1-Hit: Sonny Charles and the Checkmates Ltd

Truly one of my favourite songs of the late 60’s, but really a one hit.

Sonny Charles and the Checkmates Ltd.


Black Pearl

A&M 1053/5/31/69/# 13 on Billboard Top 40


Sonny Charles (born Charles Hemphill, 4 September 1940) is an American soul singer from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was the lead singer of Checkmates, Ltd. in the 1960s and 1970s, and it is his vocals that are heard out front on their 1969 hit, “Black Pearl.”

Charles launched a solo career in the early 1970s, and after a brief reunion with The Checkmates, again in the 1980s.

Thereafter, he toured with another member of the Checkmates LTD, Marvin “Sweet Louie” Smith, under the Checkmate name.

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