OldiesMusicBlog.com had the great pleasure to interview Gerald Aston, one of the most amazing voices of the golden music. He will be touring all year and next year The Manhattans will be on the Soul Train Cruise from January 18th-25th.

OMB: When did you join The Manhattans? How did you meet the band?

I first met The Manhattans when I was 17 and they caught one of my performances with my group the New Imperials.  They asked me to join them, but I turned them down at the time.  When I was 19, George Smith fell ill and they came to me again and that time I said yes and have been with the group ever since.

OMB: Who were your favourite bands/artists that fascinated you when you were a child?

Wow. The Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Drifters and Sam Cooke, of course.  He is number one on my list.

OMB: What motivated you to pursue a music career?

My family. My whole family sings. My father sang in a group called the Gospel Brothers along with other family members. And then my father’s sister was married to the late Johnny Fields, one of the founding members of the Five Blind Boys of Alabama.  And my father’s sisters and sisters-in-laws all sang.

OMB: What do you remember about your first performance on a stage?

I remember I was about four or five years old. I sang one Mother’s Day at our St. Andrews Christian Church and that was my first time that I remember. I would say my next memory of performing onstage was when I was in 6th grade. I did Sam Cooke song, “Tennessee Waltz,” at a talent show.

OMB: Who are the top artists who inspire you up to this date? Did you have the pleasure of meeting them?

Yes, I met and worked with Gladys Knight and the Pips many times. And, in fact, we’ll be both be performing on August 17th at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, VA. I’ve worked many times with the Temptations, gosh, many times. And Ben E. King used to have a golf tournament a few years back and I performed with Charlie Williams of The Drifters there. We also did a Motown celebration at the Apollo called Motown Salutes the Apollo in 1985 and we performed with The Temptations, The Drifters, The Cadillacs and The Four Tops.  It was amazing. I will always cherish and remember it because I remember seeing the Temptations at the North Carolina Central in 1966 or 67 and four years later we were on stage together and it was like a dream come true. I’ve been truly blessed. When I got with The Manhattans I was right there, I was able to work with all of them.

OMB: What do you consider to be the greatest recognition that you ever received?

I would have to say when we won a Grammy in 1980 for “Shining Star” and also when we received a gold album in South Africa.  When we first went to South Africa in 1996, we were supposed to do a four-day tour, and we ended up playing for 15 days and broke all kinds of attendance records.  That was an honor in itself.  Later, we found out that during apartheid, our music was played a lot, and it meant a lot to people there.

OMB: What was the most beautiful thing said about you/ your music?

I gotta tell you this story. We did Marvin Gaye’s last tour.  We were in Rochester, NY.  I was in the airport and this lady came up to me and asked, “May I get your autograph.” So as I was writing out my autograph, she said, “Isn’t that Marvin Gaye over there? Do you think he’ll give me his autograph?” I had only spoken with Marvin in passing during the tour, so I went up to him to ask and started to say, “Marvin, I’m Gerald Alston…” And he said, “I know who you are – you’re one of the baddest singers I’ve ever seen.”  To have Marvin Gaye tell me that I was a great singer…it really really took me out. There was also one time when we performed in Las Vegas at the Silverbird and a reporter explicitly started off his article by writing that he wasn’t fond of R&B music.  But he went on to write that if you miss The Manhattans at the Silverbird then you missed a hell of a show.  And from then after that story ran in the paper, the shows were sold out. We were there for 21 days and it was sold out the whole time.

OMB: Where can fans see you this year?

Well, we’re always on tour and next year I’ll be on the Soul Train Cruise from January 18-25. When we’re on the cruise, it’s a really warm experience because we’re all on the ship together and we have the chance to meet the fans, talk to them, have breakfast, eat dinner and do all kinds of things together. We are very appreciative of our fans.  And I love doing the Soul Train Cruise.

We also have a new record people can listen to this year: “Get It Ready.” It’s available now on all music digital platforms.  And we’ll have a new one out by the time the cruise sails and will probably be performing in onboard.

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