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They were the best pop group you've never heard. Eddie Brown was born in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1941. Joe Gilbert, born the same year, grew up in New Orleans. Between them they had 12 siblings, and their earliest musical influence was Gospel. In the late 40's the Brown and Gilbert families moved to Berkeley, California, and the two boys met in the mid-50s at Willard Junior High School. They began singing together at Berkeley High School, where they met Professor Earl Blakeslee, Doctor of Music. Dr. Blakeslee recognized their unique blend as a duo, taught them harmony and counterpoint singing, and introduced them to early American folk tunes, classical ballads, and songs from other countries. In 1958, the boys entered a talent competition together because they didn't want to compete against each other. They won the contest and their partnership was born. They turned professional at the height of the folk music craze. Decades before, America had warmed to the socially aware songs of Woodie Guthrie, Josh White, Pete Seeger and The Weavers. By the early 60's Harry Belafonte had introduced Caribbean folk songs to the states, and The Kingston Trio had a huge hit with Tom Dooley. In rapid succession The Brothers Four, The New Christy Minstrels, Peter, Paul, and Mary, The Rooftop Singers, Phil Ochs, Tom Rush, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, among many others, had assimilated and transformed all that had gone before, sharing the airways and phonographs of America with that new kid on the block—Rock n Roll. Berkeley, for a time, was the center of it all, and Joe & Eddie played the usual fraternity and sorority house gigs. The pair's unique performance style took shape very early in their career: blending gospel, folk, and blues, they regularly juxtaposed Eddie's baritone melody line against an inspiring tenor obbligato from Joe. They played with jazz-influenced time signatures and complex patterns of repetition. Truly, there was nothing like it. Their proverbial "big break" came on The Don Sherwood Show, a San Francisco variety program. They soon became regulars at The Purple Onion, along with The Smothers Brothers and Bud and Travis. A booking agent named Bill Weems got them eight weeks at The Hungry I in 1962, which led eventually to Hollywood. Los Angeles disc jockey and concert promoter Gene Norman was president of GNP/Crescendo Records and also co-owner of the Crescendo and Interlude nightclubs. The GNP/Crescendo catalog was full of great jazz acts from the 50s, and when Norman heard Joe & Eddie, with their jazz influences overlaying their folk, gospel, and blues roots, he knew he had to record them. It didn't hurt that the boys had energy to burn, enormous confidence as performers, and were extremely good-looking. They signed with GNP/Crescendo at the suggestion of loyal agent, now manager, Bill Weems. Their debut album hit the stores early in 1963, the same year The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan was turning the business upside down. By the time Joe & Eddie had played Jack Paar's Tonight Show, The Jackie Gleason Show, Mike Douglas, Regis Philbin, Steve Allen, and Danny Kaye, they were bona fide stars. Their second album was released in the summer of '63 and contained their signature tune, There's a Meetin' Here Tonight, which became an enormous hit. Ironically, they recorded Bob Dylan's Blowin' in the Wind a few months before Peter, Paul and Mary delivered it, but Joe and Eddie didn't like the song and it was never released. They recorded such diverse material as Ewan MacColl's The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Children Go Where I Send Thee!, George Gershwin's Summertime, Mariah from Paint Your Wagon, and The House of the Rising Sun. With success came inevitable change, and with popular music itself changing as well, almost on a daily basis, the boys were looking for a new direction by the summer of '66. Who or what they might've become is one of the music industry's great unknowns. They could've taken off as pop crooners like The Righteous Brothers. They might've headed into R&B or even Rock n Roll; The Chambers Brothers, good friends, had backed them, after all, on their 1964 recording of Didn't It Rain?. Their manager, Bill Weems, remembered the boys this way: Joe & Eddie were one of the most unique acts I've seen in all my years, and I've been involved with singers from Frankie Laine to Johnny Ray, Peggy Lee, Kay Starr, Connie Francis and Jimmy Rodgers...when you first saw these kids, they would impress you more than any of those people. Their enthusiasm was amazing. They were fearless as far as walking on a stage went, and they had the greatest stage presence. You could put them with Danny Kaye, Jackie Gleason...nothing bothered them. They had plenty of guts, and the two of them complemented each other, vocally and visually, so well. There was a line that one of the (concert) reviewers out there used, he said `It was a teaming made in heaven.' You can't put a combination like that together. They never missed, wherever they went. Joe & Eddie were special from day one. Though Eddie Brown still records and produces to this day, the phenomenon known as Joe & Eddie came to an abrupt and tragic end in a too-fast sports car that sultry August night. Their testament was music born, indeed, in heaven.