This is the companion 'liner notes' page for the complete 1967 discography, which at last count featured over 450 playable tracks. Please check it out... then come on back here and join in the discussion and send us your comments via email Thanks!

The in-depth notes for this all-important year have been split into 'episodes' - just click on the links below:
    EPISODE ONE: SHO IS GOOD
    EPISODE TWO: WAYNE'S WORLD
    EPISODE THREE: LET IT HAPPEN
    EPISODE FOUR: CAN'T GET NO RIDE
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reggieAs mentioned on the discography page: "When I first started looking at the scans we made of Reggie's 1967 book, I noticed that it appeared incomplete. There was an entire month missing from May 5th to June 5th, and entries ended abruptly on September 1st. This just wasn't like Reggie, who usually kept meticulous records. I thought that perhaps we had overlooked something when we first 'digitized' the pages, but we were able to get a second look at the actual book last Summer (thank you Jenny Lynn!) and confirm that they were indeed left blank. After asking around a bit, I was able to fill in a couple of blanks from discographies and A.F.M. Union sheets, but had basically hit a dead end.

bobby"I had been working closely with Mark Nicholson, the proprietor of the American Sound Archive, in an effort to identify what tracks were recorded when, and he reminded me that in Roben Jones' book, Memphis Boys: The Story Of American Studios, she had alluded to the fact that Bobby Emmons had also kept a similar session log book. Bobby and Reggie, of course, had been working together at Hi since 1963, and had made the decision to join Chips Moman at American around the same time. I had met Bobby's daughter Sherry a couple of times over the years, and asked her if she could locate Bobby's 1967 book. Not only did she find it, but graciously offered to send it to me so I could digitize the pages as I had done with Reggie's. This opportunity to compare and contrast the session notes from both log books has enabled us to compile the most complete and comprehensive overview of this pivotal year in the history of Memphis music yet undertaken... it almost feels as if, somewhere up there, these two inseparable friends are still calling the shots - Thank You, Sherry!!"
- red kelly, February 2021
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67By 1966, Bobby Patterson and his Mustangs were the hottest R&B act in Dallas, packing the same clubs that Lattimore Brown and his Mighty Men had a few years before. John Howard Abdnor, whose primary business was selling Insurance, signed Bobby to his Abnak record label, but soon moved him to his R&B subsidiary, Jetstar, for Patterson's further releases.

67Dale Hawkins, whose own Abnak 45s were going nowhere, would become Abdnor's producer, and in early January of 1967, he sent him to Chips Moman's American Sound Studio in Memphis to record a few sides on Patterson. Only one track from those sessions was released at the time, the great Long Ago (Jetstar 108), which Dan Penn had written with Muscle Shoals compatriot Bob Killen, and recorded a killer demo of just prior to leaving Fame six months earlier.

67Penn and Moman are credited as arrangers on the label, and the two of them had been thick as thieves since writing The Dark End Of The Street at The Anchor Motel in Nashville that past October. Just as they promised Quinton Claunch, they had cut it on James Carr at Hi (with both Reggie and Bobby Emmons on board) just five weeks before Patterson's session at American. It was selected as a 'regional breakout' in Billboard in February, alongside another record that Dale Hawkins had produced for Abnak, Western Union by The Five Americans.67 'The Dark End Of The Street' would eventually go top ten R&B, while 'Western Union' climbed even further, to #5 on the Hot 100, after which Abdnor would make Hawkins vice president of the label. There sure was a lot of talent under one roof there on Thomas Street, and although Billboard had picked 'Long Ago' to hit the R&B chart in the same issue, somehow it never did.

67Some thirty years later, another track recorded at those sessions, the Penn/Oldham gem I Do, would be released as the final track on a Kent Records CD, although mis-titled as 'Who Wants To Fall In Love' (Check out Dan Penn on the second vocal! - as well as Dan's own version on his great new album Living On Mercy). It's interesting to compare Reggie's and Bobby's notes for that session. Reggie simply noted 'Dale Hawkins', as no doubt he knew him from his Louisiana Hayride days, but Bobby (ever the perfectionist) notes 'Chips' (indicating American), client name, artist and even song titles (although he got 'I Do' right, he apparently had to go back and correct 'Long Ago'...).

67It appears that, at this point, Reggie had come in off the road for good but Bobby Emmons was still out there performing, playing local gigs behind guys like Wayne Jackson and Charlie Freeman, and touring with Ace Cannon throughout the Mid-South. The day after the session with Chips outlined above, he was off to Mississippi with Ace, while Reggie stayed on South Lauderdale.

6767The two sides cut there on January 6th provide a glimpse of what was going on at Hi at the time. Bowlegs Miller was still very much 'in da house', and collaborated with Reggie on the hilarious Sho Is Good (Hi 2021). Don Bryant is at the top of his game, both as a singer and songwriter, on Can't Hide The Hurt (Hi 2131), which is only the second Hi 45 to credit Willie Mitchell as a producer, a credit he would also soon be receiving from the 'outside labels' that recorded there. There was, understandably, friction between the two trumpet playing bandleaders working under one roof and, according to Howard Grimes, Willie and Bowlegs were soon to have a 'falling-out' (we'll talk more about that later on).

6767On January 8th, Reggie and Bobby again joined Chips at American to cut Roosevelt Grier on the way funky Slow Drag, with label credit to both Chips and Dan Penn as producers. Grier had been signed by MGM (making the move from the in-house Youngstown label), a major step up, no doubt brought on by Chips' having just produced back-to-back hits for MGM on Sandy Posey. It was MGM's Jim Vienneau who had brought Chips and Dan together in the first place, and he was also the man responsible for bringing a young songwriter into the fold in late 1966, one Wayne Carson Thompson. Just a few days after the session with Rosie at American, Chips would take Reggie with him to Nashville to cut Sandy's third top 40 hit in a row, What A Woman In Love Won't Do. The flip of that single, the haunting Shattered, was written by Wayne Carson and is, in my estimation, one of her best. It was Sandy's records that were no doubt paying the bills at this point, and there were more sessions held on her, both in Nashville and Memphis (and even one at Fame) in 1967 than on any other artist, resulting in the whopping 25 other tracks that are playable on the discography page.

67Luther Steinberg, the son of W.C. Handy's piano player Milton Steinberg (and the brother of original Booker T. & The M.G.s bass player Lewie Steinberg) was another 'trumpet playing bandleader' who led his own popular orchestra in 67the late forties and early fifties. They would cut two sides at Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Service in 1951 which were released on Chess 1465 under the name of Lou Sargent and his Orchestra. As evidenced by this great Cashbox ad at right, Chess had high hopes for Luther's "Ridin' The Boogie," pushing it as the jukebox folow-up to Jackie Brenston's "Rocket 88" (hmmm... would that make it the second Rock 'n' Roll record?). In any event, Lou Sargent never did make the charts, and this lone 78 appears to represent Steinberg and his band's entire recorded output.

67In 1954, Luther's wife Martha Jean would become one of the first female (and black) disk jockeys in the nation when she joined the staff at WDIA, and was soon nicknamed 'The Queen' by fellow dee-jay Robert 'Honeymoon' Garner. Her Saturday afternoon show, on which she would spotlight the latest R&B records released that week, was called 'Premium Stuff'. Over the next decade it would become one of the most listened to on-air programs in the South. Pulling up stakes in 1963, The Queen headed for that other epicenter of Soul, Detroit, where she would continue her career as a radio personality on WCHB.

Mike Hanks was a Detroit record man who couldn't stand being in the shadow of Berry Gordy's Motown Empire. "Shit, I was driving a Cadillac when Berry was still riding a bike!," he was quoted as saying. After heading up various other small labels, Hanks formed D-Town (get it?) 67around the same time that Martha Jean came on the scene in 1963. With financial backing from Pro Football players Roger Brown (defensive tackle on The Detroit Lions) and Pete Hall (who had been a teammate of our man Roosevelt Grier on the 1961 New York Giants), Hanks meant business. 67 In early 1965, D-Town scored big with a hit by Lee Rogers, I Want You To Have Everything, which would climb to #17 on the Billboard R&B chart. Flush with the success of that record, Hanks entered into a contract to buy a vacant house literally 100 feet away from Motown's 'Hitsville U.S.A.' studio on West Grand Boulevard. Gordy was not amused, and managed to block the sale of the building to D-Town. Setting up shop in another location 4 blocks away, Hanks started a subsidiary label he named Wheelsville U.S.A. a few months later. After dozens of releases on D-Town that went nowhere (including one by Roosevelt himself), Wheelsville became the primary label.

67Apparently not happy with the return on his investment, Pete Hall argued with Hanks about money, and wrested control of Wheelsville from him in the Summer of 1966. According to the amazing Soulful Detroit website (where I found most of this information in the first place), Pete had a 'close relationship' with our Queen Martha Jean, who by then had made the move to the Motor City's 'Tiger' station, WJLB. Persona Non Grata at Motown, and now at Hanks' 'Pig Pen' studio as well, Hall set his sights on Memphis, where Ms. Steinberg still knew just about everybody. With Stax recently closing its doors to outside interests, Hi was only too happy to welcome Hall in. The first of those Bluff City sessions was held in September of 1966, when Lee Rogers cut Don Bryant composition Cracked Up Over You, which would later be covered by Junior Parker at the studio, just after Lee's version had been released on Wheelsville 118 that November.

67Hall would return to Memphis with Rogers in January of '67 to cut another Bryant composition Love Can Really Hurt You Deep (Wheelsville 121), but he also brought with him a couple of songs that had been written by future Detroit Gospel legend Bill Moss. Although Bobby Emmons noted the titles of those tracks in his log book,67 it's unclear whether the artists that finally released them also made the trip to Memphis, or overdubbed their vocals later on in Detroit over the backing tracks cut for Hall that night. What is clear is that Pete created a brand new label for Martha Jean to showcase those songs on, named (wait for it...) Premium Stuff. The Fabulous Peps' I Can't Get Right and Dee Edwards' I'll Shed No Tears (both of whom had formerly been signed by Hanks on D-Town) were among the label's first releases in 1967.

67Pete Hall was back at Hi in February, and this time brought both The Fabulous Peps and The Lil' Soul Brothers with him. Inexplicably, the resulting recordings, Been So Long and I've Been Trying, would be released on yet another imprint I can find very little information on, Wee 3 (an ironic choice of a name as 'We Three' was what the crack songwriting team at Stax called themselves after another Detroit record man, Don Davis, moved in and changed everything by cutting their composition Who's Making Love on Johnnie Taylor just over a year later). Be that as it may, at least one more session was held with Hall on South Lauderdale in June, resulting in Premium Stuff releases by both The Peps and Lee Rogers, including Lee's great take on Don Bryant's Sweet Baby Talk.

67There was one more reference to The Motor City in Bobby Emmon's book, on July 10th - "ERNIE (Detroit) - 675 Sides." Reggie's session log for that date only mentions Willie Mitchell. This had us mystified for a while until 'bloodhound' Nicholson sniffed out an article about Martha Jean's fellow dee-jay at WJLB, Ernie Dunham. It's not much of a stretch to connect those dots, and it seems likely that The Queen could have hooked Ernie up with his own session down on South Lauderdale. Hmmm... could be, but what were those five sides?

6767Well, I think we may have figured that out. An obscure Detroit record company named Super Sonic Productions ran the Sport label, along with it's subsidiary, Sir-Rah. Of the ten sides released on those labels in the latter part of 1967, exactly half of them were produced by Willie Mitchell. Bingo! Although none of the five songs were written by him, Don Bryant demos of all of them have since been discovered as well. There is no direct evidence of Ernie Dunham's involvement in the session, and the two names that do appear on the 45 labels, Shelley Haims and Andrew Harris, don't ring any bells with me... detectives?* The 'five sides' are now all up on the discography page, but the best of the lot by far is Jim Coleman's Cloudy Days. Just deep, deep Soul of the highest order, folks!

67Two weeks after that July 10th session, as the Detroit riots raged in the long hot Summer of 1967, Martha Jean Steinberg stayed on the air for 48 hours straight in an attempt to calm everyone down. The Queen was one remarkable woman...


FEEDBACK:
Peter Nickols has gotten in touch with this:
"According to Ady Croasdell, Shelley Harris apparently originally owned Pied Piper Productions and the Golden World label. Andrew Harris owned the Sport label and also the Super Sonic Sound studio - source for all of this is the Detroit Soul Facebook Group...I agree about the quality of Jim Coleman's 'Cloudy Days' but I personally think Don Bryant's longer demo is even better... perhaps a mention for Aaron Fuchs' The Northern Souljers Meet Hi Rhythm CD would be in order as it was a ground-breaking release giving us ready access to most of these fine sides for the first time." Thanks, Pete!

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"ANY FREAKIN' THING IS POSSIBLE..."

In his comments after I posted 1967 episode one here, Peter Nickols went on to say:
"...surely Al Gardner's 'Just The Touch Of Your Hand' is also superb... Don demoed that too. I know you feature the Gardner side in your audio samples but I think it's worth a text mention - just my opinion."
Hmmm...
I thought about that a while, then I remembered why I had decided not to 'text mention it' in the first place:

AlAlthough I totally agree with Peter's assessment that Just A Touch Of Your Hand is a superb record, with Reggie Young's guitar all over it, there is no mention of Willie Mitchell on the label... as a matter of fact, the label says 'Supervised by Jack Ashford'... Huh? Like Motown Tambourine playing Funk Brother Jack Ashford? This obviously would place this as a Detroit production and, although it had been included on the Northern Souljers CD as being cut with Willie in Memphis, I figured I'd have trouble connecting those dots, and so I left it alone.

DonAs Nickols mentioned, Don Bryant had also cut a demo version of Just A Touch Of Your Hand - a version so good it was released as a 45 (backed with Don's equally awesome demo of Cloudy Days mentioned earlier) on Garry Cape's Hit and Run label just last year. Unhindered by the syrupy strings and Motor City echo chamber of the Ashford supervised release, Don delivers the goods over what appears to be the same backing track. Wow! Bryant's resurgence as one of the greatest living Soul singers still out there doing it has earned him a Grammy nomination for his excellent 2020 album You Make Me Feel. With The Grammys less than a week away, my friend (and producer of that record) Scott Bomar still took time out to ask Don if he could recall any details about how it is he cut this demo of somebody else's song at Hi: "Unfortunately he didn't recall any details about how the song came to him," Scott said, "...Willie was handling everything."

hattieHmmm... maybe the names of the songwriters might offer us a clue? I had no idea who 'H. Leeper' might be, until Nickols put me on her trail: "that's a fairly unusual name and I think it is probably the influential North Carolina DJ known locally in Charlotte as Chatty Hattie Leeper." Like Martha Jean the Queen, Hattie was one of the first female R&B disk jockeys in the South, with a loyal following over 16,000 watt WGIV in Charlotte. It was through her position as secretary of the National Association of Radio and Television Announcers, however, that she also maintained close contacts with most of the major players in the mid-sixties Soul scene... more on that in a minute.

AlAlThe other songwriter listed on the label was Allen Orange. The subject of our exhaustive Soul Detective Case Five (the case which would lead to our re-discovery of Sir Lattimore Brown), it didn't seem possible that I hadn't come across Hattie's name before. Sound Stage 7 had released Paul Vann's cover of the song as The Touch Of Your Hand (Means So Much) in February of 1970, with Orange listed as the sole composer. This is the version that we featured on the site back in 2007. What I hadn't realized at the time was that SS7 had also issued it as Just The Touch Of Your Hand the year before, where 'Hatty' had also been given credit on the label. I still cant decide if they are both the same recordings...

bobIn 1967, Orange was already working with John R at Sound Stage 7 alongside Bob Wilson in Nashville. How was it that this song had been recorded in Memphis via Detroit (and North Carolina) a full two years before the SS7 versions? Wilson had started out in Motor City with Ed Wingate at Golden World/Ric Tic before hiring on in Music City with Richbourg at Monument/SS7. It was through the aforementioned Case Five that I got to meet and hang out with him and do some amazing things (like cutting Sir Lattimore with him at Royal Studio in Memphis in 2008). Although we hadn't spoken for a while, I figured I'd ask him: "I am on the Paul Vann cut, and have label credit as arranger, with Terry Burnside (Cincinnatti, white fellow, King Records background)... when we were with Willie, I don't recall if I spoke of my background in Detroit, at Ric Tic, or not. I know he was very aware of my Sound Stage 7/Joe Simon/John R connection, but, don't recall discussing Detroit. I never heard Willie Mitchell's name spoken in Detroit, but, as you know, any freakin' thing is possible..." It sure is.

DonThere's A Place In My Heart is another Allen Orange/Hattie Leeper song that was produced by Willie Mitchell at those sessions in Memphis in July of 1967 on a vocal group called The Appreciations. It appears once again that the same backing track was used as on the Don Bryant demo. In Mark Windle's book, It's Better To Cry, there is an in-depth portrait of The Appreciations based on extensive interviews with several members of the group. They first got together as students at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina where they came to the attention of Chatty Hattie, who would become their manager and biggest advocate. After arranging a session with Jerry Wexler in New York for Atlantic that somehow ended up on Jubilee, Leeper set her sights on Detroit.

DonAccording to Windle: "Their next recording was I Can't Hide It / No, No, No (Aware 1066). Hattie set up Aware for this sole release. The tracks were recorded in 1966 at the Golden World / Ric Tic Records Studios in Detroit. The group liked the Motown sound and wanted to be part of it. Willie Mitchell (band leader, producer, wind and keyboard player) coached and arranged the session and, according to Charles, played baritone sax. Mitchell is perhaps more associated with Memphis than Detroit. In reality however he wrote, produced, arranged and recorded a number of tracks for Lee Rogers, Buddy Lamp and others on Detroit labels such as Wheelsville, Premium Stuff and D-Town, either from his Memphis base or in Detroit itself." Whoah... wait a minute - this is the first I've heard about Willie actually recording in Detroit! Windle goes on to explain ..."the lead singer was adamant it was Willie. I questioned him two or three times to double check, as obviously I knew this would be an issue." The baritone sax solo certainly sounds like Motown stalwart Mike Terry, but when asked years later, Terry said it wasn't him. I suppose, if Willie actually was there at Golden World, his late great brother James, who was a killer baritone man in his own right, would probably have been there as well... like Wilson said "...any freakin' thing is possible." We may never know for sure, but that would certainly explain his connection with Hattie Leeper.

bobBut what about our hypothesis last time out that it was another disk jockey, Detroit's Ernie Durham, that cut those Sport and Sir-Rah tracks with Willie in Memphis? Perhaps the key to understanding all this lies in Stuart Cosgrove's excellent Detroit 67: The Year That Changed Soulbob where he writes: "By 1967 Frantic Eddie Durham's power was in decline and the old R&B radio station era he had come to personify was hanging on for dear life... the radio personalities that had inspired Gordy as a teenager... were losing their grip on power." Although it may not have seemed like it, Motown had begun to lose its grip as well, despite purchasing the Golden World studios shortly after the Aware sessions outlined above. Mickey Stevenson had abruptly left the company in early 1967, and people began to get the message that all was not well in Hitsville U.S.A.

bobSensing that vulnerability, a Detroit big shot named Andrew Harris started up his own trio of labels (Boss, Sport and Sir-Rah), hiring some of the biggest names in Detroit in the process, like Andre Williams, Shelley Haims and the aforementioned Jack Ashford. According to Ady Croasdell's liner notes to the Kent CD Pied Piper Finale, "Harris is remembered by Ashford as a wealthy older guy who wanted to get involved in records, and by Jay Johnson of The Four Sonics as a red-haired white guy who was reputed to have earned his fortune through gambling. Ashford's initial meeting with him was notable for being the first time he had seen a $500 bill when Harris peeled one from a wad to cover expenses..." It's certainly not much of a stretch to think that he might have peeled a few of those off and sent them in Frantic Ernie's direction to cover those sessions in Memphis... "...any freakin' thing is possible."

DonHmmm... but what about Allen Orange's collaboration with Hattie Leeper? Initially I thought that perhaps Orange had accompanied John R and Joe Simon to Royal Studio in March (more on those sessions soon), and somehow made the connection there. Then I remembered what Aaron Varnell had told Bob Wilson and I when we met with him in Nashville during our Case Five investigation all those years ago - that Allen had gone to live with relatives in North Carolina. It was Garry Cape who then told us he had met with Allen at an assisted living facility in Nashville in 2004, but the next time he tried to contact him they said he had moved out to be with relatives, and they were not at liberty to tell him where that was. All of that led to our discovery of this Death Notice in The Charlotte Observer from 2006, that would be Charlotte, North Carolina, Ms. Leeper's home town. Although at this point it's 'purely conjecture', I can't help but think they had known each other 'back in the day' and had written these songs together way before any of this happened.

I'm attempting to reach Orange's son, DeMarcus, who had contacted us during our initial investigation, to ask him about all this... stay tuned!

bobUPDATE: I went out and bought us a copy of Chatty Hatty The Legend, the autobiography, in hopes of shedding some light on all of this. Although she mentions her Chatlee publishing company, she doesn't seem to talk much about her songwriting. In her chapter on managing The Appreciations, neither of the songs in question are listed. She does go on to say "I must mention these good associates as we had record deals and were in constant communication in the business," then goes on to list thirty one names in no apparent order, other than her own estimation of their significance, I suppose. Our man Allen Orange is the second name on the list (although his location is given as Nashville, which makes sense). The only person mentioned in Detroit is Berry Gordy, and the only one from Memphis is Leroy Little. Not much help in this case, I'm afraid, but still fascinating to see the names of all these movers & shakers in the industry, from Jerry Wexler and Florence Greenberg to Marshall Sehorn and Hy Weiss. As Hatty says herself, "I was BIG!"

Special thanks to Don Bryant, Scott Bomar, Bob Wilson, Mark Windle, Garry Cape, Peter Nickols and Mark Nicholson, without whom this post would not have been possible.

- red kelly, March 2021 line

We continue our discussion of the incredible body of work that Reggie Young and Bobby Emmons created together in 1967 in episode two, just click on the link below. It's also over on Soul Sauce... but don't forget the other 450 or so tracks that are always available on our discography page! Thanks for tuning in!

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slooths


burning questions

Hey y'all - after being holed up here in the Soul Cellar for about eight weeks during these troubled times, I've decided to try and reinvent the Burning Questions concept and attempt to bring it to a wider audience. The first thing I did was create a (gasp!) Soul Detective Facebook Page where we will work on answering these questions together in the time-honored Soul Detective tradition. Y'all ready?

This one's been bugging me for years...

311Back in 2007 I wrote something about an amazing James Carr B Side Forgetting You. "...the band (led by that incredible Reggie Young guitar) shifts things down to a minor key, then just builds and builds," I said. Years later, when I asked Reggie about it he said, "That's not me." Hmmmm... as we delved further into the Memphis guitar player thing with our Clarence Nelson investigation, I thought maybe we had our man. I asked Goldwax founder Quinton Claunch point-blank like ten times... "No, it wasn't Clarence. It was some other guy - Chips found him for me." Ugh.

311The song had been written by the great O.B. McClinton, who was there on the ground floor with Quinton, both as an artist and songwriter, cutting this seminal B Side for Goldwax in 1964, She's Better Than You. In the liner notes to The Complete Goldwax Singles Volume 1 Quinton is quoted as saying, "He wrote that for James... I brought Steve Cropper to do guitar on that thing. He wasn't tied up exclusively at that time. I just employed him to play on that one track." Hmmm...

319

The following year, Carr would wax the definitive version of the song that O.B. had composed for him, She's Better Than You on Goldwax 119, featuring a guitar player that is not Reggie Young, nor Clarence Nelson...

319James would then take another song O.B. had written for him and break into the Billboard R&B top ten, taking You've Got My Mind Messed Up all the way to #7 for Goldwax in early 1966. The liner notes for The Complete Goldwax Singles Volume 2 mention "Reggie Young's distinctive opening guitar..." but it is quite obvious that whomever the guitar player is on here is the same as on the record that started all this in the first place, the flip of Carr's next release for the label, Forgetting You. If we are to believe Reggie's assertion that it's not him (and why wouldn't we?), then who on earth could it be?

65I've been working behind the scenes here deciphering the 1967 log book as part of our Reggie Young Discography Project with (besides the usual suspects) my friend Mark Nicholson, the proprietor of the excellent American Sound Archive on YouTube. As it turns out, he is also quite the Soul Detective...

lp'Bloodhound' Nicholson recently pointed out this review of Carr's 1967 You've Got My Mind Messed Up LP by Thom Jurek, a 'Senior Staff Writer' at AllMusic, in which he states "By the album's end with the title track, listeners hear the totality of the force of Memphis soul. With Steve Cropper's guitar filling the space in the background, Carr offers a chilling portrait of what would happen to him in the future..."

Wait, WHAT??? STEVE CROPPER???

slyHmmmm... Well, come to think of it, it does kind of sound like him, and we've already established that he was employed by Goldwax "to play on that one track..." Do you think it's possible that Quinton Claunch, that sly old fox, has been keeping Cropper's name out of it all these years because of his being 'tied up' at Stax when James cut these landmark recordings?

Now THAT would be something!!

UPDATE:

Scott Ward asked Steve Cropper if that was him on 'Forgetting You' "Nope."

Rob Bowman asked Steve Cropper if that was him on 'You've Got My Mind Messed Up' "Nope."

319The crew at Diggin' Deep Records recently sent me a copy of their new James Carr release (bless their hearts), with two rare Goldwax era cuts new to 45. I Don't Want To Be Hurt Anymore is quintessential Reggie Young all the way. The flip on the other hand (which Quinton had left 'in the can' at the time) is Carr's smoldering take on Roosevelt Jamison's There Goes My Used To Be which, I believe, features our same mystery guitar player...

319There is one more track that we hadn't mentioned yet that, without a doubt, has our mystery man on guitar - the awesome Quinton Claunch penned Love Attack, which would cruise to #21 R&B in the Summer of 1966.

With Quinton Claunch now passed on, the quest to identify this great Memphis musician becomes even more compelling... detectives?

Please let us know what you think about all of this, either on the Facebook Page, or by shooting us an email. Inquiring minds want to know!

- red kelly, May 2021


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billyBilly Lawson grew up just outside of Muscle Shoals next door to Junior Lowe and, like Junior, he had a guitar in his hand by the time he was six years old. Lowe became sort of his mentor (and guitar hero), and would allow him to sit-in with his band at local State Line clubs before he was out of grade school.

peanuttHis Zip City neighborhood was also home to Earl 'Peanutt' Montgomery, the man whose career as a songwriter included a slew of top ten Country hits he penned for his main man George Jones... Billy was paying attention. The Music was in him, and he knew he had no choice but to follow where it might lead. While still in his teens, Billy and his band began working that same State Line dance hall circuit Junior had.

wishboneIn his early twenties he got himself a job at Terry Woodford and Clayton Ivey's Wishbone Studios in Muscle Shoals, learning about songwriting from some of the best in the business. Billy and his band were still playing most nights out on the strip, which got them noticed by casting director Tonya Holly, who would hire them to appear in the Oscar winning film Blue Sky in 1994. Setting his sights on Nashville with stars in his eyes, it looked like he might have a shot at making it as a performer when he was signed by Epic Records... but Billy soon realized that wasn't going to happen.

trevinoHis unique way with words caught the attention of Tree Publishing executive Don Cook, who signed Billy on as a staff songwriter in 1995. By the Summer of '96 Learning As You Go, a song Lawson co-wrote with Larry Boone, would top the Country charts for Rick Trevino. Within a few months, Trace Adkins would take another Lawson composition (this time written with John Schweers), I Left Something Turned On At Home, straight to number one. In just a few short years, Billy Ray Lawson had become an in-demand Music City songwriter, placing dozens of other songs on the charts. As the nature of the music business began to change in Nashville after the turn of the century, however, it would become ever more difficult to make a living as a songwriter in the digital age.

Billy Ray decided to stay closer to home...

hallThe Shoals was his stomping grounds, and Lawson began hanging out with the man who had put the town on the map, Rick Hall. Over lunches at their favorite Italian restaurant, Billy just soaked it all in. He knew what he was called upon to do.

boardOpening his own Big Star Studio, Billy began producing a few records. After that, it seemed like things all began to fall into place. Wishbone Studio, which had been empty for years, became available and Lawson figured out a way to buy it. When Larry Rogers' Studio 19 was marked for demolition on Nashville's Music Row in 2015, Billy worked out a deal with Larry to install the studio's Trident 90 console at Wishbone. One of the first records cut there was Willie Hightower's great come-back album, Out Of The Blue. With the legendary Quinton Claunch on board as his executive producer, the album features some of the best songs Billy has ever written, like this one:

hallThe first time we met Billy was when Reggie and Jenny Young brought us to Claunch Cafe in Tuscumbia so we could check out Johnny Belew's amazing cornbread salad. Billy invited us to visit Wishbone the next day, where he was in the process of cutting another come-back album of sorts, Darryl Worley's Second Wind: Latest & Greatest, with he and Darryl producing. The first single pulled from the album, co-written with the great Ed Hill, has become a breakthrough digital hit:

champysBilly Lawson and his band (now called 'Wishbone') are back out there performing locally in The Shoals area, to rave reviews. Performer, songwriter, producer, studio owner - it might seem like he had this whole music thing sewn up - but there was one thing missing... his own record label.

Not anymore. Along with partners Mike O'Rear and James Wright, Billy launched Muscle Shoals Recordings this past week with the release of their first single, Avalon:

A loving tribute to Rick Hall and all things Muscle Shoals, that's Junior Lowe and Travis Wammack on guitar there, folks and Clayton Ivey and Jim Whitehead on the keys, same as it ever was...

Billy Lawson's got it going on!

- red kelly, October 2019 _______________________________________ Reggie