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Seals and Crofts

Seals and Crofts

Seals and Crofts, middle of the road hitmakers of the early 1970s. Membership: Jim Seals, voc, gtr., vln., sax. (b. Sidney, Tex., Oct. 17, 1941); Dash (real name, Darrell) Crofts, voc, drm., mdln., kybd., gtr. (b. Cisco, Tex., Aug. 14, 1940)

Although they started recording hit records together during the 1970s under their own names, Seals and Crofts had worked together for many years before they became a successful pop duo. Seals comes from a family rife with musical talent. His brother Dan Seals started out as England Dan, part of the duo England Dan and John Ford Coley, before pursuing his solo country career. Cousins include country singer Johnny Duncan, Brady Seals of Little Texas, Troy Seals who wrote for George Jones and Ronnie Milsap, and Chuck Seals who wrote the Ray Price hit “Crazy Arms.” By junior high, Seals had already won a state fiddle championship. Around that time, Croft and Seals started playing together in the group Dean Beard and the Crew Cuts. They also started doing session work, recording with artists including Gene Vincent. In the late 1950s, Beard became a member of the Champs. In the wake of their chart-topping hit “Tequila,” cut with session musicians, he needed musicians to form a touring band. He called Seals and Croft, and they moved from Tex. to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, they also became session musicians, playing with Jerry Butler, Buck Owens, the Monkees, and others. They also joined the Knickerbockers, contributing songs to the Lies album.

In the mid-1960s, Seals and Croft formed a band called the Dawnbreakers, beginning a long relationship with guitarist Louie Shelton. The duo became interested in the Bahai faith, which helped shape their music. By 1969, they signed with Bell and recorded their eponymous debut as Seals and Crofts, a heavily orchestrated affair. That album and the follow-up, Down Home —a more stripped-down album reflecting the folkier side of the duo—didn’t sell especially well. They went over to Warner, but their label debut Year of Sundays also didn’t make much of an impression. They continued to do session work, with Crofts playing mandolin on James Taylor’s One Man Dog.

The duo finally broke in a big way with their fourth album, 1972’s Summer Breeze, largely on the strength of the #6 title track. The single “Hummingbird” hit #20, and the album went gold, reaching #7. In 1973 they released Diamond Girl. Again, the title track rose to #6 and the second single, “We May Never Pass This Way Again,” hit #21 and was a theme song at high school proms for years after. The album went gold and rose to #4.

The usually mild-mannered duo thrust themselves into controversy with the title track from their next album, Unborn Child. Written in the wake of Roe v. Wade (the court decision legalizing abortion), the song became a rallying point for the pro-life movement and was banned by many radio stations. Not surprisingly, the album went gold, and hit #14 on the charts. Their subsequent album, 1975’s I’ll Play for You, while still selling gold, only hit #30 on the charts, with the title track only getting as high as #18. That year, however, they released a greatest hits collection that went double platinum, peaking at #11. In the wake of that success, they scored a Top Ten single with the title track from their next album, Get Closer. The album brushed into the Top 40 and went gold.

Seals and Croft’s career began to lose momentum in the later 1970s. They scored a #28 single with “My Fair Share,” recorded for the soundtrack to the film One on One; this was one of their first hits that they didn’t write. Their 1978 album Takin’ It Easy, released at the height of disco, featured a minor dance hit “You’re the Love.” By 1979, they were doing commercials for McDonalds. They also recorded the theme song “The First Year” for the TV series The Paper Chase. They recorded their final album, The Longest Road, in 1980.

Although they have embarked on a couple of reunion tours, the end of the early 1980s found the duo largely retired. Seals moved to Costa Rica, where he owns a coffee plantation. Crofts still plays occasional session and tours with Bahai musicians as part of choral concerts. He released a solo album in the late 1990s, and both appeared on an album by Louie Shelton around the same time.

Discography

Seals and Crofts (1970); Down Home (1970); Year of Sundays ( 1972); Summer Breeze (1972); Diamond Girl (1973); Unborn Child (1974); Year of Sundays / Summer Breeze (1974); S. & C.1&2 (1974); I’ll Play for You (1975); Get Closer (1976); Sudan Village (1976); One on One (1977); Takin’ It Easy (1978); Longest Road (1980).

—Hank Bordowitz

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