Sounds Visual Radio
Sounds Visual Radio
Episode 184: Russell Thompkins Jr.
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For more than three decades, Russell Thompkins Jr. served as the original lead vocalist for the Stylistics. His flawless falsetto, high tenor, and countertenor vocal range propelled the group to global acclaim.

Hailing from Philadelphia, Thompkins began his musical journey influenced by his father’s guidance, fostering a lifelong passion for music. In high school, he found his musical niche with a local group, the Monarchs, surpassing other competitors and laying the foundation for the formation of The Stylistics in 1968, combining members from the Monarchs and another group, the Percussions.

In 1970, The Stylistics gained attention with the regional hit “You’re a Big Girl Now,” leading to a successful collaboration with record producer Thom Bell. The group achieved recognition with massive hits like “Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)” “Betcha by Golly, Wow,” and “People Make the World Go Round,” securing a prominent place on the charts from 1971 to 1974. During the early 1970s, the group had twelve consecutive R&B top ten hits, 5 gold singles and 3 gold albums.

After Thom Bell’s departure in 1974, The Stylistics faced challenges in the U.S., but they persisted. The disco-influenced “Hey, Girl, Come and Get It” briefly revitalized their commercial success in 1975. As U.S. popularity declined, they found success in Europe, scoring a UK No. 1 in 1975 with “Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love).”

In 2000, Thompkins embarked on a solo career, releasing “A Matter of Style” in 2002, showcasing cover versions of songs like “Embraceable You.” In 2004, he formed Russell Thompkins Jr. and the New Stylistics, maintaining a presence on the touring circuit, including appearances on PBS.

In 2007, Thompkins, along with Ted Mills and William Hart, collaborated as The 3 Tenors of Soul, releasing the album “All The Way From Philadelphia.” As of 2022, Russell Thompkins Jr. & The New Stylistics continue to perform globally, resonating with audiences. Thompkins secured the 142nd spot on Rolling Stone’s list of the 200 Greatest Singers of All Time in 2023, marking his impact on the music industry.

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