Vocalist Ed Townsend (B: Fayetteville, TN; April 1929) was discovered by orchestra leader Horace Heidt in 1953, while Townsend was stationed in the U.S. Marine Corps in Korea, where he joined a troupe of traveling minstrels. Townsend recorded two sides for Aladdin, “Come On, Walk With Me” b/w “Give Me One More Chance” and “Every Night” b/w “Love Never Dies” in 1957. “That was probably my first record. I was a friend of Eddie Mesner’s who owned the label. He was married to a black lady, I knew his wife.”
“After Aladdin, I recorded for Dot records, ‘Tall Grows the Sycamore, Green Grows…stronger stronger grows this love of mine” in 1957. In 1958, he recorded the calypso, “Wo-Man’s In-Tu-It-Ion” b/w the pop effort “Bordertown Cathedral,” with a melody based loosely on “Cocktails For Two.” All of these recordings sank without a trace. Later in ’58, Townsend recalled, “Nat Cole brought me over to Capitol, I met him in Las Vegas when I was singing with Horace Heidt.”
Townsend’s breakthrough release, the powerful ballad, For Your Love/Over And Over Again on Capitol, which charted #13 nationally on April 21 and #7 on KFWB on June 14, 1958 used “the full sound of the combining of two gospel groups, one white, one black, in the background of this studio session.
Supplementing this background sound were Gwen Johnson and Betty Wright, who went to school with the Blossoms. Arranger Rene Hall recalled how Townsend was strongly opinionated about how he wanted the session to sound. “That would be an Ed Townsend trademark,” said Hall. “He liked background singers that sing in the Broadway production style and violas instead of violins. I only followed his style. He’d say, ‘get me plenty of violas and keep those high screechy things down as much as you can,’ that’s what he called violins.”
His next hit, “When I Grow Too Old To Dream” hit #59 nationally on Sept. 29 adn #34 pm KFWB on Oct. 11, 1958. Neither of these records score on the R&B chart. Townsend also hit with “And Then Came Love” on Challenge, #35 on KFWB on Nov. 24 and #24 on the Wallich’s Music City list on Nov. 20, 1961.
But according to Rene Hall, for “Ed Townsend as a singer, ‘For Your Love’ was his biggest and most sustained hit. The very title, ‘for your love, I would do anything,” something the average man or boy in love could easily say to his girlfriend and say, ‘this is a chance to have some impact.’ Titles have a lot to do with hit records, ‘for your love,’ this is an all-encompassing statement a singer is making.”