The Newbeats were veteran Nashville singers when they broke through with a distinctive sound and a million-seller in the summer of 1964, and followed up with several more top forty singles.
The group consisted of lead singer Larry Henley (born in Arp, Texas in 1937 and raised in Odessa) and brothers Louis "Dean" and Marc Mathis (born in Hahita, Georgia in 1939 and 1942, respectively). Dean and Marc learned to play the guitar from their mother while growing up and learned to play other instruments. Dean and later Marc joined Dale Hawkins' band in their hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana and met with Larry Henley, a singer. The Mathis brothers formed their own eight-piece band and performed as a singing duo in the 50's; they had a minor hit with Tell Him No in 1959 for Chess Records. Henley was a solo singer who worked briefly with the Mathis brothers in 1962 and struck out on his own before re-uniting with them in Nashville in 1964 to form the Newbeats. All three worked with Wesley Rose in Nashville at times.
Henley's very high falsetto voice gave them a distinct sound. Backed by the vocal harmonies of Dean and Marc, and working with excellent songwriters and session musicians which were numerous in Nashville in the 1960's, the combination led to their recording a demo written by Larry Parks and Jay Turnbow titled Bread and Butter. The sound of the group and the upbeat version of the song was presented to Rose's Hickory Records, and led to the group signing a contract with Hickory, where they proceeded to record a number of singles. Included was another recording of Bread and Butter, which became their first and biggest hit, in 1964. It sold over a million copies in the USA alone, where it went to #2, as well as landing at #15 in Great Britain and #8 in Australia. They followed up that fall with another single that reached #16, John D. Loudermilk's Everything's Alright. As the calendar turned to 1965 they started appearing on television shows including Shindig!, New American Bandstand 1965 and Where the Action Is. In February of that year they just reached the top forty once more with Break Away (From That Boy).
The Newbeats toured Australia and New Zealand with the Rolling Stones and Roy Orbison in 1965. They had one more big hit left with Run, Baby Run (Back into My Arms), a song that was written for them by Joe Melson and Don Gant. All of the Newbeats' top forty hits were on the Hickory Records label. Run, Baby Run (Back into My Arms) just missed the top ten that fall. The Newbeats continued recording but dropped out of the top forty for good. By 1970 they had their last chart entry. They left Hickory and recorded some for the Buddah and Playboy labels. They finally disbanded in 1974.
Larry Henley stayed in the music business for years as a producer and quite talented songwriter. His most notable accomplishment was as co-writer of Wind Beneath My Wings, which went on to be a number one hit for singer Bette Midler in 1989 following its appearance in the motion picture Beaches. Henley did some collaborations with Bruce Channel and Ricky Ray Hector. He is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Henley suffered from Alzheimerís and Parkinsonís diseases and died in late 2014 at age 77.
The Newbeats made a lasting impression on popular music with their unique sound. Their best remembered record is their giant hit from 1964, Bread and Butter.
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