Soul Brothers Six were an American rhythm and blues band formed in Rochester, New York during the mid-1960s. They are best remembered for their song "Some Kind of Wonderful", which was later a big hit for Grand Funk Railroad.
The band was originally called the Soul Brothers Five and featured brothers Sam Armstrong, Charles Armstrong, Moses Armstrong, Harry Armstrong and Gene Armstrong. Shortly after forming, vocalist John Ellison (born August 11, 1941) joined the group, prompting a name change. This lineup released two unsuccessful singles in 1965, "Stop Hurting Me" and "I Don't Want To Cry" before both Harry Armstrong and Gene Armstrong left the group, being replaced by Vonn Elle Benjamin and Lester Peleman.
It was this lineup that released the single "Don't Neglect Your Baby" before Sam Armstrong left the group to be replaced by Joe Johnson. They then signed a deal with Atlantic Records after being introduced to Jerry Wexler by a Philadelphia DJ and subsequently released "Some Kind of Wonderful" which reached #91. They followed with several more unimpressive singles before being dropped by Atlantic.
John Ellison (born August 11, 1941) is an American/Canadian musician, best known for writing the song "Some Kind of Wonderful." He was born in Montgomery, West Virginia and was raised in Landgraff, West Virginia, a small, poverty-stricken coal mining village near Welch, West Virginia, and is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, receiving his Canadian citizenship in 2006.
In the mid-1960s, Ellison traveled to Rochester, New York, where he met the original members of the Soul Brothers Five, becoming the sixth member and prompting the band to change its name to the Soul Brothers Six. The other members of the group included Charles Armstrong, Harry Armstrong, Vonnell Benjamin, Lester Pelemon, and Joe Johnson. The group signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records.
Ellison was the lead guitarist, singer, and songwriter for the group; and while traveling to a recording session in Philadelphia in 1967, Ellison wrote "She's Some Kind of Wonderful." This original version reached number 91 on the US Billboard chart. In 1987, the book "Sweet Soul Music" named the Soul Brothers Six as a major influence on the sound of modern music. Not only has the trademark bass line in "She's Some Kind of Wonderful" been utilized by countless other artists for a variety of different songs, but the song has also earned the Soul Brothers Six a spot in music history. More than 50 different artists have recorded "She's Some Kind of Wonderful," making it one of the most recorded songs in the history of music. In 1995, Ellison received a citation of achievement from Broadcast Music for writing the third-most played song in the world.
After the Soul Brothers Six broke up in the 1970s, Ellison continued to record and perform. In 1993 he released his first solo album, Welcome Back, followed by Missing You in 2000. In 2007, he released his third solo album, Back. He is a regular performer at the Nice Jazz Festival in France, and also performs regularly throughout Europe, Asia and North America.
In November 2008, Ellison was nominated for Male Vocalist of the Year, and for R&B/Soul Recording of the Year, for Back at the Hamilton Music Awards in Hamilton, Ontario. He also performed at the awards ceremony. On December 6, 2009, he was honored with the ArcelorMittal Dofasco Lifetime Achievement Award and performed at the Hamilton Music Awards.
Ellison released his autobiography, "Some Kind of Wonderful: The John Ellison Story" in July 2012. This work explores the racism and violence Ellison encountered and examines the relationship between these experiences and his songwriting.
In July 2013, a site near his childhood home in Landgraff, West Virginia was cleared by Boy Scouts and other volunteers, as part of a service project connected to the 2013 National Boy Scout Jamboree. Plans are pending to build a replica of his boyhood home to house a museum dedicated to John Ellison's music and his early live in the local mine camp community of Landgraff, West Virginia.
This prompted Charles Armstrong, Harry Armstrong, Vonn Elle Benjamin and Lester Peleman to leave the group and be replaced by James Swails Jr, Charles Pevy and Eddie Reno. This lineup released six singles as John Ellison and The Soul Brothers Six (despite there only being five band members) during the 1970s before disbanding.
John Ellison continued on in the music business and released two solo albums Welcome Back in 1993 and Missing You in 2000.