Hermon Weems Obituary
Native Detroiter Hermon Weems was born on February 21st 1938. He began his musical career as a teenage member of a street corner group known as The Sparrows during the early 50's.
The groups other members were Al Hamilton, Charles Harris, Paul Leslie and Phil Townsend. The Sparrows were regular performers on the city wide talent show circuit, with their biggest night coming with their appearance at the city recreation centre on Davison. Where they appeared on the same bill as, Clyde McPhatter, Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke.
Hermon along with the Hamilton Brothers, Bob, Al (Kent) and Ronnie (Savoy) later went on to work for Anna records. That was until Berry Gordy later released them from his employment. Undeterred, the foursome soon hooked up with local Detroit entrepreneur Ed Wingate. Where they went on to play integral part in the success of the Golden World, Wingate, and Ric Tic record labels.
Hermon's song writing credits can be found on such classic recordings as Al Kent's "The Way You Been Acting Lately" and "You've Got To Pay The Price" as well as many other Ric Tic releases by the Detroit Emeralds and the Fantastic Four.
Such was the quality of the releases emanating from the Golden World studios that they soon became serious rivals to Gordy's Motown Corporation. After several failed attempts Gordy eventually made Ed Wingate an offer he couldn't refuse and eventually bought out the Golden World and Ric Tic studios.
Hermon now found himself working for Gordy for a second time. Hermon's talents extended further than just that of a musician he was a talented artist and soon found himself working in the art department at Motown. With some of his most accomplished works being the covers for the Temptation's "Psychedelic Shack" and "Cloud Nine" albums.
In 1972 Hermon composed the in demand "Why Can't There Be Love" for Detroit soulstress Dee Edwards which would to go on to be a local hit around Detroit, gaining a release on two separate labels, BumpShop and GM respectively and was produced by Dee's husband Floyd Jones. "Why Can't There Be Love" also gained a release in many European countries, and now 38 years later, it is once again, back in vogue, as the soundtrack for a Adidas trainers advertisement.
In 1975 Hermon joined forces with Evans Clark and his old friend J.J Barnes to compose the sublime "I Think I've Got A Good Chance" which they recorded on J.J and released on their own independent Organic label.
During the 80's, Hermon was the victim of a armed robbery at his home and was shot several times. All the bullets were removed except one which periodically caused Hermon to be laid up when it rubbed against a certain nerve. Hermon later diversified his talents as a artist into the occupation of a sign writer to find work during leaner times in the music business.
In 2005 Hermon was once again re-united with his childhood friend and former Sparrow Phil Townsend. Phil had song writing credits on the Little Foxes "Love made To order" (Okeh) and Ortheia Barnes "Heartbreaker, Soulshaker" (Coral).Phil later became more involved within the promotion side of the business before leaving the recording industry altogether to become a car salesman. At the age of 62, Phil once again returned to the recording studio, to cut a tribute cd album which he dedicated to black womanhood entitled "Beautiful Black Lady", and it was to Hermon that Phil turned, to design the album cover.
A further recording project followed in 2006, with Hermon co-writing and producing
Bruce Jackson on the soul ballad "Does Your Mother Know About Me" a whole album was recorded but was reputedly lost in the unforeseen closure of the pressing plant prior to manufacture.
Hermon a diagnosed diabetic, sadly passed away on the evening of June 27th 2010 due to complications that followed an operation to remove an eye and amputate one of his legs.
His funeral service was held on Saturday 3rd July at 11.00 am at the Barksdale Funeral Home on 11/20 East State Fair, Detroit. With his final resting place being the
Metropolitan Memorial Garden cemetery, 48/300 Willow Road, Belleville, Michigan.
With acknowledgements to: Don Mancha, Pete Mashaw. And the personal memoir's of Hermon himsellf,
thanks to Doug Coombe for the ok for use of photos can check out more here
can also find a detroit metrotimes article on his recent artistic work with Peoples Records
Peoples has the power: Owner Brad Hales (left) with artist Hermon Weems, who painted the store's signs and many of the 45 boxes inside
Also the blog below features some photos of the boxes mentioned above