March 8, 2011 – Bernard St. Clair Lee (Hues Corporation) was born on April 24th 1944 in San Francisco, California. It has often been erroneously stated that his full birth name was Bernard St. Clair Lee Calhoun Henderson, but he asserts in an interview that, while his ancestry included Calhouns and Hendersons, neither of these were ever part of his official name. When he was born, someone at the hospital mistakenly wrote “St. Clair” instead of his originally intended name, Sinclair. When he was a young man, he found out that “Sinclair” means “Big Bear” and that the American Indian side of his family were Blackfoot that had migrated down from Canada to Oklahoma. It was this discovery that led him to decide to wear his trademark headband. He attended Santa Monica College and became one of the original members of the pop and soul trio Hues Corporation formed in Santa Monica, California in 1969 along with Hubert Ann Kelley and Fleming Williams. The group was originally built one three instrumentalists and three singers.
The group’s name was a pun on the (Howard) Hughes Corporation, with the ‘hue’ being the group’s African-American heritage. They started out as an opening act for the likes of Flash Cadillac, Ike Turner, and Delaney Bramlett.
In 1972 they were asked to appear in and also record three songs for the film ‘Blacular’ soundtrack; “There He Is Again”, “What The World Knows” and “I’m Gonna Catch You”. Shortly after, RCA signed them, their first single, “Freedom For The Stallion”, from the album of the same name, reached No.63 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.This was followed by their 1974 single, “Rock the Boat” which became a No.1 hit on the Billboard chart and the group’s signature song.
Other hits included “Rockin’ Soul, “Love Corporation”, and “I Caught Your Act”.
Touring with the band took Lee to Europe, South America, The Far East Australia and New Zealand. He performed for Queen Elizabeth at the same event with Dionne Warwick. He performed with The Jackson 5 in Radio City Music Hall. Lee also shared bills with The Commodores, The Spinners, Dolly Parton and Dinah Shore. After a second moderate success (“Rockin’ Soul”) with the band and a few more records, The Hues Corporation disbanded in 1978.
In later years Lee was responsible for the reactivation of the group and the recruiting of two new members, Elaine Woodard and Bruce Glover. He continued to tour and perform with the band up until his death.
He died of natural causes on March 8, 2011 at age 66.