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O-o-h Child by the Five Stairsteps (Buddah Records, 1970)

This Chicago soul group was the original “First Family of Soul” (until the Jackson 5 took over). The Stairsteps were named for the fact when the children lined up by age they resembled stairsteps. The group consisted of five of the six children of Betty and Clarence Burke Sr. — Alohe Jean, Clarence Jr., James, Dennis, Kenneth (Keni) and Cubie.

They began their career by winning first place in a talent contest at the Regal Theater. That victory led to offers for recording contracts. However, a family friend and neighbor introduced them to Curtis Mayfield. The Stairsteps signed with his Windy City imprint and released their first single You Waited Too Long in 1966. (It hit #16 on Billboard’s R&B chart.)

In the spring of 1970 they released their biggest hit, O-o-h Child which hit #14 on the R&B chart and #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song sold over a million copies and was certified Gold in August 1970.

As the siblings began to leave for various other projects or reasons, the Five Stairsteps became just the Stairsteps and disbanded officially around 1976.

Four of the brothers (Keni, Clarence Jr., James and Dennis) reformed as the Invisible Man’s Band in 1979 (along with keyboardist Dean Gant). Their biggest was All Night Thing. They broke up in 1981 when Keni went solo.

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