DONALD HAYWOODE – sometime member of vocal groups THE VELOURS and THE FANTASTICS – died on Sunday 9th August in London’s Hammersmith hospital
His friend Ron Henderson (who’d been the road manager for the Fantastics) posted the following message: “I sadly have to announce the passing of Donald Haywoode of The Velours, and latterly of The Fantastics. The Velours had great success in America, especially with the song ‘Can I Come Over Tonight’ which was written by Don. In The UK as the Fantastics the group went on to success with hits such as ‘Something Old Something New’ After a long illness Don finally succumbed to it on the 9th of August at Hammersmith hospital London.”
Haywoode was born in 1936 and in 1956 he helped form the Velours in his home neighbourhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. The other members were Jerome Ramos (“Speedo”), John Cheetdom, Kenneth Walker and Marvin Holland. They recorded for the Onyx label in a style that straddled doo-wop and embryonic soul. In the early 60s they became a sextet and recorded for the Cub label.
The Velours disbanded in the mid sixties but in 1968 they reformed and went to the UK where along with various other soul groups they were employed by unscrupulous promoters to perform under bogus names like “The Fabulous Impressions”, “The Fantastic Temptations” and “The Original Platters”. Eventually they ex-Velours found their own indentify as The Fantastics and enjoyed a hit with the pop/soul of ‘Something Old Something New’. They were also a popular draw on the club and cabaret circuit.
When the work dried up, Don decided to remain in the UK with his wife, Marian, who survives him. Donald Haywoode’s funeral will take place at Mortlake Crematorium on Monday August 17th.