Motown Monday ~ “Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go” ~ Hank Ballard and The Midnighters

Written by Hank Ballard
Released 1960
#1 on US R&B & #6 US Pop

John Henry Kendricks was born in Detroit in 1927 and returned here in his mid-teens after his Dad died. Song writer/guitarist Alonzo Tucker founded the group and after a long string of hits both as The Royals (1952) then The Midnighters, in 1961 they had two songs in the top 10, Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go & Finger Poppin Time which was nominated for a Grammy.

Ballard’s cousin was none other than Flo who started with the Primettes then formed The Supremes.


Hank Ballard – lead baritone vocal
Henry Booth – lead vocal
Charles Sutton – tenor vocal
Sonny Woods – bass vocal
J.C. Billy Davis – guitar


The Royals line-up: (First recording session – Every Beat…)
Henry Booth, tenor 62-63 and sometimes lead (born 1935, died 1978)
Charles Sutton, ten 52-55 (who sang lead on several early classics incl. “Every Beat..” and left the group in early 1955)
Lawson Smith, bar 55- 63 (who replaced original, non-recording baritone Freddy Pride; and in turn was replaced by Hank Ballard when Smith joined the forces mid 1952)
Ardra “Sonny” Woods, bass 52-58 (died in 1984). Becama producer and disc-jockey during the 1960s
Alonzo Tucker, gtr and extra vcl 52-ca 55 (poss born November 21, 1915). He helped Sutton to form the Tornados in 1955 and stayed on-and-off with the group (although not performing after 1955).

Line-up from mid 1952: (Starting with the Royal’s second recording session)

As above with Hank Ballard, lead 1952 (replacing Smith)

Later members up to 1963:

Lawson Smith 55-ca63 (returned in late 1954 as temporary substitute for Henry Booth, who was away for awhile – and soon replaced Sutton, when Booth returned in January, 1955)
Norman Thrasher 56-ca65 (entered in 1956, and replaced Woods in 1958 on recording sessions). He came from the Serenaders and is cousin to the Drifters’ Thrashers
Arthur Porter, guitar from early 1954 – succeeded by
Cal Green later that year (born June 22, 1935 in Dayton, Texas – died July 6, 2004 in California. Green became the leader of The Midnighters’ touring and recording band. He was jailed for 21 months during 1959-62 (substituted by J.C. Billy Davis), rejoined the Midnighters; and later made a solo career. During the very late ´50s (and in the early ’60s) not all Midnighters followed Ballard on stage or in the recording studios.



Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductionIn 2012 ( from Wiki).

The Midnighters as a group were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A special sub-committee, appointed by the Rock Hall, finally decided to address the issue of deserving pioneering groups that were not inducted in the Hall’s early years, when their front men were inducted. As a result of this committee’s decision, The Midnighters were automatically and retroactively inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside Hank Ballard, under the premise that they should have been inducted with him back in 1990. The inducted members were Henry Booth, Cal Green, Arthur Porter, Lawson Smith, Charles Sutton, Norman Thrasher, Sonny Woods. However, group founder Alonzo Tucker, probably the group’s most prolific songwriter, other than Ballard himself, was not inducted for unknown reasons. J.C. Billy Davis, the guitarist for the Midnighters was also not inducted. Davis was with the group from 1958–1988, during the time of their resurgent popularity.On April 14, 2012,at the Cleveland Public Auditorium, Original Midnighters Lawson Smith (now known as Abdul Bin-Asad), and Norman Thrasher, the last surviving members of the group, accepted the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction on behalf of the group, and acknowledged departed members, including Midnighters founder Alonzo Tucker who controversially was not inducted for unknown reasons.

Beyond sad that it took until this year to finally induct this group. Even sadder that the man who founded the group wasn’t inducted at all.

All I know is from the earliest songs from The Royals to the last of The Midnighters these guys were all fabulous talents.

When it was honest to God Rock-n-Roll and it was from Detroit!




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