Frankie Beverly (6 December 1946, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA) had an apprenticeship in several Philadelphia groups. One such unit, Frankie Beverly And The Butlers, recorded several well-received singles in the 60s, but never managed to attract more than local play. By the early 70s, however, impressed by Santana and Sly And The Family Stone, he formed a self-contained band, Raw Soul, and they moved to San Francisco where they became the house band at a local club, the Scene. Discovered by a girlfriend of Marvin Gaye, the group subsequently supported the singer in concert, and it was he who suggested they change their name in deference to their now cooler sound. The septet, which featured Wayne aka Wuane Thomas (guitar), Sam Porter (keyboards), Robin Duhe (bass), Roame Lowry (congas, vocals), McKinley Williams (percussion, vocals), Joe Provost (drums) plus Beverly, thus became Maze. Their debut album was issued in January 1977, the first of eight albums for Capitol Records. Their third album, 1979âs Inspiration featured new drummer Ahaguna Sun, who in turn was replaced by Billy Johnson on the follow-up Joy And Pain. This album also featured two further personnel changes, with keyboard player Kevin Burton and guitarist Ron Smith brought in to the line-up. The excellent Live In New Orleans set saw Burton replaced by Phillip Woo. This line-up went on to record one of Mazeâs finest studio outing, 1983âs We Are One.
The band consistently hit the R&B charts during this period, although only âWorkinâ Togetherâ (1978), âFeel That Youâre Feelinââ (1979), âSouthern Girlâ (1980), âRunning Awayâ (1981) and âLove Is The Keyâ (1983) managed to break into the Top 10. Maze finally reached the top of the R&B charts in 1985 with âBack In Strideâ, taken from the same yearâs Canât Stop The Love which was recorded with new musicians Wayne Thomas (guitar), Wayne Linsey and Sam Porter (both keyboards), Tony St. James and Ricky Lawson (both drums), and additional bass player Randy Jackson. A final album for Capitol was recorded live in Los Angeles, and featured yet another drummer, Mike White.
Their debut for Warner Brothers Records, Silky Soul, featured the nucleus of Beverly, Williams, Lowry and Duhe joined by occasional band members Woo, Linsey and William Bryant (keyboards), Smith (guitar), Jackson (bass), and Lawson (drums). The album generated their second R&B chart-topper âCanât Get Over Youâ, while the title track reached the Top 5. White and Sonny Emery joined the Maze personnel for their second Warners album, Back To Basics. Although they are no longer a fixture on the charts, Maze remain one of soulâs most consistent live attractions.