Rufus were an American soul-funk band from Chicago that released six albums on ABC Records between 1973 and 1978, followed by three further titles on MCA at the turn of the 1980s. Most of the band’s releases give featured status to vocalist Chaka Khan.

Members: Kevin Murphy (keyboards), Al Ciner (guitar, 1969-73), Chuck Colbert (vocals, bass, 1969-?), Lee Graziano (drums, 1969-71), Vern Pilder (guitar, 1969-70), Paulette McWilliams (vocals, 1970-72), James Stella (vocals, 1970-71), Willie Weeks (bass, 1970-71), Dennis Belfield (bass, 1971-74), André Fischer (drums, 1971-77), Chaka Khan (vocals, 1972-82, 1983), Ron Stockert (keyboards, vocals, 1972-74), Nate Morgan (keyboards, 1974-77), Tony Maiden (lead guitar, 1974-83), Bobby Watson (bass, 1974-83), Moon Calhoun (drums, 1977-79), David “Hawk” Wolinski (keyboards, 1977-83), John Robinson (drums, 1979-83)

The band was formed in 1970 as Ask Rufus — taken from an advice column in Mechanix Illustrated — by two ex-members of Cicero, Ill., popsters the American Breed: guitarist Al Ciner and keyboardist Kevin Murphy. In 1971, they cut an album with Paulette Williams (ex-Paulette & The Cupids) for Epic Records, which vaulted the project and annulled their contract the following year.

By 1972, Ciner and Murphy were joined by keyboardist/vocalist Ron Stockert, bassist Dennis Belfield, and drummer Andre Fischer. Stockert hailed from Chicago soul-rockers The Bushes, playing on their 1969 singular album Assorted Shrubbery. Fischer had drummed for Curtis Mayfield, Jerry Butler, and soul-jazz organist Phil Moore, appearing on the latter’s 1969 Atlantic release Right On.

Ask Rufus impressed booking agent Bob Monaco, who’d previously represented the Rotary Connection with Minnie Riperton. He secured funding for a demo session that got the band signed to ABC Records under the shortened name Rufus. Shortly before this happened, an exiting Williams handed the mic to her friend Chaka Khan, formerly of Cash McCall’s Lyfe and Baby Huey‘s Babysitters.


  • Rufus (1973)
  • Rags to Rufus (1974)
  • Rufusized (1974 • Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan)
  • Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan (1975 • Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan)
  • Ask Rufus (1977 • Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan)
  • Street Player (1978 • Chaka Khan & Rufus)
  • Numbers (1979)
  • Masterjam (1979 • Rufus & Chaka)
  • Party ‘Til You’re Broke (1981)
  • Camouflage (1981 • Rufus With Chaka Khan)
  • Seal in Red (1983)


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