Ron Banks, the legendary falsetto lead singer of the Dramatics, has died at age 58 of an apparent heart attack at his Detroit home. A co-founder of the group, Banks was one of the most recognizable singers of the past 40 years, with his expressive falsetto driving much of the great hits of the Dramatics, from “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get” to the great “Toast to the Fool.
While never reaching “supergroup” status in the public’s eyes, the Dramatics have been one of the most prolific, consistently entertaining groups of the last three decades. Another of the great non-Motown Detroit groups formed in the late 60s, the Dramatics went through significant personnel changes over their early years as the group struggled to find a hit. They ultimately found it on Stax/Volt Records with “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get,” a latin-tinged cut lyrically based on a comic phrase popularized by Flip Wilson. It was an instant hit on both the pop and soul charts, and began a string of great cuts for the group penned by Tony Hester. The follow-ups “In The Rain” and “Toast to the Fool” were even better, and have remained in active play on many stations for nearly 30 years.
While the group has had various compositions, once L.J. Reynolds replaced William Howard in 1973, the core of the group was set. With Reynolds’ gruff baritone and Ron Banks’ soaring falsetto, a unique group harmony was created that is still recognizable today