The Tavares brothers from New Bedford, Massachusetts and whose parents were of Cape Verde descent, started performing in 1959 as Chubby and the Turnpikes when the youngest brother was 9 years old. Future Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer honed his funk chops as the “token white-guy drummer” in an early incarnation of Tavares. By 1973 they signed with Capitol Records, scoring their first R&B Top 10 (Pop Top 40) hit with “Check it Out” that same year, and soon began charting regularly on the R&B and pop charts. Their first album included their brother Victor, who sang lead on “Check it Out”, but dropped out of the group shortly after. In 1974 Tavares had a #1 R&B hit with Hall & Oates’ “She’s Gone,” (which became a hit for Hall & Oates as well the following year). Tavares followed up that success with “Remember What I Told You to Forget.”
1975 turned out to be their most successful year chart-wise, chalking up a Top 40 Pop album (In the City) and their biggest hit, the Top 10 Pop/#1 R&B smash “It Only Takes a Minute”, which was later successfully covered by Jonathan King, Take That and recently sampled by Jennifer Lopez.They parlayed this success into a spot as an opening act for the Jackson 5. KC and The Sunshine Band was also on this tour. This was followed by a string of hits: “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel” (1976), “Don’t Take Away the Music” (1976), and “Whodunit” (1977, another #1 R&B hit), among others. In 1977 they also recorded ‘I wanna see you soon’ a duet with capitol stable mate Freda Payne which received a lot of airplay on BBC Radio 1 but failed to chart.
Many of their hits, however, underplayed their R&B background and gave the group the image of being a disco act. This perception was reinforced by their appearance on the soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever in 1977. Tavares recorded the Bee Gees track “More Than a Woman,” and their version reached the Pop Top 40 that year. The soundtrack became one of the most successful in history, giving Tavares their only Grammy.
Later albums, such as Madame Butterfly and Supercharged, strayed from the disco format and were less successful on the Pop chart (although they continued to have Top 10 R&B hits such as “Never Had a Love Like This Before” and the popular socio-political “Bad Times” written by British singer-songwriter Gerard McMahon). At the start of the 1980s, Tavares left Capitol Records, signing with RCA. They had one last major hit, the ballad “A Penny for Your Thoughts”,for which they were nominated for a Grammy in 1982, and their last major release was the beautiful “Words and Music” in 1983.
In 1984, Ralph Tavares stepped down from the group, and Tiny left in the mid 1990s, but the other three brothers continue to tour.
“It Only Takes a Minute” was later covered by British boy band Take That, becoming a Top 10 UK hit, and is featured in the soundtrack of Konami’s dancing game Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix.
Musician Feliciano “Flash” Vierra Tavares, the family patriarch and father of all five members of Tavares, died in 2008.