Odds & Ends were a family affair, consisting of siblings Wanda (December 29, 1952) and Larry Butler (January 31, 1951), and Jim Grant (August 26, 1955); Grant had a different father but the same mother. Originally from Dorchester, GA, the youngsters sang in school and church before moving to Philadelphia when Wanda, aka Doll, was 13.
Philly's fast-talking disc jockeys Sonny "the Mighty Burner" Hobson and Jerry "the Geater with the Heater" Blavatt fascinated the Southern teens. Naturally talented, they formed Doll and the Odds & Ends and worked up some secular songs. Mom's (Regina Grant) basement doubled as a rehearsal room for her kids. Doll and Larry did a Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell takeoff, but Mom wanted Jim involved and they acquiesced. Jim didn't like singing -- he hated it. Larry had to pay his younger brother to rehearse, but he did enjoy dancing and busting moves while Doll and Larry performed. Jim's only solos through Odds & Ends' existence were Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" and Edwin Starr's "Twenty Five Miles." Mrs. Grant encouraged them to sing together because she sang gospel with her siblings and cousins in Georgia but never got anywhere.
They rehearsed diligently and were accompanied in Mom's basement by Kenneth Jackson (guitar), Tyrone Braxton (piano), Kenny Stone (xylophone), and a drummer. These musicians were history, however, when the trio started recording. Robert Hawes assumed the managerial duties after observing them perform at family gigs, such as cookouts and weddings.
Hawes got the ears of Bobby Martin and Thom Bell; an audition followed, and soon the group signed with Today Records as Odds & Ends. The first release, "Let Me Try" (August 1970) -- produced by Bobby Martin -- was an irresistible beat ballad that sold well in Philly, Jersey, and New York, but never broke nationally; Doll sang lead in a totally engaging style that defied her age. Many believed Odds & Ends was a female group because Larry and Jim sang extremely high; the flip side "Foot Track" was a frantic, up-tempo number.
At their first recording session Doll was pregnant with her first son, Keith, which didn't set well with her producers or recording company. By the age of 18, Doll was married, with a kid. If this wasn't enough, Bell and Martin, both arrangers, began quibbling over arrangements and productions. Their next single, "Love Makes the World Go 'Round" (January 1971), was a creamy floater produced by Thom Bell that rivaled Deon Jackson's original. It was their biggest recording but they don't think so because their bookings didn't increase. They did see an improvement with their third single, "Who Could Doubt My Love," a slight rip of Holland-Dozier-Holland's "Who Could Ever Doubt My Love" b/w "Foot Track"; Bell's writing partner, Linda Creed, joined on backing vocals. It was the last time Bell worked with them. The increase in live work was a carryover from the impact "Love Makes the World Go Round" made on the charts. Terry Philips produced "Give Me Something" b/w "Who Could Doubt My Love" in December of 1971. But Bell left, and Martin soon followed, killing a proposed album. The final Odds & Ends single "Talk That Talk" b/w a remake of Jay & the Techniques' "Apple Peaches Pumpkin Pie" -- both written by Maurice Irby and produced by Patrick Adams -- should have been a two-sided hit, but languished in obscurity despite outstanding vocals by Doll.
After five singles Odds & Ends was history. Jim never sang again. According to Doll, "BMI sent Jim a big royalty performance check, but didn't send me or Larry one." They later discovered the check was intended for James Grant, a Philly songwriter who wrote "Stop to Start" (Blue Magic) and "La La at the End" (Little Anthony & the Imperials).
Explaining the songwriting collaboration with her brothers, Doll says "Larry would doodle some lyrics, I smoothed them out and if the song was a ballad I added a verse; Larry finished the melody, and Jim added background parts." A younger brother, Michael, also got pushed by Mom but suffered from incurable stage fright.
Near the end of the '70s they formed Unity which consisted of Doll, Larry, and Mark King; the trio recorded for United Artists Records. Perception/Today kept the name Odds & Ends, hence the change. The same three also recorded as Three Million on Cotillion Records, changing names again when the label claimed ownership of Unity. Larry left music around 1991 after failing to get the Butlers, a gospel group consisting of him, Doll, and their Mom, Regina, off the ground after recording nearly an album's worth of material; Jim owns a hauling business; Doll, whose married name is Wanda Maultasby, has been inactive since 1994 when her third manager, Reggie Wilder, died -- Wilder was pushing her as a solo act, something she regretted not doing years before. ~ Andrew Hamilton, Rovi