Eban, who has also sung lead for The Manhattans, The Delfonics and Ray, Goodman and Brown, left The Stylistics in January last year after 18 years with one of music’s great institutions.
He’s delighted to be on the road in the UK, a place he has been coming now for close on 20 years – a place he considers very “relevant.”
By which he means?
“Here in America, if you look at the way things have gone for the past 20 years, it is change all the time. You get a hit record and then the next month it is someone else.”
Whereas in the UK, success is sustained; fans are much more constant; the music is much more continuous. He knows we will lap up the music of The Stylistics.
“Joining The Stylistics was totally unanticipated for me. I had never thought about it at all. It was around about 2000, and myself and one of the original members of The Stylistics had been very good friends for a long time, but I never thought they would call me. But they called me one day to say that Russell was gone. I thought it was a joke, but they said ‘No, Russell is not here.’ They asked me to join and they gave me two days to get ready. We had a rehearsal on the Tuesday and that Friday I was on stage in Cleveland, Ohio. It was an abrupt thing, but I had been doing my solo endeavours.”
Also he was so thoroughly, completely steeped in the music of The Stylistics. It felt natural.
“My performance… well, it is not for me to rate. All I know is that the people in the wings were looking on in amazement. I had fun and it was a great night. The reception was unbelievable, and it just felt completely natural.”
Even so, Eban still felt he had to earn his strips to win the full respect of the fans. After all, he was the first replacement in the group since it started out, 32 years earlier. And then at the start of January 2018, the group’s 50th anniversary year, Eban too felt it was time to move on: “There were several reasons involved. The music business is like a marriage, basically, but I was never made a partner in The Stylistics. And I wanted to grow. I wanted to do things a certain way. I had carried the band on my shoulders for 18 years. And there were things at a personal level anyway. When you are working for McDonalds and there is a situation where you feel things should be done in a different way, when certain individuals are in your way, you go and start your own McDonalds. It’s a similar kind of thing.”
The transition has felt straightforward though: “Technically it has not been a big thing for me because number one I am still singing the same songs, plus some of my own songs. I have some of my own songs selected by the selective fan base in the UK that I couldn’t get away from, so it is not much of a change, just that instead of two gentlemen beside me doing the choreography, I have now got two females behind me!”