Rufus

Rufus was an American soul-funk band from Chicago, best known for the 1974 hit “Tell Me Something Good,” a clavinet-driven composition by Stevie Wonder. They released six albums between 1973 and 1978 on ABC Records, followed by three early ’80s titles on MCA. Most of their releases give featured status to singer 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)


Background

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

Rufus released their self-titled debut album on July 18, 1973, on ABC.


Rags to Rufus

Rufus released their second album, Rags to Rufus, in May 1974 on ABC.


Rufusized

Rufus released their third album, Rufusized, on December 5, 1974, on ABC. This was their first of three consecutive studio albums billed as ‘Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan.’


Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan

Rufus released their fourth album, Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan, on November 18, 1975, on ABC.


Ask Rufus

Rufus released their fifth album, Ask Rufus, on April 12, 1977, on ABC.


Street Player

Rufus released their sixth album, Ask Rufus, on January 17, 1978, on ABC. For this release, they’re billed as ‘Chaka Khan & Rufus.”


Numbers

Rufus released their seventh album, Numbers, in January 1979 on ABC. This was their first album without Chaka Khan, who was busy with her debut solo album at the time of recording.


Masterjam

Rufus released their eighth album, Masterjam, in November 1979 on MCA, which billed them ‘Rufus & Chaka’ to signify Khan’s return to the band.


Party ‘Til You’re Broke

Rufus released their ninth album, Party ‘Til You’re Broke, in March 1981 on MCA. This was their second album without Chaka Khan.


Camouflage

Rufus released their tenth album, Camouflage, in October 1981 on MCA, which billed this title as ‘Rufus With Chaka Khan,’ who returned for the third and final time for these sessions.


Seal in Red

Rufus released their eleventh album, Seal in Red, in February 1983 on Warner Bros.


Discography:

  • 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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