Music kept them good, young at heart

The Sultans of Swing band (1941-1945), managed by Bezhu Hays, was formed by Montclair teenagers who played sports in the neighborhood and loved music, around 1938.

Samuel Debnam
The Sultans of Swing band (1941-1945), managed by Bezhu Hays. COURTESY SAMUEL DEBNAM

The band consisted of the following members: Rolin Bynum played tenor sax, was later a Tuskegee Airman flying B-25s, they commanded a plane in California; Lloyd Wheeler served in the Army and later had or played in small local groups; Samuel Taylor served in the Army, was discharged, and went into the insurance business; Fenam Carey played tenor sax, and attended Juilliard School of Music in NYC; George Palmer Chipman was lead singer and served in the army then the National Guard; Herby Barner was the drummer, and later played with distinct bands and worked for the NJ State Police; Samuel Debnam played bass; enlisted in the Air Force, discharged and became a watchmaker; Bill Bynum played the trumpet; Rolin’s younger brother was 16 when he played with the band; Clarence Hatchett played the trumpet; and also played with Buddy Johnson; Gene Key played the piano and was the composer. He went on to greatness with Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and others; and Solomon Satterwhite played the trumpet and enlisted in the Marine Corps; upon discharge he owned an electrical contract business.

I think our little group would credit music and the love of music for keeping us and many others out of trouble. I hope schools and parents will push and encourage our young people to take music education.

There is a framed photo of the band that hangs in Young’s World of Beauty.

SAMUEL DEBNAM

Montclair