The Chi-Lites were formed in Chicago in 1959. Originally called the Hi-Lites, they consisted of Marshall Thompson (birthday 24th Aug), Creadel "Red" Jones, Eugene Record, Robert Lester (birthday 16th August) and Clarence Johnson.
As the Hi-Lites they released a number of singles on local labels then in 1964 they changed their name to Marshall & the Chi-Lites; the 'C' being added to reflect the name of their hometown, Chicago. By the end of 1964 Clarence Johnson had left the group and they truncated their name to simply the Chi-Lites. During the ensuing four years Eugene Record slowly emerged as the group's lead singer, songwriter and producer.
In 1969, after signing with Brunswick the previous year, "Give It Away" became their first USA national hit single attaining number ten in the R&B charts. The follow-up release "Let Me Be The Man My Daddy Was" was moderately successful but another major hit was elusive until "Are You My Woman ?" climbed into the R&B top ten in early 1971. A succession of top ten hits followed commencing with their next release "(For God's Sake)Give More Power To The People" which was the first release to crossover into the pop charts. The ballads "Have You Seen Her" and "Oh Girl" followed, both reaching number one in the R&B charts with "Oh Girl" also achieving the number one slot in the pop charts in the spring of 1972.
The Chi-Lites lineup changed shortly after "Stoned Out Of My Mind". Creadel Jones was replaced by Stanley Anderson, who himself was replaced by Willie Kensey. Three top ten hits R&B hits followed - "Homely Girl", "There Will Never Be Any Peace" and "Toby", before Kensey was replaced with Doc Roberson. Brunswick, however, ran into financial problems. This frustrated the promoting of the group's records and led to Eugene Record leaving to become a solo recording artist for Warner Bros. The remaining members were joined by David Scott and Danny Johnson although Johnson himself was replaced by Vandy Hampton in 1977. They signed with Mercury but no hits were forthcoming.
In 1980 the group signed to Carl Davis' Chi-Sound label and although they were more successful than when on Mercury, their first genuine hit was 1982's "Hot On A Thing (Called Love)" which reached number 15. The following year their final top ten hit "Bottoms Up" came after signing for Larc Records. Later that year Creadel Jones retired and the group continued as a trio to the end of the decade. The '90s saw Anthony Watson join the group and Creadel Jones returning and they toured regularly on the oldies and soul cicuit of the decade. The Chi-Lites were inducted into The (R/B Hall Of Fame) in 2000. The Chi-Lites were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2005.
The Chi-Lites song, "Are You My Woman", is sampled by Beyoncé under the title "Crazy In Love". The recording also features Jay-Z and can be found on Beyoncé's "Dangerously In Love" CD. The song is later nominated for a Grammy award and is instrumental in winning the Hot 100 award for most weeks at No. 1. The Chi-Lites song, "That's How Long I Love You", is featured Jay-Z's "The Black Album" under the title "Dec 4".
Robert Lester died on January 21, 2010 at Roseland Hospital in Chicago after a long battle with liver cancer. He was 67. The present day Chi-Lites line-up includes original member Marshall Thompson (leader of the group), Frank Reed, lead vocals), Fred Simon (tenor and bass), (from The Lost Generation) and Tara Thompson (background vocals). They record on Marshall Thompson's record label Marance Records, and continue to tour, playing to sold-out venues all over the world