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  Rose Royce
This revered soul band was a major beneficiary of Motown's relocation to Los Angeles.  Formed in 1973 while still in high school, the group started out as Total Concept Unlimited and got their big break providing the musical backing for Edwin Starr.   Before too long, they had caught the attention of one of Starr's producers, Norman Whitfield, who began using them for his projects on the Undisputed Truth.  At his suggestion, they added singer Gwen "Rose" Dickey and renamed themselves Rose Royce.

In 1976, they were recording their debut album when Whitfield learned that MCA was looking for someone to do the soundtrack for the upcoming film Car Wash.  Figuring that this would be an ideal way to introduce his latest group, Whitfield took the songs they had worked on and turned them into the movie's soundtrack.  Boosted by the movie's high profile, Rose Royce got three top 10 hits from its refashioned debut LP, "Car Wash," "I Wanna Get Next To You," and "I'm Going Down." 

Now established stars but lacking credibility because of their reliance on a movie to advance their career, Rose Royce went about recording its sophomore LP with the intention of proving they weren't one hit wonders. Dickey had left the group, replaced by Rose Norwalt, but In Full Bloom showed they were legitimite artists, going platinum and adding "Ooh Boy," "Do Your Dance," and "Wishing On A Star" to their collection of hits.

Dickey quickly rejoined the band, and Whitfield's production magic continued through 1978's Rose Royce Strikes Again.  The main tracks from this album were "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" and "I'm In Love."   This would mark the end of Rose Royce's most successful period.

By 1979 Norman Whitfield's style was becoming outdated, and there were no major singles from Rainbow Connection.   Dickey left for the second time, meaning Kenny Copeland would start to handle more vocal duties.  Ricci Benson was recruited to take Dickey's place.

The 1980s were not the best of times for Rose Royce.  Guitarist Kenji Brown left, Walter McKinney came on board, and fans didn't take to Benson's voice the way they had with Dickey.  They changed labels several times but aside from 1986's "Doesn't Have To Be This Way," the hits had stopped coming. 

Their catalog has held up surprisingly well, as the ballads "Ooh Boy," "I Wanna Get Next To You," and "Wishing On A Star" were covered in the 90s.   A reconstituted Rose Royce still tours, although no new material has been released in well over a decade.

Rose Royce's Deepest Grooves

Car Wash (Whitfield, 1976)

In Full Bloom (Whitfield, 1977)

Rose Royce Strikes Again (Whitfield, 1978)

Greatest Hits (Whitfield, 1978)

The Rainbow Connection (Whitfield, 1979)

Golden Touch (Whitfield, 1981)

Fresh Cut (Omni, 1986)

Very Best of Rose Royce (Rhino, 2001)

Copyright 2001 Anthony Lamar Rucker.  All rights reserved.

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