Classics: The Chi-Lites – My First Mistake (Danny Krivit Edit) (T.D. Records Inc.)
Along with leader Eugene Record who also managed to have a career on his own, Windy City band The Chi-Lites came to the forefront of the Soul/R&B scene in the early 70’s. Thus scoring their biggest hits – ‘Have You Seen Her’ and ‘Oh Girl’ – respectively in 1971 and 1972.
Opening their 1977 ‘The Fantastic Chi-Lites’ album which would be their last for Mercury, the evergreen ‘My First Mistake’ made its place as one of the fav cuts of Larry Levan at The Paradise Garage. Besides, how to not find a connection with the Philadelphia Sound?!? With thanks to its stellar strings and arrangements under the direction of Don Renaldo. Himself remembered for his collaborations with The Stylistics, The Spinners, Billy Paul and MFSB among others…
‘My First Mistake’ eventually resurfaced back in 1999. This under the form of a reedit by the likes of Danny Krivit who turned it into a straight floorfiller. This while getting rid of the 1:56 Boogie/Funk intro. Meanwhile, David Morales eventually sampled a part of it the year before on the memorable ‘Needin’ U’.
First given an unofficial release on US label T.D. Records, ‘My First Mistake’ eventually reappeared two years after on UK label Strut Records.
Eugene sadly died aged 64 on Jul. 22, 2005 in his hometown after a long battle with cancer.
Eugene Record, Robert ‘Squirrel’ Lester and Clarence Johnson first sang together as the Chanteurs at Hyde Park High School in Chicago by the late 50’s. They later teamed up with Marshall Thompson and Creadel ‘Red’ Jones of the Desideros to form the Hi-lites. A name already in use which they eventually turned into The Chi-Lites back in 1964 to reflect the name of their hometown. Meanwhile Clarence Johnson left by the end of that year
Makin’ a bit of impression on various local labels, the band eventually signed with Brunswick in 1968. With this resulting in the release of ‘Give It Away’, their first US national hit single. But also the title track of their debut-album which featured extra gems such as ‘Let Me Be The Man My Daddy Was’ and ‘To Change My Love’.
The opening track to their 1970 ‘I Like Your Lovin’ (Do You Like Mine)’ album, ‘Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So)’ brought them to another dimension. Somehow reminding of The Temptations, and later on notoriously sampled on Beyoncé‘s ‘Crazy In Love’.
A succession of top ten hits followed from then. Beginning with ‘(For God’s Sake) Give More Power To The People’ which was the first release to crossover into the pop charts. But also ‘Have You Seen Her’ and ‘Oh Girl’ with the latter also achieving the number one slot in the pop charts in the Spring of 1972. Going into unceasing changes in their line-ups didn’t get the group though from keepin’ on charting. This with cuts such as ‘Homely Girl’, ‘There Will Never Be Any Peace’ and ‘Toby’.
With Brunswick running into financial problems, this made it harder for the group to promote their releases. But also led Eugene Record to quit then sign with Warners as a solo artist. Then got the remaining members of the group to switch to Mercury by the mid-70’s. There, they released two albums but no extra hit happened to be forthcoming. This despite the presence of the firing ‘My First Mistake’ which Danny Krivit eventually reedited 22 years later.
In 1980, The Chi-Lites signed to Carl Davis‘ Chi-Sound label, eventually returning to the charts two years after with ‘Hot On A Thing (Called Love)’. Then with the funky ‘Bottoms Up’ which would be their final Top 10 hit after signing with Larc Records.
Creadel ‘Red’ Jones, whose bass voice was one of the trademarks of the band, tragically spent the end of his life in poverty. Homeless, he sadly died on Aug, 25, 1994, aged 53.
The Chi-Lites delivered their last album – ‘Low Key -‘ back in 2001. This on group member Marshall Thompson‘s own Mar-Ance Records label.
Taken from their 1974 ‘Toby’ album, ‘That’s How Long’ eventually got sampled by Jay-Z on ‘Dec. 4’ back in 2003.
The second tenor of The Chi-Lites, Robert ‘Squirrel’ Lester sadly died on Jan. 21, 2010 at the Roseland Hospital in Chicago after a long battle with liver cancer. He was 67.
Eugene Booker Record, the original lead singer and composer of the greatest songs of the group, sadly died on Jul. 22, 2005 in suburban Chicago from complications of cancer. He was 64.