The story of The Tymes begins in 1955, when Norman Burnett met George Hilliard at a Willow Grove, Pennsylvania summer camp. When they returned home they hooked up with neighbors Albert (Caesar) Berry, III and Donald Banks, and formed a vocal group called The Latineers. Banks went to Benjamin Franklin High School, while the others attended Northeast High School, all in Philadelphia.
Ceasar and Donald lived in the same neighborhood. George and Donald were also cousins. Norman lived a little distance from the rest of them, but they all seemed to pull it together. For the next four years, the quartet made the rounds of the local circuit, performing at record hops, local talent shows and at nightclubs.
In 1960, The Latineers brought in George Williams, Jr., whose Johnny Mathis-infulenced tenor would prove to be the missing piece of the puzzle. The quintet was now set. The group continued to toil around Philadelphia for the next three years while honing their craft. The quintet’s breakthrough occurred in 1963 when they were contestants in the Tip Top Talent Hunt hosted by Philadelphia radio station WDAS. The Latineers performed “Danny Boy” and drew the attention of Leroy Lovett, one of the contest’s judges. He was impressed enough to have them audition for Billy Jackson, the A&R director of Cameo-Parkway records. Billy wanted to record them. Billy took The Latineers into the studio and produced them.
When the group signed with Cameo-Parkway the first matter to be addressed was the selection of the new moniker instead of going with the seemingly dated “Latineers”. The named was changed to The Tymes.
George Williams had written the melody and the first verse to a romantic song he called “The Stroll”. He worked with others to complete the tune, and re-titled it “So Much In Love”. The group went into the studio and recorded “So Much In Love” many different ways. The final version was released in the spring of 1963. By August, it passed Jan and Dean’s “Surf City” to become the number one pop record in the country. It also reached number four on the R&B charts and number twenty-one in the U.K. The Tymes were really new kids on the block. They went on tour after “So Much In Love” was released. The Tymes traveled around the country with Dick Clark’s “Cavalcade of Stars”.
For their second single, The Tymes took advantage of the similarity of George Williams’ vocal style to that of Johnny Mathis, and covered his 1957 hit “Wonderful! Wonderful!”. The song was given an arrangement in the same vein as it predecessor, and reached number seven on the pop charts that summer.
Near the end of 1963 The Tymes released “Somewhere”, which reached number 19 on the pop charts. “Somewhere” , like the group’s number one hit, did prominently feature finger snaps and “ooh-wee-ooh” background chirps, and contained very little music.
Cameo-Parkway again quickly assembled an album, entitled “Somewhere”. In addition to the title song the LP contained “Come With Me To The Sea”; versions of two much-covered classics, “The Lamp Is Low” and “Stranger In Paradise” and “Anymore”, a Billy Jackson and Roy Straigis composition that was given an exotic arrangement. All three of The Tymes’ Cameo-Parkway albums charted.
In the winter of 1964, the quintet released a cover of The Platters’ “To Each His Own”. Next to follow was “Our Summer Love”, a wonderful, bossa nova-flavored tune.
The Tymes eventually left Cameo-Parkway and signed with Columbia records. In 1968 The Tymes recorded Barbra Streisand’s 1964 hit “People”. It reached number 33 on the R&B charts, cracked the pop top 40, and hit number 16 in the U.K. over the next two-and-a-half years, The Tymes released four addition singles on Columbia. In the early 1970’s George Hilliard left the group and was replaced by Charles Nixon.
The Tymes left Columbia and signed with RCA in 1973. It was here that The Tymes released “You Little Trustmaker” in 1974. The song peaked at number 12 on the pop chart, reaching number 20 on the R&B side and hitting number 18 in Britain. Near the end of the year, The Tymes followed their smash hit with “Ms. Grace”. This song featured a glorious, gospel-flavored intro, and had a bouncy, feel-good groove. This song placed number 1 in Britain. It earned The Tymes a gold record. After the released of “Ms. Grace” The Tymes went on tour for a year in Europe. The Tymes released other singles throughout 1975 and 1976. They include “Baby, It’s Cool”, which reached number 3 on the R&B charts.
By the late 1970’s Charles Nixon left the group. George Williams had left The Tymes also and relocated to Europe in 1978. They were replaced by two female vocalists, Melanie Moore and Terri Gonzalez. Albert Berry left The Tymes also for a few short years but soon returned.
In the 1990’s The Tymes returned with Albert Berry, Norman Burnett and Donald Banks. They added new member Lafayette Gamble in 1992. The Tymes continue to perform their great hits traveling the world over.
The Tymes were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame, class of 2005. The ceremony took place November, 2008. This was a great honor for The Tymes and they cherished the recognition of their talent.
George Williams passed away in July of 2004. Donald Banks also passed away in October of 2011. George Hilliard passed away in September of 2014. They are greatly missed.
As of today The Tymes are known as The Original Tymes. Their lineup consists of two original members: Al (Ceasar) Berry and Norman Burnett. Rounding out the unit is John Stone, who recently joined the group.
This page is dedicated to Donald Banks, George Williams, and George Hilliard.