By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon
Louis Russell Pegues was born in Buffalo in 1944. His songwriting credits are often as Louis Pegues – but he’s best known under his performing name of Lou Courtney. Unlike most of the Soul/ R&B artists associated with Buffalo, he WAS actually born here. But like all of the rest he had to go elsewhere to make it in the music business.
He made his first record for Imperial Records in 1962 or 1963. He was still a teenager. Imperial 66006 was the first (Come On Home/ The Man With The Cigar) but Imperial 66043 was the best, a killer Soul two-sider (Professional Lover / Little Old Love Maker), This came as Soul was really just getting off the ground as a separate music from the R&B which gave it birth. You can hear some of Gospel roots in it.
He moved to Phillips for a one-off release in 1965 (I Watched And Slowly You Slipped Away / l Cry If I Want To) and then found a home at the usually jazz-oriented Riverside records where he recorded the dance tracks songs which brought him the most fame – the ‘Skate’ and ‘Shing A Ling’ dancers. 1966 to 1968 saw him release two 45s and an LP on Riverside proper and three on the newly-created Pop offshoot Popside. The biggest of these were 1966’s Skate Now which hit #13 on the R&B chart and #70 on the Pop chart, and 1967’s Do The Thing (#17 R&B, #80 pop).
This, and most of his work at this time, foresees the harder Funk which grew out of Soul.
At the same time he followed in the footsteps of people like Donnie Elbert by working behind the scenes. His songs were recorded by artists like Mary Wells and Chubby Checker (as ‘Louis Pegues’) and he co-wrote with the legendary Pop and Soul producer Dennis Lambert. His group work included a period as studio lead vocalist with the Packers (of Hole In The Wall / Go ‘Head On fame), and later with his own group Buffalo Smoke (1976 -great name, that!), and finally as a member of The 5th Dimension.
His solo recording career never really ended though, and he was prolific! 1968 saw him at Verve for a couple releases (including another dance track, Do The Horse). He went to Buddah Records in 1968. Tryin’ To Find My Woman’ didn’t chart at the time but like many similar records became a cult favorite later on, on the Northern Soul scene. Along the way there were a couple of one-off minor label releases which also didn’t click with the record-buying public.
He had a decent comeback in 1973 when he signed to Epic Records. With producer Jerry Ragovoy he hit with What Do You Want Me To Do (#48 R&B) and I Don’t Need Nobody Else (#67 R&B). Other Epic releases didn’t chart – singles and an album.
A few more releases followed – as Buffalo Smoke, single and album releases on RCA in 1976; and finally on Motown Records as a member of The 5th Dimension on the albums High on Sunshine and Star Dancing. Following these, he effectively disappeared from the music business.