The Dramatics

The Dramatics were an American soul group from Detroit, formed in 1964. After a string of ’60s local-press singles, they released three albums on Volt between 1971 and 1974, charting with the songs “In the Rain” and “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get.” After a joint album with The Dells, they issued six albums on ABC during the second half of the ’70s.

Members: Ron Banks (vocals, 1962-82, 1986-2010), Larry “Squirrel” Demps (vocals, 1962-81), Elbert Wilkins (vocals, 1962-73), Larry Reed (vocals, 1962-68), Roderick Davis (vocals, 1962-68), Robert Ellington (vocals, 1962), William “Wee Gee” Howard (vocals, 1968-73, 1986-89), Willie Ford (vocals, 1968-82, 1986-2012), LJ Reynolds (vocals, 1973-81, 1986-present), Lenny Mayes (vocals, 1973-2004), Craig Jones (vocals, 1981-82), Barrington Henderson (vocals, 1981)

The Dramatics formed in 1964 Detroit, where they were initially billed as The Dynamics due to a typographical error. The original lineup featured singers Larry Demps, Rod Davis, Elbert Wilkins, Larry Reed, and then-13-year-old Ron Banks.

They first recorded for Wingate, a division of local soul-press Gold World, which issued two 1965/66 Dramatics singles: the vibes/kick-drum clapper “Bingo” (b/w the glockenspiel doo-wop ballad “Somewhere”) and the Motown-tinged “Inky Dinky Wang Dang Doo” (b/w “Baby I Need You”).

In 1967, The Dramatics switched to nearby soul-press Sport Records and issued the emotive Cmaj7 ballad “If You Haven’t Got Love” (b/w the raunchy sax-spiked “All Because of You”). On the night of a gig that July, the group had to take cover amid the deadly Algiers Motel incident. Their valet, 18-year-old Fred Temple, was among the three casualties. In light of this incident, Reed and Davis left the group. Incoming singers William Wee Gee Howard and Willie Ford restored the five-piece lineup.

In 1969, The Dramatics signed to Stax-subsidiary Volt and released the intense, string-shivering “Your Love Was Strange” (b/w the jubilant, lavish “Since I’ve Been In Love”). On these sides, gutsy lead vocals play call-and-response with smooth harmonized lines, similar to their Motown counterparts the Four Tops and The Temptations.

The Dramatics subsequently linked with writer/producer Tom Hester, who wrote all the songs for their debut album, Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get, released in 1971.


  • Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get (1972)
  • A Dramatic Experience (1973)
  • Dramatically Yours (1974)
  • The Dells vs. The Dramatics (1974 • The Dells vs. The Dramatics)
  • Drama V (1975)
  • The Dramatic Jackpot (1975)
  • Joy Ride (1976)
  • Shake It Well (1977)
  • Do What You Wanna Do (1978)
  • Any Time Any Place (1979)
  • 10½ (1980)
  • The Dramatic Way (1980)
  • New Dimension (1982)
  • Somewhere in Time: A Dramatic Reunion (1986)
  • Positive State of Mind (1989)


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