Originally known as Santa Monica, the S.O.S. (sounds of success) Band formed of members Willie “Sonny” Killebrew on saxophone, Billy Ellis on flute, Jason Bryant on the keyboard, Bruno Speight on guitar, John Simpson on bass, James Earl Jones III on drums and Mary Davis on vocals. The band would perform regularly and recorded a series of demos, one of which was heard by Tabu Records who signed the group to their first recording contract.
In 1980 S.O.S. Band released their first hit single “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” written and produced by Sigidi Abdullah and Harold Clayton. The single went platinum, reached No. 1 in the R&B chart, staying there for band five weeks, and debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200. The debut album “S.O.S.” also performed remarkably well selling over 800,000 copies and reaching No. 2 in the R&B album chart.
The band subsequently toured and welcomed the multi-instrumentalist Abdul Ra’oof to the line-up, whose recording debut with the band came on their sophomore album “Too” in 1981. S.O.S. Band’s third studio release entitled “S.O.S. Band III” came in 1982 with support from producer Terry Lewis.
After these modest successes, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis took over the production reigns for LP number four titled “On the Rise”. The album became certified gold as did its successor “Just the Way You Like It” which featured the No. 6 R&B single of the same name. The tide began to turn for the S.O.S. Band with their sixth studio album “Sands of Time” which despite reaching No. 4 in the R&B chart was the last of a string of their distinctive house music releases that made popular the Roland TR-808 drum machine.
Mary Davis announced her departure from the band in 1987 to pursue a solo career, however the band continued-on a released the albums “Diamonds in the Raw” (1989) and “One of Many Night” (1991). In 1994 Davis reunited with Abdul Ra’oof and Jason Bryant in a new band in the hopes of recreating some of the same funky sounds.Read more
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