RUFUS – Take Me [Official Video]
Rufus was an American funk band from Chicago, Illinois best known for launching the career of lead singer Chaka Khan. They had several hits throughout their career, including “Tell Me Something Good”, “Sweet Thing”, and “Ain’t Nobody”.
In 1967, The American Breed (Gary Loizzo, Al Ciner, Charles (Chuck) Colbert and Lee Graziano) had a top ten hit with the classic rock single, “Bend Me, Shape Me”. After much success, Ciner, Colbert and Graziano (without Loizzo who pursued a successful production career) created a new group, adding Kevin Murphy (musician) on keyboards and Vern Pilder from the bar band “Circus”. They re-emerged in 1969 under the name “Smoke”. In 1970 vocalists Paulette McWilliams and James Stella were added and the group’s name changed again to “Ask Rufus”; after which, Willie Weeks replaced Vern Pilder.
In 1971, the band signed a contract with Epic Records recording an album that wasn’t released after which Epic dropped their contract in early 1972. Willie Weeks was in turn replaced by Dennis Belfield, James Stella was replaced by keyboardist and vocalist Ron Stockert, Lee Graziano was replaced by Andre Fischer (former drummer with Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler), Paulette McWilliams and Chaka Khan had met and became the best of friends through their spouses Howard Towles and Hassan Khan. Chaka would come to most of Ask Rufus gigs when they were performing in Chicago. When Paulette decided she was leaving Ask Rufus, she went to the band and told them she had the perfect singer to replace her; she had also asked Chaka if she was interested. After the band members hesitantly submitted, Paulette remained with Ask Rufus for a few more weeks to teach Chaka all of their material. Paulette also got Chaka a gig with the group formed by Chicago’s Cash McCall called Lyfe. Chaka had been performing at the Pumpkin Room on the south side of Chicago, with a local Chicago group called Lock and Chain, led by drummer Scotty Harris. With that change, and Paulette McWilliams leaving to pursue her solo career, the group recorded the first two albums as Ask Rufus and later dropped the “Ask” and simply became known as Rufus.