The Commodores were an all-male group signed to Motown in the 1970s and 1980s. They were formed in 1968 from two groups, The Mystics and The Jays. Mystic members Lionel Richie, Thomas McClary, and William “WAK” King joined Andre Callahan, Michael Gilbert, and Milan Williams of The Jays to create The Commodores. They met while at university and began to play in local clubs. They secured a spot as the opening act for The Jackson Five and were signed by Motown’s MoWest label in 1972. Walter “Clyde” Orange and Ronald LaPread joined soon after. Thereafter the group alternated between two main lead singers, Clyde Orange and Lionel Richie. Moving to the main Motown label in 1974, their earlier material was very much funk-influenced. The group went on to develop a softer (more ballad-orientated) sound under the lead vocals of Lionel Richie towards the end of the decade (although Clyde Orange maintained lead on their later funkier hits). They continued under the same line-up until Lionel left the group for a solo career in 1982. He was replaced by Skyler Jett. The group enjoyed a resurgence in the mid-1980s but had left Motown by 1986. Thomas McClary left in 1983 to pursue a solo career and to develop a gospel music company, and he was replaced by Sheldon Reynolds until 1987.Skyler Jett departed in 1984; James Dean “J.D.” Nicholas joined as his replacement. Ronald LaPread left in 1986, along with keyboardist Milan Williams in 1987. Moving to the Polydor label The Commodores’ success dried up and their last album in 1992 failed to chart at all. The group is nevertheless still active, with William “WAK” King the only original member, along with later arrivals Clyde Orange and J.D. Nicholas.