It's probably a good thing success didn't come overnight to the Dramatics. So many other Detroit groups of the '60's made it to the top quickly, only to be broken apart by ego conflicts. Although they had their share of dissension and trouble, the Dramatics took their time, polished their harmony and choreography, and became one of the biggest soul vocal groups of the 1970's, scoring nine top 10 R&B hits between 1971 and 1980.
Originally known as the Dynamics, the group was formed in 1962 when 13 year old tenor Ron Banks, a student at Detroit's Cleveland Junior High School, hooked up with second tenor Larry Reed, baritone Robert Ellington and bass Arthur Phillips; all from Pershing High School, to enter a talent contest. After Larry "Squirrel" Demps, Elbert Wilkins and Roderick Davis had replaced Reed, Ellington and Phillips, the quartet was discovered while performing at Mr. Kelly's in Detroit and signed to the local Wingate label. Although it didn't make it beyond Detroit, the Dramatic's first single, a bright Temptations-styled number titled "Inky Kinky Wang Dan Doo" displayed the top-to-bottom harmony that has become one of their trademarks.
Another Dramatics' calling card has been their fast-paced Contour influenced choreography. Davis explains, "One time in 1965 we watching a group called the Contours do a show, and we saw the M.C. call out the names of the guys in the group, and each one came out sliding and jumping up on the opposite sidewall and came back doing splits. This gave us the idea for our routine, and we've used it ever since.