Before Walter "Clyde" Orange joined the Commodores in the summer of
1969, he sang and played drums in his own group called The J-Notes. Walter, who was
influenced by jazz, hailed from Florida and began playing drums in junior high-school. He
was the only Commodore that majored in music, but not at The Tuskegee Institute like the
others, Walter graduated from Alabama State College (he was three years older than the
other guys in The Commodores too). Initially "Clyde" was the group's lead
vocalist, only occasionally sharing the microphone with Lionel Richie. Eventually, Lionel
became more and more featured as the lead singer, especially on the ballads. But Walter
sang lead on many of The Commodores' funkiest uptempo numbers, such as "Young Girls
Are My Weakness", "Brick House" and "Too Hot Ta Trot".
Among the songs Clyde
wrote are "Don't You Be Worried" (The Commodores' second 45 on MoWest),
"Wide Open", "(Can I) Get A Witness", "Can't Let You Tease
Me", "Squeeze The Fruit", "Such A Woman", "This Love",
"Been Loving You" and "Bump De La La".
Walter co-wrote "I
Feel Sanctified" (with the group and Jeffrey Bowen), "Gonna Blow Your Mind"
(with Milan Williams), "Slippery When Wet" (with Thomas McClary), "You
Don't Know That I Know", "Let's Get Started", "Brick House",
"Too Hot Ta Trot" (with the group), "I Like What You Do" (with Lionel
Richie), "Gettin' It" and "All The Way Down" (with David Cochrane from
the Mean Machine).
For "13" in
1983, the first LP with newly recorded material that The Commodores released after Lionel
had launched his solo-career, Walter produced"Nothing Like A Woman" (written
with Harold Hudson from the Mean Machine) and "Touchdown" (with Michael Dunlap
from the Mean Machine ). Walter also wrote "Nightshift" (with Dennis Lambert and
Franne Gold), "Serious Love" (with Harold Hudson and V. Redding) and together
with Steve Harvey, produced "Bump The La La", "Grrip" (the latter
written by Orange with Jennine Elcock) and "I'm Gonna Need Your Loving" (with
Pamela Phillips Oland). In addition, Walter co-produced "So Nice" with William
King and Tony Prendatt.
Today, Walter and William King are the
only members left in the Commodores from the original line-up.