Major Lance (April 4, 1939 – September 3, 1994) was an American R&B singer. After a number of US hits in the 1960s, including “The Monkey Time” and “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um“, he became an iconic figure in Britain in the 1970s among followers of Northern soul.
Major Lance was born in Winterville, Mississippi. ‘Major’ was his given forename; it was not a nickname or stage name. As a child, he relocated with his family to Chicago, attending Wells High School — the same school as Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler — taking up boxing and also singing as a member of the Five Gospel Harmonaires. In the mid-1950s, he and singer Otis Leavill formed a group, the Floats, who broke up before recording any material. Lance became a featured dancer on a local TV show, and presenter Jim Lounsbury secured him a one-off record deal with Mercury Records, who released his single “I Got a Girl”, written and produced by Curtis Mayfield, in 1959. The record was not successful, and Lance worked at various jobs over the next few years.