(Left to right) Ken Schaffer, formerly of Cruisin' 92.1, WVLT and Ceasar Berry of "The Tymes"
at the WVLT studios, Vineland, NJ
"The Tymes" hail from Philadelphia and started out in 1956 as "The Latineers." The four who made up the original group were Albert "Ceasar" Berry, George Hilliard, Norm Burnett and Don Banks. They had some success playing the Philly club circuit. In 1960, George Williams, at the age of 24, joined the group as their lead singer. At that time, they decided to call themselves, "The Tymes."
In 1963, local Philadelphia talent Billy Jackson (of the Revels) co-wrote "So Much in Love" and produced the hit. The Tymes recorded it on Parkway Records and it became the number one record in the country during the summer of 1963. The artists were really popular in Britain. Their 1974 release, Ms. Grace hit the number one position in England. Here in the USA, they had two other top twenty songs, "You Little Trustmaker" and "Wonderful, Wonderful." The latter was a remake of the Johnny Mathis hit. The tymes version hit higher on the American charts than did Mathis' recording.
Here in Philadelphia, their hometown, they were most popular. Gerry Wilkinson, president of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia was Operations Manager at WDAS AM & FM in the seventies. Gerry said, "I recall them being extremely well liked. They got alot of air play on the station and their records did better locally than nationally, if that's possible. They were 'discovered' at a WDAS talent show (sponsored by Tip-Top bread) after playing the area for 7 years."
"Ceasar" tells us that he got that nickname from his dad who saw the Edward G. Robinson movie on TV. Berry was about ten years old at the time and the name stuck. Born Monday, March 17, 1941, Al's grandfather also had music in his veins. He was a cello player for the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. Berry said that he tried to pattern himself after Terry Johnson of the Flamingos. He says that he used to play drums in a high school band. Ceasar, lead tenor of the group, mentioned that George Hilliard was the second tenor and Norman Burnett was a baritone.
"The Latineers" started when Norman and Hilliard met at a Pennsylvania summer camp. Berry met the two at that camp and Burnett's cousin, Donald Banks also wanted to join. They didn't do any recordings for labels until they became the Tymes. Before that, they only cut demo tapes. While trying for a singing career, the guys picked up odd jobs. Berry was the supervisor of the housekeeping staff at "Kennedy House."
Billy Jackson, who was the head of A&R for Cameo-Parkway ran into the group. They were signed and the label's president Bernie Lowe came up with the name "The Tymes." George Williams came up with a song called "As We Stroll Along," which was slicked up by Jackson and became "So Much in Love."
By the way, the lead singer on "You Little Trust Maker" was Billy Jackson. Wilkinson said, "I worked with Billy Jackson and the Tymes as a TV producer at WHYY-TV when we were doing live Doo-Wop shows. These are are really talented."
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by Ken Schaffer
Researched and compiled by Broadcast Pioneers historian Gerry Wilkinson
© 2008, Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
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