Sad news out of the world of R&B. Willie Ford, bass singer for the legendary Detroit vocal group The Dramatics, has died. He was 69. Formed in the late 60s, The Dramatics went through several personal changes as they struggled to find a hit. They rose to prominence after signing with Stax/Volt Records and releasing the single “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get”, a latin-tinged number lyrically based on a comic phrase popularized by comedian Flip Wilson. The Dramatics went on to chart with such hits as “In The Rain”, “Toast To The Fool”, “Be My Girl”, “Shake It Well” and “The Stars In Your Eyes”, which are timeless classics. They continued charting into the 1980s with the classic lineup featuring Ford, Ron Banks, Lenny Mays, LJ Reynolds and Larry Demps. While other popular groups from the 70s had trouble sustaining a recording career, The Dramatics continued to record a new album every few years, including 2002’s “Look Inside”, a project that received little distribution in the United States. They received national recognition for their professionalism in 2001 after performing two sets for radio personality Tom Joyner after a cancellation by DeBarge. In 2003, the group, consisting of Ford, LJ Reynolds, Lenny Mays, Winzell Kelly and Ron Banks, released “Greatest Hits Live”, an inside look at a live performance that saw the quintet in rare form and a testament to their longevity. Sadly, Lenny Mays died on November 7, 2004 after a long illness. In 2006, the group was honored by Detroit developer Herb Strather with a street named after them in one of the newest neighborhoods being built in the city. In 2008, The Dramatics were honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Soultracks Readers Choice Awards. All the current members attended the ceremony, including the mother of deceased member Lenny Mays. Sadly, on March 4, 2010, Ron Banks died of a heart attack at his Detroit home. Following Banks’ death, a battle over the group’s name began, resulting in two groups now holding The Dramatics name; a more familiar one lead by LJ Reynolds and one lead by Ford. Both groups continued performing around the world for several years. While Willie Ford wasn’t as well known as other members of the group, he provided the anchor for a sound that was uniquely their own. He brought unbridled joy to music fans around the world, and built a legacy that will live on. Rest in paradise Mr. Ford.