was an American disco and soul band, who were based in Philadelphia and
were one of the first disco bands. The band's first major success was
with their 1972 cover version of "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart".
The first disco track they released was "Love Epidemic" in 1973.
However, they are best known for their Grammy winning song, "Disco
Inferno", originally released in 1976, becoming a UK pop hit and US
R&B hit, then re-released in 1978 and becoming a US pop hit. The
music journalist Ron Wynn noted "the Trammps' prowess can't be measured
by chart popularity; Ellis' booming, joyous vocals brilliantly
championed the celebratory fervor and atmosphere that made disco both
loved and hated among music fans."
The history of the Trammps grew from the 1960s group, the Volcanos, who
later became the Moods. With a number of line-up changes by the early
1970s, the band membership included gospel-influenced lead singer, Jimmy Ellis, drummer and bass singer, Earl Young, with brothers, Stanley and Harold 'Doc' Wade.
Members of the Philadelphia recording band, MFSB played with the group
on records and on tour in the 70s with singer, Robert Upchurch joining
later. The group was produced by the Philadelphia team of Ronnie Baker,
Norman Harris and Young, all MFSB mainstays who played on the recording
sessions and contributed songs.
Their debut chart entry came via an upbeat cover version of the
standard, "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart", which became a Top 20 US
R&B chart hit in 1972. Their first few recordings were released on
Buddah Records, including "Hold Back The Night" which was a hit in the
UK and on the Billboard R&B chart in 1973, before a re-release saw
it climb the U.S. Hot 100 two years later. Several R&B hits followed
during a stay with Philadelphia International subsidiary, Golden Fleece
(run by Baker-Harris-Young) before they signed to Atlantic Records.
Their single "Disco Inferno" (1976), which was included on the Grammy
Award winning Saturday Night Fever soundtrack in 1977, reached #11 on
the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1978. Other major hits included "Hold
Back the Night" (1975) (UK #5) and "That's Where the Happy People Go"
(1976). In late 1977, the Trammps released the song "The Night the
Lights Went Out" to commemorate the electrical blackout that affected
New York City on July 13, 1977.
Their signature song, "Disco Inferno", has been covered by Tina Turner
and Cyndi Lauper. In addition, Graham Parker covered "Hold Back The
Night" on the "The Pink Parker EP" in 1977, and reached #20 in the UK
Singles Chart, and Top 60 in the US. On September 19, 2005, the group's
"Disco Inferno" was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame at a
ceremony held in New York. The song was part-written by Ron Kersey, a
producer-arranger and a member of MFSB, who also played with Trammps in
the 1970s for a time. During the ceremony, the original band members
performed together for the first time in 25 years. Two versions of the
group, with differing line-ups, currently tour the nostalgia circuit. On
March 8, 2012, lead singer Jimmy Ellis died at a nursing home in Rock
Hill, South Carolina, at the age of 74. The cause of death was not
immediately known but he suffered from Alzheimers' disease. Earl Young's
Trammps still continue to record and as at August 2014 have recently
released 'Get your lovin while you can' written by the Steals brothers
renowned for their Philly hits such as 'Could it be I'm falling in love'
for The Detroit Spinners.