Earl Gains and Roscoe Shelton followed fairly similar musical career paths starting in the 1950s. Earl Gaines, best known for his 1955 R&B chart-topper "It's Love Baby (24 Hours a Day)," recorded with Louis Brooks & His Hi-Toppers. Gaines, born August 19, 1935 in Decatur, Alabama, grew up singing in church before heading to Nashville at the age of 16, lured by the city's booming blues scene. There he signed on with local song writer Ted Jarrett who introduced him to Brooks, who tapped him to become the Hi-Toppers' lead vocalist. His distinctive tenor helped make "It's Love Baby" a tremendous success for the Excello label, with the group recording a series of subsequent singles for the company before Gaines went solo. By the early 1970s, when disco dominated the charts,
Gaines retired from the music business working as a cross-country trucker throughout the next two decades. Roscoe Shelton's career paralleled Gaines, with Shelton having his own share of hits in the late '50s and early '60s. Born August 22, 1931 in Lynchburg, Tennessee, Shelton grew up in Nashville. He was influenced by his guitar playing uncle and later Amos Milburn and Ivory Joe Hunter. He started singing with local gospel groups and at the age of 18 was invited to handle lead vocals duties for the popular gospel quartet, The Fairfield Four. After a stint in the air force, he signed with Excello in 1958 and enjoyed a string of hits including "Easy Going Fellow" and "Strain On My Heart." After the deaths of his friends Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, Roscoe became disillusioned with the music business and retired in 1969, spending the next 2 decades as director of student housing at a Medial College in Nashville. Fortunately, both Gaines and Shelton resurfaced in the mid-1990s, thanks to the efforts of Fred James, a Nashville-based producer whose affection for the classic Excello sound resulted in the resurrection of these classic soul singers. In 1998, both artists released excellent new recordings on the Black Top label, Everything's Gonna Be Alright (Earl Gaines) and Let It Shine (Roscoe Shelton).