Ralph Tavares of R&B group Tavares dies at 79

The group's eldest brother passed away just days shy of his 80th birthday — and a Tavares concert where they'd celebrate it.

The eldest member of the family R&B group Tavares has died. 

Ralph Tavares passed away on Dec. 8, just two days shy of his 80th birthday, according to Black America Web

The Grammy Award-winning group was comprised of five brothers: Ralph, Antone Laurence “Chubby” Tavares, Perry Lee “Tiny” Tavares, Feliciano Vierra “Butch” Tavares Jr. and Arthur Paul “Pooch” Tavares. 

The brothers in the R&B vocal group Tavares: (from left) Vierra “Butch” Tavares Jr., Antone Laurence “Chubby” Tavares, Ralph Vierra Tavares, Arthur Paul “Pooch” Tavares and Perry Lee “Tiny” Tavares. (Photo: Getty Images)

Natives of New Bedford, Massachusetts, the brothers are of Cape Verdean descent. They founded the group in the 1950s, performing as Chubby and the Turnpikes when the youngest was only 9 years old. They released a few songs, but their biggest hits came in the 1970s, when they changed the group name to Tavares. 

In 1975, they released “It Only Takes a Minute,” a hit single, and followed it up with other soul classics, including “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel” and “More Than a Woman.” The latter earned the group a Grammy Award and was featured on the classic ’70s movie soundtrack, Saturday Night Fever. 

The group released 12 albums, with their final one, Words and Music, in 1983. 

When Ralph left the group in 1984, he took a position at the New Bedford and Fall River Courts, where he worked for more than 30 years before retiring in 2015. Around the time of his retirement, he reunited with the group and toured with his brothers right up until his death. 

“He was still rehearsing and playing,” said Quinn Feno, assistant chief court officer in Fall River, according to USA Today. Reno worked with Ralph Tavares for 12 years. “We became best of friends outside the courthouse.” 

“He was very humble, but he would love to tell us stories about Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder or the Bee Gees,” Feno said. His pal never bragged about his show business life but would often regale friends with “unreal” stories about his career. 

The group’s manager, David Oriola, who confirmed his passing, said the family had a gig scheduled on Saturday night, where they planned to celebrate Ralph’s birthday.

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