UPDATED: 10-20-2002

Arthur Lee Maye occupied a unique place in the history of doo-wop. Besides being a great lead singer who recorded with various groups for over a dozen labels, he was also a professional baseball player who spent thirteen years in the majors.

Arthur was born on December 11, 1934, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and came to Los Angeles as a boy. He was one of the progenitors of the "Jeff High Sound," a harmony style developed in the early- to mid-'50s at Jefferson High School in South Los Angeles. Out of this circle of friends came members of The Coasters, The Platters, The Penguins, The Flairs, The Medallions, The Turks and others. "We were all friends, we sang with each other, helped each other write songs," Arthur said several years ago. "We didn't realize that we were creating our own musical history, 'cause we were too busy having fun."

His closest collaborators were Jesse Belvin, Richard Berry, Obie "Young" Jessie and Cornel Gunter. "We were just kids and we didn't know much about harmony, so we'd rehearse in the dark to concentrate on our voices. Or we'd sing in hallways at school to get our harmonies to ring off the walls, because the echo would exaggerate our wrong notes."

In 1953 he and his pals put together two groups, The Crowns (with Arthur as the lead vocalist) and The Flairs, and both signed with the Modern/RPM/ Flair record company in Culver City. "Richard Berry sang with me and with The Flairs....We'd rotate guys. It was no problem because we'd been singing together for years."

By the time Arthur Lee Maye & The Crowns had their first regional hit, "Love Me Always," in late 1955, baseball had already become an important part of his life. "I was playing in the Pioneer League for Boise, and struggling to get into the majors, so I wasn't around as much to sing and record. When Young Jesse and Cornel were picked up by The Coasters, I probably would have been part of the group, too, except I was off playing baseball."

Still, he managed to enjoy a regional hit on Specialty with a Richard Berry song, "Gloria," dedicated to Gloria Jones of The Dreamers (and not the more famous "Gloria" popularized by The Cadillacs). He was also one of the lead singers of Johnny Otis' all-purpose cover group, The Jayos, along with Jesse Belvin and Mel Williams.

In 1959 Arthur joined the world-champion Milwaukee Braves (who had beaten the Yankees the previous October) and batted .300 in his rookie season. An outfielder, he played with the Braves until he was traded in 1965 to the Houston Astros (1965-66).

He also played for the Cleveland Indians (1967-69), Washington Senators (1969-70) and ended his major league career with the Chicago White Sox (1970-71). Though known on record as Arthur Lee Maye, he played professional ball simply as Lee Maye (not to be confused with Lee May, who joined the majors in the 1960s). In Arthur's thirteen years in "the bigs," he played in 1,288 games with an overall batting average of .274 (including four seasons over .300), hit 94 home runs and 419 RBIs, and scored 533 runs.

"I made the right choice going with baseball," Arthur claimed. "In those days, none of us ever made much money in music, even when we wrote and sang hit records."

His brother Eugene Maye took over The Crowns at one point and recorded on Dig with Henry Strogin. Eugene later recorded with The Millionaires on Specialty in the 1960s.

After retiring from baseball, Arthur worked for many years for Amtrak, but music remained a part of his life. He was very proud of "Moonlight," a single he recorded for Dave Antrell in 1985. Over the past decade, he appeared at most Doo-Wop Society shows, either as an entertainer (until he began having throat problems in the mid-'90s) or as a connoisseur who simply enjoyed listening to the music, hanging out with old friends, and meeting his fans. By 2002, however, he was beginning to suffer the ravaging effects of diabetes and liver cancer.

Arthur Lee Maye died on July 17, 2002, leaving three beautiful daughters and a widow, Pat Littlejohn Maye.

Arthur Lee Maye (right) with Hunter Hancock in 2000.

With Richard "Louie Louie" Berry.   With Don Julian of The Meadowlarks.   With "Junkyard" and Jim Dawson.

With Leon Peels of The Blue Jays.   With The Crowns' Johnny Coleman (left) and Charles Colbert (right), plus Eugene Maye and deejay Bill Gardner.

With singer Barbara Lynn of "You'll Lose A Good Thing" fame.   Arthur doing his thing in 1985.

Arthur Lee Maye & The Crowns
at Group-Harmony.com


The "5" Hearts
(Arthur Lee Maye, Johnny Coleman & Richard Berry)
Flair 1026 The Fine One / Please Baby Please 1954
Arthur Lee Maye & The Crowns
(The Crowns were generally Richard Berry, Charles Colbert, Johnny Morris, Joe Moore and/or Johnny Coleman)
Modern 944 Set My Heart Free / I Wanna Love 1954
RPM 424 Truly / Oochie Pachie 1955
RPM 438 Please Don't Leave Me / Do The Bop 1955
Speciality 573 Gloria / Oo-Rooba-Lee 1956
The Rams
(Arthur Lee Maye, Johnny Coleman & Richard Berry)
Flair 1066 Sweet Thing / Rock Bottom 1955
Richard Berry
(With the uncredited Crowns; Arthur delivered the B-side's catch phrase)
Flair 1064 Please Tell Me / Oh Oh, Get Out of the Car 1955
Arthur Lee Maye
(The 1950s recordings were backed by the uncredited Crowns; the Jamie recordings were recording at the famous Muscle Shoals Studio, Alabama)
RPM 429 Love Me Always / Loop De Loop De Loop 1955
Dig 124 This Is The Night For Love / Honey Honey 1956
Dig 133 Whispering Wind / A Fool's Prayer 1956
Flip 330 Hey Pretty Girl / Cause You're Mine Alone 1957
Cash 1065 All I Want Is Someone To Love / Pounding 1958
Lenox 5566 Halfway (Out Of Love With You) / I Can't Please You 1963
Kent 406 Love Me Always / Loop De Loop De Loop 1964
Jamie 1272 Who Made You What You Are / Loving Fool 1964
Jamie 1276 How's The World Treating You / Loving Fool 1964
Jamie 1284 Only A Dream / The Breaks Of Life 1964
Jamie 1287 Who Made You What You Are / Even A Nobody 1964
Jetstream 735 Have Love Will Travel / Loving Fool 1964
Pacemaker 252 Fools Rush In / Jes' Lookin' 1967
Lee Maye
Cash 1063 Will You Be Mine / Honey Honey 1958
Imperial 5790 Will You Be Mine / Honey Honey 1961
Tower 243 When My Heart Runs No More / At The Party 1966
Chess 2000 Fools Rush In / Jes' Lookin' 1967
ABC-Paramount 11028 If You Leave Me / The Greatest Love I've Ever Known 1968
Buddah 141 He'll Have To Go / Jes' Lookin' 1969
Antrell 102 Moonlight / I'm Happy And In Love 1985
Barbara Lynn & Lee Maye
Jamie 1295 Careless Hands /(Don't Pretend) Just Lay It On The Line 1965
The Off-Beats
(Arthur Lee Maye backed by a Nashville studio group)
Guyden 2101 Have Love Will Travel / (instrumental flipside) 1964
Dig 1002 (boot) The Best of Arthur Lee Maye & The Crowns
(This is the most comprehensive: Contains all the early singles from Modern, Specialty, Flip, Flair (Rams), Cash (2), RPM (3), Dig (2), plus two Specialty and one Dig unreleased tracks)
Ace 569 Legendary Dig Masters, Vol. 4
(Contains all four sides of both Dig singles, plus unreleased song, "Only One" and four unreleased Jayos songs)
Ace 698 Modern Vocal Groups, Vol. 1
(Contains both sides of Modern 944, plus both sides of the "5" Hearts' Flair 1026, plus an unreleased "5" Hearts recording)
Ace 723 Modern Vocal Groups, Vol. 2
(Contains both sides of RPM 424, plus "Loop De Loop De Loop" and an unreleased "5" Hearts recording)
Ace 774 Johnny Otis Rock 'N' Roll Hit Parade
(Contains all the Jayos' covers of vocal group hits, plus unreleased cut of "Fever" by Arthur Leel Maye)
Ace 741 Modern Vocal Groups, Vol. 3
(Contains "Love Me Always" and both side of RPM 438)
Ace 817 Modern Vocal Groups, Vol. 6
(Contains both sides of the Rams' Flair 1066 single)
Ace 826 Flip Doo-Wop, Vol. 1
(Contains unissued song, "I'll Have Memories of You")
Ace 838 Flip Doo-Wop, Vol. 2
(Contains both sides of Flip 330, plus unreleased song, "Tell Me Darling")

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