The Trammps were an American disco and soulband, who were based in Philadelphia and were one of the first disco bands. The band's first major success was with their 1972 cover version of "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart". The first disco track they released was "Love Epidemic" in 1973. However, they are best known for their Grammy winning song, "Disco Inferno", originally released in 1976 becoming a UK pop hit and US R&B hit, then re-released in 1978 and becoming a US pop hit. The music journalist Ron Wynn noted "the Trammps' prowess can't be measured by chart popularity; Ellis' booming, joyous vocals brilliantly championed the celebratory fervor and atmosphere that made disco both loved and hated among music fans."
The seeds of the Trammps grew from the 1960s outfit, the Volcanos, who later became the Moods. With a number of line-up changes by the mid 1970s the band membership included Jimmy Ellis, Barrington McDonald (guitarist and a founding member), Norman Harris and Earl Young with Stanley Wade plus Robert Upchurch joining later on. Their debut chart entry came via their upbeat cover version of "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart", a Top 20 US R&B chart hit in 1972.
Their single "Disco Inferno" (1976), which was included on the Grammy Award winning Saturday Night Fever soundtrack in 1977, reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1978.
Other major hits included "Hold Back the Night" (1975) (UK #5) and "That's Where the Happy People Go" (1976). In late 1977, the Trammps released the song "The Night the Lights Went Out" to commemorate the electrical blackout that affected New York on July 13, 1977.
Their signature song, "Disco Inferno", has been covered by Tina Turner and Cyndi Lauper. In addition, Graham Parker covered "Hold Back The Night" on the "The Pink Panther EP" in 1977, and reached #20 in the UK Singles Chart, and Top 60 in the US.
On September 19, 2005, the groups' signature record "Disco Inferno" was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame at a ceremony held in New York. During the ceremony, the original band members performed together for the first time in twenty five years.
Two versions of the group, with differing line-ups, currently tour the nostalgia circuit.
On March 8, 2012, lead singer Jimmy Ellis died at a nursing home in Rock Hill, South Carolina, at the age of 74. The cause of death was not immediately known but he suffered from Alzheimers' disease.