So I’m reading the Milwaukee paper this morning, and there is this headline: “Esquires’ Gilbert Moorer, 67, dies after battle with throat cancer.”
Neither name is familiar, but I’m curious now.
So I click on the story and learn that the Esquires were one of Milwaukee’s greatest R&B vocal groups, led first by Moorer’s sister, Betty, then by Moorer and his brother Alvis. The reason I can’t place them is because they came along a little before my time.
I also learn that the Esquires were together for a decade before they hit it big with “Get On Up” in 1967. That also is a little before my time, a couple of years before I really got into music. But I know that one. I don’t have it, but I know it. I suspect you do, too.
“Get On Up,” the Esquires, 1967. It reached No. 11 on the charts. It’s available on “Get On Up,” a 1995 CD release.
Sad to say, I always thought “Get On Up” was by Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions, who came out of Chicago. Gilbert Moorer and Curtis Mayfield had similar voices, distinctive falsettos.
Turns out Mayfield didn’t want to have anything to do with the Esquires, declining to sign them to his record label when they moved to Chicago in 1966. But they persevered and recorded for several labels in several cities.
There is a more knowledgeable recounting of the Esquires’ career over at Office Naps, where Danny included them in a post about Chicago soul last December. He offers another tune by the Esquires, “Reach Out,” from 1969. Click on the link and scroll down to “Chicago soul, part two.”