The group - known as The Rays and The El Rays before settling on The Dells - formed in Harvey, Illinois in 1952, where they spent a few years singing at ice cream parlors and on street corners before getting a deal in 1955 with the esteemed Chicago label Chess Records to release a single, which flopped. The next year, they signed with Vee Jay and released "Oh What A Nite," which became a big hit, reaching #4 on the R&B chart. They toured the chitlin' circuit until 1958, which they got in a devastating car accident that put an end to the group until 1960, with John Carter replacing Funches.
Back with Chess, they had a revival in the late '60s, scoring a #1 R&B hit with "Stay In My Corner" in 1968. In 1969, they re-recorded "Oh What A Night" at the behest of label owner Leonard Chess. Produced by Bobby Miller, this new version had a radically different arrangement and tempo, and even a new title: "Oh What A Night." It also went to #1 on the R&B chart and reached #10 on the Hot 100.