Originally formed in Louisville, Kentucky as The Crazy Sounds, the group moved to Cleveland where disc jockey Alan Freed renamed them The Moonglows (after his own nickname ‘Moondog’).
Freed helped to promote the group during their early years and, in a common practice of the day, often took a co-writer credit as compensation for his efforts.
Lead singer Harvey Fuqua served as the group’s leader and chief writer. Vocals were split between Bobby ‘Lester’ Dallas and Fuqua, and sometimes, in the group’s occasional duet leads, both. The other members were tenor Alexander ‘Pete’ Graves and bass Prentiss Barnes, with Billy Johnson on guitar.
The Moonglows performed two songs in the 1956 film Rock, Rock, Rock (pictured) which saw them make their biggest impact in the UK.
Alan Freed created the Champagne label specifically to release the band’s first single, and they went on to release 20 singles on the Chess label, scoring three US Top 30 hits. They also recorded as Bobby Lester and The Moonlighters for Checker, the Chess subsidiary.
Prentiss Barnes (born 1925) lost an arm and sustained serious hip injuries in a car accident in the late 60s. Numerous operations also left him with one leg shorter than the other.
He turned to drink and survived on social security until, in 1981, an insurance executive called Bill Morris set up a trust fund for Barnes and helped him recover some of the royalties he was owed.
Prentiss Barnes died on 1 October 2006. Harvey Fuqua passed away on 6 July 2010 after suffering a heart attack.
Bobby ‘Lester’ Dallas
Alexander ‘Pete’ Graves