Remembering Robert Louis Debarge, Jr.

September 15, 2007

Robert Louis DeBarge, Jr.

Born 3/5/1956  – Died 8/16/1995 in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Bobby Emotes

Short Bio & Condolence Cards

There’ll Never Be: A Tribute To Bobby DeBarge
(scroll midway down the page)
Reviewer: David Wayne of Santee, CA United States

Bobby’s legacy is his two children Christian and Bobby III.

Career Highlights

Studio Recordings:

  • With Switch:  Switch, 1978 Gordy; Switch II, 1979 Gordy ; This Is My Dream, 1980 Gordy ; Reach For Tomorrow, 1980 Gordy; The Best of Switch:The Millennium Collection, 2001 Motown
  • With Smash: Smash, 1979 Source Records #3083 (Distributed by MCA Records)
  • With DeBarge: Bad Boys, 1987 Striped Horse #SHL2004
  • Solo: It’s Not Over, A&E CD305 Released Aug 1,1995

Guest Appearances:

  • “Barry White Presents White Heat”, 1975 RCA #AVS-4317
    Track 6 – I’ve Been So Lonely Without You – co-writer
    Keyboards? Vocals? (I am not sure of the extent of Bobby’s participation, but Bobby is pictured at a keyboard on the back photo of the LP.)
  • Bunny DeBarge – “In Love”, 1987 Motown Record Corporation
    Side Two-Track 3 – Let’s Spend The Night
    Co-writer, co-arranger and background vocals
  • Devious Steve – “Where I Stay”, 1994 Grand Land Entertainment
    Track 8 – It’s a Mad World – featured vocalist w/ Jeffrey Valantine

Note on this album: “This LP is dedicated:
In Loving Memory of Robert DeBarge
March 5, 1956 – August 16, 1995
Redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb”

Song Writing Credits:

  • For Writer ROBERT LOUIS DEBARGE on ASCAP’s ACE Database website:
    Co-writer on: What’s Your Name (Title Code: 5303263457)
  • For Writer ROBERT L. DEBARGE on EMI Music Publishing web site:
    As Solo writer on: All I Need Is You; Best Beat in Town
    As Co-writer on:
    All Night Love
    All to tha G
    Always Be With Me
    Don’t Take My Love Away
    From Your Love
    Hold On to My Love
    I Call Your Name
    I Didn’t Mean It
    I Should Have Told You So
    I Think I’m In Love
    I Wanna Be With You
    It’s Not Easy
    Let’s Spend The Night
    Love Over and Over Again
    My Friend in the Sky
    No Hooks
    Playin’ On Me
    Po No Mo
    Power to Dance
    Take It Back To ’85
    The Spot
    This Is My Dream
    Turn It Out
    We Like To Party (Come On)
    What’s Your Name
    Why’d You Let Love Fall
    You And I
    You’re The One For Me

*  *  *

Some of my Favorite Songs written by and featuring Bobby DeBarge on lead tenor Include:

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Switch – My Friend In The Sky from the 1980 LP “Reaching for Tomorrow” . The album charted #23 R&B & #57 Pop.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Switch – Love Over and Over Again from the 1980 release “This Is My Dream.” The album charted  #21 R&B in 1980 and #85 Pop in 1981. The single “LO&OA” peaked the R&B Charts at #9.

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Bobby DeBarge – Good Time (1995) from Bobby’s final solo project “It’s Not Over.”

*  *  *

TV/Video Appearances (;my personal video tape collection; HistoricFilms.Com & Makaiisa)

  • With Switch on Soul Train #225. Season 7, Episode 2  Original Air Date 08/27/1977. Jermaine Jackson introduced “Switch” as his new discovery.
  • With Switch on The Merv Griffin Show
    Original Air Date 12/07/1978. “There’ll Never Be” and “I Wanna Be Closer”
  • With Switch on Soul Train #281, Season 8, Episode 19
    Original Air Date 12/23/1978. Lipsynched “There’ll Never Be” and “I Wanna Be Closer”
With Switch on Rock Concert (1979)

With Switch on Rock Concert (1979)

  • With Switch on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, Reel# – VM-1824.
    Originally aired in 1970. Live performance of “I Wanna Be Closer” and “There’ll Never Be.”
  • With Switch on Soul Train #306, Season 9, Episode 4
    Original Air Date 10/13/1979. Lipsynched “Best Beat in Town” and “I Call Your Name”
  • With DeBarge on American Bandstand # 2754, Season 31, Episode 4
    Original Air Date 10/10/1987. Lipsynched “Dance all Night”
DeBarge on Punky Brewster #45

With DeBarge on Punky Brewster #45 (1987)

  • With DeBarge on Punky Brewster #45
    Reading, Writing and Rock & Roll. Original Air Date 10/30/87 on NBC
With DeBarge on Soul Train #550

With DeBarge on Soul Train #550

  • With DeBarge on Soul Train #550, Season 17, Episode 8
    Original Air Date 11/07/1987. Lipsynched “Dance all Night” and “I Got You Babe”

This page was last updated 09/20/2007, 12/18/2007, 10/13/2008, 11/28/08
This page is Copyright SonDan 2004-2008 All Rights Reserved

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 B.VERGARA July 8, 2008 at 9:12 pm

Bobby DeBarge and Switch also appeared on The Merv Griffin Show. Sorry, but I don’t remember what year or episode or remember what song they performed but I do remember is when Merv Griffin introduced the band, he commented that the reason why they call themselves Switch is because while they are playing they will “switch” instruments.. how funny is that? I will try to scour the net to see if I could find some info on this appearance. I’m just another old schooler, graduated Mira Mesa High 1983. Thanks for the Memories!


2 sondan July 8, 2008 at 11:20 pm


I can’t thank you enough for that bit of information. I will be away from my pc this weekend, but I guarantee you that next weekend I will be trying to hunt down when Switch appeared on Merv’s show and update this tribute page accordingly when my pc and I re-unite. (How did we live without pc’s before?)

I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to write me about this. According to my Wordpress statistics, this page is one of the most popular on my blog, but as you can see folks tend to not leave comments, so I never know what they think about this page nor have I gotten and additional input.

I remember the Merv Griffin show vividly. I grew up in the “Variety/Talk Show” era. Staying home from school when sick was meant a day bundled up on the living room couch — taking meds and watching the daytime talk shows.

I am surprised that Merv had on Switch though. What about “The Mike Douglas Show”? Mike seemed to be a little more “hipper” then Merv (LOL)

I did just quickly find out that “The Merv Griffin” Show ended on 09/06/78 and even though Jermaine Jackson introduced Switch on “Soul Train” in 1977 they did not have a national chart hit until 1978 when the single “There’ll Never Be” was released and charted #36 Pop and #6 R&B and their first Lp was released and charted #37 Pop and #6 R&B.

Therefore that leaves a very short window between the 1978 release of the “Switch” chart toppers (I will have to look up those dates) and the end of Merv’s show in 1978 when he would possibly have the group appear. I will check in here when I get a chance to research it further.

Oh well, if you find out anything more please do let me know. We “Old Schoolers” gotta stick together. :-)

Thanks again for stopping by and sharing.



3 sondan July 9, 2008 at 12:07 am

Uh Oh – the plot thickens. There was a late night version of the Merv Griffin show from 2/11/72 to 6/6/86 if this information from WIKI is correct:

The Merv Griffin Show is a long-running American television talk show, starring singer Merv Griffin. The series ran from October 6, 1962 to June 2, 1963 on NBC, September 20, 1965 to September 26, 1969 in first-run syndication, from September 29, 1969 to September 1, 1972 at 11:30 PM ET weeknights on CBS and again in first-run syndication from February 11, 1972 to June 6, 1986.

Hmm — this seems to contradict Tv.Com, but it is late and I could be confused so I am off to bed. B.VERGARA you really got me on the run now ;-)


4 Makaiisa October 10, 2008 at 11:38 pm

Switch appeared on The Merv Griffin show 12/7/78. I actually have that performance. They did “There’ll Never Be” and “We Like To Party”. Jodie led on WLTP and Bobby was on drums! All the guys looked great!


5 iluvbobbydebarge November 4, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Hey if you have a performance of Switch why havent you posted it yet? What are you waiting for? Dont play with my emotions I would love to see the performance, you have got to post it! I really hope you get this message


6 Muzqueman April 28, 2010 at 5:10 am

Hello, I am a big fan of Switch and The DeBarge. Is there any footage out there of them? I can’t find anything. I know the DeBarge only did 1 video. I would love to have the Don Kirsherner show with Switch as well as The Merv Griffin Show. Someone please get back to me.


7 sondan October 13, 2008 at 8:53 pm

A big hug to you Makaiisa for solving the Merv Griffin mystery. My research yielded nothing so you have saved the day! (LOL) I have updated my “Tribute” page accordingly and plan to try to really make the time to add the long awaited music to the page as well now that the days are shorter and the nights are longer.

I do have one additional question though — were they singing live to the Merv Griffith Orchestra, or to a track or just lip synching?

Again, my sincere thanks for your input and taking time out to share that information.

From one Switch fan to another –




8 Mark Taylor December 10, 2008 at 1:31 pm

Thank you for putting this together. Bobby was the star of the o so talented Debarge family, he had it all. He was supposed to be Michael Jackson. I love El also, but he wasn’t Bobby. I do not believe that I am being negative by saying that either, just telling the truth. Wasted talent,it’s so sad. I guess to whom much is given, much is expected. Thank you again.


9 john news December 10, 2008 at 8:26 pm

is there a SWITCH dvd or live peformance videos?


10 Nikki December 16, 2008 at 3:05 pm

Hello to everyone on this board I am twenty years old and I have listened to the debarge’s music and i love it. i play the crap out of “there’ll never be” and the group debarge’s song song “I like it”. I just wanted to let you all know on you tube there is a video of a switch performance. just type in switch and there’ll never be/I wanna be closer.


11 sondan December 16, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Welcome Nikki. I am so glad to know that Generation X and beyond are listening to and appreciating classic old school music such as that of Bobby DeBarge and Switch. Glad to have you here at OSML.


12 Darryl December 27, 2008 at 12:21 am

Thank you for this informative site/message board. has a great story about the Debarge family titled, “The Rise and Fall of the DeBarge Family.” It was written in August 2007. Bobby DeBarge was very talented and unfortunately also very tormented. Again, thank you for this site.


13 Kasey January 2, 2009 at 8:11 pm

Thanks for this site. I have been a huge DeBarge fan ever since my dad played their records back in the day. I love this family and I seriously think the world of them.

I was so happy that I was able to watch the Switch performance on YouTube when they were on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. This was my first time seeing them perform, so that was a real treat. There was something about Bobby that just made you like him a lot during his performances. He seemed like a real cool dude who unfortunately had terrible demons that took over his life. : (


14 MonieLuv February 24, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Thank you for this website. I have always loved El Debarge and when I watched the TVOne Unsung documentary on the family I was blown away to find out that the lead singer of Switch was the older brother of El and the Debarges–I LOVE “THERE WILL NEVER BE”. And whoever said Bobby’s voice was magical is SPOT ON. When you listen to him sing you’re instantly mesmerized by how beautiful and flawless his voice is–and how charismatic he is. And the most compelling thing about it is that it’s also effortless–regardless of the note he’s hitting he just does it with beauty and ease. Their story is a really sad one, however, I pray that Bobby has peace now and that all of the future generations of the Debarges have the wisdom of their ancestors to guide them. This world is quantifiably different (and worse off) without Bobby and without El making their beautiful music. I sincerely wish all of the family peace, self and family forgiveness, joy and the spirit of the Lord. Thank you Debarges for your beautiful and innate music ability. No other music group before you or afterwards has left such a magnificent impact on music. We all love you. May God be with you always.

Peace, love and forgiveness…


15 keltrology February 27, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Man, I can’t find any videos for Switch in concert nowhere. Nikki if you are still tuning in let me know if the YouTube video is still where you found it. A great performing group like this should be shared with their fans. I’ve been thinking about doing some interviews with old skool groups and posting the videos on YouTube for everyone to enjoy and remember them when they were at their best.

Much Love


16 Gina March 15, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Hey! Bobby DeBarge was one of the most talented musician-singer of all times. The group “Switch” was so talented. I got a chance to meet Bobby in Hollywood at the “Peoples Tree” when DeBarge was a part of Motown. Bobby was so cool and down to earth! His legacy is strong and to this very day people still talk about Bobby DeBarge and his music!!


17 Tommy Upshaw April 5, 2009 at 12:47 am

This was a very nice read. I enjoyed the site.Not often I see one like this. The list of Bobby’s songs brings back alot of memories. Most of them I remember. Thanks for the trip in the Way back machine. And if you don’t know who I’m look on the back of “This is my Dream”


18 Justin July 9, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Oh well, if you find out anything more please do let me know. We “Old Schoolers” gotta stick together.


19 SonDan July 27, 2010 at 8:59 pm

I will most assuredly check in here with any and all related information Justin, because we “DO” gotta stick together for sure! Oldies forever! ;-)


20 Kai September 9, 2010 at 6:42 am


Just ran across this blog. I am only 26 but I am so thankful to my mother for introducing me to Old School R&B Music to replace what is happening in music now. I knew who the group Debarge with El, Bunny, Randy, Marty, and James were the whole time, but it wasn’t until I saw a rerun of Unsung featuring the Debarge family that made me understand where it all began and that was with Bobby Debarge and Switch. I asked my mother about it and she remembered how much she had a crush on bobby though she was married. looking at what he was back then i can see why LOL. It is incredible to me to hear in the Switch catalogue how ridiculous his range was. El had the finesse, but Bobby had that along with the power in his five octave range. though it has been 15 years since his passing, i am glad that there are many fans who are still enjoying and celebrating his legacy and I am glad that i have made it a part of my life as well. i would have totally missed out.

One more thing, other than the many switch songs posted on Youtube along with the Don Krishner appearance have you been able to find any other videos of their performances from Soul train or the Merv Griffin? if not that’s okay, but i can’t help but dream. Sorry this is long. Thanks again for the blog. If i run across anything I’ll make future posts


21 SonDan September 10, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Welcome to a place that classic oldies reign supreme Kai. Sounds like your Mom has great musical taste: I like her style. ;-)
I am glad you found OSML. Between your mom’s memories of her illicit romance with Bobby D (of course me and my best girlfriend at the time BOTH had major crushes on him as well and would sing to his photo on the album cover), this blog, and El’s “Second Chance” — you will be given a great Old School education.

You know over the years Eldra’s talents have grown tremendously and his tenor range has expanded. Be sure to check out some of his recent videos on YouTube or at my Tumble Spot. and you will see what I mean. El’s voice is pure and soars into the heavens now. Plus the fact that he is one of the most under-rated piano players ever IMHO.

I have gotten tickets to see him on tour next month and am so looking forward to it. MJ Blige is the headliner, but I bought the tickets to see Eldra.

I am surprise that the on Kirshner Switch video got back on YouTube because it is under copyright and not to be shared. But I am saving up my pennies to buy the Soul T rain set and if Switch is there I will mod def be in touch.

Hope to hear from you again very soon Kai.

Musically Yours,



22 Andrew Pollard III October 16, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Long time fan of Switch, DeBarge, Bobby, sadly I didn’t discover his music until after his untimely demise. I’ve searched the internet over and over for all of Bobby’s music from Smash to White Heat to Switch to DeBarge then his solo album and other features. Was so excited to recently discover El sang background on “I call your name”-his first professional recording, and also Bobby co wrote Queen of my Heart(version from DeBarge’s first album in 81) and it was he who killed the falsetto ad limbs at the tracks end which was his signature style. Bobby would make you feel every word through the songs verses and chorus but those last 15-20 seconds when the engineer fades the track out man Bobby would hit some notes and vocal runs that make you repeat it over and over in awe! Does ANYBODY have any rREAL live singing on video of Bobby or the original Switch? Not the lip synced songs on Soul Train. I wanna hear how he crowned in front of a live audience please provide links here or email


23 SonDan October 16, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Hi Andrew,

Welcome to OSML. Nice to meet another Bobby DeBarge Fan.But you know Eldra is no slouch on tenor either. In spite of all of his troubles — his voice has only gotten better with maturity and he can really do that thing live.

Unfortunately, Bobby came up musically before the age of the internet and video so there is not much footage out there other than the “Soul Train” and “Don Kirshner Rock Concert” and “American Bandstand”– all of which are lipsynced as you well know. At least we have crumbs. (LOL)

I hope one day soon someone will find and share an old super 8 recording of Switch featuring Bobby, in an attic or basement and we will all be in 7th Heaven.

Musically Yours,



24 Andrew Pollard III October 17, 2013 at 2:41 am

Oh yes I’m also a big Eldra Patrick Sr fan lol. I’ve actually done some graphic artwork on Facebook for his son last year, great guy. It’s like not many male vocalists(or female) can touch El’s songs in his prime, and not even El could touch Bobby’s vocals in his prime(IMHO) El even said that himself when interviewed by Brian McKnight. Great great family in songwriting ability, musicianship, and vocally talented. I found this link to the entire Kirshner performance of Switch… didn’t realize I already had this on my Hard drive but now Ill search for the other performances you listed!


25 sondan December 10, 2008 at 8:23 pm

I humbly thank you for you comments Mark. I figured if just one person who had never heard Bobby sing discovered him here — then I would have done something right on this blog. His life choices should not in anyway detract from celebrating and honoring the talented song writer, singer and musician that was Bobby DeBarge.

Thanks again for checking in Mark.


26 sondan December 10, 2008 at 10:28 pm

To my knowledge there is nothing available for sale to the public John. I am hoping and praying that now that Don Cornelius has sold the “Soul Train” archives — that at least those performances will soon make it to DVD. If anyone has heard of any video release in the pipeline for the public both John and I would like to hear from you. In the meantime I will continue to keep my eyes and ears open as I have been doing for a long, long time now.


27 sondan December 27, 2008 at 7:14 pm

Hi Darryll,

Welcome to OSML and you are more than welcomed. This site is a labor of love for me since I enjoy listening to and talking about music more than anything else in the world. It is one of my major passions.

As I recall the Vibe article was quite interesting — but even more informative was the TvOne “Unsung” Documentary on DeBarge that aired in November 2008. If you didn’t see it, do check out the TvOne website for repeat airing dates and/or you may view it on YouTube (if it hasn’t been removed) in it’s entirely.

This documentary was done with family participation so I think you will find in very riveting and revealing.

Thanks again for your participation here and best wishes to you and your loved ones for a wonderful New Year!


28 sondan January 2, 2009 at 8:22 pm

You are welcomed Kasey and thank you for your visit and your input. It is most appreciated. In line with you comments I too get the feeling that Bobby had a great sense of humour in spite of everything else going on in his life. Hope to see more of you hear. Also check you email when you see this reply.

Happy New Year!


29 sondan February 27, 2009 at 12:18 am

Hi MonieLuv,

Thank you for sharing your love of the musical talents of Bobby DeBarge and his family. I agree wholeheartedly with your comments and truly do appreciate your participation here.




30 sondan March 21, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Hello again Monie Love,

I thought that you might want to know that Eldra is doing well and has written another letter to his fans. You may see what he has to say to us at the following links:

March 2009 Letter from El page One

March 2009 Letter from El page Two

Special thanks to both the DeBarge Network and Yahoo’s DeBarge Family Group for keeping fans abreast of Eldra’s status.


31 sondan March 16, 2009 at 12:14 am

Wow – what a honor you were given to meet Bobby in the flesh. I am sure it is a memory that you have cherished!
Welcome to OSML Gina and thank you so much for sharing that “special event” in your life.


32 sondan April 5, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Hi Tommy,

I am glad you found my Bobby Page to read and enjoy. Thank you for the kind words.

I guess you can tell I love the “oldies” and a day doesn’t go by that I don’t listen to them. The classic ballads that Bobby DeBarge composed and/or sang are some of the most endearing love songs ever (Sorry Smokey R. — but it’s true).

Please stop by the page any time so you don’t have to go so long without your “Bobby fix” (LOL)

I went to check my LP as you suggested and see that you were lucky enough to be right in the mix of things for “This Is My Dream.” I bet you could really tell some some stories and if you ever get the urge I am all eyes and ears. I am sure the readers here would love it. ;-)

BTW Was Mr. John Upshaw your Dad?

Again, please don’t be a stranger.




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