Years ago, I interviewed Chester’s gospel great, Solomon Johnson. He gave me a glimpse of what it was like to be a celebrity gospel artist during his years of cutting albums and giving concerts up and down the eastern seaboard. Most of group members had full time jobs, hopped in the car or bus on Friday after work, and got back home in time for work Monday morning after a weekend of travel and singing.
Sol said there was about a 6-hour drive time radius, so they were well known from Virginia to Boston and as far west as Pittsburgh. Outside of those areas they were complete strangers.
I stumbled on a press release mentioning The Sensational Pearly Gates of Chester, who probably was traveling the same highways as Sol Johnson.
ATLANTA – Dec. 29, 2015 – PRLog — The Legendary Cisrow Family have been singing together as a family for 40 years, with their parents managing them for 25 years. They have toured with such greats as Mr. Louis Dicks & The 5 Blind Boys of Alabama and Mississippi, the Dixie Humming Birds, Willie Neal Johnson & The Gospel Keynotes, The Soul Stirrers and The Sensational Pearly Gates of Chester, PA.
After a little digging, I found this mention…
The present members remaining are brothers Elton Jolly Sr., of Philadelphia; John Shelton Sr., of Chester, Pa., and Wayne Magee Sr., of Bridgeton.
My guess is that Elton Jolly, Sr. is probably related to the family that owned Jolly’s Restaurant and may be related to Bill and Brett Jolly who are master musicians out of Philadelphia and are closer to my age. John Shelton, Sr. is a familiar name in Chester, and Wayne Magee, Sr. should ring a bell with someone reading this.
Does anyone remember The Sensational Pearly Gates of Chester?