Oscar Toney Jr. was born in 1939, and grew up in Columbus, Ohio. He began his singing career in the gospel group The Sensational Melodies Of Joy, before moving into secular music with The Searchers (not the English group of the same name of course), who he was with from 1958 to 1961. In 1960 he recorded a few sides as a solo artist, but none of these were released at the time (one of them later came out in 1964 on King Records, but went nowhere).
His big break came when he was discovered by producer Papa Don Schroeder, who got him signed to Bell Records. He took him to Chips Moman's American Sound Studios in Memphis, where he recorded a cover of Jerry Butler & The Impressions' "For Your Precious Love". It was a remarkable interpretation, featuring a lengthy sermon-like spoken introduction (it actually took up about half of the record!). Released as a single, it got to #4 on the R&B chart and #23 on the pop chart, and so had the potential to establish Toney as a big name in the world of soul music.
An albums worth of material was recorded at American Sounds, and released in 1967 as For Your Precious Love. It mostly consisted of cover material, including the Chips Moman / Dan Penn classics "Dark End Of The Street" and "Do Right Woman - Do Right Man", Jerry Butler's "He Don't Love You", the showtune "Moon River" (which Butler himself had also recorded), Bobby Bland's "Turn On Your Love Light" (which was also released as a single and was a #37 R&B hit) and Burt Bucharach's "Any Day Now". It was a brilliant album, the instrumental backing of The Memphis Boys (the studio's house band) combined with tasteful string arrangements.
Sadly Oscar Toney Jr. has never managed to repeat the success of "For Your Precious Love", and so remains a vastly under-appreciated singer to this day.
|> I've Been Loving You Too Long To Stop Now... (1975)