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"Just For You And I"

By Dave Ardit and Steve Petryszyn, 1973

[Thanks to Dave Ardit for permission to re-publish this article.]


   Living in the midwest is a cultural drag, and if you're an R&B oldies freak it is downright frustrating. Ah, to be part of the New York revival scene, that I can only dream about! The point is, that as a young collector it's frustrating enough to know that the 50's passed me by without the realization that the 70's revival is also passing me by. I can live with the former – I wasn't old enough to appreciate the period. But now, I am old enough to appreciate the revival and here I am stuck out in Ohio.

   To say the least, I felt unfulfilled as a collector, so about a year ago I decided to track down the Columbus 4 Pharaohs. Their beautiful "Give Me Your Love" is a classic collectors item so I thought I'd try and locate the group for an interview. With the help of a local deejay, WCOL's Bob Alan, I located Leo Blakely who was not an original Pharaoh but sang with the group after they had changed their name to King Pharoah And The Egyptians.

   It was during the interview with Leo that I discovered the whereabouts of the Supremes. We had been talking about King Pharoah and the other group members when he mentioned Forest Porter. I had asked him this question; "Had any of the Egyptians sung in any other groups?" Leo replied, "Forest Porter sang with a group called the Supremes. I believe that they recorded for Ace records." After Leo picked me off the floor, I managed to blurt out - "Just For You And I?" "Yeah, that's the one", Leo answered. I then asked him if any of the group still lives in Columbus? He replied, "Yeah, all five of them. I play ball with them occasionally." It was through that interview that I contacted Forest and the rest of the Supremes. In October of 1972, Steve Petryszyn and I drove to Forest's house on the southeast side of the city where we interviewed the whole group. The following story is a result of that interview...

   It is late 1954. The Crows are riding high on the East Coast with their smash hit "Gee", while the Penguins overwhelm the West Coast with "Earth Angel." The development of R&R, with its roots in R&B, is beginning to take shape. Amid this transition, two young East High School students from Columbus, Ohio, plan to form just what the music industry needs - another R&B vocal group.

   The two young singers were Bobby Isbell (bass) and Eddie Dumas (2nd tenor). They were soon joined by fellow classmates Forest Porter (lead), Jay Robinson (baritone), and Eddie Jackson (1st tenor). The naming of the group is a unique story as Bobby Isbell explains it. "It was a cold winter night in late 1954 and we were all keeping warm with a bottle of Bourbon Supreme. We were just starting at the bottle when we realized the Supremes would be a great name for the group. The Supremes it has been ever since."

   From 1954 till January 1957, the group sang in and around Central Ohio. Everyone was still in high school and singing brought in much needed extra money. Forest was married in 1956. Consequently, he moonlighted between the Supremes and the Crowns (local - no records) to help make ends meet. According to Forest, "By 1956 we never lost in any of the local battle of the group contests. In fact, we had to lie about not being on a particular show before other groups would show up. We were just bad dudes."

   By January 1957, the group had finished high school. The new year started off great when Bob English, a southern promoter, contacted the group. The South was supposedly crying for the entertainment like the Supremes so English offered to sponsor the group if they would come to Florida. Financial problems prevented them from going directly to Florida, so they sang in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in order to get enough money for transportation.

   The Supremes debuted in Pensacola at the Savoy Ballroom by singing for their supper. They entertained in front while name acts like the 5 Royals and Little Willie John occupied the main ballroom. The Supremes got it together so quickly that people began leaving the main ballroom to listen to the new group out front.

   They remained in and around Pensacola and Mobile for about a year and a half, singing in exclusive white night clubs. They sang everything from rhythm and blues and rock to calypso and country and western. One of their most memorable shows was in Panama City, Florida in 1957 when they filled in for the Heartbeats who were unable to make their engagement.

   Their base was in Pensacola at the Southland Club where Wally Mercer was the band leader. According to Dumas, Wally was involved in the original draft of "Rock Around The Clock." While in Pensacola they turned down a lucrative deal to be singing waiters at an exclusive white night club (the Picadilly Club) for the chance to cut a record.

   A local record store owner, Stan Rabin, told Joe Ruffino of Ace Records about the Supremes. After hearing the group, Joe convinced Joe Rogers, owner of the Southland Club and the Supreme's manager, to let the group record for Ace. In April 1957, they recorded "Just For You & I" and, as one might guess, Ruffino played no part in the writing of the song. In 1956, while still in Columbus, Forest had written the song for his wife Patti, who felt neglected since Forest spent most of his time with the group. He wrote the song as a tribute to his wife - a reaffirmation of his love. He wrote it "Just For Her & Him."

   In addition to Huey Smith's piano work at the recording session, Lee Allen of "Walking With Mr. Lee" fame did the sax work. When the group sang the song live, Forest had always done the entire lead, including the talking part. But Ruffino did not like Forest's speaking voice so he had each member talk the lyrics. Joe finally decided on the bass, Bob Isbell. I might add that on the same day the Supremes recorded, Huey Smith recorded his classic "Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu." Also on the same day Bob Isbell sang bass with the Clowns on their recording of "Just A Lonely Clown." Later in the day the Supremes recorded "Honey Honey" b/w "Glow" - which was never released.Supremes-Just-A-2in

   That night the group returned to Pensacola from New Orleans, still lacking a flip side for the record. The group had wanted to back it with "Honey Honey" but Ruffino did not want to pair it with "Just For You & I", perhaps feeling it was a strong A-side for another record. About 4:00 AM ‘nature had called’ Forest and as he sat meditating, he wrote "Don't Leave Me Here To Cry". The basic beat of the song was modeled after the Dell's "Jo- Jo." Forest had intended to sing the song much slower, but when Ruffino approved it for the B-side he upped the tempo and had Forest give it a Little Richard flavor.

   Shortly after completing the record, Ruffino told the group to return to Columbus and to await word on the release of the record and a planned national tour with other groups. July rolled around and the record was released but no tour ever evolved. Today the group is "still waiting" in Columbus.Supremes-Just-B-2in

   Like so many one-shot R&B groups of the 50's, the Supremes did their thing but were never rewarded. They received no money for the record. When I told them their song was a highly sought after collectors item, they were a little upset to say the least. Since the record never sold well for Ace, some might contend that the Supremes have little right to complain, anyway much less than some of the major R & B groups who were shafted. Yet, the Supremes had talent, still do for that matter, and they tried. For that they deserve praise. Perhaps like so many other black groups of the period they were victims of the times. In that case one can only say it's a damn shame.

   Before concluding I want to tell a little about the group today. During the course of the interview, Steve and I could not quite believe we were talking to an actual, 1950's R&B group. That might sound a little corny but we are just collectors, and to think the Supremes were actually a part of the 50's R&B scene was a real trip for us. The following are just a few additional comments about the group today and yesterday:

   We asked the group what they liked to listen to as youths and who some of their idols were. Unanimously all said they dug Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters. Since Columbus had no black radio market in the 50's, they listened to WLAC out of Nashville. In rattling off groups and songs they enjoyed, "I" by the Velvets and "Romance In The Dark" by the Diamonds come to mind.

   Next I would like to clear up a few rumors about the group. First, they are not the Velveteers on RIC. When I asked Forest about the group and mentioned that the two groups had a similar sound, Forest replied, “I've never heard of them but they must have been good if they sounded like us." Secondly, there is a rumor that Ruby & The Romantics who are from the Akron area were connected in some way with the Supremes. Eddie Dumas cleared up the rumor when he told me that when "Just For You & I" came out in 1957, the Romantics had to change their name. They had been calling themselves the Supremes also.

   Today the group still gets together occasionally to sing, but not professionally. The night of the interview, the Supremes treated Steve & I to some acapella versions of "Glory Of Love", "Let Me Come Back" (The Checkers' song), "In The Still Of The Night", "Gee" and "I &I" (an original composition the group never recorded - written by Jay Robinson). As Steve and I sat there in awe and the room echoed with "Just For You And I", we could say it was "Damn-unreal"!

   Today each member has done quite well outside the music industry. Forest is a sales representative for Anheuser Busch, while Eddie Jackson is a driver salesman for the firm. Bob Isbell is a Supervisor for Weatherhead Auto Parts; Jay Robinson is a spray painter and Eddie Dumas is a carryout owner.


 The Supremes reunited for a studio recording session in 1977 with producer John Clifton that resulted in the release of a 45, “Glow b/w You And Me”, on the Grog label.






Just For You And I/Don’t Leave Me Here To Cry




Honey Honey/Glow




Glow/You And Me





Grog 102 The Complete Grog Sessions*

  1. What Kind Of Fool Am I (acappella)
  2. Ruby Baby (acappella)
  3. Wake Me, Shake Me (acappella)
  4. Your Promise To Be Mine
  5. You And Me (45 mix)
  6. You And Me (w/o electronic distortion)
  7. No, It Won’t Be Long
  8. Glow

    *This CD was released as a limited edition (40 copies) by producer John Clifton, using the Bob Hughes Band as backup. The producer notes in the liner notes that “I believe the Grog session was recorded in the late 60’s”. However, the actual date is believed to be 1977.


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