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The Charioteers were a black gospel group formed in Ohio in 1930 by Billy Williams (1911-72). By 1937 the group consisted of Williams (lead tenor), Eddie Jackson (second tenor), Ira Williams (baritone), Howard Daniel (bass) and James Sherman (piano). They recorded mostly negro spirituals for the Vocalion label until they signed with Columbia in 1940. Columbia wanted to remake the group into a pop rival to Decca's Ink Spots. Soon the Charioteers were in the pop music charts with their recording of Russ Morgan's 1940 song "So Long." The TV producers thought the Charioteers were too old. So Williams left the Charioteers and formed The Billy Williams Quartet. The group disbanded in 1957. Williams eventually became a solo artist and was the first in-person guest on American Bandstand. Williams died in Chicago on Oct. 17, 1972.
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