Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Peanut Man ,Willie Williams and Tones Persians

From: Steven Kahn
Subject: Willie Williams and Tones
Date: Monday, March 11, 2013, 7:24 AM

Hi, I noticed the forum posting about Willie Williams and the Tones / Persians ... Didn't this group record "A Star"/"Peanut Man" on Kennedy Records.... I'd love to find out more about this group... do you know the year it was recorded and who the members on the record were and where Kennedy Records was based? I'd love to see a label scan of the 45.. thanks so much




I am not sure but I am going to copy Tommie James who I think was a member of the Persians. If not, he may able to give some guidance. I think that Willis Blume at the Willis Blume Agency was also a member.Of course, there were several groups of Persians as there were Villagers, etc.



Hi Greg & Steve,

The Persians from Columbia, SC did indeed evolve from a group started by Willie Williams around 1965 when he and some fellow classmates in a choral group at Benedict College in Columbia, SC began performing in small clubs and other venues under the name "Willie & The Tones".

As the group added instrumentalists, the name was changed to "The Persians" around 1966-67. Wille said they were learning about ancient "Persia" in a world history class, and that's where the name came from. I believe Willis Blume was the drummer for a short time, and Fred Ferguson was one of the original vocalists.

"P-Nut" man was probably recorded in 1966, but I don't know who was on the recording besides Wille, and don't know anything about "Kennedy Records".

Willie was no longer in the group when I joined as their first keyboardist in mid-1967 and the vocalists were Fred Ferguson & Elvin Tobin, guitarist was Charles Stafford, on bass was Bill Miles, and drummer was Tom Graham.

Charles left in 1968 to tour with Billy Stewart, Tom Graham got drafted in 1969 and was sent to Vietnam, Elvin Tobin moved to Atlanta, and I left at the end of 1970 to help form the new band "Second Nature". Charles and Tom were also original members of Second Nature.

Fred & Bill kept The Persians going into the mid 1990's. There was a Persians reunion several years ago, and all the former members (that could be found) were invited, including Willie. Attached is a picture that Willie put together for that event, and these images were put onto some souvenir T-shirts. The picture on the right shows The Persians in 1968 when the members were Fred, Elvin, Charles, Bill, Tom, and me. At the reunion, that combination posed for a recreation of this photo, and a group photo was taken of all the former members who were there.

Leading up to the reunion, we had several rehearsals. Many former members attended & performed in chronological order of when they were in the group beginning with Wille who still sounded great, as did the other vocalists and all who backed them on instruments.

A great time was had by all the performers as well as a packed house on a Sun. afternoon at a club in downtown Columbia.

I have copied Bill Miles on this, and he may still have Willie's current contact info. He and/or Willie may be the only ones I know who can answer your questions about the creation of the "P-Nut Man" recording.

Musically, TJ

Tommie James

Second Nature

Camden, SC

More about The Persians from Bill Miles

We were playing at the KOR club in five points around 1964 and one night Jack Maynard and I were talking about R&B music and decided to find some black singers to make it sound right.

The plan was to go to the talent show at Benedict college and give a listen. I had to go to a meeting that night and when I got there it was almost over but Maynard had heard the Tones and we got together with them and played our first gig at the Wits Inn on Devine. That was in 1965.


We only played a few jobs and the group fell apart. The Tones had already recorded that record.


in 1966 I was playing with a group at a club on Sumter street. And the vocals were not cutting it so we got in touch with Willie and they came to the rescue and Charles Stafford was with them.


I joined Stafford and we brought in Willis Blume and we went to work at the KOR club in five points. At that time The Tones had changed their name to the Persians.


Later we replaced Willis with Frank Macaulay then Tommy Graham. Over the years we had the pleasure of working with a lot of musicians and I still keep in touch with some of them.


Willie is one of them. His phone number is 803.463.1901.


Bill Miles