See, it's funny how much you can remember events that took place in your life as a child. I think that's my strange gift from God. The gift of memory. I can remember as far back as two years old just like it was yesterday. (Clearly)
Follow this short story with me.
In 1962 a jazz Artist By the name Herbie Hancock created his first big hit. The name of the song was called. Watermelon Man. That's the year I was born. Fast forward to 1967. Detroit's Mayor, Jerome Cavanagh is asking for help and support from Governor Romney and State police are deployed. President Johnson finally gets involved and Marshal Law is handed down on my city. The National Guard is called in to stop the looting and chaos in the streets. The curfew for everyone to be in their homes is from 9am to 5pm. I'm too little to see whats going on but I hear the loud commotion outside our apartment building. I'm very curious. I finally make up my mind to get on the couch, climb on the back of it and jump to the window ledge. I pulled myself up and to my amazement, I see guards men with loaded rifles and army tanks. People yelling at each other and guards threatening to shoot. My sister is also curious. So I step down to give her a boost to the ledge so she can also see whats going on. I didn’t understand why we couldn’t go outside to play anymore. This was a scary time in Detroit. In a window a man lights up a cigarette and a guard shoots through that same window hitting his young daughter. She died. She was only 4 years old. I couldn’t understand why my city was burning around us. I was too young to understand why my city was in a state of emergency. I definitely didn’t understand where the new black and white floor model TV came from that my dad and uncle Richard carried into our home. A brand new floor model, stereo console with a record player. No bill of sell, no receipt, not even a box.
In 1969 A Hustler Was Born.
Definition: An Aggressively Enterprising Person, A Go Getter
After about two year, we were finally allowed to go outside and play on a regular basis. Dumbarton Street which is now called Heritage Streets, looks like a Kuwait war zone. Boarded up houses, abandoned burned buildings and trash everywhere. The damage was done but out of all of this misery and pain, something positive happened.........As a child I discovered hustling. Through it all, I became a little genius.
I can remember walking by a home that was just about burned to the ground. Almost all the bricks had fallen from this house. I picked a brick up and took it home. My ideal was to take this brick and turn it into an beautiful ashtray to give to my parents. I found some sandpaper my dad had and started sanding. This brick was weak and very easy to work with. I had a paint set that my dad bought me for Christmas. Also in this kit was some shellac to brush on to give it a glossy look. I gave that first ashtray to my mom and dad and set out to collect more bricks.
The little artist has just turned into an entrepreneur.
I finished painting about 20 – 25 ashtrays. I found a grocery cart outside to put them in and me and my little brother went house to house to sell them for two dollars each. I mean imagine, a 7 year old with a cart selling ashtrays. And this was after the Detroit riots.
So whenever I hear The President Elected Trump “What Do You Have To Lose” speech, I gotta shake my head. The Part where he says, you're living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?
I kinda chuckle on that speech. I been through worse already. Remember I been through Marshal Law. Nothing can get worst then that. I'm a survivor. Always been a hustler and will always take care of my family no matter what.
Now I know my brother and sister doesnt remember this but that's ok. I'll be the family Historian lol.
People always ask me why do I work so much. Well now you know why. Since 7 years old that's all I ever done is hustle.
The history of the Butlers/Raw Soul is dense, but for all of us music nerds, that's normal. It is not totally clear what year the Butlers actually formed but they released their first single in 1963 on Liberty Records. That single was "She Tried To Kiss Me" and another single followed on Guyden entitled "Lovable Girl." After the Guyden single the Butlers took a break not recording another record until the single "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" was released on the Phila label in 1966. The group also backed Charles Earland and Jean Wells on one Phila single ("I Know She Loves Me").
As you might be noticing, the Butlers were doing a fair amount of recording but not achieving much success. The group's recordings sold regionally but never had the promotion to make an impact on the national scene. After the single with Phila, the Butlers moved to the Fairmount label (part of the Cameo-Parkway family) and released a handful of singles, some being reissued singles of the past. The Butlers were with Fairmount for 1966-67 and then moved to Sassy Records. Sassy released the group's greatest single (in my opinion) "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" b/w "If That's What You Wanted." A copy of that 45 sold for just under $500 last summer on eBay. Even though that isn't that much in the world of record collecting--it's still a hefty sum. The Butlers released another single on Sassy ("She's Gone" b/w "Love Is Good") that appears to be even
harder to come by then the "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" single.
The true history become a bit blurred here as the AMG biography states that the Butlers last record was released on C.R.S. in 1974 (". However, between 1971 and that single, Frankie Beverly formed a group called Raw Soul and released a number of singles. Some of the songs recorded by Beverly during this period are "While I'm Alone," "Open Up Your Heart," (both on the Gregor label) and "Color Blind." "Color Blind" was released by the Eldorado label and rerecorded by Maze. Beverly's big break came when Marvin Gaye asked Raw Soul to back him on a tour. Gaye helped Beverly/Raw Soul get a contract at Capitol. Beverly decided to take the group in a different direction, a name change occurred, and Maze was created.
The above isn't the most complete history of Beverly but hopefully someone will know a way to get in touch with the man or his management because a comprehensive pre-Maze history needs to be done on Frankie Beverly (his real name is Howard, by the way). Below you'll find every Frankie Beverly (pre-Maze) song available to me right now ("Color Blind" will be up soon).
If you have a song that is not included below, shoot it over to funkinsoulman (at) yahoo.com and it will go up in the next Frankie Beverly post (later this week--highlighting Maze). Also, if you have any more information please share your knowledge. The Butlers material has been comp-ed sporadically (usually imports) but the entire Maze catalog has been reissued and is available.
Enjoy. "She Kissed Me" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
"I Want To Feel I'm Wanted" (not sure which label or year) "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" (Phila, 1966) "Because Of My Heart" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
"Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" (Sassy, 1967)
"If That's What You Wanted" (Sassy, 1967)
Frankie Beverly is one of those cats that has lasting power. He started in the music business doing a tour with doo wop group the Silhouettes and then formed his own group called the Blenders. The Blenders never recorded a single, Beverly wouldn't appear on wax until forming the Butlers a few years later. Along with Beverly, the Butlers included Jack "Sonny" Nicholson, Joe Collins, John Fitch, and Talmadge Conway.
Beverly would later enjoy great success fronting Maze and Conway would become a
well-known penning Double Exposure's
"Ten Percent" and the Intruders' "Memories Are Here To Stay."
While Maze is a phenomenal group, Beverly's work before that group will always stand out as his best (imo).
The Butlers produced tunes that most Northern Soul fans would kill for and Raw Soul gave the funksters something to pursue. If, by chance, you know of a way to get in touch with Frankie Beverly or his management, please drop me an e-mail. It would be absolutely great to do an interview with him about his pre-Maze work. He's still playing out, most recently doing a New Year's Eve show in Atlanta.