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HistoryThe group formed in the late 1950s when the Chanteurs (Record, Robert Squirrel Lester, and Clarence Johnson) teamed up with Marshall Thompson and Creadel "Red" Jones of the Desideros to form the Hi-lites.
Wishing to add a tribute to their home town of Chicago, they changed their name to "Marshall and the Chi-Lites" in 1964.
Johnson left later that year, and their name was subsequently shortened to The Chi-Lites.Record was the group's primary songwriter, though he frequently collaborated with others, such as Barbara Acklin.Their major hits came in 1971 and 1972, "Have You Seen Her" and "Oh Girl", the latter a #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 on 27 May 1972.
Other transatlantic chart hits followed, although the output became more fragmented as the group's personnel came and went.
Bass singer Jones left in 1973, and was replaced in quick succession by Stanley Anderson, Willie Kensey, and then Doc Roberson.
Shortly thereafter, Eugene Record left, and David Scott and Danny Johnson entered.
More personnel changes ensued, when Johnson was replaced by Vandy Hampton in 1977.
The Chi-lites cut some tracks for the Inphasion label in 1979, that appeared on an obscure album for the Excello label.In 1980, the mid-1960s quartet of Record, Thompson, Jones, and Lester re-formed the Chi-lites.
Creadel Jones left for a second time in 1982, and the group would remain a trio.
Record left again in 1988, and new lead Frank Reed joined to replace him.
Singer Anthony Watson replaced Reed later that year and the duty of lead vocals would alternate between Reed and Watson over the course of the next decade.
(Lester took over singing lead on "Oh Girl", while Watson led on their other songs).In 1997, while returning home from a concert in Pennsylvania, the Chi-Lites were involved in a serious car crash which resulted in both Reed and Thompson's wife Constance being ejected from the vehicle.
Constance died from her injuries and Reed had to have a metal plate inserted in his back.
"Hold On to Your Dreams" was included on the Help Wanted (Heroes are in Short Supply) album in Constance's honor.
Reed was subsequently replaced once again by Watson.The group was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 2000 and Record made an appearance with the group on stage to perform and accept the award.Thompson was jailed in 2001 for selling police badges, and Reed returned to fill his position.
Upon Thompson's return (bringing his wife Tara with him), Watson left the band, prompting Reed to remain.
This line-up of Thompson, Lester, Reed, and Tara Henderson on background vocals would remain until the death of Lester in 2010 from liver cancer.
Fred Simon of The Lost Generation joined the group to replace Lester and to perform bass vocals.The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2005, and were honored with an induction into the R&B Music Hall of Fame on August 17, 2013 at the Waetejen Auditorium in Cleveland.Frank Reed died on February 26, 2014.