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HOF: Weldon A Mcdougall III - Post Production Inductee

HOF: Weldon A Mcdougall III - Post Production Inductee magazine cover

Date Of Induction : 01 November 2014 Category : Post Production

 

Most collectors of Northern Soul records will have the name of Weldon A McDougall III nestled in their 45s collection somewhere. A native of Philadelphia Weldon was born at the Mercy Douglas Hospital in West Philly and was raised by his mother Eleanor having been named after his father and Grandfather. His interest in music was sparked as a student at West Philadelphia High School where he first encountered George Tindley (Of The Dreams) and George Grant (Of The Castelles). As a schoolboy Weldon showed early signs of the entrepreneurship that would drive his ambitions throughout his life and could be found delivering the neighbourhoods newspapers on his trusty bike. One of his family customer’s son, Johnny Stiles later became a major influence in Weldon’s life when along with Luther Randolph, the trio established Harthon Records at 5994 Chestnut St in West Philly. Weldon’s early musical involvement came in the mid fifties when it seemed just about every high school student was in some kind of singing group. Weldon was no exception and he put together his own doo wop inspired quartet called The Larks. On graduation though in 1955, the call to serve Uncle Sam however interrupted the group’s progress and Weldon spent two years serving his country as United States Marine at Quantico Virginia.

 

On discharge he returned to Philadelphia, reconnected with former Lark Pat White (who became Mrs Weldon McDougall), and set about finding a new lead singer. Approached by local singers Earl ‘Bill’ Oxendine and Jackie Marshall, Weldon and Pat on hearing them agreed that their new quartet was now complete. Mistakenly booked by Jocko Henderson, (the WDAS legendary DJ), for one of his Rocket Ship shows at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theatre (1) The newly formed quartet appeared on the same bill as Clyde McPhatter, Baby Washington and Shep And The Limelights. Despite not having even made a recording yet fellow Philly maestro, Bandstand announcer and record producer Jerry Ross recognised their potential and took the group into the Reco -Arts Studio. The resulting 45s would set the group off on a musical journey that would include releases on Ross’ own Sheryl label and further outings on Uptown and Tower, including of course the classic double-sider, The Four Larks — Groovin’ At The Go Go b/w I Still Love You” — Tower 402. (Pat White had left the group by this stage, split with Weldon and Vivian, Weldon’s second wife is the female lead on the 45).

 

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In tandem with his work with the Four Larks, Weldon also established Harthon Records who produced many classic Northern Soul 45s at Frank Virtue’s studio on Broad St. Amongst the lengthy legacy of The Harthon Trio of Weldon, Luther Randolph and Johnny Stiles are such outings as Larry Clinton — “She’s Wanted In Three States” — Dynamo 300, Herb Ward — “Strange Change” — Argo 3510 and The Cooperettes — “Shing A Ling” — Brunswick 553, as well as fantastic outings as diverse as Eddie Holman, The Victors, The Rotations, The Inspirations, Cliff Nobles and of course the hugely popular Shirley Turner — “World Of Happiness” . Of course the Harthon label itself gave us sought after discs by The Volcanos, The United Four, Bernard Williams, The Preludes and Lee Garrett.

 

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Whilst enjoying success with Harthon, Weldon also worked at Chips Distribution where he was instrumental in promoting soul re cords in particular. The gold stickers that became the trademark of Chips Distribution were an invention of Weldon’s. When the Harthon trio started enjoying notoriety from their Virtue Studio productions they formed Dyno-Dynamic Productions and along with Jimmy Bishop, the WDAS DJ and Harold Lipsius, the owner of Jamie Guyden established Arctic Records with Weldon’s discovery, The Tiffanies kicking off the labels output. The label’s most successful artist, Barbara Mason was also mentored by Weldon. Of course Dyno-Dynamic, via the Arctic label, (and it’s short lived sister: Frantic), produced many Northern Soul classics by Barbara, The Volcanos, Herb Johnson, and the Arctic label itself contributed a whole slew of Northern Soul classics from Honey and The Bees, The Temptones, Kenny Hamber etc.

 

 

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Undeterred by the Arctic deal turning sour and leaving the trio bereft of any control, (2) Weldon and the guys continued producing records that would hit the spot thousands of miles away in UK. From Marva Lee’s wonderful interpretation of the Gene Chandler classic and Nella Dodds’ version of the Supremes to the fantastic pounder by Irma and The Larks and he haunting Intentions 45, Weldon was at the heart of the mid sixties Philly Sound. So much so that as Gamble and Huff gained in stature they employed Weldon as their promo man and it is Weldon’s cartoon image that gave Philadelphia International Records part of its marque and later Berry Gordy would call upon him to do that very same job, (amongst others), for his Motown empire. Weldon was prolific photographer and was rarely seen without a camera within an arms length and his archive of photographs is legendary. Part of his photographic legacy led to him and Bill Dhal creating a book, recording his time at Motown during which he took thousands of distinctly personal and informal photographs of Berry Gordy’s superstars.

 

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Weldon had another endearing hobby too. Every Friday afternoon he would ‘disappear’. His love of the movies would never diminish and he went to the cinema every week in order to be transported to that cellular world of fantasy. To talk about movies with Weldon was to be enthralled, almost childlike, as he sang the praises of spending a few hours in what he often described as a separate, wonderful world.

 

Always ready to help Philly bound soulfans, he became a friend to many, including your author and his ever present, big beaming smile was always a sight that I never tired of. Weldon sadly passed away in 2010, a raconteur, a man that could sell sand to the Arabs, he would be over the moon to be included in The Northern Soul Hall Of Fame. It’s an honour and privilege to have been part of his tribute as he is recognised in such a way and becomes a founding Inductee into the Soul Source Northern Soul Hall Of Fame.

 

Dave Moore 01 Nov 2014

 

Notes and References:

  1. According to Weldon, Jocko thought he had booked Don Juan And The Meadowlarks!
  2. The Harthon trio were duped into thinking that Arctic Records was established as a vehicle for their own productions and that they were co owners. This turned out to no be the case.

 

 

Discography :

The following listof records are all records that Weldon was involved with in some way, either as artist, a producer or a label owner. It’s by no means complete or even near exhaustive but gives a good flavour/account of some of the Northern Soul 45s that he contributed too.

 

Sheryl Records

Four Larks - It's Unbelievable b/w II Can't Believe It - 334

Cleopatra - Heaven Only Knows b/w My Darling - 334

Four Larks - Let's Drink A Toast b/w There Is A Girl - 338 .

 

Priority Records

Irma and The Larks - Don't Cry b/w Without You Baby - 332.

 

Fairmount Records

Irma and The Larks - Don't Cry b/w Without You Baby - 1003

 

Scepter Records

Irma & The Fascinators - Just A Feeling b/w Lost Love - 12100

 

Uptown Records

The Four Larks - Tower 748 - That's All That Counts b/w You And Me — 748

The Four Larks — I’s Unbelievable b/w Keep Climbing Brothers - 761

 

Tower Records

The Four Larks - Another Chance b/w Rain - 364

The Four Larks- I Still Love You (From The Bottom Of My Heart) b/w Groovin' At The Go-Go - 402

The Four Larks — I’ve Got Plenty b/w Can I Have Another Helping Please — 450

 

Argo Records

Herb Ward - Strange Change b/w Why Do You Want To Leave Me - 3510

 

Arctic Records

Tiffanys - Love Me b/w Happiest Girl In The World - 101

Barbara Mason - Come To Me b/w Girls Have Feelings Too - 102

Volcanos - Baby b/w Make Your Move - 103

Cindy Gibson - Step By Step b/w Whisper You Love Me Baby - 104

Barbara Mason - Yes I'm Ready b/w Keep Him - 105

Volcanos - Storm Warning b/w Baby - 106

Kenny Gamble And The Floaters - Down By The Seashore Part 1 b/w Part 2 - 107

Barbara Mason - Come To Me b/w Sad, Sad Girl - 108

Herb Johnson - Gloomy Day b/w Carfare Back - 109

Volcanos - Help Wanted b/w Make Your Move - 111

Barbara Mason - You Got What It Takes b/w If You Don't (Love Me,Tell Me So) - 112

Kenny Gamble & The Romeos - Ain't It Baby Part 1 b/w Part 2 - 113

Volcanos - (It's Against The) Laws Of Love b/w Inst - 115

Barbara Mason - Don't Ever Want To Lose Your Love b/w Is It Me - 116

Barbara Mason - I Need Love b/w Bobby Is My Baby - 120

Volcanos - Lady's Man b/w Help Wanted - 125

Barbara Mason - Poor Girl I'm In Trouble b/w Hello Baby - 126

Volcanos - Make Your Move b/w You're Number 1 - 128

Barbara Mason - You Can Depend On Me b/w Game Of Love - 134

Barbara Mason - Oh How It Hurts b/w Ain't Got Nobody - 137

Barbara Mason - Half A Love b/w Slipping Away - 142

Barbara Mason - Don't Ever Go Away b/w I'm So Good For You - 146

Barbara Mason - Take It Easy b/w You Never Loved Me - 148

Barbara Mason - You Better Stop It b/w Happy Girl — 154

 

Harthon Records

Luther Randolph & Johnny Styles - Crossroads Part 1 b/w Crossroads Part 2 - 424

Luther Randolph & Johnny Styles - Talkin' 'Bout You Part 1 b/w Talkin' 'Bout You Part 2 - 426

Joann Jackson & The Dreams - Georgie Porgie b/w The Mob - 427

Luther Randolph & Johnny Styles - Criss Cross b/w I Fell Pretty - 429

The Twilights - It's Been So Long b/w She Put Me Down - 134

The Twilights - Shipwreck b/w For First Time - 135

Bernard Williams & The Blue Notes - Needless To Say b/w Focussed On You - 136

Lee Garrett - I Can't Break The Habit b/w Baby, Please Don't Go - 137

The Volcanos - Gotta Be A False Alarm b/w Movin' And Groovin' - 138

The United Four - She's Puttin' You On b/w Go On - 139

The Preludes - Deeper Than That b/w Shiggy Diggy - 140

Lee Garrett - I'm So Glad Part 1 b/w I’m So Glad Part 2 - 141

The United Four - Look At Her Now b/w One More Year - 142

The Volcanos - Take Me Back Again b/w Aw Shucks - 146

The Body Motions - False Alarm b/w Putting You On - 103074

 

Wand Records

Nella Dodds - Come See About Me b/w You Don't Love Me Anymore - 167

Nella Dodds - Finders Keepers Losers Weepers b/w A Girl's Life - 171

Inspirations - Kiss And Make Up b/w Love Can Be So Wonderful - 182

Nella Dodds -Com Back Baby b/w Dream Boy - 187

 

Atco Records

Marva Lee - If You Can't Be True b/w Too Bad Too Sad - 6367

The Sweet Delights - Baby Be Mine Paul's Midnight Ride - 6601

 

Philips Records

Intentions - Don't Forget That I Love You b/w Night Rider - 40428

Victors - Hurt b/w Not Only A Girl Know - 40475

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constellation161's profile photo

Posted

Great write up Dave, had the pleasure of speaking to him at Soultrip New York. Also on the writing and production credits on Universal Loves Its you girl on Glades.

       Mick Perrins

AGENTSMITH's profile photo

Posted

loved his book from day one Dave, took it along to the Manchester Apollo on 2004 and got the funk brothers page signed by Jack Ashford and the guys after their performance. really is a personal perspective, a genuine close-up that very few people were privilege to in both the 60's and 70's. Sadly, the book was only made available in the states...more people should have it in their collections, it really is a fascinating insight into the workings of the Motown corporation. I think that what Weldon did, in Philadelphia, came as close to replicating the Motown sound, but without the big breakthrough his productions so richly deserved. Having said that, he more than anybody else, is probably responsible for more releases associated with our northern soul scene than any other writer/producer/arranger, outside of Detroit.

Carl Dixon's profile photo

Posted

Good stuff. A very obliging individual who wanted to help.

Markw's profile photo

Posted

Didn't Butch get his Jesse James "Love Is Alright" (Volcanos c/up) and the Sherrys  "World Of Happiness" ( i.e. Emanons "Bird Walking" vocal) acetates direct from Weldon? 

Northern Soul UK's profile photo

Posted

Fab write up. Just got this slab of history. It'll probably go on the wall in the studio 🙂

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