Detroit Groups     3/19/2004(updated)

Information on these pages is provided for the purpose of promoting greater understanding and appreciation for vocal group harmony. Copyright 1998-2004. All Rights Reserved. Property of Nikki Gustafson & Jim Dunn. Not to be duplicated, reproduced or otherwise used without permission.

The Satintones -continued from previous page 


Before the Satintones , Jim Ellis sang with a group called the Five Sounds . With this group, Ellis wrote and recorded "You're The Greatest Gift Of All" b/w "Chalypso Baby" released on the NYC based Deb label in 1958. The record is now quite rare and commands a price of several hundred dollars in collectors circles. The Five Sounds were made up of:

Jim Ellis (lead)

Albert Ellis (Jim's brother)

Homer Glover

Pete Bologna

Gerald "Buzzy" Smith

Ellis was known for his smooth melodious voice, doing the lead on the majority of the Satintones "ballads". However, Ellis states he DID sing lead on “Motor City” contrary to the Goldmine article showing that Chico did lead on this. Ellis also sang lead on “My Beloved”, “A Love That Can Never Be”, “Angel”, and “Tomorrow and Always” ( an answer song to the Shirelles “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”).


Robert Bateman, as a Motown composer, co-wrote “Please Mr. Postman” and “Playboy” which were recorded by the Marvelettes, and “Jamie” which was a hit for Eddie Holland in 1962. Bateman was also active in engineering for Motown in their early days.


Vernon Williams sang with an RnB group called the Royal Holidays * prior to singing with the Satintones. He sang lead on the Satintones' “I Know How It Feels” in 1961.  After the Satintones, he later sang lead  and recorded with the Pyramids *, and then joined the Four Sonics.

* See previous article "Royal Holidays - Pyramids"

Most of the members of the Satintones backed up several “single artists”, as part of an "ad hoc" studio group called the Rayber Voices (Rayber coming from Ray, Berry’s wife, and Ber ry’s name combined). The Rayber Voices were merely any singers  around at the time when a "solo" artist was recording - they were then drafted to sing  the backup vocals !


Satintones' records today are considered quite rare in their original form, ranging in the $100 to $600 price range, and some of them have been “booted” over the years.

At the time of the initial writing this article, most of the members were still alive: Jim, Robert, Chico, & Vernon lived in or near the Detroit area; Sonny lives in the Chicago area. Chico is now living in Georgia and on March 11, 2004 Vernon Williams passed away after a lengthy illness.

The Satintones US releases create an interesting task for collectors. Not only are they rare but two of their records were pressed in multpiple versions. "My Beloved" was issued with and without strings. "A Love That Can Never Be" was released with two different flip sides "Angel" and "Tomorrow And Always". And to add to the fun in making your collection complete, "Tomorrow And Always" is shown in Jeff Kreiter's "Group Collector's Record Price Guide"  as being issued in one version with a male lead (Jim Ellis) and another with a female lead ( ?????? ). Neither Ellis nor Williams were aware of  a female lead version being recorded, nor have we been able to confirm the existence of one with any of the collectors we have checked with. We are also aware of a version with a "duet " lead (Thanks to Mitch Rosalsky & Dennis Ostrom for getting us a tape of this) .  We sent a copy of this  version to Jim Ellis who believes it's an overdub, with him doing the 2nd lead part. Vernon Williams recollects rehearsing the song with the group, with him singing the 2nd (higher) part to Jim Ellis' lead, but  doesn't recall  recording it . Based on the rawer quality of this version to the "solo" Ellis lead version, and the recollections of both Ellis and Williams, we're inclined to think that the "duet" version was the result of a rehearsal session being taped without the full awareness of the group members at the time. Additionally, we feel that the reference to a female lead was actually meant to cite the "duet" version. The Satintones US recordings are:

Tamla  54026   1960    Motor City b/w Going To The Hop

Motown 1000   1960   My Beloved b/w Sugar Daddy  ( no strings)    

Motown 1000   1960   My Beloved b/w Sugar Daddy  ( with strings)  

Motown 1006    1960   A Love That Can Never Be b/w Angel    

Motown 1006    1960   A Love That Can Never Be b/w Tomorrow & Always                                                                                                                        (male lead)

Motown 1006    1960   A Love That Can Never Be b/w Tomorrow & Always                                                                                                                        (duet lead )   

Motown 1010    1961   My Kind Of Love b/w I Know How It Feels

Motown 1020    1961   Zing Went The Strings b/w Faded Letter

Following are unreleased Satintones tracks, listing title, writer's credits and recording dates where known. Special thanks to Andy Rix in England for providing us with this information.

BABY DOLL (Janie Bradford, Robert Bateman) 09/61

BECAUSE I LOVE YOU (B. Holland,R. Bateman, V. Williams, C. Scott) 04/61 & 09/61       ( two versions)

BOOGIE WOOGIE HEART (Berry Gordy) 09/61 (two versions)

CONTINENTAL STRUT (B. Holland, R. Bateman, W. Mitchell) 09/60

DO YOU FEEL THE SAME (?) 04/61 & 09/61

EVEN THOUGH (?) 09/60

FOOT STOMPING TIME (Berry Gordy) 09/61

GROOVY TRACK (?) 09/61

HUNGRY HENRY (B. Gordy, W. Sanders, V. Williams, R. Bateman) 09/60 & 09/61          (two versions)

I'LL STAY WITH YOU (?) 04/61

LIVING IN A MEMORY ( B.Holland, R.Bateman,V.Williams, C. Scott) 04/61 & 09/62

MY LOVE FOR YOU (B.Holland, R.Bateman,J.Bradford) 04/61 & 09/61

ROB PETER TO PAY PAUL (J. Bradford, R.Wylie,Sammy Mack) 09/60 & 09/61

SHOO-DOO (Faye Hale, W. Stevenson) ?

THE FEELING IS SO FINE (W. Robinson, B. Gordy) 09/60 & 09/61

YOU CAN'T BEAT MY LOVIN' (C. Leverett, B.Gordy) 02/61

YOU CAST A SPELL ON ME (B. Gordy, J.Bradford) 09/60 & 09/61

YOU DON'T KNOW IT (B. Holland, Bateman, Williams) 09/61

YOU'D MAKE A FINE SON-IN-LAW (B.Gordy) 09/60 & 09/61

YOUNG GIRL (Williams, Gordy) 02/61 & 09/61

YOUR SWEET LOVE ( Harold Edwards, B. Holland, Bateman) 09/61

Williams recalls that the Satintones recorded material that was only released overseas (not in the States) in the late 60’s; Among these songs were: “Hungry Heart”, “I Can’t Replace My Old Love” & “Every Little Thing You Do” .

Studio shot

(l-r Chico Leverett, Sonny Sanders, James Ellis, Robert Bateman, Vernon Williams)

Photo courtesy of James Ellis

In 1990 the Satintones came back together to record once more, this time  doing both new original material as well as remaking a number of Motown songs for  Ian Levine, a British producer. These were released  in the USA on the Motor City  label on "The Best Of Motor City Series".

90's Satintones

(l-r Vernon Williams, Sonny Sanders, Chico Leverett, Robert Bateman, James Ellis)

CD Cover photo courtesy of Charlie Horner

Recorded at that time were: "Half A Man" , "Shake Me, Wake Me", "It's A Rough World" and "Perfect Combination". Will the Satintones return to the studio again ? We certainly hope so.

Nikki & Jim

Thanks to Jim Ellis, Chico Leverett, and Vernon Williams for providing information and pictures used in this article.

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