The Trammps – One Of The Most Influential Bands Of The 70s Disco Era

The Trammps were an American disco and soul band, who were based in Philadelphia and were one of the first disco bands.
They’re best known for the song Disco Inferno, which was a 1976 Grammy Award-winning hit.

The band’s first major success was with their 1972 cover version of “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart”. The first disco track they released was “Love Epidemic” in 1973. However, they are best known for their Grammy winning song, “Disco Inferno”, originally released in 1976, becoming a UK pop hit and US R&B hit, then re-released in 1978 and becoming a US pop hit.

The Trammps

The history of the Trammps grew from the 1960s group, the Volcanos, who later became the Moods. With a number of line-up changes by the early 1970s, the band membership included gospel-influenced lead singer, Jimmy Ellis, drummer and bass singer, Earl Young, with brothers, Stanley and Harold ‘Doc’ Wade. Members of the Philadelphia recording band, MFSB played with the group on records and on tour in the 70s with singer, Robert Upchurch joining later. The group was produced by the Philadelphia team of Ronnie Baker, Norman Harris and Young, all MFSB mainstays who played on the recording sessions and contributed songs.

Their debut chart entry came via an upbeat cover version of the standard, “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart”, which became a Top 20 US R&B chart hit in 1972.
Their first few recordings were released on Buddah Records, including “Hold Back The Night” which was a hit in the UK and on the Billboard R&B chart in 1973, before a re-release saw it climb the U.S. Hot 100 two years later. Several R&B hits followed during a stay with Philadelphia International subsidiary, Golden Fleece (run by Baker-Harris-Young) before they signed to Atlantic Records.

Their single “Disco Inferno” (1976), which was included on the Grammy Award winning “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack in 1977, reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1978.

Disco Inferno (single). Buy it at

Other major hits included “Hold Back the Night” (1975) (UK #5) and “That’s Where the Happy People Go” (1976).

Download MP3 from

Stop And Think, taken from the 1975 album “Trammps”

The Trammps – Stop and Think. Buy it at

In late 1977, the Trammps released the song “The Night the Lights Went Out” to commemorate the electrical blackout that affected New York City on July 13, 1977.

Their signature song, “Disco Inferno”, has been covered by Tina Turner and Cyndi Lauper. In addition, Graham Parker covered “Hold Back The Night” on the “The Pink Parker EP” in 1977, and reached #20 in the UK Singles Chart, and Top 60 in the US.
On September 19, 2005, the group’s “Disco Inferno” was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame at a ceremony held in New York. The song was part-written by Ron Kersey, a producer-arranger and a member of MFSB, who also played with Trammps in the 1970s for a time. During the ceremony, the original band members performed together for the first time in 25 years.

Jimmy Ellis - The TrammpsOn March 8, 2012, lead singer Jimmy Ellis died at a nursing home in Rock Hill, South Carolina, at the age of 74. The cause of death was due to complications linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Band members:

Ronnie Baker – (Bass, Vocals), 1947–1990
Jimmy Ellis (lead vocals), 1937–2012.
Barrington McDonald (Guitar) 1942 – 2007
Gene Faith a.k.a. Gene Jones (original lead vocalist)
Dennis Harris (Guitar)
Norman Harris – (Guitar, vocals), 1947–1987
John Hart (Organ), 1941–2008
Steve Kelly (vocals)
Ron Kersey b. Tyrone G. Kersey – (Keyboards), 1945–2005
Michael Thomas (drums)
Robert Upchurch (vocals)
Harold Doc Wade (Guitar, Vocals)
Stanley Wade (Bass, Vocals)
Earl Young – (Drums, Vocals), b. 1940

Later members
Jerry Collins – (Vocal)
Jimmy Williams – (Lead vocal)
Stan Wade & Robert Upchurch
Ed Cermanski – (Keyboard)
Dave Dixon – (Vocals)
Mike Natalini – (Drums)
Rusty Stone – (Bass)
Harold Watkins – (Brass)
Ruben Henderson – (Brass)
Fred Vesci – (Keyboard)

The Trammps
Find all Trammps hits at


1975 The Legendary Zing Album – Buddah Records
1975 Trammps – Golden Fleece Records
1976 Where the Happy People Go – Atlantic Records
1976 Disco Inferno – Atlantic Records
1977 The Trammps III – Atlantic Records
1977 Disco Champs – Golden Fleece Music
1978 The Best of the Trammps – Atlantic Records
1979 The Whole World’s Dancing – Atlantic Records
1980 Mixin’ It Up – Atlantic Records
1980 Slipping Out – Atlantic Records



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