Memphis Minute - October 9th
Before his death from a heart attack at 41, before the addictions that led to that premature death, before the great and soulful sessions with Willie Mitchell (first at Backbeat, then Hi Records), before his first success was cut short by a contract dispute, there was a young man singing gospel. That young gospel singer was handed a song turned down by Stax and signed by one of the founders of Hi Records. The song was written by Roosevelt Jamison and the man with the ear for great talent and co-founder of Hi was Quinton Claunch. Together, with financing from pharmacist “Doc” Russell, Claunch founded Goldwax Records after he left Hi Records. They had hits with soul records from the gospel and soul singer and a smash hit written by Dan Penn and Chips Moman in Claunch’s hotel room - that’s how he got “Dark End of the Street” recorded by James Carr. But the label owner who recorded that gospel singer in a group claimed he was still under contract. So the gospel-turned-soul singer began working with Willie Mitchell, who at the time was working for Backbeat Records, a relationship which continued at Mitchell’s Hi Records until the singer’s untimely death. Mitchell called him “the greatest blues artist I've ever produced."
The young man who emulated Sam Cooke in The Sunset Travelers, whose first hit was turned down but later recorded by Otis Redding at Stax (“That’s How Strong My Love Is”), who was essentially stolen from Goldwax but partnered with Willie Mitchell on so many great songs because of it - "Eight Men, Four Women," "I'd Rather Be (Blind, Cripple & Crazy)," "You're Gonna Make Me Cry," and this gem about a relationship, but with reminders of the addictions that killed him, was born on this day in Lenow, Tennessee (Cordova), just outside Memphis, where he recorded for Goldwax and worked with Willie Mitchell at Backbeat and Hi Records. Remembering Overton Vertis - O. V. - Wright, born on this day in 1939(died 1980).