Students of the heredity versus the environment debate will find it difficult to separate the genes from the hearthstone in the case of Arthur “Pooch”, Antone “Chubby”, and Feliciano “Butch” and Perry Lee “Tiny”.
Their father, a multi-talented musician with a passion for Wes Montgomery and Jimmy McGriff, played guitar and sang in small clubs in the Tavares’ hometown of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Their oldest brother, John, kindled his siblings’ interest in the tight, fluid singing of R&B harmony groups such as the Cadillacs, the Penguins and the Moonglows and personal tastes filled in any existing gaps with, among others, Mary Wells, Gladys Knight and the Pips and Etta James. But whatever the magical, musical combination, the balance was, and is just right.
Of Cape Verdean descent, the three grew up in a close-knit family of ten children. Each took to the family avocation of singing at an early age blending voices whenever and wherever they could. In 1964 they made their first professional appearance at the Blue Flame in Onset, Massachusetts, and as they continued to perform in small clubs in the New Bedford-Boston-New York area both their reputation and their audience grew.
It had been John’s idea to form a group (originally called the Del Rios) in 1962 with Ralph, Pooch and Chubby. When John dropped out, Butch joined and Pooch left for a minor operation. Tiny replaced him. After Pooch turned their quartet into a quintet they changed their names to Chubby and the Turnpikes and soon to just the Turnpikes.
In 1971 they did a nine-week tour with Lola Falana in Italy. The Italians had a difficult time with Turnpikes, so the brothers decided to use their family name and soon became known as TAVARES all over Europe. After the tour they returned to the States and continued to do what they do best – sing ! In 1972 they were brought to the attention of Capitol Records.
CHECK IT OUT (1973), their first album, was produced by Johnny Bristol. An extraordinary debut album, it lodged in the R&B Top 20, hit the Pop Charts and contained the group’s first hit single in its title track.
On HARD CORE POETRY (1974) and IN THE CITY (1975), Tavares worked with the writer-producer team of Lambert and Potter. The result was a series of hit ballads, including, REMEMBER WHAT I TOLD YOU TO FORGET, IT ONLY TAKES A MINUTE and the group’s first number 1 R&B single hit SHE’S GONE. Next came a series of hit LPs and singles produced by Freddie Perren. SKY HIGH (1976), the group’s fourth album yielded hits in DON’T TAKE AWAY THE MUSIC and the Gold single HEAVEN MUST BE MISSING AN ANGEL. The LOVE STORM (1977) album containing the popular WHODUNIT and GOODNIGHT MY LOVE, PLEASANT DREAMS, and THE BEST OF TAVARES (1977) album followed in quick, chart-storming succession.
In 1978 Tavares released their seventh album, FUTURE BOUND, which contained the smash Grammy awarding hit MORE THAN A WOMAN and the popular GHOST OF LOVE and then in 1979 Tavares continued the string of hits with NEVER HAD A LOVE LIKE THIS BEFORE from the Bobby Martin produced LP MADAM BUTTERFLY.
In 1980, Tavares came out with SUPER CHARGED by three outstanding producers; David Foster, Benjamin Wright Jr., and Bobby Colomby with soulful infused ballads and four uptempo tunes.
Later in 1980 Tavares released the album LOVE UPRISING – an album that showed raw energy and perfect harmony from the brothers. In 1981 the brothers recorded their last album for Capitol Records, LOVELINE.
Tavares signed with RCA Records in 1981 and right away came out with two outstanding albums; NEW DIRECTIONS in 1982 and WORDS AND MUSIC in 1983.
Amongst all the gold and platinum albums and singles the biggest thrill for Tavares was a Grammy nomination for Best Duo/Group R&B for A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS (from the New Directions album). Competition was strong in this category going up against the likes of Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, the Dazz Band and Earth Wind & Fire. The brothers did not win, but do know how it feels to win as they all have a Grammy sitting on their mantels from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack album. But A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS was special as it was the first nomination for the brothers as a group.
Since then Ralph has left the group (in 1984) opting for a career as a court officer and spending more time with his family.
1994 saw Pooch, Chubby, Butch and Tiny reenter the studios to record a CD with Unidisc Music Inc under the guidance of producer George Cucuzzella, re-recording some of their major hits and still sounding as vibrant and harmonious as ever.
Brother Tiny took a hiatus from the group in 1995 but returned in June of 1999 to perform with his brothers once again. He left again in 2001 but as of 2009 is once again singing with his brothers
Today – TAVARES “2009” – Chubby, Butch, Tiny and Pooch – continue to give their fans and friends the very best of “Tavares” with harmony and energy performing as ever around the world. In the past several years they have appeared on three PBS Specials – RHYTHM, LOVE & SOUL – SUPER STARS OF THE SEVENTIES SOUL – and – GET DOWN TONIGHT:THE DISCO EXPLOSION !