Jackey Beavers ranks among the unsung pioneers of the Detroit soul music scene of the 1960s. Born Robert L. Beavers and raised in Cartersville, GA, after high school he joined the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Fort Custer in Battle Creek, MI, where he began singing in military talent shows. Beavers regularly competed against fellow singer/songwriter Johnny Bristol, and in time the rivals agreed to join forces, performing under the name Johnny & Jackey. By 1959 they were appearing regularly at Battle Creek's El Grotto Lounge, where a then-unknown Junior Walker & the All-Stars served as the house band; Berry Gordy's sister Gwendolyn ultimately offered to manage Johnny & Jackey and signed them to her Anna Records label, where they debuted in February 1960 with "Let's Go to a Movie, Baby." "Hoy Hoy" followed in September, but when Gordy's business partner Billy "Roquel" Davis left Anna to form his own label, CheckMate, she formed a new imprint, Tri-Phi, with Harvey Fuqua. Johnny & Jackey went with her, and in 1961 released "Carry Your Own Load," a minor regional hit.
The duo's biggest record, "Someday We'll Be Together" -- written by Beavers, Bristol, and Fuqua -- followed a year later. After one final single, "Baby Dontcha Worry," Johnny & Jackey split, and Beavers cast his lot with Davis, by now the A&R director at Checker. His debut for the label, 1965's "Sling Shot," would prove Beavers' biggest solo hit, but his tenure with the company nevertheless proved brief and he spent the next several years skipping from label to label, generating a series of singles ("Lover Come Back," "I Need My Baby," "Bring Me All Your Heartaches," and "We're Not Too Young to Fall in Love" among them) that sold poorly but were later resurrected in the clubs of Britain's Northern soul circuit. Beavers earned his greatest renown as a songwriter -- the old Johnny & Jackey single "Someday We'll Be Together" was re-recorded in 1969 by the Supremes as Diana Ross' last single with the group, going on to top the charts. He also penned material for artists ranging from Joe Simon to Ella Washington, and for a while worked as a producer, including a stint for Nashville DJ John Richbourg and station WLAC. Beavers eventually returned home to Cartersville to own and operate his own club, Brothers Three. He also went back to school, becoming an ordained minister and preaching at Cartersville's New Hope Baptist Church and later the Glory Harvester Church. Beavers then mounted a career in politics, serving as executive assistant to longtime Georgia governor Joe Frank Harris; for many years, he also wrote a weekly newspaper column for Cartersville's Daily Tribune News. ~ Jason Ankeny~ Rovi