‘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. Kenny Jeremiah passed in 2020.

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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8 Comments so far

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  1. Stuart
    #1 Stuart 5 November, 2020, 07:21

    First time I heard Expressway I thought it was the Rascals.

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    • Jeff Tamarkin
      Jeff Tamarkin 6 November, 2020, 12:06

      I think we all did!

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      • Rochelle Rabin
        Rochelle Rabin 27 April, 2022, 06:35

        I didn’t, but I was in Philly and there was a lot of buzz. Good association, though b/c Richie and Charlie sang on Felix Cavaliere’s 1994 “If Not for You,” and IIRC they told me they worked with the Rascals in the ’60s when they were harmony singers in NY before moving to Philly. (Will check my interview with R&C from 2005.) And yes, Richie was the sweetest guy. They’re both very nice.

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  2. Pete
    #2 Pete 5 November, 2021, 06:46

    I know Charlie and knew Richie (RIP) and have worked with them. Their voices aced the test of time, and more importantly, they are the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet.

    Reply this comment
  3. davhop63
    #3 davhop63 14 January, 2022, 01:19

    Had no idea about Kenny Jeremiah….later of “Shame, Shame, Shame fame with Shirley Goodman in 1975…who herself was the “Shirley” in the 50’s duo….Shirley & Lee in 1955, “Let the Good Times Roll”…both have sadly passed on now…Interesting how a singer’s career can have many different avenues…

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  4. Hank Johnson
    #4 Hank Johnson 5 November, 2023, 10:36

    Mike Finnigan, the late, great studio musician did a nice version on his solo album that received a lot of airplay in the Portland, OR area.

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