‘Expressway to Your Heart’: It’s Much Too Crowded

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The Soul Survivors’ sole charting album

If you were listening to the radio in late summer of 1967, chances are you’d hear “Expressway to Your Heart,” the great single from the soul group, the Soul Survivors, founded by three white guys who grew up listening to the R&B vocal groups of the Fifties.

“Expressway to Your Heart” not only gave the Soul Survivors their biggest hit but also launched the careers of Philadelphia International Records moguls and producers/songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.

The Soul Survivors were formed in New York City in 1965 by brothers Richie Ingui and Charlie Ingui, and their friend Kenny Jeremiah. (The three were originally in a band called the Dedications, formed in 1962.) The Soul Survivors signed with Crimson Records in Philadelphia, a label co-owned by Philly DJ Jerry Blavat.

Blavat arranged for the group (which relocated to Phily after drawing large crowds there) to sing “Expressway,” written and produced by the newcomers Gamble and Huff. The tune, with a “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” vibe to it, was released as a single in July 1967. It ultimately reached #4 in Billboard on November 4, and not surprisingly, #3 on the R&B chart.

Related: What were the other big hits of November ’67?

They placed three further singles on the chart, but only the immediate followup, “Explosion (In My Soul),” went anywhere, rising to #33. The group also had one charting album on Crimson, When the Whistle Blows, Anything Goes, in 1967-68.

The original Soul Survivors

The Soul Survivors broke up in 1970, although the Ingui brothers eventually performed under the name again, as well as with other groups.

Gamble and Huff went on to great fame, producing massive hits by the O’Jays, Billy Paul, Lou Rawls, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and many others, and building their label and studio into one of the most important of the era.

Richie Ingui died on January 13, 2017. The cause of death was heart failure. Ingui was 70.

Blavat, the legendary Philadelphia disc jockey, paid tribute to him on Facebook, “This is a tremendous loss not only to his brother Charlie Ingui and their family and friends but to everyone who loved soul music. Richie represented a young man who grew up on R&B and was a product of the music he heard, helping to create from his heart that unique sound that will live forever. He was a beautiful human being as well.”

Related: 1967 in rock music

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