They only had a few releases, and no hits, but the Hornets were one of Cleveland, OH’s most talked about groups of the ’50s and 60’s. The original Hornets were Ben Iverson, Johnny Moore, James “Sonny” Long, and Gus Miller, but except for Iverson, the lineup wasn’t etched in stone. Bill Brent, Carl Brown, Bobby Woods, and Eddie Woods (unrelated to Bobby) also stake claims as one-time Hornets. The group opened doors and provided hope for local hopefuls when they landed a deal with Chicago’s States Records in 1953, making them one of Chicago’s first recording groups. Originally the Mellotones, they formed in 1951 at Central High School where they spent more time using the hallways and restrooms’ echo effects than studying. State was the sister label to United Records, owned by Lew Simpkins, one of the first minority owned recording company’s in America; Excelsior and Exclusive Records (Los Angeles, CA) owned by the Rene Brothers may be the first. Johnny Moore led both sides of “Lonesome Baby” b/w “I Can’t Believe You’re in Love With Me” in 1953. Other recordings such as “Big City Bounce,” “Ridin’ and Rockin’,” and “You Played the Game” stayed shelved until 1981 when P-Vine Records, a Japanese company, released the tracks on an album with the Five C’s entitled Chicago Doo-Wops: Black Music in the 50’s, Vol. 3. They took a hit when the Drifters snatched Johnny Moore in 1954. Drifters’ Bill Pinkney discovered Moore in Cleveland at a concert both groups were playing. Moore was singing so good in the men’s room that Pinkney extended an invitation to join the Drifters, which he accepted. The contract with States wasn’t an issue, Simpkins passed May 27, 1953. The Hornets sole single appeared six months later, but Simpkins’ untimely demise voided the deal. Ironically, both the Hornets and the the Drifters debuted on record in 1953. Moore didn’t give a two-week notice, he left after the Cleveland gig with the Drifters, which left the Hornets in a lurch in the middle of promoting their single. Moore made his presence known immediately; his tenor was featured on “Adorable,” which aced the R&B chart in 1955. He also led “Ruby Baby,” which soared to number two pop and number five R&B. In 1958, manager George Treadwell fired most of the Drifters and recruited new guys. Uncle Sam drafted Moore shortly afterwards and temporarily halted his drifting. In 1961 after fulfilling his obligation, he rejoined the Drifters who now featured Rudy Lewis on most leads. Lewis, unfortunately, died a year later making, Moore the primary lead; he stayed with the group until 1971. He distinguished himself the second time around by leading many hits, including their last pop Top Ten record, “Under the Boardwalk.” When the hits dried in the ’70s, Moore took a crew of the Drifters to England and performed as Johnny Moore & the Drifters until 1980; they scored a few European hits, “Kissing in the Back Row of the Movies” and “Down on the Beach Tonight,” and played the clubs, cabarets, and parties. Moore was the Drifters’ most prolific lead singer; he’s featured on 51 A and B sides exceeding numbers by more touted leads: Clyde McPhatter, Ben E. King, and Rudy Lewis. The Hornets continued as Ben Iverson & the Hornets; though Iverson rarely led a song, he was the group’s driving force. For a minute, according to Ike Perry, Iverson sang with Ike Perry & the Lyrics, a Cleveland group who traveled the United States recording for little recording companies. Iverson reunited a group of Hornets for three releases on Lester Johnson and Bill Branch’s Way Out Records — “I’m Not Ashamed,” “Jamaica Farewell,” and “Fools Rush In” b/w “Love Me” — around 1962. They didn’t go and the group disbanded. Iverson moved to New York City and gave it one last stab as Ben Iverson & the Nue Day Express on Britne Records with “I Tried My Best” b/w “Look What You’re Doing to Me”; it did nothing and Ben Iverson gave up his dream. Bill Brent served as a six-month temp in the Drifters. The rest of the Hornets, except for Eddie Woods who recorded with other locals and cut some solo tracks on Boddie Records, are reportedly deceased. Johnny Moore died in London en route to the hospital January 1, 1999. He was 64 years old, and he is survived by his wife Jennifer and three sons.

Our story began when…

I met Ben in 1976 when I was 17 years old.  I was a junior at Newtown High School in Elmhurst, Queens. At that time, I took a part time job as a Produce Clerk at Walbaum’s Supermarket on Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights, Queens, where I met Ben Iverson who was the “Frozen Food Manager.”  In between the music, this job was steady income, and he and his Wife, Diane, started a family and raised two Daughters, Tonia and Cytherea, whom I am still in contact with today.

It was only less than ten years earlier, Ben Iverson and the “Nue Dey Express” launched a single written by Ben called “I Tried My Best.”  Ben Iverson and the Nue Dey Express eventually became Brooklyn’s own “Crown Heights Affair” who were among the pioneers of Disco in the early 70’s.  Ben told me he was managing and writing for the Crown Heights Affair but due to differences of opinions and disagreements with the band’s Producers, Freida Nerangis and Britt Britton, Ben walked away from the group but stated that he was not given credit for helping write the Crown Heights Affair’s two first hit songs, “Super Rod” and “Dreaming A Dream.”

Ben and I started writing together in 1978 and had several tunes completed before the “Coast to Coast” band featuring Ben Iverson was formed in 1979.

After searching for Musicians with ads through local newspapers: The Village Voice, Good Times, Billboard ads throughout several local colleges such as  Queens College in Flushing, Queens, and through recommendations from within the local music community, we held tryouts and found our key players.

Although, we did not have a name for the band, in which we went back and forth for months, Ben and I had considered the name “Capricorn” because we were both Capricorn born in January.  The rest of our band members shot that name down, but one day during a rehearsal session developing a song, “Love is the Same” while Ben was singing lead vocals, our Bass Player, Woody Wood (Carl Morton) suggested we use lyrics from the song and call the band “Coast to Coast.”  The name stuck and we became the “Coast to Coast Band.”

In 1979, the band was created and we needed a place to rehearse and eventually record our music.  Going through the Yellow Pages, the first studio I called was Multi-Sound Recording Studios in Bayside, Queens, and spoke with the studio owner Dave Weiner.  Dave and I had a lengthy conversation discussing music, the music industry, and our objectives with yet an unnamed band.  Dave and I spoke for about an hour and we agreed to meet face-to-face, so Ben and I drove down to Multi-Sound to meet with him.  By the time we left the studio, Ben and I decided that Dave and Multi-Sound were in our bands best interest and Dave thought based on our direction and objectives, we were good for his studio.  Therefore, Multi-Sound Studios was where we decided to create and produce our music.

Recordings and at live gigs, our music was considered different.  Ben called our music “Fusion.”  Our band was half Black and half White, which gave us a mix of sounds.  Bass player, Woody Wood and Drummer, Eddie Byam, were funk driven musicians, while Rhythm Guitarist, Joe Crowley and Lead Guitarist, Lou Gimenez were all Rock and Roll.  Ben Iverson brought his form of Doo Wop, Soul and Rhythm & Blues to the band.  Then add in a brass horn section, thus called “Fusion.”  Even newspaper articles called us a 12-piece Funk-Fusion Rockestra.

Ben and I co-produced and put out our own two vinyl records.  Record companies back in the late 70’s and into the 80’s were more interested if you had more of a completed finished product where it minimize their investment costs and they could focus on manufacturing and distribution of the record themselves.

We needed a record label name for our records.  I suggested we create the Multi-Sound label since this is the name of the studio where we’ve been recording.  I presented my idea to the studio owner, Dave Weiner, and it made sense for “Coast to Coast”, as well as for Multi-Sound Studios.

It took almost one year to complete, but between 1979 and 1980, our first 45 RPM record under the Multi-Sound label was recorded and completed at the old Multi-Sound Studios in Bayside, Queens, stamped and pressed by PRI Record Pressing in Wyandanch, Long Island.  The two songs written and produced by Ben Iverson and Mark Beiner, were “Paula Marie” b/w “I Want You Dear.”

From a promotional view point, this 45 RPM record was selected for the juke box down in the cellar of the Student Union at Queens College, as well as receiving radio air play at the Queens College radio station.  In addition, the Long Island Record Pool was able to get us play in some of the hottest dance clubs in Metro New York.

Our songs were all recorded well over five and six minutes each or as they were called, extended versions, which made them available to be edited down for radio station use.  DJ’s could play our songs in there entirety or edit them down for time restraints.  In addition, we dated our records 2-3 years out so we had plenty of time to play and promote while coming across as new and current as we visited radio stations and record companies trying to attain air play and a record contract.

Ben and I would take time off from our jobs during the week.  He from Waldbaums Supermarket and I from a consumer electronics retailer in the Northeast called Lafayette Electronics.  We took this time off to travel through Manhattan to different radio stations such as; 92 KTU, WBLS, Z100 and Hot 97.  Meeting with Program Directors, Station Managers and on Air DJ’s such as Paco from 92 KTU to try and promote air play.  Both Ben and I were members of ASCAP, and since all our songs were copywrited, we would receive writer’s royalties for any air play.  In addition, we would also schedule appointments and walk-ins with record companies based in New York City to meet with A&R personnel and occasionally a record executive to try to get them to listen to our records.  Most of the time, record executives would see us due to the fact Ben was recording records since 1953 and that is how we strategize our initial meetings to get through the doors.

In early 1981, we started laying down tracks for our next record that would be a 12” 33 RPM extended version of our next two songs, “A Woman Was Made to Be Loved” b/w “Reincarnation of Love.”  On this record, we brought in our Rhythm Guitarist and my fellow Queens College Alumni, Joe Crowley, to join Ben and me as Executive Producers.  Together the three of us launched “MJB Productions.”  The MJB Productions logo was implemented way before Mary J. Blige incorporated it as hers.  Now as MJB Productions, we were working with Coast to Coast and developing projects with other talents.  This 12” 33 RPM was recorded at Multi-Sound Studios, mastered in New York City by Sterling Sound.  In fact, the Technician at Sterling Sound who cut the Master of this record was the same person who cut the “Trammps” – Disco Inferno album in the mid 70’s.  Then the acetate master was stamped by “Discmakers” in Philadelphia, PA.

Even more so than with our first record, we went out on weekends to promote “A Woman Was Made to Be Loved” b/w “Reincarnation of Love.”  Looking for D.J. opinions and public feedback from clubs such as, Feathers, Metro 700, Channel 80, Uncle Sam’s, Sprats, Mirage  and Zachary’s in Long Island, to the Limelight, Red Parrot, Bonds and the Playboy Club in Manhattan in the early 80’s.

As for our live gigs, Ben Iverson was the ultimate professional performer.  From leading the band on stage to singing a “Coast to Coast Band” ballad to women in the first row and watching their eyes sparkle.  He was a true old world entertainer.  When we did our live sets, we had trouble just getting 10 to 12 Musicians on most of the stages we played on.  I would work with the Soundman, letting them know when to rise and lower sound levels for each instrument to keep us clear and in tune.  At a club in The Village called “R.T. Firefly”, we did our 60-minute set and when the set was over, the Soundman shut down the stage lights and sound system.  The crowd started shouting for more.  The Soundman looked at me, I looked at him, we shrugged our shoulders and he turned up the lights and sound system, and the band jammed for another 40-minutes.  What a feeling that was!  The most popular venue the “Coast to Coast” band played was the “Other End Cabaret” formerly the “Bitter End”, located on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, New York City.  Some of the talent that played the “Other End” where, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul & Mary, Patti Smith, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Isley Brothers and Curtis Mayfield.

We brought the house down that night with a full house in attendance, having a 6-piece horn section on hand.  I was sitting at a table in front of the stage when several people came up to me saying they were having dinner at the Japanese Restaurant next door, heard our music and came in “The Other End” to hear who was playing. After the performance, they had requested a copy of our latest record, which I gladly handed them a copy of.

In 1983, I received a phone call at Multi-Sound Studios during a rehearsal for our New York City gigs.  We were asked to join a benefit concert and open for the “O’Jays” in Cleveland, Ohio.  On behalf of the band, I gladly accepted.  Ben and I thought this was the break we were looking for.  This organization was paying for our travel, room and board.  For weeks we increased our rehearsal time.  Then two weeks before the show, I received a call that since this was a benefit to raise money, they didn’t want to spend money on any of our travel expenses.  Unfortunately, they cancelled us and accepted a local band from the Cleveland area.

Later that year, I put together proposals, looking for investors to raise capital to push the band to the next level.  When raising money could not be accomplished, band members started loosing hope and interest, and guys stopped showing up for rehearsal.  In 1984, at the age of 25, I cut my ties with “Coast to Coast” and within a matter of months, the band dissolved.

Dave Weiner form Multi-Sound Studios and I have stayed in touch and have remained friends for over 30-years.  In the late 1990’s, I met with Dave at the new Multi-Sound building in Whitestone, Queens, where we spent 6-hours one evening taking all our master tapes and burning them onto a CD.  It was a long process because of the age and disintegration of the reel-to-reel tapes.  At this time, I also set-up a reunion where several Coast to Coast members met at the studio to talk about the old times, and what could and should have been.

Within the last 15-years, Keyboard player Jimmy Johnson died of AIDS.  Bass Player, Woody Wood, passed away of a Heart attack. Drummer, Eddie Byam is living and working in Brooklyn, NY.  Lead Guitarist, Lou Gimenez, owns a recording studio in Elmont, Long Island, NY.  Rhythm Guitarist, Joe Crowley is now “New York Congressman Joe Crowley”, and I, Mark Beiner, live and work in Long Island, NY.  Ben Iverson passed away on Friday, March 21, 2008, at the age of 75.  I attended Ben’s funeral in Brooklyn along with Congressman Joe Crowley and Dave Weiner and his Wife.

Ben Iverson was my friend for 35-years.  He was a talented Songwriter and Recording Artist, who through his musical career always teetered on the verge of true success without ever really crossing over.  Yet Ben Iverson and the Hornets in 1951 were on the forefront of a new genre of music called Doo Wop, which eventually played an intricate role in the development of Rock n’ Roll.

Unfortunately, Ben cannot be here to share this with us, but his music and voice still lives on through this website.

Mark J. Beiner

Click Here To Play "I Can't Believe"

Click Here to Listen to You Played The Game

Click Here to Listen to Ridin’ And Rockin’

Click Here to Listen to I Can’t Believe

Click Here to Listen to Big City Bound

Click Here To Play "Lonesome Baby"

Click Here to Play "Love Me"

Click Here to Play "Fools Rush In"

Click Here to Play "I Tried My Best"

Click Here to Play "Look What You're Doing To Me"

Click Here to Play "Super Rod"

Click Here to Play "Paula Marie"

Click Here to Play "I Want You Dear"

Click Here to Play"A Women Was Made To Be Loved"

Click Here to Play "Reincarnation Of Love"

Ben Iverson’s Personal Photos

<BGSOUND src=" Paula Marie.mp3">