S.O.S. Band

The S.O.S. Band was an American soul-funk band from Atlanta that released nine albums on Tabu Records between 1980 and 1991.

Members: Mary Davis (vocals, keyboards, 1977-87, 1994-present), Chandra Currelley (vocals, 1989-91), Abdul Ra’oof (vocals, trumpet, percussion, 1980-present), Jason TC Bryant (keyboards), Billy R. Ellis (saxophone, 1977-91), James Earl Jones III (drums, 1977-91), Willie “Sonny” Killebrew (saxophone, flute, 1977-91), John Simpson (bass, keyboards, 1977-91), Bruno Speight (guitar, 1977-91)

The band formed in 1977 Atlanta when seasoned saxophonist Billy Ellis and singer Mary Davis teamed with guitarist Bruno Speight, bassist John Alexander Simpson, drummer James Earl Jones III, keyboardist/singer Jason Bryant, and saxist Willie “Sonny” Killebrew. They gigged locally as the Sounds of Santa Monica, securing a residency at the Regal Room.

A decade earlier, Davis cut the single “Stop Pretending” (b/w “Get Up and Dance”) for soul-press Fat Back Records. Ellis hailed from the Afro-French Canadian funk-psych band Cane and Abel, which issued two albums on Epic in 1972. Simpson wrote “California Sunshine,” a 1973 a-side by ’50s pop singer Bobby Rydell.

The new seven-piece were taken under the managerial wing of businesswoman Bunny Jackson-Ransom, who sent their demo tape to producer Clarence Avant (Rodriguez, Zulema, Brainstorm), who signed them to his fledgling Tabu Records label. He linked them with writer/producer Sigidi Abdullah (Donald Byrd, Ahmad Jamal, Maxine Nightingale, Freda Payne), who wondered why an Atlanta band would name itself after a city in California. Bryant explained that one of their best nights as a live act was in Santa Monica. Nonetheless, Abdullah suggested a name-change to S.O.S. Band, the acronym standing for “Sounds of Success.”


  • S.O.S. (1980 • The S.O.S. Band)
  • Too (1981 • The S.O.S. Band)
  • S.O.S. Band III (1982)
  • On the Rise (1983)
  • Just the Way You Like It (1984)
  • Sands of Time (1986)
  • Diamonds in the Raw (1989)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *