Gene McDaniels had a brief but successful career as a pop singer in the early 60's. He was born Eugene McDaniels in Kansas City, Missouri in 1935, then moved to Omaha in the early 40's. He sang in choirs and had classical training for his gospel background. He attended the Omaha Conservatory of Music and graduated from Omaha University. Gene had his own band in the early 50's.
Gene signed a contract with Liberty Records in California and worked with producer Tommy "Snuff" Garrett, who supplied Gene with songs written by the Brill Building stable of songwriters, including Bacharach & David, Goffin & King, and Pomus & Shuman. His first and biggest hit was the quasi-spiritual A Hundred Pounds Of Clay which went to number three in 1961. He followed it with A Tear and two more top ten hits, Tower Of Strength and Chip Chip. In all he had six top forty hits, finishing up with Point Of No Return and Spanish Lace; all were released in 1961 and 1962 and he was backed by The Johnny Mann Singers on all of them.
Gene's brief fling with fame resulted in his appearance in the 1962 British film It's Trad, Dad which was directed by Richard Lester. Also known as Ring-A-Ding Rhythm, the film included appearances by Chubby Checker, Gene Vincent, Gary "U.S." Bonds, Mr. Acker Bilk, Del Shannon and others.
In later years when black consciousness was in vogue in the pop music business, he began to go by the name Eugene McDaniels and recorded some soul-styled social consciousness records for Atlantic in the early 70's. These recordings became the albums Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse and Outlaw. He also wrote a number of songs as Eugene McDaniels, including Feel Like Makin' Love, which was a number one hit for Roberta Flack in 1974.
In the early 21st century Gene kept busy writing screenplays. Although a good friend at one point suggested to him that he give up Gene refused, citing his belief that an angel was on the way. He lived in the state of Maine in his later years, and passed away on July 29, 2011.
Gene McDaniels was a very good singer with a big voice, and may have lasted longer in the pop music business had he continued to find good material to record.
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