The Highway Q.C.'s were founded in 1945 in Chicago by a group of male teenagers who attended Highway Baptist Church, including Sam Cooke, Creadell Copeland, Marvin and Charles Jones, and Jake and Lee Richard. Cooke sang with the group through 1951, when he joined The Soul Stirrers; Lou Rawls took his place through 1953. Rawls had previously sung with the Holy Wonders, and eventually all of the other Wonders (Spencer Taylor, James Walker, and Chris Flowers) would also join the Highway Q.C.'s.
After Rawls's departure in 1953, Johnnie Taylor joined the group, and in 1955 they made their first recordings for Vee-Jay Records. In 1957 Taylor left the group, replacing Cooke in the Soul Stirrers as Cooke pursued aCAREER as a solo artist. Spencer Taylor, who had joined in 1956 and was not related to Johnnie Taylor, became the group's leader after Johnnie's departure and remained so for over forty years, leading the group well into the 1990s. They would record forSavoy Records and A&M Records, among others.