One of the early "Philly Soul" groups, the Intruders had a string of hits in the late 60s and early 70s that brought them international, if somewhat fleeting, fame. They also served as recipients of some of the nascent work of future super-producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff
Formed around 1960, the group originally consisted of Sam "Little Sonny" Brown, Eugene "Bird" Daughtry, Phillip "Phil" Terry and Robert "Big Sonny" Edwards. In 1969, Sam Brown was replaced as lead singer by Bobby Starr, only to rejoin the group in 1973.
In 1965, when songwriters and record producers Gamble and Huff first contemplated leaving the Cameo-Parkway record label to risk launching their own label, the vocalists on which they pinned all their hopes and venture capital were The Intruders. Like many other subsequent acts the duo produced, which included Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and The O'Jays, The Intruders had already developed a vocal sound that was both their's and uniquely Philadelphian.
Brown, Daughtry, Terry and Edwards had been recording and performing one-off singles together since 1961, blending Philly's street corner doo-wop tradition with black gospel fervor. The result was neither as pop-infected as Motown, nor as funky and blues-inflected as Stax. The sound which The Intruders refined for the Excel, Gamble and Philadelphia International imprints reflected a different attitude than either Stax or Motown.
Gamble and Huff's success with The Intruders helped convince Columbia Records to grant them the money to launch Philadelphia International. Gamble and Huff acknowledged that their work with The Intruders was the foundation of what they called "The Sound Of Philadelphia".
The Intruders, meanwhile, were undergoing some internal turmoil. When the group resurfaced on the 1970 Gamble LP, When We Get Married, lead singer Brown was replaced by Bobby Starr. The title song, "When We Get Married" (R&B #8, Pop #45), a Dreamlovers cover, became a hit on the charts, as was the follow-up "Win, Place Or Show (She's A Winner)" (UK #14). Starr's tenure with the group included Soul Train television appearances, and the rare collector's single, "I'm Girl Scoutin". Brown returned to the group in 1973 for the album Save The Children, which spawned The Intruders' last two big hits, "I'll Always Love My Mama" (R&B #6, Pop #36) and "I Wanna Know Your Name" (R&B #9, Pop #60).
"Cowboys to Girls" (R&B #1, Pop #6) remains the only chart topping single of their career. It was awarded an R.I.A.A. gold disc for one million sales in mid May 1968. It was covered by the Hacienda Brothers. Other covers of their hit singles included "Together", which was recorded by Gladys Knight & The Pips on their Silk 'N' Soul LP, as well as The Three Degrees on their 1975 work, Take Good Care Of Yourself.
Daughtry died of cancer in 1994, and Brown committed suicide in 1995. The Intruders today include Bobby Starr, Glenn Montgomery and Phil Gay. The group is featured on the "My Music" DVD hosted by Patti LaBelle on PBS, and tour with the Love Train: Sound of Philadelphia Concert series. There are also several tribute groups including "The Philly Intruders," who appear on The Big Show DVD.