The Esquires first formed in 1957 around the Moorer family, whose Gilbert (died: 28 August 2008), Alvis, and Betty all became members. They went through many lineup changes over their first decade, which saw them aiming mostly for local recognition. In 1966 they moved to Chicago and auditioned for Curtis Mayfield, who was not interested in signing them. They then attempted to sign with Constellation Records, but the record label went under at the end of 1966; they signed instead with Bunky Records, Constellation's successor. Bunky was distributed by Scepter Records on the national level.
Their debut record for Bunky/Scepter was "Get on Up", which became a major hit in the United States, peaking at #11. Following the release they played Chicago's Regal Theater and the Apollo Theatre in New York City. Further singles were also successes, and the group released one full-length LP. After five singles on Bunky the group signed a deal with Scepter themselves late in 1968. They later returned to Bunky and then, in 1970, signed with Capitol Records for one single ("Reach Out") and Lamarr Records in 1971 for "Girls in the City".