Gary: “Here is a group with the a very misleading name. Three guys (originally four) from Little Rock Arkansas, called “The Detroit Emeralds”, go figure. Well I guess the fact that they did move to Detroit, would have some influence on the name. They were an R&B/Soul Trio that had a couple of hit records in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
“The Emeralds” formed as a vocal harmony group in Little Rock, Arkansas, and originally composed of four brothers, Ivory (born September 14, 1941), Abrim (January 12, 1945 – July 6, 1982), Cleophus and Raymond Tilmon. After Cleophus and Raymond left, the remaining Tilmon brothers were joined by childhood friend James Mitchell. Moving to Detroit,Michigan and expanding their name to the Detroit Emeralds, the then trio had their first R&B chart success on Ric-Tic Records, with “Show Time” in 1968.
In 1970, they joined the Westbound record label. When touring in Memphis, Tennessee, they recorded some demo tracks at the Hi recording studios, run by producer Willie Mitchell, to which they then added vocals and strings back in Detroit. This approach worked and brought them another hit, “If I Lose Your Love”, which was followed by a run of successes, including “Do Me Right”, “You Want It, You Got It” and “Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms)” which all made the US R&B Top 10 while the latter also reached #24 on the US Billboard Hot 100 pop chart in 1972.
The song for which they are now best remembered, “Feel The Need In Me”, reached #22 US R&B in 1973 and a new longer version four years later also charted. The original track made the top five in the UK Singles Chart in 1973 and the later production also made the UK chart in 1977 (#12) “You Want It You Got It” was re-released in the UK as a follow-up to the initial “Feel The Need In Me”, also reaching the UK Top 20 in 1973] Abrim Tilmon wrote all of their hits, while also arranging and producing the tracks.
By 1974, the group was falling apart, and at one point there were two outfits using the name. Abe Tilmon formed one new group with the Detroit Emeralds’ name, while James Mitchell along with Marvin Willis wrote for another group, The Floaters – Charles of the Floaters being James’s brother. James Mitchell, Ivory Tilmon and Marvin Willis continued touring with the Detroit Emeralds and their band (Dave Dean on keyboards, Simon Gardner on guitar, Andy Avent on bass and Martin Kautz on drums). They stayed active on the oldies and cabaret circuit for some years.
Abrim Tilmon died on July 6, 1982, at the age of 37, in his Southfield, Michigan home of a heart attack. It was said a reunion of the group was being planned at the time. He was survived by his wife Janyce, son Steve, and daughter Cathy.