Ralph Tavares, eldest of five brothers in R&B group Tavares, dies at 79

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Ralph Tavares, far right, of the R&B group Tavares, hailed from New Bedford.
Ralph Tavares, far right, of the R&B group Tavares, hailed from New Bedford.

Ralph Tavares of the musical group Tavares has died at 79. The singer would have turned 80 on Friday, Dec. 10.

Tavares died at his home in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts on Wednesday, the group's manager David Oriola said. His cause of death has not yet been released.

The Grammy-award winning soul group featured Ralph Tavares and his four other brothers, Antone Laurence "Chubby" Tavares, Perry Lee "Tiny" Tavares, Feliciano Vierra "Butch" Tavares Jr., and Arthur Paul "Pooch" Tavares. Ralph Tavares was the eldest of the brothers.

In 1975, the brothers released their smash hit "It Only Takes a Minute." A string of hits followed including “Heaven Must be Missing an Angel” and “More Than a Woman.”

Hailing from New Bedford, Massachusetts, Ralph Tavares worked at the New Bedford and Fall River courts in for over 30 years, retiring in 2015.

“He was still rehearsing and playing,” said Quinn Feno, assistant chief court officer in Fall River. He worked with Tavares at the New Bedford and Fall River courts for about 12 years altogether.

“We became best of friends outside the courthouse,” Feno said. The two texted often and would get together monthly, and on Veteran’s Day or head to Foxwoods every now and then.

Quinn Feno worked with Ralph Tavares for many years while Tavares was a court officer in New Bedford and Fall River.
Quinn Feno worked with Ralph Tavares for many years while Tavares was a court officer in New Bedford and Fall River.

“He was very humble, but he would love to tell us stories about Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder or the Bee Gees,” Feno said, adding the stories were “unreal,” but that Ralph Tavares never bragged about his celebrity. “They just played at Myrtle Beach in October.”

Tavares won a Grammy in 1978 for the single “More Than a Woman” on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, which won Album of the Year.

The group was nominated for a Grammy in 1982 for their hit single “A Penny for Your Thoughts.” They had six gold and two platinum albums, a Grammy Award and fans around the world when, in 1984, Ralph Tavares quit.

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He reunited with the group in 2014 and continued performing with his brothers until his death.

“They had a show booked for Saturday night in the Poconos," Oriola said. ”We were going to celebrate his 80th birthday."

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Contributing: Andrew Dalton, Associated Press

This article originally appeared on Standard-Times: Ralph Tavares death: Eldest of R&B quintet Tavares dies at 79