A Look At Chicago's Cabrini Green



Before I get down to the nitty gritty, I want to start off with a reference to my favorite movie, Cooley High the 1975 feature film produced and released by American International Pictures and written by Eric Monte (co-creator of Good Times).

Starring Glynn Turman and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, and featuring a Motown-produced soundtrack, Cooley High, set in 1964 Chicago, explores the adventures and relationships of two black high school students, whose carefree lives take a turn for the worse through several twists of fate.

The film is considered a classic of black cinema and features G.C. Cameron's hit single "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" as a theme song. "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" was covered in 1991 by Motown act Boyz II Men, who named their first LP, which contains the cover, Cooleyhighharmony in honor of this film.

Cooley High is frequently compared favorably to the 1973 George Lucas film American Graffiti.

ABC had planned a television adaptation. The pilot was poorly received, and ABC had Monte retool the show. As a result, Monte created the TV show What's Happening!!, which was loosely based on Cooley High and ran from 1976 to 1979.

Monte based the film on his experiences in the real-life Cooley High School that served students from the Cabrini-Green public housing projects in Chicago. While the film was set in and around the Cabrini-Green, it was primarily filmed at another Chicago-area housing project. He has said that he wrote the film to dispel myths about growing up in the projects: "I grew up in the Cabrini-Green housing project and I had one of the best times of my life, the most fun you can have while inhaling and exhaling".

Cabrini-Green is a public housing development on Chicago's North Side, bordered by Evergreen Avenue, Sedgwick Street, Chicago Avenue, and Larrabee Street. At its height, Cabrini-Green was home to 20,000 people, living in mid- and high-rise apartment buildings. Over the years, gang violence and neglect created terrible conditions for the residents, and the name "Cabrini-Green" became synonymous with the problems associated with public housing in the United States.

Currently, fewer than 5,000 residents remain in Cabrini-Green. Several of the buildings have been razed and the whole neighborhood is being redeveloped into a combination of high-rise buildings and row houses, with the stated goal of creating a mixed-income neighborhood with some units reserved for public housing tenants. The plan, and the way it is being implemented, has proven to be controversial.

History

Buildings & residents

Cabrini-Green was composed of four sections, built over a twenty-year period: the Frances Cabrini Rowhouses (1942), Cabrini Extension North and Cabrini Extension South (1958), and the William Green Homes (1962) (see Chronology below). The construction reflected the "urban renewal" approach to United States city planning in the mid-twentieth century. The Extension buildings were known as the "reds," for their red brick exteriors, while the Green Homes, with reinforced concrete exteriors, were known as the "whites." Many of the high-rise buildings originally had exterior porches (called "open galleries"). It is a popular destination for urban exploration.

According to the Chicago Housing Authority, the early residents of the Cabrini rowhouses were predominantly of Italian ancestry. By 1962, however, a majority of residents in the completed complex were African-American. White flight from the complex escalated over the following decade; by the 1970s, its population was overwhelmingly black.

How problems developed

Poverty and organized crime have long been associated with the area: a 1931 "map of Chicago's gangland" by Bruce-Roberts, Inc. notes Locust & Sedgwick as "Death Corner": "50 murders: count 'em." At first, the housing was integrated and many residents held jobs. This changed in the years after World War II, when the nearby factories that provided the neighborhood's economic base closed and laid off thousands. At the same time, the cash-strapped city began withdrawing crucial services like police patrols, transit services, and routine building maintenance. Lawns were paved over to save on maintenance, failed lights were left for months, and apartments damaged by fire were simply boarded up instead of rehabilitated and reoccupied. Later phases of public housing development (such as the Green Homes, the newest of the Cabrini-Green buildings) were built on notoriously stingy budgets, with attendant problems with construction quality and durability.

As a result, the buildings are very dangerous and neglected, and there was an exodus of residents who had any resources or options. Only the most marginalized and destitute residents remained. Such a resource-poor population could not effectively exert political pressure on the city, so the city increasingly neglected its obligations to residents.

Meanwhile, the buildings' proximity to affluent areas made Cabrini-Green a lucrative site for illicit drug sales; in the absence of other employment opportunities, intense competition in this underground economy fostered gang formation and violence. Reportedly, specific gangs 'controlled' individual buildings, and residents felt pressure to ally with these gangs in order to protect themselves from escalating violence.

During the worst years of Cabrini-Green's miseries, residents endured rat and cockroach infestations, rotting garbage in trash chutes (once piled up to the 15th floor), the stench of urine and insecticide in hallways, malfunctioning elevators, graffiti on walls, as well as problems with basic utilities, such as frequently bursting pipes. On the exterior, boarded-up windows, burned-out areas on the façade, and pavement instead of green space--all in the name of economizing on maintenance--created an atmosphere of neglect and decay. The high "open galleries" proved to be dangerous, and the Housing Authority for safety reasons enclosed the entire height of the buildings with a steel mesh, which increased the perception that the residents were imprisoned. (page3)

Reputation

Though Chicago has had many ill-fated public housing projects (such as the Robert Taylor Homes on the South Side and Rockwell Gardens to the west), Cabrini-Green's name and its problems were most well-known, especially beyond Chicago.

The widespread familiarity may have developed in part because Cabrini-Green was surrounded by wealthy neighborhoods, notably the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park just blocks away. Reportedly, residents of Gold Coast high-rise condos could see the flash of gunfire in Cabrini-Green. Oak Street, one of the city's most posh shopping streets, came to a dead end at the doorstep of the project. As a result of this location, wealthy Chicagoans were more aware of Cabrini-Green than they were of other projects that were farther removed from their daily routes of travel and activity.

Several infamous incidents contributed to Cabrini-Green's reputation. In 1992, seven-year old Dantrell Davis was killed by a stray bullet while walking to school with his mother. In 1997, nine-year-old "Girl X" (later identified as Toya Currie) was brutally raped and poisoned in a stairwell, leaving her blind, paralyzed and unable to speak[1]. Members of the infamous street gang, the Gangster Disciples, who controlled most of Cabrini Green, were ordered by leaders to find the person responsible for the crime and brutally assault him. The attacker, Patrick Sykes (who was not a gang member), was later apprehended by police and sentenced to 120 years in prison. Cabrini Green was so feared by the police during the 90's that many refused to go into the complex for fear of their lives. Several Chicago Police had reported that once inside the project they had been verbally abused, spit at, some had rocks smashed through their cars, and many others had been shot.[2][3].

An unanticipated result of the steel mesh (described above) was that it became even harder to police the buildings, since it was difficult for police to see through the steel mesh from outside; in 1970, two policemen were killed by snipers.

In an effort to demonstrate a commitment to making the complex safer, Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne moved into a fourth-floor apartment in 1981. Backed by police and bodyguards, she stayed for only three weeks. This incident, too, contributed to public perception of Cabrini-Green as the worst of the worst of public housing.

While many non-residents regarded Cabrini-Green with almost unalloyed horror, long-term residents interviewed by a Chicago Tribune reporter in 2004 described mixed feelings about the end of the Cabrini-Green era. They told the reporter that, in the face of their shared hardships, many residents had developed bonds of community and mutual support. They lamented the uprooting and scattering of that community, and worried about what would become of the residents who were being moved out of the old buildings to make way for new development.

Recent history and future plans

1999 photograph looking northeast on Cabrini-Green housing project.
1999 photograph looking northeast on Cabrini-Green housing project.

The Chicago Housing Authority, under a ten-year Plan for Transformation enacted in 2000, plans to demolish almost all of its high-rise public housing, including much of Cabrini-Green (except the original rowhouses, which will remain).

While Cabrini-Green was deteriorating during the postwar era, causing industry, investment, and residents to flee from its immediate surroundings, the rest of Chicago's near north side underwent equally dramatic upward changes in socioeconomic status. Cabrini-Green's location became increasingly desirable to private developers.

First, downtown employment shifted dramatically from manufacturing to professional services, spurring increased demand for middle-income housing; the resulting gentrification spread north along the lakefront from the Gold Coast, then pushed west and eventually crossed the river.

Then, in the 1980s, the Lower North Side industrial area (just across the river from the Loop, west of famed Michigan Avenue, and south of Cabrini-Green) was transformed into "River North," a focus of arts and entertainment.

By the 1990s, developers had converted thousands of acres of former industrial lands near the north branch of the Chicago River (and directly north, south, and west of Cabrini-Green) to office, retail, and housing.

Speculators began purchasing property immediately adjacent to Cabrini-Green, with the expectation that the project would eventually be demolished.

Indeed, in May 1995, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development took over management of the CHA and almost immediately began demolishing vacant buildings in Cabrini Extension ("the reds"), intending to make Chicago a showpiece of a new, mixed-income approach to public housing. Shortly thereafter, in June 1996, the city of Chicago and the CHA unveiled the Near North Redevelopment Initiative, which called for new development on and around the Cabrini-Green site. Demolition of Cabrini Extension was completed in 2002; part of the site was added to Seward Park, and construction on new, mixed-income housing on the remainder of the site began in 2006.

Subsidized development of mixed-income housing on vacant or under-used parcels adjacent to Cabrini-Green (for instance, the sites of a long-shuttered Oscar Mayer sausage factory, the former headquarters of Montgomery Ward, and Orchard Park, an adjacent senior housing project) began in 1994, and new market-rate housing now almost completely surrounds the remaining public housing.

Cabrini-Green once housed 15,000 people but this number is now down to about 5,000 (plus an unknown number of squatters occupying "vacant" apartments that are slated for demolition). New housing built on the 70-acre Cabrini-Green site will include 30% public-housing replacement housing and 20% "workforce affordable" housing, while many adjacent developments (almost all targeted at luxury buyers) include 20% affordable housing, half targeted as public-housing replacement, with a goal of 505 replacement units built off-site.

The best-known redevelopment site so far is North Town Village, a 261-unit development completed in 2001 by a partnership with Holsten Real Estate Development and Kenard Corporation on city-owned but vacant land directly northwest of Green Homes.

In February 2006, a unique partnership between CHA, Holsten, Kimball Hill Urban Centers and the Cabrini Green LAC Community Development Corporation will begin a 790-unit, $250-million redevelopment of the 18-acre Cabrini Extension site, to be called Parkside at Old Town. Plans for demolition and redevelopment of Green Homes are still under negotiation, while the original Cabrini rowhouses are currently undergoing rehabilitation.

The Plan for Transformation's relocation process was the subject of a lawsuit, Wallace v. Chicago Housing Authority, which alleged that many residents were hastily forced into substandard, "temporary" housing in other slums, did not receive promised social services during or after the move, and were often denied the promised opportunity to return to the redeveloped sites. The lawsuit was settled in June 2006, as the parties agreed to two relocation programs for current and former CHA residents: (1) CHA’s current relocation program, encouraging moves to racially integrated areas of metropolitan Chicago and providing for case-managed social services, would be applied to families initially moving from public housing; and (2) an agreed-upon modified program run by CHA’s voucher administrator, CHAC Inc., would encourage former CHA residents to relocate to economically and racially integrated communities as well as give them increased access to social services.Wallace v. Chicago Housing Authority

Some former CHA residents have moved out of Chicago, to nearby suburbs or outside the region to other cities. Other residents have successfully moved into the replacement housing, and to date residents of the mixed-income developments have reported few problems. The entire redevelopment and relocation process remains highly controversial, more so at this highly sought-after site than at other CHA sites.

Crime has dramatically decreased as the area's population has shifted; in the first half of 2006, only one murder occurred. Since most of the new housing post-dates 2000, no census figures are yet available, but the area is no longer predominantly African American. As of July 2006, foundations are being built at Parkside, the first development on former public housing land. Demolition of the Green Homes continues slowly and is expected to be completed by late 2008. Plaintiffs in Wallace and others allege that CHA's hasty removal of residents has exacerbated socioeconomic and racial segregation, homelessness, and other social ills that the Plan for Transformation aimed to address by forcing residents to less-visible but still impoverished neighborhoods, largely on the south and west sides of the city.

Cabrini-Green in Popular Culture

The 1975 film Cooley High was set in and around the Cabrini-Green projects, thoug...

Cabrini-Green was the setting for the film Candyman, made in 1992. The film chronicles the legendary life of t...

Danitra Vance, Saturday Night Live's first black female repertoire player (first a...

The sitcom Good Times (1974-1979) was ostensibly set in Cabrini-Green. Although Cabrini-Green was never mentioned by name as the housing project in which the Evans family of Good Times lived, exterior shots of Cabrini-Green were shown in both the open...

In the latter half of the 1980's, the backstory of DC Comics character Amanda Waller, leader of the third incarnation of the Suicide Squad was initially tied specifically to Cabrini-Green.

The 1994 film Hoop Dreams chronicles the life of Cabrini-Green youth William Gates (along with Garfield Park resident Arthur Agee) in pursuit of his dreams to someday play in the NBA.

In the sitcom The Bernie Mac Show (2001-2006), Bernie's two nieces and nephew Van...

In the 1999 film Whiteboyz, a group of white hip-hop fans from Iowa come to Cabrini-Green to buy drugs.

The book Cabrini-Green in Words and Pictures (compiled by David T. Whitaker, 2000) tells the story of this community from the perspective of those who lived there. Through interviews with three generations of residents, young and old share thoughts and memories of a place they called home.

In the 2001 Film Hardball, an aimless young man (played by Keanu Reeves) struggles with alcoholism, gambling and ticket scalping. Desperate for cash, he secures a loan from an acquaintance by agreeing to coach the Little League team of the Cabrini Green. His new job gives him purpose and he starts to turn his life around. This is also when Reeves had his famous line, "whooooa," with a blank look on his face.

The 1990 futuristic fictional comic book series Give Me Liberty by Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons begins in Cabrini-Green. As of the opening of the story in 1995 the neighborhood has already been enclosed in a gigantic walled and roofed structure, turning it into a prison for its impoverished residents, reflecting the decision to enclose several buildings in steel mesh. The enclosure is demolished years later by direct order of Howard Nissen, the future United States President, who does so after being informed of the horrible living conditions by the story's protagonist, Martha Washington, who grew up there.

The 1999 documentary, Voices of Cabrini: Rebuilding Chicago's Public Housing (by Ronit Bezalel and Antonio Ferrera) is a half-hour look at the redevelopment/demolition of Cabrini through the stories of its residents. The film interviews resident Mark Pratt and his son Trevonte. In addition, Cabrini Green Barber George Robbins is also interviewed and eventually has to move out of the community. The website can be found at http://www.voicesofcabrini.com which I brought over for you.

Redevelopment

As Cabrini Green is being torn down, it is important to photograph the community. So that in ten years, we can have a record of what used to stand in the area. Below are pictures taken after the documentary Voices of Cabrini was completed. They show further changes to the community, which are ongoing.

The new Starbucks with a Cabrini Green building in background
Unfortunately, this says it all

This building was once called "the palace". It was 19 stories tall.
This used to be a little league field at Cabrini

The Neighborhood

Cabrini Green is often divided into three sections based on the type of buildings - the "reds", "whites" and "rowhouses". Each cluster of buildings has its own feel, each place is like a neighborhood unto itself.

One of the "reds". These buildings (15 in all) were completed in 1958.
They are now the first buildings to be demolished

A "white" Cabrini Green building. Dedicated in 1962, there are
8 of these buildings.

The rowhouses were the first Cabrini buildings. They were
constructed in the 1940's for returning war veterans.

Future Homes

What will happen in the future as the Cabrini buildings are torn down? Where will residents live? Many have taken section 8 certificates, some will move to the suburbs, a few will moved back to the area, and many more will be homeless. The question always remains...how many residents will move back, and what happens to everyone else?

Mixed Income Communities being built in the Cabrini Green Area:

North Town Village is a mixed-income development consisting of 261 units, 79 of which are CHA units. This site is located on North Avenue and Halsted. Holsten Real Estate Development Corporation and Kenard Development Corporation are the developers for this site. Source:
thecha.org

Old Town Square is 113-unit development of which 16 units are reserved for CHA residents. Developed by MCL Companies, construction for this site began in 1998 and was completed in 2001. Source:
thecha.org

Renaissance North is a mixed-income community containing 59 units. Public housing residents will occupy 18 of these units. The Renaissance Company is the developer for this site which is located on North Avenue. Source:
thecha.org

Orchard Park Townhomes The CHA purchased 13 units (in the Orchard Park Townhomes) which were formerly owned by the Chicago Metropolitan Housing Development Corporation in a 54-unit mixed-income town community built on 2.75 acres of CHA land. CHA residents occupy these 13 units. Source:
thecha.org

The site of the new, mixed income development
at North Town Village, located next to Cabrini Green.
Of the 261 housing units,
30% are public housing, 20% are affordable housing,
50% are market rate.

Two completed buildings at North Town Village.
A handful of Cabrini Families were scheduled
to move into these buildings by Summer 2001

North Town Village Today

In Alex Ross's Kingdom Come miniseries, he created a background character named Kabrini. He is a green monster in chains whose name is basically a joke re...

Chronology

  • 1850 - Shanties first built on low-lying land along Chicago River; population predominantly Swedish, then Irish. Acquires "Little Hell" name due to nearby gas refinery, which produced shooting pillars of flame and various noxious fumes. By 20th century, known as "Little Sicily" due to large numbers of Sicilian immigrants.
  • 1929 - Harvey Zorbaugh writes "The Gold Coast and the Slum: A Sociological Study of Chicago's Near North Side," contrasting the widely varying social mores of the wealthy Gold Coast, the poor Little Sicily, and the transitional area in between. Marshall Field Garden Apartments, first large-scale (although funded through private charity) low-income housing development in area, completed.
  • 1942 - Frances Cabrini Homes (two-story rowhouses), with 586 units in 54 buildings, completed. Initial regulations stipulate 75% white and 25% black residents. Holsman, Burmeister, et al, architects. (Named for Frances Cabrini, an Italian-American nun who served the poor and was the first American to be canonized.)
  • 1958 - Cabrini Homes Extension (red brick mid- and high-rises), with 1,925 units in 15 buildings, is completed. A. Epstein & Sons, architects.
  • 1962 - Green Homes (1,096 units, north of Division Street) is completed. Pace Associates, architects. (Named for Great Society era congressman William J. Green.)
  • 1966 - Gautreaux et al vs. Chicago Housing Authority, a lawsuit alleging that Chicago's public housing program was conceived and executed in a racially discriminatory manner that perpetuated racial segregation within neighborhoods, is filed. CHA was found liable in 1969, and a consent decree was issued in 1981.
  • July 17, 1970 - Sergeant James Severin and Officer Tony Rizzato of the Chicago Police Department are fatally shot.
  • 1981 - Mayor Jane Byrne moves into Cabrini-Green as part of a publicity stunt.
  • October 13, 1992 - Seven-year-old Dantrell Davis is fatally shot while walking to school with his mother. Some of the shots came from 500-502 W. Oak Street.
  • 1992 - Candyman is released, the story taking place at the housing project.
The demolition of one of the Cabrini-Green buildings
The demolition of one of the Cabrini-Green buildings
  • 1994 - Chicago receives one of the first HOPE VI (Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere) grants to redevelop Cabrini-Green as a mixed-income neighborhood.
  • September 27, 1995 - Demolition begins.[citation needed]
  • January 9, 1997 - Nine-year-old "Girl X" found in a seventh-floor stairwell at 1121 N. Larrabee Street after being raped, beaten, choked, poisoned with insecticide and scrawled on with gang symbols. Her attacker allegedly stepped on her throat. She was left for dead but survived, though the attack blinded her. [4]
  • 1997 - Chicago unveils Near North Redevelopment Initiative, a master plan for development in the area. It recommends demolishing Green Homes and most of Cabrini Extension.
  • 1999 - Chicago Housing Authority announces Plan for Transformation, which will spend $1.5 billion over ten years to demolish 18,000 apartments and build or rehabilitate 25,000 apartments. Earlier redevelopment plans for Cabrini-Green are included in the Plan for Transformation. New library, rehabilitated Seward Park, and new shopping center open.
  • January 19, 2004 - The man who portrays the mascot of the Chicago Bulls, Chester J. Brewer, is arrested on the suspicion of selling marijuana out of his car at Cabrini-Green. [1]
  • August 8, 2006 -A 14-year-old boy is still hospitalized Tuesday morning after being shot by Chicago Police, while residents of the Cabrini-Green neighborhood protested that the police shooting was not justified.
  • August 14, 2006 - A 17 year-old teen is arrested after spitting on a police officer. Officers alleged the teen hit an officer during a protest and attempted to assault that officer.
  • October 18, 2006 -A 21-year-old man was shot to death Saturday night as he crossed the street near the Chicago Housing Authority's Cabrini-Green Homes, police said. Source: www.chicagotribune.com
  • April 1, 2007 -A fire breaks out in the garbage chute of 1230 north larabee cabrini green,all of the breeze ways filled with smoke, and three people were injured with minor burns.source:www.cbs2chicago.com

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "Man behind "Da Bull" in trouble with law". ABC7 Chicago (2004). Retrieved on 2006-12-08.

External links

The Encyclopedia of Chicago has very detailed background information on the history of public housing and the Near North neighborhood:


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Comment by Shelley "SoleMann" King on February 23, 2008 at 8:28pm
My Moms best friend in High School moved to Chicago after High School and in the early 80's moved to Cabrini-Green...She was always trying to get my mom to come visit her, but she was like nooooooooo way....LOL
Comment by Edie Antoinette on February 21, 2008 at 9:03pm
What a sweet recollection. Yes, I felt an instant bond too, a bond that's only getting stronger as I read your thoughts and memories. 'Lucky' huh? LOL I know you were a cute boy-- One day I was walking from my aunt's house on 15th and Hadley to go up to Teutonia to the grocery store. Remember that white bank on the corner of Teutonia and Hadley and right across the street on the south/west corner was a grocery store--then across the street was the Milwaukee Movie Theater. That's where me and my cousins would be gong to the show with the money from Uncle Charles..ha ha ha..

anyway, I was walking up the street with my cousin and saw some 'green' folded 'something' up ahead. I ran up and looked and lo and behold it was a folded up $10 bill!
My heart started pounding so hard as I picked it up and this is the piece d'resistance...it was actually (2)..count em...(2)$10s!!!

I got dizzy from excitement thirty!!!! I mean I was so excited I could barely contain myself!!! I was 10 years old and found (2) 10's..whew!!! We ate candy for DAYS!!! lol
Comment by Edie Antoinette on February 21, 2008 at 7:34pm
I know what life was like in the 50's living in the projects as well. My paternal grandparents lived in the projects on Federal St. I don't remember any problems such as Cabrini later experienced in the 60's on..and it's frightening to read about---chilling!

When my grandparents lived in the projects, I remember good times (pun intended)..Grannie had one of those old time washing machines with the roller things that squeezed the clothes' water out.
I remember also songs playing like The Flamingos-I Only Have Eyes For You, and The Drifters-There Goes My Baby..
. Ahhh the good memories this invokes...
Funny you should say you were sad about coming north to the goudamelt belt, Thirty. We used to come back and forth on the train and that was so much fun coming to Milwaukee. In fact, when my husband left me with 4 small children in the 70's, I moved us to Milwaukee because I felt it was a better choice for raising them than the projects. But then, Milwaukee 'was' better back then.

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  1. play Maze — 03 Feel That You're Feelin'
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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.
:: Funkinsoulman ::

Power...Through Simplicity ♪♫♪

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