Walter Vickers and Rodney Taylor were serving in the United States military when they began singing together while stationed in Okinawa during 1961. Their group expanded by two the following year when Rudy Johnson and Billy Hill joined them after they returned to Camp Lejeune in the United States. Their only problem was the lack of a lead singer.
I don’t know how many female Marines were around in 1962 but luckily for the four singers one of them was Anita Humes. They found her singing in a local club and when she agreed to join the group, The Essex were complete.
The five singers managed to procure a contract with Roulette Records. They went into the studio and recorded their first single, “Are You Going My Way.” Needing a B-side, during the last 20 minutes of the session they recorded “Easier Said Than Done,” co-written by fellow Marine William Linton. It turned out that it was 20 minutes well spent.
The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 on June 8, 1963, and four weeks later it was the number one song in the country, where it remained for two weeks. It ended up selling over one million copies.
It is an upbeat pop song with tight harmonies and perfect for radio play at the time as it just stayed in listeners’ minds. Several months later they followed it with their only other significant hit, “A Walkin’ Miracle,” which was a musical clone of “Easier Said Than Done.”
While the group members had met in the U.S. military, their duties made it difficult to maintain their career momentum. Another problem was they were discharged at various times and when Anita Humes opted for a solo career, the group quickly disbanded. The original members never reunited.
The career of The Essex was short but they left an indelible mark on rock and roll history when “Easier Said Than Done” topped the American music world 50 years ago this week.