It grew from a relationship between four childhood friends: Quentin “Footz” Davidson, Andre “Whiteboy” Johnson, Michael “Funky Ned” Neal and John Jones. After school, the four young musicians would get together in each other’s basements and play top forty hits from such influential bands as Parliament/Funkadelic, Cameo, and Confunkshun. Eventually the band adapted more players and conformed to the go-go sound that started in 1976.
It was at that time that the band called on the assistance of Quentins mother, Annie Mack, who became the bands first manager.
Today, Rare Essence is comprised of 9 musicians who play a range of instruments from the timbales to the bass guitar. The band is still going strong playing several nights a week, even an occasional double-gig, playing two concerts in one night. They credit their continued success to their fans, who vibe together in such a way that only the actual experience can really display the level of enthusiasm that you see each and every show.
Rare Essence has had success with such hits as “Body Moves”, the hit album “Live at Breeze’s Metro Club,” and the single “Lock-It” which was featured on the Strictly Business soundtrack. The band blew up the charts with their most successful single, “Work the Walls.” It was played on top 25 stations nationwide according to Billboard.
Another notable release was 1998’s “Overnight Scenario”, which charted up and down the East Coast.
Rare Essence has also celebrated successful collaborations with many other charted artists. 1986 brought the Aretha Franklin single “Jimmy Lee” which featured Rare Essence performing as her band in the video. 1996 brought the collaborated single with Doug E. Fresh entitled “Must Be Like That”, and again in 2003 with the CD release of “Live @ Club U Volume 2.” 1999 brought the collaborated single with Redman entitled “Push.” 2004 brought the regional hit of Ashley Simpson’s “Pieces of Me.”
In 2002, Rare Essence guest starred with Ludcaris on the Jay Leno Show, performing his hit single “Roll Out.” That allowed for an invitation to once again to perform with Ludacris on the remix of “Pimpin All Over The World” with Bobby Valentino at the 2005 MTV VMAs.
While the greatest success from Rare Essence remains mostly in the east coast region, their groove is loved by many dedicated fans all over the world. Even after 25 years true fans will gladly proclaim that “Rare Essence is the Wickedest Band Alive!”
Always being able to adapt to the times, 1996 came with the release of the album “Body Snatchers,” which also brought about personnel changes that allowed the band to once again reinvent their image allowing them continued success through a new generation.
Today, Rare Essence consists of original member Andre “Whiteboy” Johnson (Lead Guitar), James "Jas. Funk" Thomas (Vocals) as well as Charles “Shorty Corleone"Garris (Vocals), Roy Battle (Keyboard,Trombone) Michael Baker (Bass Guitar),Quentin “Dud” Ivey (Percussion), Darrell “Blue Eye” Arrington (Drums), and Calvin (Killa Cal) Henry,Robert "Foxy Rob"Green (Congas),special guest vocalist Michael Muse.
The impact of the Rare Essence foundation has been so solid and influential within the Go-Go industry that it has spawned generations of offshoots, styles, performance techniques, and emulation throughout the Go-Go circuit.