (Tenor), Alfred Burrell (Baritone) and Henry McDonald (Bass).

"We were practicing at home, singing in school, singing on street corners, or anywhere that we knew that the girls would hear us. We were singing the hit songs of the day, like the Chords "Sha-boom", or some Clovers, Dominos, Platters, anything that was going down well in the record stores."

No. 2218 Ferry Park, the place to buy your 45's in Detroit. Hitsville is within walking distance.

When the Skylarks broke up, Fred formed another group called the Dreamers whose line up was Obie Neeley (Tenor), Raymond Duncan (Super Bass), ?? Williams (Lead and Tenor) and James Ingram (Baritone; who would later work at the Chronicle and in Black Radio), and Fred who was now singing Baritone, Tenor and Lead.

They were now entering singing contests at Northern High School, pitting themselves against other newcomers like the Matadors, whom they beat into second place in a contest in 1955.

Only a few years later, The Matadors would become the Miracles of Motown, so Fred and his group were showing a lot of potential.

In 1956 Fred got married to a girl called Clementine. They had 2 children called Gerald and Fred Jr.

A year later, he joined the Air Force and spent four years in special forces with another group called the Crystals. Their line-up was James Woods, James Gadson, Fred Bridges and one other.

"We toured all the Air Force bases across the States and won every contest we entered.

Our choice of material was simple; good songs, old and new, and some original tunes written by myself."


Notes thanks to David Meikle.


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