The group was formed at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. The original line-up comprised John Gary Williams, Julius E. Green, William Brown and Robert Phillips. They were originally called The Emeralds, but changed their name because there was another group of that name; the name "Mad Lads" was suggested by Stax employee Deanie Parker in response to the group's behavior and also in recognition of local disc jockey Reuben "Mad Lad" Washington. They first recorded for Stax in 1964, releasing novelty single, "The Sidewalk Surf", co-written by Isaac Hayes (under the name Ed Lee). It was not a hit. However, their second record, "Don't Have To Shop Around", rose to no. 11 on the Billboard R&B chart, and no. 93 on the pop chart. Featuring organ by Hayes and piano by Booker T. Jones, and featured "the high, innocent tenor of John Gary Williams." They followed up with "I Want Someone", "I Want A Girl" and "Patch My Heart", which were all R&B hits in 1966. However, towards the end of the year Williams and Brown were drafted. The group continued to make live appearances with the pair being replaced by Sam Nelson and Quincy Billups Jr., but the new line-up's recordings were not as successful. After Williams returned from military service, he was reinstated in the group at the insistence of record company co-owner Jim Stewart. The other members were not keen on this but they powered through and continued to have R&B chart hits through to 1969 together, their final hit being a version of "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" which also reached the pop chart. Sessions and subsequent singles got fewer and further between moving into the 70s. By 1972 things were looking pretty bleak, then with a final album and less than a handful of live performances, the group called it quits in 1973. Williams recorded a self-titled solo album at Stax in 1973. He later worked outside the music business in Iowa and Los Angeles, before forming a new touring version of The Mad Lads in 1984. The new group recorded an album, Madder Than Ever, in 1990. Julius E. Green died on January 14, 2013. William C. Brown III died on July 24, 2015, aged 69. John Gary Williams died in May 2019, aged 73.
Come Closer To Me collects the near complete classic recordings of The Mad Lads. The 3 full length albums, a complete singles collection (less 1 side) with a few unissued cuts and I've included John Gary Williams' album and 3 singles cut for Stax. All files chronicled, cleanly tagged and mp3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders, enjoy!
The Mad Lads - 1964 - Surf Jerk (Stax 160)