Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vinyl Adventures #17

Another double header...

December 2012 has seen the passing of 2 great soulmen.

On December 2nd Howard Tate passed away at the age of 72. Born in Macon Georgia in 1939, as a teenager he began performing in a gospel group that also featured the great Garnet Mimms. He recorded R&B sides for Mercury and Cameo Records in the ealy 60's and also performed with the organist Bill Doggett.

Garnet Mimms introduced Tate to the legendary producer Jerry Ragovoy and between 1966 and 1968 the two of them produced some outstanding soul/blues recordings for Verve Records including "Ain't Nobody Home", "Look At Granny Run Run" and "Stop" all of which reached the Billboard R&B Top 20.

After more recordings for Turntable, Epic and his own label, Tate retired from the music business in the early 1970's and began selling insurance in Philadelphia. Tragedy struck when he lost his daughter in a house fire and as a result he started drinking heavily and became addicted to drugs, ending up homeless. By the mid 1990's he had cleaned up and was counselling drug users and preaching. Around this time his 1967 album "Get It While You Can" was reissued on CD and in the sleeve notes Jerry Ragovoy wrote that Tate was probably dead.

In 2001 a chance meeting between Tate and a member of Harold Melvin's Blue Notes in a grocery store let everyone know he was very much alive and in 2003 Howard Tate and Jerry Ragovoy worked together again to produce the comeback album "Rediscovered". Over the ensuing years Howard Tate had a second career, making further albums and touring regularly.

So in tribute I give you Howard Tate's 1967 recording for Verve "Baby, I Love You"...enjoy

Just 4 days later on December 6th came the news that Dobie Gray had also left us. If you don't know Dobie's name I'm willing to bet you've heard his 1973 hit single "Drift Away" before.

Born either Lawrence Darrow Brown or Leonard Victor Ainsworth (a name under which he later recorded) in 1940, his family were share croppers in Texas and he developed a love of gospel music through his grandfather who was a Baptist minister. In 1960 Lawrence/Leonard moved to Los Angeles where he recorded for a number of local labels under various names, including Leonard Ainsworth, Larry Curtis and Larry Dennis. Sonny Bono recommended him to Stripe Records and it was they who suggested the name change to "Dobie Gray" (a nod to the then popular sitcom "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis"). During the early 1960's the newly renamed Dobie Gray issued a clutch of singles on Stripe and more on Real Fine, Cordak and Jak before he turned up at Charger Records.

Dobie's first single for Charger gave him his first worldwide hit. In 1964 "The "In" Crowd" reached number 13 in the US Pop charts and 25 in the UK.
His legendary position with UK soul fans was, however, cemented by his 5th release for Charger. "Out On The Floor", released in 1966, is Northern Soul encapsulated on a 7" single. It was a complete flop when first released but has become revered over the years due to it's popularity on the Northern Soul dancefloor. When re-released in the UK in 1975 it reached number 42 in the charts and in 2000 former Wigan Casino DJ Kev Roberts placed it at number 2 in his list of the all time greatest 500 Northern Soul records, second only to Frank Wilson's "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)".

So we bid farewell to Dobie Gray, one of the greats of Northern Soul, by bringing you "See You At The "Go-Go""...I'll see you where the girl's are...

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