Deek Watson & The Brown Dots©2004JCMarion


The Brown Dots were a transition vocal group that were in existence during the mid nineteen forties. They came into being from the disagreements and personal animosity from within The Inkspots, America's number one vocal group during the decade of the 1940s. Ivory "Deek" Watson was an original member of the Inkspots that really originated the "doo wop" sound as it is commonly called today. He was born in July of 1909, and by the early nineteen thirties was a member of the group known as the Four Riff Brothers. This group eventually became the Ink Spots two years later. They soon developed the style of walking rhythm, high tenor lead (by Bill Kenny), bass recitation (originated by Orville "Hoppy" Jones), and tight backup harmonies, that were all part of the foundation of the vocal group scene. By 1944 Watson was an unhappy member of the group, and soon opted to go on his own with his newly organized vocal group. He announced that his new quartet would be totally different from The Inkspots, but in reality was a carbon copy right down to the selected name, The Brown Dots.

In 1945 after a number of various forms of litigation between Watson and Bill Kenny, The Brown Dots were formed which featured besides Watson, baritone Pat Best, tenor Joe King, and bass Jimmy Gordon. The new group had a few personal appearances to break in the act including a date at the Plantation Club in St. Louis before hitting the stage at New York's Apollo Theater in March of the year. Soon they were offered a recording contract by Manor Records located in Newark, New Jersey. In the spring of 1945 the first record on Manor by The Brown Dots was released. The songs were "Let's Give Love Another Chance" and "Thirty One Miles For A Nickel" (also known as "The Subway Serenade") on Manor # 1005. The second recording for Manor released in August contained a song written by Pat Best that has become an American standard - "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons". "You're Heaven Sent" was on the flip side of Manor # 1009. Late in 1945 "You're A Heartache To Me" / "Just In Case You Change Your Mind" was released on Manor # 1015. At about this time Joe King left the group and his place was taken by James Nabbie.

Continuing in 1946 The Dots recorded "That's What She Gets" on # 1016, and "Patience And Fortitude" / "Is It Right" on # 1017, and "Surrender" on # 1026 for Manor. Further recordings by the group in 1946 include "If I Can't Have You" and "I'm Loving You For You" on # 1027, "Please Give A Broken Heart A Break" and "Well Natch" on # 1032, a great version of the hit song "Rumors Are Flying" with Pat Best on lead on # 1040, a remake of "For Sentimental Reasons" with Nabbie on lead backed with "It's A Pity To Say Goodnight" on # 1041, and "How Can You Say I Don't Care" on # 1044. The busy vocal group also found time to appear in two Black oriented motion pictures during the year - "Sepia Cinderella" and "Boy ! What A Girl" singing "Just In case You Change Your Mind" and "Satchelmouth Baby" . By 1947 the three other members of the group (without Watson) recorded with singer Danny Owens a member of The Coleman Brothers using the name The Sentimentalists. This group would later be renamed The Four Tunes and have great success in the early fifties. In the meantime The Brown Dots carried on appearing at the Apollo Theater in New York in May of 1947 with Lucky Millinder's band featuring Annisteen Allen and Bull Moose Jackson.

During 1947 Deek Watson & The Brown Dots recorded two more sides for Manor Records. "Shout Brother Shout" and "I Don't Know From Nothing" on # 1057, and "That's What She Gets" and "Why You No Knock" on # 1075. In late 1947 Watson uncovered the whole Sentimentalists story and so disbanded the group only to reform it with three new members in early 1948. This new group also recorded for Manor in 1949, but before that they had a session with Chicago independent label Majestic with the release of "I've Got The Situation Well In Hand" and "Pray For The Lights To Go Out" on Majestic # 1244. These songs later were reissued by the Varsity label a year later. There was also a mysterious single on the Castle label listed as by Deek Watson & The 4 Dots with the tunes "Strange As It Seems" and "Saturday Night Function" on # 2006.

In 1949 Deek Watson & The Brown Dots returned to Manor with "Darktown Strutters Ball" and "As Though You Don't Know" on # 1166, "At Our Fireplace" and "Bow Wow Wow" on # 1170, and as backup with lead singer Gwenn Bell on "After Awhile" and "If I Could Be With You" on # 1171. There was one last recording for Manor - "You Better Think Twice" and "My Bonnie" on # 1179. Two last recordings provide the last vestiges of the act - Deek Watson as a solo artist on Brown Dot # 298 with "I've Loved You So Long Baby", and surprisingly, a Jubilee (the label of The Four Tunes) release listed as by Deek Watson, The Brown Dot on "Why Does A Drink Make You Think?" and "Brown Gal" on Jubilee # 5138. In October of 1952 Watson rejoins Charlie Fuqua, and along with Harold Jackson and Jimmy Holmes are known as The New Inkspots and sign on for a tour of one nighters with Cootie Williams and his band. In March of 1953, Watson ends his association with the Charlie Fuqua Ink Spots and joins Bill Kenny's group of Spots. Antoine Lee will replace Watson with the Fuqua group. In January of 1954 Watson is said to operate a record store in Harlem. In 1957 Watson and his version of the Ink Spots are doing one nighters in Texas.

He performed with a group comprised of various personnel as The Inkspots throughout the late fifties and most of the nineteen sixties until his passing in November of 1969. The music of The Brown Dots headed by Deek Watson is preserved on a CD issued by Flyright from England on # 66. This CD has 24 tracks, 21 of them consisting of the Manor sides by the Brown Dots with the last three being songs by the breakaway Sentimentalists. It is an essential collection of this important transition vocal group from the nineteen forties.

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