In high school in Kansas City, Charles Love, Harry Williams, and friends enjoyed practicing their vocal harmonies in the echo-laden boys' room.
"Man, it sounded real good. We were jamming," Love recalled. "Kids would hang out "
"There'd be so many kids," Williams added with a laugh, "that the teachers would break it up and make us get back to class."
But the singers didn't stay away from the music for too long.
Love and Williams formed a five-man vocal band called the Sinceres in 1962, which later became Bloodstone, and went on to record such hit songs as "Natural High," "Never Let You Go," "Outside Woman," and "My Little Lady."
Bloodstone will be one of the groups performing in the '70s Soul Jam tonight in the Stranahan Theater, along with the Delfonics, the Chi-Lites, and the headline group, the Stylistics.
The members of Bloodstone left Kansas City for Los Angeles in the late 1960s and performed with a "Who's Who" of soul and R&B music, including Marvin Gaye, the Spinners, Gladys Knight, and Ike and Tina Turner.
"It was different. It was 'bright lights, big city,' " Williams recalled in an interview. "It was a lot of fun to us."
The group moved to London in 1972, where they were signed by Decca Records, and while in England they worked with such stars as Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Carla and Rufus Thomas, the Who, and Elton John.
"We learned a lot from our experiences over there," Williams said. "But it was good to come home. There's no place like the United States."
Williams said Bloodstone has been together continuously since 1962, although there were some lean years along the way.
"We had a dry spell, like most acts, in the disco era of the 1970s, because we're balladeers," he said. "We also had difficulties living through the first part of the rap era. But now that the 'old school' has been discovered, we're enjoying phenomenal success."
Bloodstone recently released its first CD on its own label, Check It Records, titled. "Now! That's What I'm Talkin' About."
Tonight's headliners, the Stylistics, formed in Philadelphia in 1968 and soared to the top of the charts with a smooth and soulful mix of ballads, including "Betcha By Golly Wow," "Break Up To Make Up," "You'll Never Get to Heaven," and "You Make Me Feel Brand New."
The Delfonics, another Philly group, started as a vocal trio and produced such hits as "La-La Means I Love You" and "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind)."
The Chi-Lites, from Chicago, started out as the Hi-Lites in the mid-1960s before adding a "C" to their name. The group's repertoire ranged from romantic ballads to funky soul songs, including such hits as "Oh Girl," "Have You Seen Her," and "Toby."
The Stylistics, Bloodstone, the Chi-Lites, and the Delfonics perform in the '70s Soul Jam at 8 p.m. today in the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. Tickets, $29.50 and $35.50, are available from the box office and Ticketmaster.
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