Born 25 March 1921, Tunica, Mississippi
Died 12 June 1989, Gary, Indiana

Vivian Carter was the "Vee" of Vee-Jay Records, a Chicago-based label that she launched in 1953 with her husband, James Bracken. The label had evolved from their Gary, Indiana record store, Vivian's Record Shop. Staying on top of the city's blues and R&B scene, Carter was also employed as a deejay at the time. Vivian's brother Calvin Carter was brought in as A&R man. Originally, Carter and Bracken planned to make a few gospel recordings to satisfy the demands of their shop's customers, and over the years Vee-Jay issued stacks of wax by some of America's most righteous voices : the Staples Singers, the Swan Silvertones and others. However, the duo couldn't help noticing that the youngsters visiting their shop were chasing an entirely different sound, which is now known as doo- wop. The first national hit for Vee-Jay was "Goodnight My Love" by the Spaniels, which peaked at # 5 on the R&B charts, but in the pop market it was outsold by a white cover by the McGuire Sisters. The same fate befell their second doo-wop hit, "At My Front Door" by the El Dorados, which was covered by Pat Boone. "Oh What A Night" by the Dells (# 4 R&B, 1956) came at a time that the record buying public had come to prefer the black originals. However, the most impressive vocal group on Vee-Jay were the Impressions, led by Jerry Butler. The original release of "For Your Precious Love" on Vee-Jay 280 is worth $6000 according to Joel Whitburn. The rerelease on Abner (a Vee-Jay subsidiary) went to # 11 on the pop charts in 1958. At the end of that same year Butler went solo and had 16 chart entries (pop) on Vee-Jay, 1960-66. Other notable performers on the roster were Jimmy Reed, Dee Clark, Little Richard (in 1964-65) and Betty Everett. In a short time, Vee-Jay was the most successful black-owned record company in the United States. "Raindrops" by Dee Clark (1961) and "Duke Of Earl" by Gene Chandler (1962) were million sellers. By 1963, they were charting records faster than some of the major labels. They were the first U.S. company to have the Beatles. In one month alone in early 1964, they sold 2.6 million Beatles singles. Yet, two years later, the company was bankrupt. Paradoxically, the trouble started with the Four Seasons, Vee-Jay's first big white act. Though they scored three consecutive number ones (Sherry, Big Girls Don't Cry, Walk Like A Man), Vee-Jay had trouble paying the very high royalties that Bob Crewe had negotiated for the Seasons. In spite of the million sellers, the label was still run like a small corporation. The company grew too fast. Enormous friction built up between the Brackens and the new management team. On top of this and the financial troubles, lawsuit followed lawsuit with the result that Vee-Jay lost both the Four Seasons and the Beatles. The label folded in 1966. Randy Wood and Betty Chiappetta bought Vee-Jay from the bankruptcy trustee in 1967. Both had been long-time employees of Vee-Jay before the bankruptcy. For the first several years, the new company, which was called Vee-Jay International, could barely survive on a few reissues and some leases to reissue companies like Springboard (Upfront) and Buddah. Vivian Carter returned to Gary where she was active in radio well into the 1980s. In the early eighties she had a stroke and died in a Gary nursing home in 1989.

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This is great...I remember reading about her before!
WOW....Never even read or heard about her, but always wondered what Vee-Jay stood for...A great addition to The OOTP Hall of Fame


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Spotlight | Maze

  1. play Maze — 03 Feel That You're Feelin'
  2. play Maze — 04 Somebody Else's Arms
  3. play Maze — 04 Southern Girl
  4. play Maze — Can't Get Over You
  5. play Maze — Golden Time Of Day
  6. play Norman Brown — Night Drive
  7. play Norman Brown — Feeling
  8. play Norman Brown — Still
  9. play Miles Davis — miles 1
  10. play miles 2
  11. play miles 3
  12. play miles 4
  13. play miles 5
  14. play Marvin Gaye — I Met A Little Girl
  15. play Santana — 01 Singing Winds, Crying Beasts
  16. play Santana — 02 Black Magic Woman-Gypsy Queen
  17. play Mongo — 02. Afro Blue

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) 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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