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Surface was an American R&B and pop music group, active from 1983 to 1994, and best known for its #1 pop and R&B hit "The First Time".Early yearsBernard Jackson moved from Stamford, Connecticut, to New York to pursue a music career. While in New York, his godfather said Jackson should contact his nephew David Townsend who had been a guitarist with The Isley Brothers. The Isleys produced their band Sunrize with David and drummer / writer Everett Collins and long-time friend Tony Herbert (bass) from David's high school, Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, N.J. David Townsend was formerly in a L.A. 70s band, and met David Conley. Conley, Townsend and Collins started writing back in New Jersey and began performing under the name Surface, featuring lead singer Karen Copeland. After a brief hiatus from recording, Townsend and Conley met Jackson, and they reformed "Surface" with Jackson as the frontman/bass guitarist.Songwriters/early recordingsThey then became resident songwriters for EMI and wrote New Edition's "Let's Be Friends" and Sister Sledge's "You're Fine." Encouraged by this success, the group called themselves Surface and began recording their own material, releasing several Post-disco/early-80s-style tracks under the name. They would find moderate success in the UK with their singles "Falling in Love" in 1983 and "When Your Ex Wants You Back" in 1984 (according to the Allmusic, "Falling in Love" also cracked the U.S. R&B chart, peaking at #84). With a sound more reminiscent of Kashif and related early 1980s soul groups, these early singles contrast significantly with the smoother, ballad-style material that would later make the group successful in the U.S.First major label record dealThe trio then moved to Los Angeles, California, searching for more mainstream success. The song "Let's Try Again" came to the attention of Larkin Arnold of Columbia Records, who signed the band and released this track as a single in 1986. Also in 1986, Jackson met a friend, Brian Simpson, and recorded a demo tape of a track he had written entitled "The First Time". He believed it to be a hit and hired a recording studio to get the best professional conditions for the track. Their self-titled first album followed in 1987, featuring two more hit singles: "Happy", which reached #2 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks, and "Lately", which reached #8. However, "The First Time" did not appear on the album and remained unreleased.The band's follow-up album, 2nd Wave, was released in 1989 and included some of the group's biggest hits. "I Missed" reached #3 on the R&B charts, "Closer Than Friends" was the group's first #1 hit, topping the R&B charts for two weeks, and "Can We Spend Some Time" which reached #5 on the R&B charts. The album featured two other #1 R&B hits, "You Are My Everything" which topped the charts for two weeks and the album's biggest hit, "Shower Me With Your Love" which went gold, reached #1 on the R&B charts and #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. Thanks to the album's number of hits, it managed to go platinum.Later yearsThe song "The First Time", originally recorded by Jackson in 1986, was featured on the band's third album 3 Deep in 1991 and was the first single from the album. The song was a hit, going gold and becoming the group's biggest hit to date. It topped both the R&B and pop charts. The album continued with "All I Want Is You" which reached #8 on the R&B charts and helped the album go gold.Jackson and Townsend left in 1994, and the group disbanded. In 1998, the group reformed and released Love Zone and a few years later announced a return to live appearances, only to be cancelled when Townsend was found dead at his home. Townsend, son of producer/songwriter Ed Townsend (co-writer of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On"), died of unknown causes on October 26, 2005, at the age of 50, almost two years after his father.


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