The story behind “Some Kind of Wonderful”

Bob Lefsetz wrote about the song “Some Kind of Wonderful,” made into a hit by Grand Funk Railroad, which prompted the song’s writer and original singer John Ellison, of the great, forgotten Soul Brothers Six, to respond. I found his story about how and why he wrote the song really great, and I love the original version of the song – which you can check out at the bottom of this post.

From: “W.J. Ellison”

Hi Bob,

Thanks for writing the article.

I would like to share a story with you, and fans, of how the phrase some kind of wonderful, came to be a song. I still remember that moment as if it was yesterday. My band, the Soul Brothers Six, had signed a recording contract with a small independent record label in Philadelphia that was owned by Walter Rayfield. We met Walter at a club in Rochester, New York where we played every weekend. He convinced us to sign a management contract, plus a recording contract with him, and invited our group to come to Philly to record.

The day we were leaving for Philadelphia, I stopped by the apartment of the girl I was dating, to say goodby. Her name was Ann White. She had packed me a lunch in a brown paper bag. We stood there in silence for a moment just looking at each other. I knew this was the last time I would see her, I knew she wanted more from me than I could give her, but she understood.  She  knew I had dreams that nothing could get in the way of. I gave her a hug, and we kissed. I looked at her and said, you are some kind of wonderful, I’m gonna write a song about you.

This was around 6am, I turned and walked towards the old 1960 Ford we had bought for the trip that was eaten up by rust. You could see the highway through the rusted out holes in the floor. After about four hours into the trip, I ate the sandwich Ann had prepared for me. After I finished the sandwich, I began writing the lyrics to some kind of wonderful on the bag she had packed my lunch in.

I don’t need a whole lots of money, I don’t need a big fine car, I’ve got everything that a man could want, I’ve got more, than I could ask for.

This is the reason for those first three lines. The first line was because at that moment, money could not make me feel the way I was feeling. Although I did not want a relationship with Ann, I did have feelings for her. This was something that money could not buy.

Regarding the big fine car, I knew I could be just as happy with her in the old rusted out Ford,as I would be in a brand new car because I would have everything that I could hope for. That’s how she made me feel.

Some Kind Of Wonderful was written in less than a half hour, which included the melody, the arrangement of all the music, which included the famous bass line that have been featured in many songs over the years and as the saying goes, the rest is history.

Because of the many turn of events that have happened in my life, I have
written my autobiography. The Soul Brother’s Six have a story that need to be told also. I am sure that one day, our story will be made into a movie.

Best regards,

John Ellison

3 replies
  1. Dan Guilfoyle
    Dan Guilfoyle says:

    John Ellison’s original with his Soul Brother’s Six is a classic. The song just oozes soul! I think he has returned to the Rochester area as he has popped up at various events over the last couple of years. I wonder if he found the girl he left behind all those years ago? Some Kind of Wonderful!

  2. Margaret Lott
    Margaret Lott says:

    I first heard Mr. Ellison when he was doing an interview on the radio a few years ago. I was driving in my car and was so fascinated that when I arrived at my destination (an appointment) I waited in my car to listen to the remainder of the interview. The inspiration of “Some Kind of Wonderful” just gave me goose-bumps. All I could think of was — what a nice, nice man. I enjoyed the interview immensely. Congratulations for being strong and fighting the odds! I’m so sorry that some people (talent show) were so terribly mean. You know the saying “what goes around, comes around” — hopefully that came true with that particular individual. What an inspiration Mr. Ellison is. I hope to be able to hear him sing(hopefully he is still singing) in the Hamilton area.

    Many thanks for sharing your incredible talent with us!

  3. Bonnie Stanley
    Bonnie Stanley says:

    I would like to be contacted by anyone that could give me more information about Walter Rayfield. I believe I met Mr. Ellis when Water died in 1982 . I would like to hear more about his life and What he knew about Walter Rayfield; good or bad. I never had a close relationship with him and have a lot of unanswered questions. I am Walter’s daughter and would like to talk to anyone that knew my father.
    thank you


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