Harry James Elston was born into a musical family in Dallas, Texas and grew up in San Diego, California.
In his mid teens Elston was part of a group called “Cel Foster and the Audios” which was chosen by the The Johnny Otis Rhythm & Blues Caravan in a talent search. (Otis produced Etta James’ first hit, "Roll With Me, Henry", also known as "The Wallflower" and "Every Beat of My Heart", first recorded by “The Royals” is his most famous composition which became a hit for Gladys Knight.)
In his mid twenties Elston worked as a limousine driver for “The Temptations” and in the early 60’s he LaMonte McLemore, Marilyn McCoo together with Fritz Baskett, Rex Middleton, and Lawrence Summers formed the Hi Fi’s and went on tour with Ray Charles who produced the group’s single “Lonesome Mood”.
In the mid 60’s after leaving the Hi Fi’s, Elston and Floyd Butler joined with Jessica Cleaves and Barbara Jean Love, formed the legendary group “Friends of Distinction” a name which was suggested by Love.
In the late 60’s Hall of Fame football player Jim Brown, who became the groups manager, introduced them to RCA Records and in 1969 their first album, “Grazin”, was released.
The album included the song "Grazing in the Grass" which a top five on both Pop and Soul charts. The song was originally an instrumental composed by Philemon Hou, first recorded by the South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela, produced by John Florez, arranged and conducted by Ray Cork Jr. Elston wrote lyrics for the song and sang lead on it. The single sold one million copies gaining the group their first gold record.
The other single was "Going in Circles.", which earned the group their second gold record, which sold over one million copies and peaked at number five on the Top Ten pop and three on the R&B charts. "Going in Circles" was written by Jerry Peters and Anita Poree.
In 1970 the group recorded their third album, "Real Friends" on RCA Records with Charlene Gibson who replaced Barbara Jean Love. Jessica Cleaves left to join the R&B group Earth, Wind and Fire and later Parliament.
"Love or Let Me Be Lonely", from the album, Real Friends, earned the group a second Top 10 pop hit, featuring Charlene as the lead. "I Need You" was also recorded by the group.
“The Friends were quite prolific from 1969-71, releasing 5 albums (a sixth appeared in 1973). They also released a number of great singles, including "Check It Out" (later remade by Tavares) and a terrific cover of Neil Sedaka's "Time Waits for No One." Their best cuts are excellently compiled in The Best of the Friends of Distinction, which was released in 1996.” Myspace.com/HarryElston
In 1975 the group separated and sadly, On April 29, 1990, Floyd Butler passed away.
Over the next 20 years the groups music was remade by the Gap Band, the late Luther Vandross, Paul Davis and Disney star Raven Simone.
The new Friends of Distinction group which is made up of Berlando Drake, Wendy Smith Brune, Tim Owens and of course Harry Elston brings us great memories and are creating new ones.
Elston is part of the Flashbackz - Celebrity Softball Team with Little Anthony, Robert DeBlanc, Bubba Knight, LaMonte McLemore and Sonny Turner.
The Flashbackz, ColoredPeople.net member and our sponsor DaughterNature.com have teamed up for worthy causes!
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