The Trammps Featuring Earl Young Set to Make a Disco Cruise Splash [Interview]

Carol Ruth Weber
8 min readAug 27, 2018


The Trammps, formed in Philadelphia with the great Earl Young, became well-known for their top-selling disco hits that had folks dancing the night away under the glow of mirrored balls. Fans now have the chance to get up close and personal dancing along with The Trammps featuring Earl Young aboard the inaugural Ultimate Disco Cruise set to sail February 2019.

The Trammps Featuring Earl Young — Image Courtesy of Earl Young

Acknowledged for being the most legendary disco group, The Trammps entered the music scene in 1972. The original group featured vocalist, Jimmy Ellis, Harold Doc Wade, Stanley Wade and Young. Traveling with an array of outstanding musicians, The Trammps would be known to shine their presence with up to 11 members onstage at once. The Trammps featuring Earl Young continues the quest to delight admirers.

The Trammps Talent was Clear from the Start

Many of the bandmates worked together to not only perform, but also write the faved songs that put The Trammps on the map. They began as an R&B group before segueing into huge disco stardom. Before securing their first gold with “Disco Inferno,” released in 1977, the group had already earned accolades from fans. It is drummer Young who is credited with creating the Philly sound.

Released in 1972, the group’s remake of Judy Garland’s “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart” (Buddah Records) became the song masters first recording and first hit single. “Where Do We Go from Here,” on the self-titled The Trammps (Fleece/Columbia) 1976 album, had fans and Buddah Records wanting more. The aptly named “Legendary Zing Album” (Buddah Records) released in 1976, solidified The Trammps deserving fame. The truly legendary album featured their hits “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart,” “Pray All You Sinners,” “Sixty Minute Man,” along with new creations including “Hold Back the Night.”

The group made disco history with their album “Where the Happy People Go” (Atlantic Records) making its debut in 1976. With the songs “Disco Party,” “Hooked for Life” and “Soul Searchin’ Time,” the record was recognized with such Billboard honors as Best Disco Album, Best Disco Artist, Best Disco Single and Best Disco Single Unreleased. Earl Young received Best Disco Drummer for the album as well.

The Trammps Live Up to Best Disco Group Title

As The Trammps continued with recording sessions, they also found themselves touring to fulfil the wants of fans seeking to dance away to their favorite disco group live. The group metaphorically threw a match to ignite the dance craze flame with their hit “Disco Inferno,” from the same titled Atlantic album, in 1977.

With “Disco Inferno” leading as the anthem for the disco lovers it was the perfect addition to the 1978 movie “Saturday Night Fever.” The film, that showcases disco’s impact on lifestyles of the time, has John Travolta moving to “Disco Inferno” with dance fever inspired choreography by Deney Terrio.

The RSO Records movie soundtrack (1978) song won The Trammps a Best Album Grammy in 1979. “Disco Inferno” continued its climb to be the internationally acclaimed disco hymn with the disco masters being acknowledged as the best performing group by 2001 Space Odyssey — the famed New York club highlighted in “Saturday Night Fever.”

Earl Young Continues Spreading The Trammps Joyful Sound

As an original band member, and a writer for several of The Trammps songs, Young’s heart has stayed true to fans in his want to perform The Trammps music to live audiences. The Trammps Featuring Earl Young has traveled to bring music joy and notes performances on such highly regarded stages as the White House, Disneyland, and London’s Hammersmith Odeon.

The talented Young began drumming at an early age:

I learned on phone books and coffee cans. I started in the music business when I was 16 — first playing drums for a lot of Doo Wop groups.

The humble Young, who has been honored with five stars on the Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame on Broad Street, continues to wow audiences with his joyous sound.

Interview at Dance Fever 40th Anniversary Concert

The Trammps Featuring Earl Young at Dance Fever 40th Anniversary Concert -Image by Carol Ruth Weber

Carol Ruth Weber: How have you kept the music going all these years?

Earl Young: I guess I would say I have always loved music, and music has always been a part of me. I’m 78 years old and am blessed to be able to do what I do. As long as I have a show, I’ll keep performing — I am lucky to have a great wife who supports me.

CRW: As a drummer, how do you feel when described as the inventor of disco style drumming — and what sets disco style drumming aside from other styles?

EY: I would say, first of all, I love all music from jazz to country. I grew up with the Motown sound, Memphis sound, New York sound and California sound. I wanted to create a Philly sound. It’s four-on-the-floor — which means the base drum count is 1/4 with the high-hat on 16th note and snares on a 2/4 — that is the disco groove along with other elements fit in. The DJs can mix on that. Usually it is a 1/20 tempo that is the disco sound. The sound is on my record Disco Inferno — It is on Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes records, and many others.

I feel great because it is a one-of-a-kind thing and people try to copy my style. A lot of the music today still uses it, but without the high hat and bongo sound anymore.

CRW: What brought you and the other members together in 1972 to form The Trammps?

EY: We all used to sing with different groups. I had groups called the Exceptions and the Whirlwinds, who had the same people in them, and a group called the Volcanos. The Volcanos had a record called “Storm Warning.” When the groups broke up I took guys from both groups to form the Trammps. I couldn’t use the word Tramp because the group Supertramp was out the same time.

The first recording and first hit was “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart,” which I got from the B side of “Yakety Yack” by the Coasters.

In 1979 the original group broke up and moved to Holland and I didn’t want to go. The group I have now are with the same guys who have been with me for over 30 years — Antwon Young [no relation], Riny Rankin and Adrian Jackson.

CRW: What has kept you wanting to continue performing with The Trammps lineup?

EY: Money — but I would say for the love of music and love what I do. I look at it like a job I love to do. When I come to perform, I get myself in the mood to perform. I try not to bring my work home with me. When you bring work home you forget what you are about. When I get home I put my jeans on and play with the grandkids.

I get excited about working on the ships because they are great jobs. I just did an R&B cruise. It gives me a chance to get together to work with all the people I have known. I can’t wait for the Ultimate Disco Cruise so we can do our shows and party with fans. We are looking forward to meeting and greeting people on the ship and seeing old friends from the 70s.

CRW: Other than seeing the fans joyfully dance to your music, what else brings you joy?

EY: I go and do my drum shows and work in the studio to record albums. I have a room full of gold albums that is my museum for all the people I recorded with — BB King, Wilson Pickett, and Johnny Mathis.

My grandkids are my babies. They are my next generation that I am going to be pushing to do music.

CRW: Are you amazed at who you have covering The Trammps songs — such as Cyndi Lauper and Tina Turner?

EY: I am excited always when someone uses my song because I can go to my mailbox and get a check. Mary J. Blige and 50 Cent sampled my songs too. They use a song and I get paid.

CRW: With songs featured on countless movies beyond “Saturday Night Fever” do you continue to be amazed by their continued popularity?

EY: Absolutely — I still hear songs in commercials. I can go walk into malls and my car and hear not only my song, but songs that I have played drums on.

CRW: Why do you feel that disco is coming alive again and are you excited to be part of the fun on the Ultimate Disco Cruise?

EY: I don’t know — I feel that it never really-left because we have always continued to play. Only difference is that we don’t have huge bars with disco balls hanging from the ceiling. Venues still have good shows and we work all year.

CRW: Did you feel like a proud papa when “Disco Inferno” was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame on September 19, 2005?

EY: Yes, that was a great time. But it was a better time when I got two Grammys for the Trammps for “Saturday Night Fever” and another for MFSB for “Love is the Message” — best instrumental.

CRW: Have you ever gotten star truck- such as when Stevie Wonder played harmonica for The Trammps on “The Night the Lights Went Out,” and “Soul Bones”?

EY: No — he is an entertainer like me. He showed up and got paid. Nobody is any better than anybody else. Your job does not make anyone better than anyone else.

CRW: I see you released “Get Your Lovin While You Can” in 2014 — what are you plans for anymore new songs?

EY: Seriously I really-have no plans because in today’s market it is really-hard to get your record played because anyone can make a record these days. I would like to record but I don’t do it now.

Earl Young with The Trammps are not planning on leaving the scene. “Disco Inferno,” along with other hits continue to keep the music alive into the 21st Century. Cyndi Lauper notably covered the group’s well-known disco song at a 1998 live concert in New York City. In 2001 The Trammps made long-term and new fans happy with the compilation record release of “The Trammps ‎– All The Hits & The ‘Disco Inferno’.”

Fans of The Trammps Featuring Earl Young will be sure to fire up the dance floor as Young’s Trammps perform “Disco Inferno” aboard Gulf of Mexico Celebrity Ultimate Disco Cruise from February 14–19 in 2019. Boogying will be encouraged as Young and The Trammps get up close with the crowd to celebrate dance fun with their disco hits. Also on board to inspire dance party fun will be music host Bob Pantano, and the wonderful cruise host Deney Terrio.

In addition to The Trammps featuring Earl Young, the Ultimate Disco Cruise lineup will wow fans with many famed performers. Admirers will have the chance to see and dance with KC and The Sunshine Band, Kool & The Gang, Gloria Gaynor, the Village People, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Thelma Houston, and Musique — to name just a few.

To purchase cabins and find more info on the Ultimate Disco Cruise, go to

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Carol Ruth Weber

Carol’s objective is to write pieces that inspire and stimulate. Her work is seen on multiple platforms including Huff Post, CBS, NYNJ,, and many more.