The Fantastic Four were a vocal quartet who were signed to Motown in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
“Sweet” James Epps, brothers Ralph and Joseph Pruitt, and William Hunter founded the group in 1965. They were signed to local Detroit label Ric-Tic, and (with Wallace “Toby” Childs soon replacing William Hunter) released several singles there, scoring a handful of minor hits (and a couple of bigger R&B hits). When Motown bought out Ric-Tic in 1968, they were transferred over (along with Ric-Tic’s premier act, Edwin Starr).
At Motown they continued to record, and released a handful of singles under its Soul subsidiary, but success eluded them. Although an album, How Sweet He Is, was planned for release, it was cancelled (amidst rumours that Motown were more interested in lead singer “Sweet” James Epps), and, by 1970, they had released their last Motown single. They then went into semi-retirement, but in the mid-1970s signed with Eastbound/Westbound Records. There they released several albums and enjoyed some renewed success under the disco era. Cleveland Horne and Ernest Newsome joined the group (at some point) as replacements for Ralph Pruitt and Toby Childs.
They later recorded for Ian Levine’s Motorcity Records, and released one single (“Working On A Building Of Love”) in 1990. The group remained active until the deaths of both Cleveland Horne and “Sweet” James Epps in 2000. Original member Ralph Pruitt passed away in 2014.
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