Clarksville, TN – Award-winning Clarksville Journalist A.J. Dugger III has written an exciting new book about The Dealers, an unsung funk and R&B band from Memphis, TN. Dugger is passionate about telling the story of the band, which includes his mother and uncles.
The book, titled “The Dealers: Then and Now,” was published on July 19th, 2013.
The Dealers regularly opened for many music legends during the 1970s and ’80s. “Marvin Gaye kissed my mom on the right ear,” said Dugger, who writes for The Tennessee Tribune and The Murfreesboro Post. “There are lots of interesting stories in the book not just about The Dealers, but about many of the music legends they were affiliated with.”When he was a young boy, Dugger would sometimes hit the road with The Dealers. “I’ve been all over the country,” said the journalist. “New York, Boston, Florida, you name it. I was even with them when they played in Toronto, Canada. They got a lot of love everywhere they went.”
The book provides readers with a personal and candid view of The Dealers as they performed their way to near-worldwide fame. During the early 1980s, they were successful enough to be signed to CBS Records, the same record label as Michael Jackson. However, Dugger says that being label-mates with Jackson hurt the band.
“The Dealers recorded an album for CBS Records in 1985. However, Michael Jackson was the biggest star in the world at that time. This was during his heyday with Thriller and BAD. The label made sure to give Michael Jackson everything he wanted but the other CBS artists were neglected.” As a result, The Dealers were not given a fair amount of promotion money. Without it, they could not film music videos, and CBS failed to sufficiently promote the album.
Despite the lack of promotion, the band’s hit single, “Don’t Keep Me Waiting” peaked at number 80 on the Billboard Charts in the summer of 1985. The Dealers had other regional hits such as “I’m For You, (You For Me),” “We Want To Get Through To You,” “Sexy Operator,” “Miss Foxy,” and a quiet-storm cover of the late Minnie Riperton’s hit, “Loving You.”
For three decades, The Dealers made a name for themselves by opening for artists such as Stevie Wonder, Cameo, Ray Charles, The Four Tops, The Gap Band, LTD, The Supremes, Teddy Pendergrass, Jeffrey Osborne, Larry Graham, Rolls Royce, Kool & The Gang, The Pointer Sisters, Chubby Checker, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ironing-Board Sam, Spyro Gyra, Roy Ayers, The Bus Boys, The SOS Band, Slave, Lakeside, Sister Sledge, The Manhattans, Bobby Rush, Eddie Kendricks, Confunkshun, Rufus Thomas, The Whispers, and The Bar-Kays.
– A.J. Dugger
In a free excerpt available on Dugger’s website, readers will learn about the historic night in New Orleans when Marvin Gaye surprised The Dealers by jumping on stage with them and performing. The excerpt also goes into great detail on the nights when The Dealers opened for Eddie Kendricks and Ray Charles, providing new revelations about both singers.
The Dealers had regional fame, but just as they touched the brink of worldwide superstardom, it was snatched away. “You’re not going to believe your eyes when you read these pages,” said Dugger. “They went through a lot, both good and bad. The book is full of triumphs, laughs, turmoil, surprise and heartbreak.”
“They were the best band in Memphis for two decades straight,” said Roy McClaine, a store-owner who booked The Dealers several times in the 1970s. “The dance floor was flooded with people whenever they played. They put on a hell of a show. Reading this book brought back so many memories.”
“I’m really glad this book was written,” said Randall Pearson, a Memphis musician familiar with the band. “They were the best. They had songs on the radio all over the country and seemed poised to take off. By the late ’90s they started to fade out. I always wondered what happened to them. This book has the answers.”
Interest was renewed in The Dealers in 2010 when their song, “Sexy Operator,” was uploaded to youtube.com. “The comments were crazy. Everyone liked the song but didn’t know who they were,” said Dugger. “With the internet running the world these days, The Dealers can now get the promotion that they deserve. The feedback on youtube and facebook has been very supportive.”
In their prime, The Dealers lineup included bandleader and keyboardist Stanley Johnson, bassist and lead cheorgrapher Elton Johnson, lead singer and keyboardist Pametra “Meeky” Dugger, lead singer Darrell Hunter, drummer Ricky Townes and trumpet and keyboardist George “Pieface” Wilburn. Following their recent surge of popularity online, the band returned in 2011 with three new members and performs regularly in Memphis.
“The Dealers: Then and Now” is available on Amazon.com in Kindle and Paperback formats.