A multi-racial group from South London, The Equals embodied the phrase ‘Blue Eyed Soul’. Their music was a combination of rock and soul, spliced with R&B, and gave birth to a significant solo contributor in the development of reggae in Britain.
Formed by twin Jamaican brothers, Lincoln and Derv Gordon, The Equals also boasted two Englishmen (Hall and Lloyd) and Guyana-born Eddy Grant.
From 1965 The Equals played in and around North London, before recording for President Records two years later.
Their first single, I Won’t Be There, bombed despite being heavily supported by the pirate radio stations.
Their debut album, Unequalled Equals, released during December 1967, was promoted as the ‘party’ album by pirate stations which pushed it into the Top Ten.
A second LP, Equals Explosion, followed a year later. Neither album spawned hit singles, except I Get So Excited which reached the British Top 40 in February 1968.
The Equals then toured Europe for six months where they commanded a loyal following, particularly in Belgium, Germany and Holland.
Written by Eddy Grant, Baby Come Back was actually recorded as the B-side of Hold Me Closer during 1966. As an A-side, the song was first released on the Continent, where it soared up the German charts before topping several other European listings.
The song earned The Equals a gold disc for sales in excess of one million copies.
Inspired by this success, President Records in Britain re-issued Baby Come Back as an A-side and watched it reach the top of the UK chart in July 1968.
Laurel and Hardy was the follow-up offering, but it struggled into the Top 40. Ironically it was The Equals’ only US hit. The next release, Softly Softly, fared even worse.
The strangely named Michael and The Slipper Tree (January 1969) earned them a British Top 30 placing, and Viva Bobby Joe (July 1969) returned The Equals to the Top Ten. The song was later adopted by football supporters under the new title Viva Bobby Moore.
The last single of 1969 was the poorly-selling Rub a Dub Dub.
The Equals’ final hit came a year later with Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys which reached the British Top 10.
With no further hits, The Equals underwent countless line-up changes until they settled into the nightclub circuits in Britain and Europe. During 1972 their songwriter Eddy Grant left to pursue solo projects, including developing his own record label, Ice Records, based in Guyana and London.
In 1977, Grant issued his debut album, Message Man, and two years later leased his material via his Ice label to Ensign Records in Britain. Living On The Front Line, released in July 1979, reached the British Top 20.
This was the first of several British hits through to the mid-80s when he composed music for Romancing The Stone (1984), an adventure movie starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.