Detroit, we have lost a legend.
Ron Banks has passed away this afternoon of a heart attack at Sinai Grace Hospital. He will be truly missed.
Founded the Dramatics whilst attending Cleveland Jr. High.
His brother, Bryan Banks, sang with the Five Special.
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The Dramatics originally formed in 1962 as the Dynamics. They changed their name by 1967, when they garnered their first minor hit single, “All Because of You.” However, the group did not break through until their 1971 single, “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get,” which broke into the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #9. Their first million selling disc “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get” was awarded gold disc status by the R.I.A.A. in December 1971.
Their members at this time were Ron Banks, William “Wee Gee” Howard (who died of a heart attack on February 22, 2000 at age 49), Elbert Wilkins (who died of a heart attack on December 13, 1992 at age 45), Willie Ford, Larry Demps and keyboardist James Mack Brown (who died on November 28, 2008 at age 58). Shortly after the success of their first album, Howard and Wilkins left the group. They were replaced by L.J. Reynolds and Leonard “Lenny” Mayes. Through the 1970s, the group appeared on Soul Train and continued to have hits, including the #1 R&B hit, “In the Rain”, “Toast to the Fool”, “Me and Mrs. Jones” (originally by Billy Paul), “I’m Going By The Stars In Your Eyes” and “Be My Girl.” In the meantime, Howard and Wilkins formed a Dramatics splinter group, and came up with a minor R&B hit, “No Rebate on Love.” To distinguish themselves from this group, the core group temporarily dubbed themselves ‘Ron Banks and The Dramatics’. Howard eventually returned to the group for two albums, Somewhere in Time: A Dramatic Reunion and Positive State Of Mind, before departing again.
The Dramatics also were guests on the Snoop Doggy Dogg song, “Doggy Dogg World”. The song appeared on Snoop’s 1993 debut album, Doggystyle.
The group continues to tour and presently consists of Banks, Reynolds, Ford, Winzell Kelly and Michael Brock, who replaced Mayes (who died of lung cancer on November 8, 2004 at age 53).
The Dramatics were also mentioned in the novel The Algiers Motel Incident by John Hersey (ISBN 0-8018-5777-5). They were staying at the Algiers Motel, following a performance at Detroit’s Fox Theatre, during an alleged murder by members of the Detroit Police Department, which was one of the incidents which sparked the Detroit Riots of 1967.
The Dramatics “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get” appeared in the 2005 documentary Sunday Driver, as well as the movies, Wattstax and Darktown Strutters, and the 2007 Petey Greene biopic, Talk To Me.
Ronald Dean Banks
14751 W. McNichols Rd.
Detroit Michigan, 48235
Phone: (313) 272-9000
Funeral Services – 11am
23500 W. 7 Mile Rd
Detroit, MI 48219