Band’s distinctive sound still feels fresh

The Stylistics continue their love affair with the UK with a tour, which brings them to the Brighton Centre on November 30.

More than four decades after launching the band, Airrion Love is still with them, still enjoying their great rapport with British audiences.

“Our UK fans have always supported the Stylistics since day one. Through the years we have come to have so many friends that it seems like a family reunion when we get here.”

Part of it, as Airrion acknowledges, is that the Stylistics are part of our growing up for so many millions of us.

“I think that’s part of it, but our music touches so many people’s lives with good and bad memories. When they hear our music, it takes them right back to that point of time.

“And another reason is we were given great music to start with so when you hear it today it sounds as fresh as it did over 30 years ago. We are blessed to still be in well enough health to still perform, and we still enjoy it.”

It helps that the great Stylistics’ sound is so distinctive.

“I guess you would have to give credit to Thom Bell since he was the producer of most of our hits. Being only 18 or 19 at that time, we followed Thom’s lead and did what was told of us. Even though we had the voices to record, it was Thom Bell’s direction that led us to this point.”

Also the moment was right.

Following the success of The O’Jays, The Spinners and The Delfonics, the City of Brotherly Love had just enough room for another highly-successful soul group.

That group was The Stylistics. With their charisma, style and harmony, they evolved into one of the best-selling soul groups ever. The Philadelphia-based quartet recorded ten straight top ten hits during the early 1970s.

The band was formed in the late 60s by – effectively – a merger of two existing groups. A new name was needed.

“The Stylistics just worked!”, says Airrion, who is still based, as ever, in Philadelphia: “As soon as we heard that name, we knew it was right.”

They first made their name playing the clubs in Philadelphia; a guy heard them and wanted to record them: “The recording started making a little bit of noise, and so he took the record to a record company.”

The band gained momentum and their success became national and then international. Hits flowed, including You Make Me Feel Brand New, Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love), You Are Everything and I’m Stone In Love With You.

And yet Airrion and the guys always managed to keep their feet on the ground: “I was always the sensible one! Things just happened so fast. We were very young, just 18 or 19. What it did so for us was just create more work.

“We didn’t realise how much success was happening until James Brown asked us to tour with him. That was 72-73. Working with James Brown was instrumental in the success of the group. He was massive. We didn’t really get to know him. You didn’t get close to James Brown, but we would call him James or JB. Everybody was ‘Mr Brown’ to him! At first, he didn’t like it. But I think he got used to it!”