Home People The Story of Nolan Porter, R&B Singer and Songwriter

The Story of Nolan Porter, R&B Singer and Songwriter

Nolan Porter, an American R&B singer and songwriter born on May 10, 1949, in Los Angeles, made a significant impact in the music industry during the early 1970s.

219
Nolan Porter

Nolan Porter, an American R&B singer and songwriter born on May 10, 1949, in Los Angeles, made a significant impact in the music industry during the early 1970s. Although he only recorded two albums and six singles, Porter’s unique style and soulful voice garnered him a dedicated following. His most famous song, “Keep On Keeping On,” gained even more popularity after the Manchester and Salford band Joy Division used the guitar riff from Porter’s track for their hit “Interzone” in 1978.

Porter began his recording career in 1971 with a rendition of Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love,” released on the Lizard label. He followed up with two more 45s on the same label, including “Keep On Keeping On.” Porter later switched to ABC for his final two 45 releases, with “If I Could Only Be Sure” becoming a hit and even covered by Paul Weller on his Studio 150 album in 2004. Porter also recorded “Groovin’ (Out On Life)” under the pseudonym Frederick II on Gabriel Mekler’s Vulture label, which became a minor R&B hit.

In 1970, Porter released his first album, No Apologies, on Mekler’s Lizard imprint. The album featured songs by notable artists such as Steve Cropper, Booker T Jones, and Randy Newman, as well as Porter’s original tracks. Former members of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention provided much of the instrumentation, with Lowell George contributing guitar parts. Despite the album’s critical acclaim, Porter struggled to achieve commercial success.

Porter’s second and final album, Nolan, was released in August 1972. It included four new songs and re-recorded mixes of older tracks such as “Groovin (Out On Life)” and “If I Could Only Be Sure.” Unfortunately, the album failed to attract much attention, and Mekler’s labels collapsed towards the end of 1973, ending Porter’s short recording career. Though he recorded material later in the decade, it remained unreleased.

Despite his recording career ending prematurely, Porter continued to perform in nightclubs in Los Angeles as a musician and comedian. He also took his talent overseas, performing in clubs in Spain and the United Kingdom.