The Ad Libs was a one-hit wonder group from New Jersey. They left us with one memorable hit from the 1960's.
The group's roots began with a group formed in New Jersey as the Creators in 1963. Original members included Hugh Harris and Danny Austin, as well as some others. The group re-formed in Newark in 1964, adding lead singer Mary Ann Thomas. John T. Taylor, a saxophone player who had performed with some of the big bands as far back as the 1930's, began working with the group, which began performing using some songs written by Taylor. David Watt and Norman Donegan were added and a new name was selected, the Ad Libs, in 1964. By the end of that year they were recording for record producers and Red Bird Records founders Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.
Leiber and Stoller brought in record promoter extraordinaire George Goldner, former owner of Gee and other record labels. Red Bird had associated labels with Blue Cat, Tiger and Daisy. Blue Cat Records did not exist for long, but long enough to be an influential label. The Ad Libs recorded a song written by John T. Taylor and George Davis titled The Boy From New York City. It was released on Blue Cat in late 1964 and by the following March had become a solid top ten hit. Mary Ann Thomas sang lead backed by the others (although Harris would on occasion sing lead) to give the group its distinct sound, one that was harmonious with a strong female lead.
The Ad Libs recorded other songs, most notably He Ain't No Angel which barely reached the top 100 later in 1965 and two other records that failed to reach the pop chart. Leiber and Stoller tired of running a record label; they closed Red Bird to return to songwriting and record producing in 1966, and the contract for the Ad Libs was not renewed. The Ad Libs continued in the business. They had a minor hit on the R&B chart in 1969 with Giving Up. They continued on into the 1980's, but without further chart success.
The Manhattan Transfer recorded Boy From New York City and this version went top ten in 1981. The Ad Libs' 1965 hit The Boy From New York City is the song for which they are remembered.
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