Dramatics Founder Ron Banks Dies
American soul singers The Dramatics, 1979. From left to right, Willie Ford, Lenny Mayes, Ron Banks and Craig Jones. From MCA Records. Redferns

Ron Banks, singer and a founding member of veteran R&B group the Dramatics, died yesterday (March 4) at his Detroit home of a reported heart attack. He was 58.

Originally a vocal sextet known as the Dynamics in the early O60s, the group changed its name and became a quintet comprised of Banks, William Howard, Larry Demps, Willie Ford and Elbert Wilkins. The Dramatics scored its first R&B-charting single (No. 43) in 1967 on the Sport label with "All Because of You." But it wasn't until four years later that the Dramatics broke into national consciousness with the 1971 Stax/Volt hit "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get," which peaked at No. 3 R&B and No. 9 pop. The Dramatics claimed an R&B No. 1 the following year with "In the Rain."

Between 1972 and 1980, the Dramatics also recorded for ABC and MCA, notching seven more top 10 R&B singles. Those songs include a cover of "Me and Mrs. Jones," "You're Fooling You," "Be My Girl" and "Welcome Back Home." Over the ensuing years, the Dramatics underwent several personnel changes, the most notable occurring in 1973 when L.J. Reynolds and Lenny Mayes replaced Howard and Wilkins in 1973.

Banks, whose sweet falsetto helped give the Dramatics its signature sound, was a Detroit native who was born May 10, 1951. He is survived by his wife Sandy and six children. Banks is the fourth Dramatics member to pass away following the deaths of Wilkins (1992), Howard (2000) and James Mack Brown (2008).

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