Friends Of Distinction
Friends Of Distinction
Great harmonies and crossover arrangements backed the individually strong lead vocals of the group members. Combined with top notch material (both originals and covers), the group, like the Fifth Dimension, sounded like a breath of fresh air on Pop radio in 1969. Their first single, "Grazin' In the Grass," was a Elston-sung vocal remake of a Hugh Masekela instrumental cut, and hit the top 5 on both Pop and Soul charts in 1969. The group's follow-up, "Going In Circles," was a brilliant ballad that also charted high. Love took some time off to have a baby, and Charlene Gibson stepped in and sang lead on the group's third big hit, "Love or Let Me Be Lonely." She also sang on the wonderful album cut, "Crazy Mary." The Friends were quite prolific from 1969-71, releasing 5 albums (a sixth appeared in 1973).
They also released a number of great singles, including "Check It Out" (later remade by Tavares) and a terrific cover of Neil Sedaka's "Time Waits for No One." Their best cuts are excellently compiled in The Best of the Friends of Distinction, which was released in 1996. As popular music changed in the mid-70s, the Friends' fortunes declined. A grueling touring schedule and the lack of a hit for several years led the group to call it quits in 1975. Elston and Butler continued to write and perform for a few years, then ultimately went their separate ways, taking jobs outside of music. Over the next two decades, there was a rediscovery of the great music that the Friends had made together, and their biggest hits were remade by several artists, with "Going In Circles" charting for the Gap Band and Luther Vandross and "Love or Let Me Be Lonely" for pop artist Paul Davis.
Most recently, "Grazin In the Grass" was released by Disney star Raven. Elston and Butler met in 1990 and decided to bring the Friends back together. Tragically, Butler died (at Elston's side) before the group reunion could be realized. After Butler's death, Elston spent several years forming a new Friends group, ultimately bringing together Geno Henderson, Wendy Bruné and Berlando Drake to sing with Elston. That lineup currently tours and continues to entertain audiences 35 years after the world first heard the Friends of Distinction. By Chris Rizik Read more on Last.fm.
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