b. 1944, Buffalo, New York, USA. Courtney had a minor impact on the soul music scene in the 60s with a series of dance hits that could be considered a proto-funk style.
He made his first record for Imperial Records in 1962, but much of his work over the next few years was behind the scenes, writing with producer Dennis Lambert; he wrote songs for artists such as Mary Wells and Chubby Checker under the pseudonym Louis Pegues. In 1966, Courtney signed with Riverside Records and began recording a series of dance hits that made him a national star, notably ‘Skate Now’ (number 13 R&B, number 70 pop) from 1967, and ‘Do The Thing’ (number 17 R&B, number 80 pop). He went to Buddah Records in 1968 and recorded ‘Tryin’ To Find My Woman’, which did not chart at the time of its release but later became a cult favourite among UK northern soul fans. Courtney spent a period as lead vocalist with the Packers (who recorded ‘Go Ahead’). In 1973, he began working with producer Jerry Ragovoy, and had a hit single with ‘What Do You Want Me To Do’ (number 48 R&B) on Epic. A second single on the label, ‘I Don’t Need Nobody Else’ (number 67 R&B) from 1974, was Lou Courtney’s last chart record. His new band Buffalo Smoke released an album on RCA Records in 1976, but their proto-disco style failed to make a commercial impact. Little has been heard of Courtney since the end of the 70s, although on rare occasions he has come out of retirement to perform one-off live shows.