The Astors

The Astors, Curtis Johnson, Eliehue Stanback, Sam (Byrnes) Jones,Richard Harris, grew up in The Orange Mound community in Memphis, Tennessee, while attending Melrose High School, along with Richard Griffin, a member of the original group called The Duntinos, and Harold Johnsn, Curtis’ brother who joined the group when Richard Harris left the group for a while in 1967. The group was organized in 1958 by a neighborhood pianist, Herman “Red” Arnett who held auditions for a singing group at his home in the “Mound”. “Red” brought Curtis, Eliehue, Richard, Sam, and Richard Griffin, together for months of work before calling them a “group”.

The group, The Duntinos, quickly made a name for themselves performing regularly at local Beale Street and area venues. “Red” taught the guys to perform, and they learned to entertain under the tutelage of Rufus “Walking The Dog” Thomas, while working the “Chittlin Circuit” with him and his band, The Bearcats. After Curtis and Eliehue graduated, the Duntinos moved to Buffalo, New York with Curtis’ ralatives, looking, for the “Bright Lights” of New York, but found that Buffalo was very cold, and a long way from “The Big Apple”. After working a few jobs in Buffalo, the group return to Memphis to do some backup vocals for Carla and Rufus Thomas and other artist recording at a new studio, then called Satellite Records.

In 1961 the group recorded their first release “You Make Me Feel So Good”(Curtis -lead), a song that Curtis wrote b/w  “As You Can See”(Eliehue-lead), written by Eliehue Stanback.  The group’s name was changed to The Chips for this release, named after producer, Chips Moman.  In 1961, Curtis joined the Air Force, but continued to record when on leave from the Military.  In 1963 the group’s name was changed again to The Astors for the next release, written by guitarist, Larry Lee who played with Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock and later played with Al Green for years. That record was ” What Can It Be” b/w “Just Enough To Hurt Me”(Curtis-lead).  “What Can It Be is my favorite of all the songs we recorded”, says Curtis.