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During the early to mid-'70s, Bobby DeBarge, Eddie Fluellen, Phillip Ingram (brother of James Ingram), Jody Sims, and Gregory Williams were in the Ohio-based White Heat. The band backed Barry White and recorded a self-titled album -- released by RCA in 1975 -- produced by the maestro. Budgetary constraints forced White to cut ties with the band, which subsequently morphed into Hot-Ice, an outfit that featured DeBarge, Sims, and Williams, as well as DeBarge's brother Tommy. That band released an album on Polydor in 1977. Jermaine Jackson helped them secure a contract with Motown offshoot Gordy. As Switch, the band proved to be popular in clubs, as well as within the quiet storm radio format. Their singles "There'll Never Be" (1978), "I Call Your Name" (1979), and "Love Over and Over Again" (1981) reached the Top Ten of Billboard's R&B chart. After Switch's fifth and final album for Gordy, the DeBarge brothers departed to support sibling group DeBarge. By the time Switch released Am I Still Your Boyfriend? (1984) on Total Experience, Sims and Williams were the only original members, along with Fluellen (who had joined for the third album), Renard Gallo, and Gonzales Ozen. That album sold poorly, and Switch broke up. Bobby DeBarge passed away due to AIDS complications in 1995. Throughout the 2000s, the band's recordings were sampled by the likes of De La Soul ("A Brighter Tomorrow"), Ne-Yo ("It Just Ain't Right"), Rich Boy ("Throw Some D's"), and Erykah Badu ("That Hump"). Ingram, Williams, and Fluellen reunited, added new members, and toured during the same decade. Bassist Tommy DeBarge died on October 21, 2021 due to kidney and liver failure; he was 64 years old.
© Andy Kellman /TiVo
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