The Intruders (band)

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The Intruders
The Intruders 1968.jpg
The Intruders in 1968 (clockwise from bottom): Sam "Little Sonny" Brown, Phil Terry, Eugene "Bird" Daughtry, and Robert "Big Sonny" Edwards.
Background information
OriginPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
GenresR&B, soul
Years active1960–1985
Past members
  • Sam "Little Sonny" Brown
  • Phillip "Phil" Terry
  • Robert "Big Sonny" Edwards
  • Eugene "Bird" Daughtry
  • Robert "Bobby Starr" Ferguson

The Intruders were an American soul music group most popular in the 1960s and 1970s.[1] As one of the first groups to have hit songs under the direction of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, they were a major influence on the development of Philadelphia soul. The Intruders are also noted for having 24 R&B chart hits, including 6 R&B Top Tens, and 14 chart hits in the Billboard Hot 100, including their signature song, the million-selling Top 10 smash, "Cowboys to Girls." Other hits include the Top 10 R&B smashes "(Love Is Like A) Baseball Game", "Together", "I'll Always Love My Mama", "United", and "I Wanna Know Your Name".


Formed in 1960, the group originally consisted of Sam "Little Sonny" Brown, Eugene "Bird" Daughtry, Phillip "Phil" Terry and Robert "Big Sonny" Edwards.[2] In 1969, Sam Brown was replaced as lead singer by Bobby Starr, only to rejoin the group in 1973.

In 1965, when songwriters and record producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff first contemplated leaving the Cameo-Parkway record label to risk launching their own label, the vocalists on which they pinned all their hopes and venture capital were The Intruders. Like many other subsequent acts the duo produced, which included Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and The O'Jays, The Intruders had already developed a vocal sound that was both theirs and uniquely Philadelphian.[3]

Brown, Daughtry, Terry and Edwards had been recording and performing one-off singles together since 1961, blending Philly's street corner doo-wop tradition with black gospel fervor. The result was neither as pop-infected as Motown, nor as funky and blues-inflected as Stax. The sound which The Intruders refined for the Excel, Gamble and Philadelphia International imprints reflected a different attitude than either Stax or Motown.[4]

Gamble and Huff's success with The Intruders helped convince Columbia Records to grant them the money to launch Philadelphia International. Gamble and Huff acknowledged that their work with The Intruders was the foundation of what they called "The Sound Of Philadelphia".[5][6]

The Intruders, meanwhile, were undergoing some internal turmoil. When the group resurfaced on the 1970 Gamble LP, When We Get Married, lead singer Brown was replaced by Bobby Starr.[7] The title song, "When We Get Married" (R&B No. 8, Pop #45), a Dreamlovers cover, became a hit on the charts, as was the follow-up "Win, Place Or Show (She's A Winner)" (UK #14).[1] Starr's tenure with the group included Soul Train television appearances, and the rare collector's single, "I'm Girl Scoutin".[8] Brown returned to the group in 1973 for the album Save The Children, which spawned The Intruders' last two big hits, "I Wanna Know Your Name" (R&B No. 9, Pop #60) and "I'll Always Love My Mama" (R&B No. 6, Pop #36). Kenny Gamble's mother Ruby, the inspiration for "I'll Always Love My Mama", died March 10, 2012 in Mount Airy, Pennsylvania, at age 96.

Cowboys to Girls... and cover versions[edit]

"Cowboys to Girls" (R&B No. 1, Pop #6) remains the only chart topping single of their career.It was a 1968 Top 10 Pop and R&B smash, that was awarded an RIAA gold disc for one million sales in mid May 1968.[2] It was covered by the Hacienda Brothers. The "Duke of Earl", Gene Chandler, also covered the song. Other artists, such as Sweet Blindness, Philly Cream, and Joe Bataan, have also covered the song.[9] Other covers of their hit singles included "Together", which was recorded by Gladys Knight & The Pips on their Silk 'N' Soul LP, as well as The Three Degrees on their 1975 work, Take Good Care Of Yourself. It was also covered by the Latin group Tierra, who took the song to Top 20 on the charts in 1980.[10] In 2005, singer Keith Sweat covered The Intruders' 1973 hit, "I Wanna Know Your Name".It was also covered by The Whispers and The Force MD's. In 1968, Peaches & Herb covered The Intruders' 1966 hit, "(We'll Be) United". This song also served as the basis for Peaches and Herb's even bigger 1978 No. 1 "sequel" hit, "Reunited" .[11][12][13][14][15]

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, their music was popular on the West Coast among Latino, specifically Chicano, youth, as evidenced by their covers by the Hacienda Brothers and Tierra. Daughtry died of cancer on December 25, 1994 at age 55, and lead singer Sam "Little Sonny" Brown committed suicide by jumping off the Strawberry Mansion Bridge on April 21, 1995 at age 54.[16] According to Marc Taylor, in the book, "A Touch Of Classic Soul of the Early 1970's" (1996, Aloiv Publishing, Jamaica, New York), in 1975, the other two original Intruders, Robert Edwards and Phil Terry, walked away from the industry after becoming Jehovah's Witnesses. Edwards died on October 15, 2016 from a heart attack at age 74, leaving Phil Terry as the last surviving original member, as of 2018.

The Intruders today include Bobby Starr, Glenn Montgomery and Phil Gay. The group is featured on the "My Music DVD hosted by Patti LaBelle on PBS, and tour with the Love Train: Sound of Philadelphia Concert series.[17] There are also several tribute groups including the best variation of The Intruders, "The Philly Intruders" who appear on The Big Show DVD, and "The Fabulous Intruders" founded by William Payton, Sr.


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions Record label

1967 The Intruders Are Together 23 Gamble
1968 Cowboys to Girls 112 11
1970 When We Get Married 48
1973 Save the Children 133 12
1974 Energy of Love 41 TSOP
1985 Who Do You Love? Streetwave
2002 How Long Has It Been Moor Ent.
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions Record label

1969 Greatest Hits 144 19 Gamble
1973 Super Hits 205 51
1994 Philly Golden Classics Collectables
1995 Cowboys to Girls: The Best of the Intruders Epic/Legacy
1998 On the Move Sony Music
2002 Super Hits
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Singles (selected)[edit]

Year Single Peak chart positions

1961 "Come Home Soon" (A-side) (Gowen label)
"I'm Sold (On You)" (B-side) (Gowen label)
1962 "This Is My Song"
1966 "Gonna Be Strong"
"(We'll Be) United" 78 14
"Devil with an Angel's Smile" 29
1967 "(You Better) Check Yourself"
"Together" 48 9
"Baby I'm Lonely" (A-side) 70 28
"A Love That's Real" (B-side) 82 35
1968 "Cowboys to Girls" 6 1
"(Love Is Like A) Baseball Game" 26 4
"Slow Drag" 54 12
1969 "Give Her a Transplant" 104 23
"Me Tarzan You Jane" 41
"Lollipop (I Like You)" 101 22
"Sad Girl" 47 14
"Old Love" 35
1970 "Tender (Was the Love We Knew)" 119 25
"When We Get Married" 45 8
"This Is My Love Song" 85 22
1971 "I'm Girl Scoutin'" 88 16
"Pray for Me" 105 25
"I Bet He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)" 92 20
1972 "(Win, Place or Show) She's a Winner" 12 14
1973 "I'll Always Love My Mama (Part 1)" 36 6 32
"I Wanna Know Your Name" 60 9
1974 "A Nice Girl Like You" 21
1975 "Rainy Days and Mondays" 81
"Plain Ol' Fashioned Girl"
1979 "Goodnight"
1984 "Who Do You Love?" 65
1985 "Warm and Tender Love" 99
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


  1. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 270. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 241. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  3. ^ "Page Title". Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  4. ^ "Gamble and Huff | SoulTracks – Soul Music Biographies, News and Reviews". SoulTracks. September 19, 2005. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  5. ^ "Special Feature: Philadelphia International Records". Billboard. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  6. ^ Ken Shane (October 17, 2012). "Soul Serenade: The Intruders, "Together"". Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  7. ^ "Zune Music + Video". Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  8. ^ "The Intruders". Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  9. ^ "The Intruders Cover Songs". WhoSampled. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  10. ^ "Tierra cover of The Intruders's Together". WhoSampled. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  11. ^ "The Intruders – (We'll Be) United". March 31, 2008. Retrieved August 19, 2015 – via YouTube.
  12. ^ "(We'll Be ) United – Peaches & Herb". September 4, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2015 – via YouTube.
  13. ^ "Reunited (Peaches & Herbs) with lyrics". May 15, 2010. Retrieved August 19, 2015 – via YouTube.
  14. ^ "iTunes Music – Peaches & Herb". iTunes Store. October 1, 1942. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  15. ^ Peaches & Herb#History
  16. ^ "Little Sonny (1941–1995) – Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved October 26, 2017.[non-primary source needed]
  17. ^ "Legacy Recordings | Life Changing Music, Latest News, New Releases". Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  18. ^ a b c d "US Albums Charts > The Intruders". AllMusic. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
  19. ^ a b "US Singles Charts >The Intruders". AllMusic. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
  20. ^ "UK Charts > The Intruders". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 13, 2011.


  • A House On Fire: The Rise and Fall of Philadelphia Soul by John A. Jackson, ISBN 0-19-514972-6 (Publication: New York Oxford University Press (U.S.), 2004)
  • Chicago Soul by Robert Pruter. ISBN 0-252-06259-0, Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1991.
  • A Touch of Classic Soul: Vol, 1: Soul singers of the early 1970s by Marc Taylor. ISBN 0-9652328-4-0 (Publication: Aloiv Publishing, New York (U.S.), 1996)

External links[edit]