March 8, 2012 – Jimmy Ellis (The Trammps) was born on November 15th 1937.
The history of the Trammps grew from the 1960s group the Volcanos, who later became the Moods. With a number of line-up changes by the early 1970s, the band membership included gospel-influenced lead singer Jimmy Ellis, drummer and bass singer Earl Young, with brothers Stanley and Harold ‘Doc’ Wade. Members of the Philadelphia recording band MFSB played with the group on records and on tour in the 70s with singer Robert Upchurch joining later. The group was produced by the Philadelphia team of Ronnie Baker, Norman Harris and Young, all MFSB mainstays who played on the recording sessions and contributed songs.
Already in his thirties success came as the lead singer with the Philadelphia disco band, The Trammps. The band’s first major success was with their 1972 cover version of “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart”. The first disco track they released was “Love Epidemic” in 1973. They are best known for their Grammy winning song, “Disco Inferno”, immortalized in the film Saturday Night Fever, released in 1976 becoming a UK pop hit and US R&B hit, then re-released in 1978 becoming a US pop hit.
Other major hits included “Hold Back the Night”-75 and “That’s Where the Happy People Go”-76. In late 1977, they released “The Night the Lights Went Out” to commemorate the electrical blackout in New York on July 13th 1977 .
Music journalist Ron Wynn noted “the Trammps’ prowess can’t be measured by chart popularity; Ellis’ booming, joyous vocals brilliantly championed the celebratory fervor and atmosphere that made disco both loved and hated among music fans.”
He died from Alzheimer complications on March 8, 2012 at age 74.