20 Greatest Male R&B Vocal Groups of All-Time

The Jacksons Lead The List

R&B music is rooted in the classic vocal groups of the 1950s, which led to the tremendous success of Motown Records in the 1960s with The Temptations, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and The Jackson Five. 

In celebration of Black History Month, here is a list of the "30 Greatest Male R&B Vocal Groups of All-Time."

01
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The Jackson Five/The Jacksons

The Jacksons. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Originally consisting of brothers Michael, Jermaine, Jackie, Tito, and Marlon Jackson, The Jackson 5  from Gary, Indiana launched their historic recording career on Motown Records in 1968. Their first official concert for Motown was on August 16, 1968 as the opening act for Diana Ross at the Forum in Los Angeles. Their debut album was titled Diana Ross Presents The Jackson Five. The group made history in 1970 as the first recording act to reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with their first four singles: "I Want You Back", "ABC", "The Love You Save" and "I'll Be There".

In 1976, the group left Motown to sign with Epic Records, and Randy Jackson replaced Jermaine Jackson who remained at Motown as a solo artist.  In 1984, The Jacksons (name legally changed from The Jackson 5) made history with their Victory tour, performing 55 shows in stadiums for nearly three million people. It was the sixth most successful tour of the decade, grossing over 75 million dollars. In 1997, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

02
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The Temptations

The Temptations. Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Formed in 1960 in Detroit, Michigan, The Temptations are one of the best selling male vocal groups of all-time. They were among the stars of Motown Records in the 1960s including Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and The Supremes. Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, and Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five. The original lineup consisted of David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Otis Williams, and Melvin Franklin. Dennis Edwards replaced Ruffin as lead singer in 1968, and Kendricks and Williams left the group in 1971. The Temptations achieved 15 number one singles on the Billboard R&B chart, and four songs reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100. The group's numerous honors include three Grammy Awards, two American Music Awards, and a Soul Train Music Award. The Temps were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, the NAACP Hall of Fame in 1992, and in 2013, they received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Their classics include "My Girl," "I Can't Get Next To You," and "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)."

03
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The Four Tops

The Four Tops. Gilles Petard/Redferns

The Four Tops began their Motown recording career with their self-titled number one album in 1964. They were among the core vocal groups for Motown along with The Miracles, The Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, The Temptations, and The Supremes. The Tops achieved amazing longevity, performing from 1953-1997 with the same lineup: lead singer Levi Stubbs, Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Lawrence Payton. Their number one hits include "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" and "Reach Out I'll Be There." Their honors include the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Vocal Group Hall of Fame, Hollywood Walk Of Fame, Grammy Hall Of Fame ("Reach Out I'll Be There"), Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award.

04
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Smokey Robinson and The Miracles

Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Smokey Robinson and The Miracles were the first Motown act to hit number one on the Billboard R&B chart, achieving that feat in 1960 with "Shop Around." Twenty-six Miracles songs reached the Top Ten of the Billboard R&B singles chart, including four number one singles. Their honors include the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame, Hollywood Walk Of Fame, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Four of their songs were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame: "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," "The Tracks Of My Tears." "The Tears of a Clown." and "Shop Around."

05
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The Isley Brothers

The Isley Brothers. Keystone/Getty Images

The Isley Brothers are on the list of greatest vocal groups, and also greatest bands. Recording for over 50 years, The Isleys began as a vocal trio in the 1950s in Cincinnati, Ohio with Ronald Isley as lead singer performing with brothers Rudolph and O'Kelly Isley. The group expanded to six members in 1973 with their 3 + 3 album. Younger brothers Ernie lsley (guitar) and Marvin Isley (bass) joined the group along with Rudolph's brother-in-law, Chris Jasper (keyboards). The Isley Brothers have released four double platinum, six platinum, and four gold albums. Seven of their singles have reached number one on the Billboard R&B chart. Two of their songs, "Shout," and Twist and Shout." were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The Isleys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. They have also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and a BET Lifetime Achievement Award.

06
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The O'Jays

The O'Jays. Fotos International/Courtesy Getty Images

Formed in Canton, Ohio in 1958, The O'Jays have recorded ten number one Billboard R&B hits with five platinum and four gold albums. Five of their albums have reached number one on the Billboard R&B chart. The group began as a quintet consisting of lead singer Eddle Levert, Walter Williams, William Powell, Bobby Massey, and Bill Isles. Massey and Isles left the group, and as a trio, The O'Jays achieved their greatest success after signing with Philadelphia International Records in 1972. Powell left the group in 1976 and was replaced by Sammy Strain from Little Anthony and the Imperials. Powell passed away from cancer in 1977. Strain left The O'Jays in 1992 and was replaced by Nathaniel Best. When Best departed in 1995, he was replaced by Eric Nolan Grant. The group was among the many stars on Philadelphia International Records, including Teddy Pendergrass, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Lou Rawls, Patti LaBelle, and Phyllis Hyman. The O'Jays' honors include a BET Lifetime Achievement Award, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame. Their greatest hits include "Love Train," "Backstabbers," and "For The Love of Money."

07
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The Impressions

The Impressions. Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images

Featuring Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield, The Impressions were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, Several of their songs provided the soundtrack of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, including their Grammy Hall of Fame single, "People Get Ready." Their number one hits also include "It's All Right, "We're A Winner" and "Choice of Colors."

08
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Boyz II Men

Boyz II Men. KMazur/WireImage

Managed by Michael Bivens of New Edition, Boyz II Men released their debut album, CooleyhigHarmony, in 1991. It was an instant success and was certified nine times platinum. The group from Philadelphia consisted of Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris, and Michael McCary (who left the act in 2003 due to health reasons). Boyz II Men has sold over 64 million albums worldwide. The group has achieved five number one hits on the Billboard R&B chart, and four singles have reached the top of the Hot 100. They have seven platinum and three gold singles. Their list of awards includes three Grammys, three NAACP Image Awards, six American Music Awards, ten Soul Train Music Awards, and three Billboard Music Awards. Their classics includes "One Sweet Day" with Mariah Carey, "I'll Make Love To You," and "End of the Road."

09
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The Drifters

The Drifters. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Drifters were formed in 1953 by Clyde McPhatter, and then a new era for the group began in 1958 when Ben E. King became the lead singer. Their classics include "There Goes My Baby," and "Save The Last Dance For Me," The Drifters were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.

10
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The Platters

The Platters. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Platters were one of the most successful vocal groups of the early rock and roll era, achieving 40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart between 1955 and 1967, including four number one hits  Their classics include "The Great Pretender," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and "Twilight Time. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, and into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998.

11
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Little Anthony and The Imperials

Little Anthony and the Imperials. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Little Anthony and The Imperials was one of the few doo-wop groups to maintain success on the R&B and pop charts throughout the 1960s. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group hall of Fame, and received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Pioneer Award. Their classics include "Tears On My Pillow," "Going Out of My Head," and "Hurt So Bad."

12
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The Coasters

The Coasters. James Kriegsmann/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Coasters recorded several R&B hits in the 1950s and 60s including "Yakety Yak" "Charlie Brown," and "Poison Ivy." Several of their songs were covered by rock and roll legends, including Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling StonesThe Beach Boys, and The Grateful Dead. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

13
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Sam and Dave

Sam and Dave. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Sam & Dave were the most successful soul duo and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Vocal Group Hall of Fame, They recorded numerous hits for Stax Records in the 1960s composed by Isaac Hayes and David Porter. Their classic "Soul Man" won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 1969, and it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

14
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New Edition

New Edition. Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1978, New Edition remains as one of the most popular R&B acts after four decades. The group has , recorded three double platinum, one platinum, one gold album, and achieved five number one singles on the Billboard R&B chart. New Edition originally consisted of Bobby Brown, Michael Bivens, Ronnie DeVoe, Ralph Tresvant, and Ricky Bell. Brown left the group in 1986 and was replaced by Johnny Gill, He eventually returned to the group for their 1997 Home Again album. When Brown, Tresvant and Gill recorded solo projects, the remaining members, Bivens, DeVoe, and Bell, formed a R&B/hip-hop trio named Bell Biv Devoe whose 1990 debut album Poison was certified quadruple platinum. New Edition's hits include "Candy Girl," "Cool It Now," and "Hit Me Off."

15
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The Moonglows

The Moonglows. James Kriegsmann/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

From Cleveland, Ohio, The Moonglows recorded several hits in the 1950s including "Sincerely", "Most of All", "See Saw" and "Ten Commandments of Love", Marvin Gaye was a member of the group before launching his solo career with Motown Records. The Moonglows were inducted to the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

16
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The Dells

The Dells. Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images

The Dells performed for 60 years, from 1952-2012, and released the classic "Stay In My Corner" in 1968. They also hit number one in 1969 with "Oh, What a Night." The group was  inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.

17
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The Whispers

The Whispers. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Featuring twins Walter and Wallace Scott, The Whispers were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003, and were winners of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Pioneer Award in 2008. Formed in 1964 in Los Angeles, the group continues to perform after more than 50 years in show business . Their number one hits include "And the Beat Goes On," and "Rock Steady," composed and produced by L.A. Reid and Babyface.

18
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Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes

Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Featuring Teddy Pendergrass as lead singer, Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes recorded numerous hits in the 1970s composed and produced by by Kennerth Gamble and Leon Huff for Philadelphia International Records. Their number one singles include "If You Don't Know Me by Now," "The Love I Lost." and "Wake Up Everybody."

19
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The Spinners

The Spinners. RB/Redferns

Formed in Detroit in 1954, The Spinners continue to perform after more than 60 years in the music industry. Their number one hits include "I'll Be Around," "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love," and "Then Came You" with Dionne Warwick.

20
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The Stylistics

The Stylistics. GAB Archive/Redferns

Formed in Philadelphia in 1968, The Stylistics continue to perform after nearly 50 years in music. Under the production of Thom Bell, the group had twelve consecutive Billboard R&B top ten hits in the 1970s, including "Stop, Look, Listen", "You Are Everything", "Betcha by Golly, Wow", "People Make the World Go Round", "I'm Stone in Love with You", "Break Up to Make Up", and "You Make Me Feel Brand New"