40+ years of History

For over 40 years, The Blacklites have been entertaining crowds with their unique and extremely high energy performances in every type of venue. From black tie galas, private parties, corporate events, weddings outdoor events, wineries and festivals. The Blacklites captivate their audiences of all ages with their brand of R&B funk from the soul. 

The Blacklites started in 1972, merging musicians from Syracuse's east and south sides. They toured the New England states from 1977 to 1978, and were offered a contract by Boston producer Maurice Starr. However, they had a five-year deal in Syracuse they could not break. In the interim, they had recorded the song "Candy Girl" for Starr. After his Boston company could not get them out of their Syracuse deal, they heard a Starr-produced band by the name of New Edition sing "Candy Girl" on the radio. They went their own way after that. But in 1999, Syracuse common coucil member Mike Atkins, brother of guitarist Emmanuel Atkins, convinced them to reunite for Juneteenth. "There were 15 of us on stage," says Brown. "Six of us decided to take it from there and still play." 

R&B Funk Show Band

"Try to Understand" was a Blacklites original out on a vinyl 45. In the mid-1970's, disc jockeys Rick Wright and Jim Martin used to play the song regularly on Syracuse AM station WOLF (1490). "We shared loaves of bread and three dollars' worth of lunch meat," James Patterson says. In 1978 that got old. The singing stopped for The Blacklites. They remained silent for 21 years. "We took 20 years off to have babies and get day jobs and important things like that," Atkins says. 

The young people of Syracuse needed to see an example of that all-for-one bond that made The Blacklites special. So the band reunited for the 1999 Juneteenth celebration. Some of the originals had moved. To keep the big stage show, the originals enlisted Teddy Boileau on drums, Jimmy Spivey and/or Ron Dorsey o bass, and a horn section of Dave Frateschi (sax), Jeff Stockham (trumpet) and Joe Colombo (trombone). 

The Blacklites message of unity is reaching the younger generation, and that helps keep the band together. We entertain with our showmanship. We enjoy what we're doing and we try to make people happy and feel good.

Latest News

The BlackLites perform at the Jazz in the City, 2009


Mark Bialczak's article on regarding this year's Jazz in the City. 

"The 2009 Jazz in the City concert series will bring three Thursday evening shows to Syracuse neighborhoods this summer. 

The series kicks off July 30 with a show…

Read more

The Blacklites and Gary Heffron from Retro Designs


The Blacklites met up with Gary Heffron from a moment in time Retro Designs at the paradise market for our recent valentine show on 2/13/11.  
We took a break for this photographic moment with gary and the blacklites!  What an…

Read more