WASHINGTON - Harold Winley sang "Love Potion No. 9" and other hits with the R&B group The Clovers in the 1950s, but now the 80-year-old says another group is trying to keep him from performing using the band's name.
Winley says he was in his teens when he and four other singers started performing as The Clovers in the Washington area. The R&B group played at Washington's Apollo Theater, eventually signed with Atlantic Records and celebrated when "Love Potion No. 9" became their biggest hit in 1959.
"It was great," said Winley, who now lives in Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. "We didn't make no money but we had a lot of fun."
The group's success fell off in the 1960s, however. And that's when things got more complicated, leading to a lawsuit filed earlier this year in federal court in Washington.
Winley and another band mate, Harold Lucas, went on to perform with separate musical groups that called themselves The Clovers, and Harold Lucas' group eventually trademarked the name in the 1980s. Lucas died in 1994, but two of the men he trademarked the group's name with continue to use it when performing.
Winley says the group has threatened venues who have booked him when he's used The Clovers' name, forcing organizers to cancel his shows at least twice. That's why he filed his lawsuit.
"It is our position that when people come to see The Clovers they expect that they are going to see Harold Winley or another original member of The Clovers," said Winley's lawyer, Brad Newberg.
Winley says his bass voice is still strong and he'd like to perform as much as possible. But if he goes on stage, he said, "I want to go on stage as The Clovers." He recently tried filing a trademark application for "The Original Clovers featuring Harold Winley" but was denied.
A lawyer representing the two men who hold The Clovers trademark did not return several telephone calls and an e-mail requesting comment. The attorney previously filed a court document asking that the lawsuit be dismissed.