R.I.P. Willie B. Holland, last original member of The Persuaders

(February 15, 2016) We are sad to inform SoulTrackers of the end of an era, as Willie B. Holland, the last original member of The Persuaders, died on Sunday, February 13 after a battle with cancer. Holland’s death was announced on The Persuaders Fan Page on Facebook.

Formed in 1969 in the Bronx, the Persuaders released a number of terrific cuts in the early 70s – songs that have continued to resonate more than four decades later and some of which have been remade as hits in multiple genres.

(February 15, 2016) We are sad to inform SoulTrackers of the end of an era, as Willie B. Holland, the last original member of The Persuaders, died on Sunday, February 13 after a battle with cancer. Holland’s death was announced on The Persuaders Fan Page on Facebook.

Formed in 1969 in the Bronx, the Persuaders released a number of terrific cuts in the early 70s – songs that have continued to resonate more than four decades later and some of which have been remade as hits in multiple genres.

The Persuaders were formed from the ashes of doo-wop groups the Internationals and the Majestics, and the group's original lineup, led by gritty lead singer Smokey Scott and also including Jimmy Barnes, Charles Stodghill and Holland, signed with Atco Records in 1971.  The musical force behind the group was pianist/songwriter Richard Poindexter (who had spent much of the late 60s writing for such artists as Linda Jones and the O'Jays).   They came out of the box on fire and scored a huge hit that year with the Poindexter-penned "Thin Line Between Love and Hate," a now-classic ballad of warning that described the (literally) painful consequences to a man who took his woman for granted. 

While the Persuaders never again had a large crossover hit, they recorded a number of additional Soul charters over the next three years, including the top 10 "Love Gonna Pack Up" and the excellent mid-tempo "Some Guys Have All The Luck" (later recorded by Rod Stewart and Robert Palmer).

The hits stopped coming by the mid-70s, and the group's major label recording career was soon over.  The Persuaders experienced a series of line-up changes over the next several years before breaking up.

Poindexter and Tommy Hill (who had joined the group in the 70s) reformed the Persuaders in the mid 90s with former part-time Persuader Alexander Brown and former Implements member David Turner.  This lineup toured into the new century until Hill's sad passing in 2002.  He was replaced by powerful lead singer Tony "Showtime" Riley. In early 2006, nearly two decades after their last album, the Persuaders released Made to Be Loved on the It's Soul Time record label.  Sadly, a year later Alex Brown died.  He was replaced in 2007 by Evan Wills. The current touring version of the group includes members Vince Ballard, Jay Jones, Keith Simmons and Tmarvin Williams.

We have had a year with too many death among the great classic soul artists, and Willie Holland’s death marks the sad end to the original lineup of one of the great 70s groups. Rest in peace, Willie.

By Chris Rizik

Thanks to SoulTracker Gary for letting us know

 
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