Shalamar started life as a “manufactured” group. Dick Griffey was the talent co-ordinator for Soul Train when he decided to set up his own record label – SOLAR. SOLAR is an acronym for Sounds Of Los Angeles records. Dick took session musicians and created a hit record – called Uptown Festival – which was credited to a faceless artist “Shalamar” in 1977. When the record became a hit he realised that there was a demand for an actual group so he set about creating one with soul train dancers Jeffrey Daniel and Jody Watley together with singer Gary Mumford, the latter of whom quickly left the group to pursue other interests.
Jeffrey Daniel had met Howard Hewett at the LA nightclub “Maverick Flat” a few years earlier and had already asked him to take up lead vocals after Mumford’s departure. At that time, Hewett was committed to another contract to tour Europe with a covers band. When Brown left, Daniel asked Hewett to come on board again and this time he agreed. The rest is history.
Hewett’s first record The Second Time Around was a million seller. As well as being number one on the US R&B chart it went on to reach number eight in the main Billboard pop chart indicating Shalamar’s intention to cross over with an edgy sound incorporating funk, disco, R&B and pop.
The trio consisting of Howard Hewett as lead vocalist together with Jeffrey Daniel and Jody Watley became known as the “classic” line up of the group. From late 1979 to mid 1983 they racked up more than a dozen hits all over the world including North America, Europe, Africa and Japan. In the UK, Shalamar are also remembered for Jeffrey Daniel’s famous appearances on Top of the Pops where he introduced body popping and moonwalking to UK audiences.
Daniel is also an award-winning choreographer well known for teaching the moonwalk to Michael Jackson as well as co-choreographing some of Michael’s videos and for being his dance mentor.
At the height of their fame in 1983, Jody Watley and Daniel left Shalamar leaving Hewett to continue the group with new members and further hits resulting in a personal grammy for Hewett.