Wilmer & The Dukes

Class of 2015

R&B band Wilmer & The Dukes (active 1957 to 1974) hit the national “Billboard Hot 100” in 1968 with the band’s first single “Give Me One More Chance,” an original dance track by guitarist Doug Brown. The popular song got heavy play on stations in several states and was a top 40 hit in East Coast markets and in Arizona and California. It has been said that inspiration for the band Otis Day & The Knights from the movie Animal House was Elmer & The Dukes.

Wilmer & The Dukes originated in Geneva, N.Y., formed by Wilmer Alexander Jr., Ronnie Alberta, and Ralph Gillotte, and later joined by Brown and Monte Alberta. The band was known as the no. 1 party band in Upstate New York and has been called “the tightest soul band of the 1960s.” Many of their followers also claim “no other live band could ever generate this much excitement” and that Wilmer & The Dukes set the bar for dance hall an club music. They performed at numerous locations, including colleges and clubs, such as the Pittsford Inn, Geneva’s Club 86, and Buffalo’s The Inferno.

After seven years of playing the local circuit, arrangements were made for the group to cut their first recordings with Buffalo-based Aphrodisiac Records. Wilmer & The Duke released a handful of singles and only one album but their following remained dedicated and strong — and many fans wore out their LPs from overplay. At one time the band was courted for signing by Motown.

In 1988, the group reformed for a series of sold-out benefit concerts. Being inducted in the Rochester Music Hall of Fame are band members Wilmer Alexander Jr. (vocals, sax), Ron Alberta (drums, percussion), Doug Brown (lead guitar), and the late Monte Alberta (bass) and Ralph Gillotte (keyboards, backing vocals). Bob Egan bass.