The Hues Corporation was a pop and soul trio formed in Santa Monica, California in 1969. They are best known for their 1974 hit "Rock the Boat," which sold over two million copies.
Before their success they were the opening act for some stars including Frank Sinatra, Milton Berle, Nancy Sinatra, and Glen Campbell. The original band had a lineup of three singers and three sidemen. The sidemen were Joey Rivera from the Checkmates; Monti Lawston; and Bob "Bullet" Bailey, formerly of the Leaves. Before the group had a hit single they performed as an opening act for Flash Cadillac, Ike Turner, and Delaney Bramlett. Bailey, Rivera, and Lawston left the band to form Goodstuff.
The group's name was a pun on the Hughes Corporation, with the 'hue' being the group's African-American heritage. The band's members were St. Clair Lee (born Bernard St. Clair Lee, April 24, 1944, San Francisco, California; died 2011), Fleming Williams (born 1943, Flint, Michigan; died 1992) and Hubert Ann Kelley (born 24 April 1947, Fairfield, Alabama). The original choice for the group's name was The Children of Howard Hughes, which their record label turned down.
The group's first big break came in 1972, when they were invited to appear in the blaxploitation film, Blacula, starring William Marshall. They were also asked to record three songs for the film's soundtrack: "There He Is Again", "What The World Knows," and "I'm Gonna Catch You." Shortly thereafter, RCA signed the group; their first single, "Freedom For The Stallion", from the album of the same name, became a moderate hit, reaching #63 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The follow-up single, "Rock the Boat," became a #1 hit on the Billboard chart and the group's signature song. "Rock the Boat" was written by Waldo Holmes, who also wrote the Blacula songs, and was released in the U.S. in February 1974 and in the UK in July of that year. It went to #1 for one week in the U.S. and #6 for two weeks in the UK, staying for 20 weeks in the U.S. chart with a gold disc awarded by the R.I.A.A. on 24 June 1974. The track sold well over two million copies. The song is considered one of the earliest disco songs. Some authorities proclaim it to be the first disco song to hit #1, while others give that distinction to "Love's Theme" by Love Unlimited Orchestra, a chart-topper from earlier in 1974.
After the success of "Rock the Boat," the Hues Corporation's other charted singles on the Billboard Hot 100 included "Rockin' Soul" (1974, #18), "Love Corporation" (1975, #62), and "I Caught Your Act" (1977, #92).
Despite their initial success, the group was unable to duplicate the success of their earlier hits and disbanded in 1978. But with renewed interest in disco music throughout the 1990s, the group reunited for tour dates and special events, including the PBS special Get Down Tonight: The Disco Explosion.
Former bandmember Fleming Williams, who sang the male lead part on "Rock the Boat," died in the 1990s. Many sources claim the date of his death was September 1992, but at least one source claims he died in February 1998. According to the Social Security Death Index, Fleming Williams died on February 15, 1998. His death has been attributed to a "long illness," although many others have also alluded to a long struggle with drugs.
Founder member St. Clair Lee died on March 8, 2011, in Lake Elsinore, California.He is said to have died from natural causes at the age of 66, as written in the Los Angeles Times obituaries in March. He was survived by his mother, sons, and sister.
- Freedom For The Stallion (1973)
- Rockin' Soul (1974)
- Love Corporation (1975)
- I Caught Your Act (1976)
- Your Place or Mine (1978)
Notable compilation albums
- The Best of The Hues Corporation (RCA Victor) (1977)
- The Best of The Hues Corporation (Pickwick) (1979)
- The Very Best of the Hues Corporation (1998)
- List of number-one hits (United States)
- List of artists who reached number one on the Hot 100 (U.S.)
- List of number-one dance hits (United States)
- List of artists who reached number one on the U.S. Dance chart
- Hues Corporation at Allmusic.
- 2.0 2.1 2.2 Fleming Williams profile @discomusic.com
- More Hues Corporation info
- 4.0 4.1 4.2 Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs, 2nd, London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd.
- Fleming Williams entry @ Dead Rock Stars Club
- Disco (RIP) Pioneers
- St. Clair Lee Interview Retrieved 5-23-2010.
- "Bernard St. Clair Lee, who sang 'Rock the Boat' with Hues Corporation, dies at 66" at Los Angeles Times" 
- The Hues Corporation @ Discogs
- [Hues Corporation at All Music Guide 1998 Greatest Hits album @ Allmusic Guide]