Managed by Providence, Louisiana's G. W. Griffin High School music teacher Bobby Moore, teenagers Henry Dixon, Fred "Sugar Bear" Wallace, Henry Lane, and Cliff Lee first came together as the Bar-Bs. Moore helped them land music scholarships at Paul Quinn College in Waco, Texas, and by 1970, the group picked up Johnny Smith and Classie Ballou, a guitar player 15 years their senior. After firing his back-up band, Ballou replaced them with the Bar-Bs, recommended by booking agent Dan "D" Fields in 1971. Renaming themselves Darker Shades of Black, Classie's reputation won them opening slots for Ike & Tina Turner and Betty Wright. They scheduled recording time at Austin's ACR studio, cutting the two-part "Trackin' Down Jody," their original answer song to Johnny Taylor's hit, issued on ACR's imprint and credited to Darker Shades Ltd. With a growing family back home in Waco, Ballou stopped touring in 1976, while Darker Shades lurched forward. They tracked a few sessions at Curtom, but by 1980 the Darker Shades were emitting no light whatsoever.