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
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."
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."