Turn on the radio in the early 1970s and you heard the sweet soul sound of The Chi-Lites (pronounced SHY-lights)...
More than 30 years later, they would inspire Beyoncé's debut solo smash hit, "Crazy in Love." But more about that later.
These four friends from Chicago were Eugene Record (lead singer), Marshall Thompson, Robert "Squirrel" Lester, and Creadel Jones.
They had 11 Top 20 R&B hits between 1969 and 1974.
It was a pair of romantic ballads, "Have You Seen Her (1971)" and "Oh Girl (1972)," that put them at the top of the charts.
The group also took on social issues with songs like, "(For God's Sake) Give More Power to the People" and "There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is Seated at the Conference Table)." How's that for a title?
The Chi-Lites are also remembered for their costumes, which they designed themselves.
Bright, eye-popping colours!...
Big, bold bow ties!...
Behold the "dog ear collar" of the 1970s...
The Chi-Lites were all about the dog ear collar...
Now, back to Beyoncé.
I'm sure you Bitches recognize the horn hook from Beyoncé's hit single, "Crazy in Love."
That blast of brass is sampled from The Chi-Lites' 1970 song,"Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)."
It's that Chi-Lites hook that makes Beyoncé's song. When asked what makes "Crazy in Love" so infectious, Beyoncé admitted, "It’s the horn hook. It has this go-go feel to it, this old-school feel."
Listen to the first 14 seconds of Are You My Woman (especially from 0:09-0:14) and you'll understand the "Crazy in Love" connection.
Unfortunately, financial scandals, drug addictions and violent tragedies took their toll on the group. Creadel Jones died homeless after his record label, Brunswick Records refused to send him royalties. Only one of the original four members (Marshall Thompson) survives.
There isn't a lot of in-depth material about them online, at this point. The Mistress isn't saying they were the best group on the soul circuit but they certainly deserve to be more than a footnote in music history.
If you're so inclined, you might enjoying listening to the hearfelt "Oh Girl."
Warning: Dog ear collar alert! (and puffy sleeves)
Which of The Chi-Lites' looks could you wear with confidence?