The Stylistics Profile

The Stylistics
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Formed from the twin cores of two Philadelphia high-school vocal groups, the Percussions, and the Monarchs, the Stylistics consisted of all members not drafted or moving on to college. Encouraged by their English teacher to continue under a new name, they soon garnered the attention of local producer Bill Perry, who had them record a song co-written by their tour manager and their guitarist called "You're A Big Girl Now." Different in style from the lavish productions they would be known for, it made a sizable regional impression—but Perry and his Sebring Records didn't have the money to get it noticed nationally.


The Avco label, knowing a hit when it heard one, bought the record for $10,000 (all of which Berry supposedly pocketed) and turned it into a Top Ten R&B hit in 1971. Avco producer Thom Bell developed the group, crafting several ballads—most written by Linda Creed, a white female—in the style he'd already perfected with the Delfonics of "La La Means I Love You" fame. The group's first album yielded no less than three hit singles, including "Stop, Look and Listen (To Your Heart)," their next R&B smash, and their crossover to pop, the improbably titled "Betcha By Golly, Wow."

Later Years

The Stylistics ruled the pop (and especially R&B) charts in the Seventies, but a fallout with Avco and Bell over royalties left the group high and dry by 1974. They soldiered on with new producers Hugo and Luigi, Avco execs who'd made their mark with Sam Cooke's pop smashes, and this new lighter approach got them chart success in the UK. They were even semi-successful in the burgeoning disco market that "Philly Soul" had spawned. By the early Eighties, however, there were no more hits. Thompkins, Love, and Murrell kept touring under the Stylistics name; Thompkins, citing years of vocal strain, left in 2000.


1966 (Philadelphia, PA)


Philly Soul, Soul, Pop-Soul, R&B

Original Members

Russell Thompkins Jr. (b. March 21, 1951, Philadelphia, PA): vocals (falsetto)
Airrion Love (b. August 8, 1949, Philadelphia, PA): vocals (tenor)
James Smith (b. June 16, 1950, New York, NY): vocals (bass)
Herbie Murrell (b. April 27, 1949, Lane, SC): vocals (baritone)
James Dunn (b. February 4, 1950, Philadelphia, PA): vocals (baritone)

Contributions to Music

  • Largely responsible for the popularization of the genre known as "Philly Soul"
  • Lead singer Russell Thompkins Jr. possesses one of the great falsettos in soul music
  • An inestimable influence on the soul music genre and modern R&B in particular
  • The most romantic of the Philly Soulsters, a very romantic group on record
  • Their more pop-oriented tracks let them cross over to the adult contemporary chart, and, later, to the UK
  • Their ultra-romantic style has endeared them to generations of Latinos particularly

Other Facts

  • Other members have included Raymond Johnson, Eban Brown and Van Fields
  • Thompkins formed the "Three Tenors Of Soul" with the Delfonics' Will Hart and Ted Mills of Blue Magic, both vets of the Philly Soul scene
  • "You Make Me Feel Brand New" was nominated for a Grammy in 1974 but lost out to Paul McCartney and Wings' "Band On The Run"
  • "Brand New" is the only Stylistics song on which Thompkins and Love share the lead vocal


  • Vocal Group Hall of Fame (2004)
  • Philadelphia Walk of Fame (1994)

Top 10 Hits


  • "Betcha By Golly, Wow" (1972)
  • "I'm Stone In Love With You" (1972)
  • "You Are Everything" (1972)
  • "Break Up To Make Up" (1973)
  • "You Make Me Feel Brand New" (1974)


  • "You're A Big Girl Now" (1971)
  • "Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)" (1971)
  • "Betcha By Golly, Wow" (1972)
  • "I'm Stone In Love With You" (1972)
  • "People Make The World Go Round" (1972)
  • "You Are Everything" (1972)
  • "Break Up To Make Up" (1973)
  • "Rockin' Roll Baby" (1973)
  • "You'll Never Get To Heaven (If You Break My Heart)" (1973)
  • "Heavy Fallin' Out" (1974)
  • "Let's Put It All Together" (1974)
  • "You Make Me Feel Brand New" (1974)
  • "Thank You Baby" (1975)

Top 10 Albums


  • The Stylistics (1972)
  • Round 2: The Stylistics (1973)
  • Heavy (1974)
  • Let's Put It All Together (1974)
  • Rockin' Roll Baby (1974)
  • Thank You Baby (1974)

Other Important Recordings

"Sing Baby Sing," "Na Na Is The Saddest Word," "7000 Dollars and You," "Peek-A-Boo," "Sixteen Bars," "Can't Give You Anything (But My Love)," "Funky Weekend," "Hey Girl, Come And Get It," "Star On A TV Show," "Because I Love You, Girl," "Can't Help Falling In Love," "You Are Beautiful," "Hurry Up This Way Again," "Children Of The Night," "First Impressions," "Love At First Sight," "Hurry Up This Way Again," "Love Talk"

Covered By

Prince, Marvin Gaye, Rod Stewart, Aaron Neville, Stanley Jordan, David Sanborn, Michael Jackson, Simply Red, Ramsey Lewis, The Beautiful South, Angela Bofill, Hall, and Oates, Cassandra Wilson