The Impressions originally formed in 1958 in Chicago. The group was founded as The Roosters by
Chattanooga, TN, natives Sam Gooden, Richard Brooks and Arthur Brooks, who moved to Chicago and
added Jerry Butler and Curtus Mayfield to their line-up to become Jerry Butler & the Impressions. By
1962, Butler and the Brookses had departed, and after switching to ABC-Paramount Records, Mayfield,
Gooden, and new Impression Fred Cash collectively became a top-selling soul act. Mayfield left the group
for a solo career in 1970; Leroy Hutson, Ralph Johnson, Reggie Torian, Sammy Fender and Nate Evans
were among the replacements who joined Gooden and Cash. Inductees into both the Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, The Impressions are best known for their 1960s string of hits,
many of which were heavily influenced by gospel music and served as inspirational anthems for the Civil
Righys Movement. They are also 1998 Grammy Hall of Fame inductees for their hit “People get ready”
and are winners of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Pioneer Award in 2000.
Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield met while singing in the same Chicago Church choir After singing in a
number of local gospel groups, the two of them joined a doo-wop group called "The Roosters" in 1957,
whose members included Chattanooga, TN, natives Sam Gooden, Richard Brooks and his brother
Arthur Brooks. By 1958, The Roosters had a new manager in Eddie Thomas, a record deal with Vee-Jay
Records, and a new name: Jerry Butler & the Impressions.
The group's first hit single was 1958's "For Your Precious Love", which hit #11 on the US pop charts and
#3 on the R&B charts. However, soon after the release of the R&B Top 30 hit "Come Back My Love",
Butler left the group to go on to a successful solo career. After briefly touring with the now-solo Butler
as his guitarist, Curtis Mayfield became the group's new lead singer and songwriter and Fred Cash, a
returning original Roosters member, was appointed as the new fifth member.
The Impressions got a new deal with ABC-Paramount Records in 1961, and released their first post-
Butler single. That single, "Gypsy Woman", was their biggest single to date, hitting #2 on the R&B charts
and #20 on the pop chart. Successive singles failed to match "Gypsy Woman’s” success, and Richard
and Arthur Brooks ended up leaving the group in 1962.
The Impressions continued as a trio, and soon aligned themselves with producer johnny Pate, who
helped to update their sound and create a more lush soul sound for the group. The result was “It's all
right,” a 1963 million-selling gold single that topped the R&B charts and made it to #4 on the pop charts,
and became one of the group's signature songs. “It's All Right” and "Gypsy Woman" were the anchors of
The Impressions' first LP, 1963's The Impressions.
1964 brought the first of Mayfield's black pride anthem compositions, “Keep on Pushing”, which became a
Top 10 smash on both the Billboard Pop and R&B charts, peaking at #10 Pop. It was the title cut from the
album of the same name, which also reached the Top 10 on both charts. Future Mayfield compositions
would feature an increasingly social and political awareness, including the following year's major hit and
the group's best-known song, the gospel-influenced “People get ready", which hit #3 on the R&B charts
In the mid-1960s, The Impressions, were compared with Motown acts such as The Temptations, The
Miracles and The Four Tops. After 1965's "Woman's Got Soul", and the #7 pop hit "Amen", The
Impressions failed to reach the R&B Top Ten for three more years, finally scoring in 1968 with the #9 "I
Loved and Lost". “We're a winner,” which hit #1 on the R&B charts that same year, represented a new
level of social awareness in Mayfield's music. Mayfield created his own label, Curtom, and moved The
Impressions to the label. Over the next two years, more Impressions message tracks, including the #1
R&B hit "Choice of Colors” (1969) and the #3 "Check Out Your Mind" (1970), became big hits for the
It should also be noted that 'The Impressions' were a huge influence on Bob Marley and The Wailers and
other ska/rocksteady groups in Jamaica: The Wailers modeled their singing/harmony style on them and in
part borrowed their look, too. There are many covers of Impressions songs by The Wailers,
including 'Keep On Moving', 'Long Long Winter' and 'Just Another Dance'. Pat Kelly covered 'Soulful
Love' and The Heptones covered 'I've Been Trying'. No doubt the social consciousness of Curtis
Mayfield's lyrics appealed as well as the spectacular harmonies.
After the release of the Check Out Your Mind LP in 1970, Mayfield left the group and began a successful
solo career, the highlight of which was writing and producing the “Super Fly” soundtrack. He continued to
write and produce for The Impressions, who remained on Curtom. Leroy Hutson was the first new lead
singer for the group following Mayfield's departure, but success eluded The Impressions, and Hutson left
New members Ralph Johnson and Reggie Torian replaced Hutson, and The Impressions had three R&B
Top 5 singles in 1974–1975: the #1 "Finally Got Myself Together (I'm a Changed Man)" (which also
reached the Pop top 20 ) , and the #3 singles "Same Thing it Took" and "Sooner or Later". In 1976, The
Impressions left Curtom and Mayfield behind for Cotillion Records and had their final major hit
The Impressions were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, and into the Vocal Group
Hall of Fame in 2003. The members who got to take part in this honor, as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
inductees, were Sam Gooden, Jerry Butler, Richard Brooks, Curtis Mayfield, Arthur Brooks, and Fred
In 2008, Universal Music & Hip O Records released Movin' On Up - the first-ever video compilation of The
Impressions, featuring brand new interviews with original Impressions members Sam Gooden and Fred
Cash, along with taped interviews with the late Curtis Mayfield and video performances of the group's
greatest hits and several of Mayfield's solo hits.
The group's first million-selling hit song "For Your Precious Love" is ranked #327 on the Rollin Stone
magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of all Time,and their hit People Get Ready is ranked #24 on
that same list. The latter song has also been chosen as one of the Top 10 Best Songs Of All Time by a
panel of 20 top industry songwriters and producers, including Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson and others,
as reported to Britain's Mojo music magazine.
Today's Impressions consist of Fred Cash, Sam Gooden and Reggie Torian. In 2011, English fans
celebrated the first ever public shows by the Impressions in Manchester and London, backed by the
Curtom Orchestra. That same year, the Impressions also performed at the official concert for the
dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The Impressions returned to the UK in 2012 and performed in Madrid, Spain, at the Black is Back Festival.
In July 2013, they released their first single in more than 30 years, the Curtis-Mayfield penned hit for
Major Lance, "Rhythm," produced by Binky Griptite of the Dap-Kings and arranged by Johnny