An energetic East London combo, the Equals
balanced maximum R&B with plenty of pop, plus a few nods to vocalist Eddy Grant
's West Indian background. Grant
, born in British Guyana, moved to England with his family at the age of 12, and settled in a council estate named Hornsey Rise in northeast London. Four years later, he formed the Equals
with schoolmates Lincoln Gordon (guitar), his twin brother Dervin Gordon (originally the vocalist), Pat Lloyd (guitar, then bass), and drummer John Hall. The band began gigging around London, amazing audiences with their apparently limitless energy and a distinct style fusing pop, blues, and R&B plus elements of ska and bluebeat.
By 1965, the Equals
began doing dates in Europe as well, and released their first single on President Records. Though "Hold Me Closer" didn't perform on the charts, DJs began playing the flip side and by 1967 "Baby, Come Back" had hit the top of the charts in Germany and the Netherlands. One year later, the single hit number one in Britain as well, and brushed the charts in America. Subsequent singles lacked the immediate punch of "Baby, Come Back," however, and the Equals
landed only two more Top Ten hits: "Viva Bobby Joe" and "Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys," the latter an apt message track from one of the few racially mixed bands of the era.Grant
left the Equals
for a solo career in 1971, and though the band never charted again, they remained a popular live act, especially on the continent. Drummer Ronald Telemacque and guitarists Dave Martin and Frankie Hepburn were later added to the lineup.