Thanks go to Andy Rix for making this article available to all. Originally written and published to accompany the fairly recent auction (2009) of the 45 via John Manship and for inclusion in a special catalogue that was distributed to those who subscribed, given the recent sad news regarding the passing on of Frank Wilson yesterday Andy had passed on what could be called the 'definite' story ...
‘Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)’ — The Story
“Music has always been part of my life. In 1960, I lost my athletic scholarship after participating in the civil rights sit-in demonstrations in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and thought I had sacrificed my big chance to escape an ordinary existence. I was given a ticket to Los Angeles by the Congress Of Racial Equality. Yet when I arrived there, I never imagined, ‘This is the place where my dreams will be fulfilled.’ I now know each step was directed; meeting Hal Davis, Marc Gordon, Brenda Holloway and Berry Gordy Jr. Interestingly, when I went into the studio to record 'Do I Love You' it was just another day at work. I was excited to be in the studio doing anything and getting paid to do it, but I have learned that God moves in mysterious ways. That one day at work spent recording ‘Do I Love You’ essentially as a demo, was soon forgotten, and yet, it turned out to be a life changing experience. I am proud of what I did and humbled by the affection shown to me by so many people from all over the world.”
Frank Wilson — Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) — Soul 35019
As Motown celebrates its 50th anniversary there could not be a better time for their rarest, and most coveted, record to come to the market. The big question is, that given its status as the most expensive soul 45 ever sold, how much will it sell for on this occasion. The last time it traded hands, over a decade ago, It achieved a price tag of £15 000.
It is almost beyond belief that a song, which didn’t get a commercial release until some 14 years after it was recorded, now finds itself sitting alongside million-sellers on the Motown 50 CD. The featured tracks were chosen by public vote, and the inclusion of ‘Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)’, which has never achieved chart success, clearly demonstrates the significance the song now holds for fans of the Motown Sound.
For Motown collectors this 45rpm record is the ultimate Holy Grail and only two genuine original copies, as far as can be established, are known to still exist.
As a rare Motown record it does not stand alone; there are others that approach, or even match, its scarcity. 45s by Patrice Holloway (VIP 25001), The Charters (Mel-o-dy 104) and The Andantes (VIP 25006) have eluded virtually every Motown collector for a lifetime. Yet none of them have reached the iconic status that has been achieved by Frank Wilson and none of them are desired as much as this one.
The story of the journey that ‘Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)’ has taken to reach this exalted position could not have been written by even the most gifted of authors. It is a story surrounded by mystery, and myth, which has, over the years, become legend.
Frank Wilson was born December 5th 1940 and moved, from Houston, to Los Angeles at the age of 18. His initial passion was gospel music and he became a member of a local group called the Angelaires.
As Frank recalled, when interviewed by Bill Dahl, he decided to turn secular upon hearing Brenda Holloway. “Brenda’s voice is what inspired me to start writing pop music … up until then, I had been writing all contemporary gospel. But when I heard Brenda Holloway singing, I… decided that I would like to write a song for [her]”.
When Berry Gordy decided to open a West Coast Motown office, following his visit there to attend a disc jockey convention in 1963, he asked L.A. veterans Hal Davis, and Marc Gordon to take charge. Frank had already done some work with this dynamic duo and when they offered him the opportunity to become part of the team, he didn’t think twice. It must have been a good trip as he also signed Brenda Holloway after seeing her perform, dressed to kill, in her tight gold pantsuit.
From this moment on Frank became integral to the progress being made on the West Coast. His compositions for Jobete, the publishing arm of Motown, increased at a prolific rate and he was rewarded when the first record released from the West Coast connection, the aforementioned Patrice Holloway 45 in December 1963, featured his name on the writing credit.
During 1964-65 Frank saw an increasing number of his compositions being released either on Motown artists or by other independent companies; Mary Love, The Ikettes. Jeanie King and Connie Clark were just some that benefited.
Frank cut a few singles of his own but preferred to adopt a fictitious identity on every occasion. He released 45s as Sonny Daye (Power), a duet with Sherlie Matthews credited to Sherl Matthews & Sonny Daye (Power), Eddie Wilson (Tollie) and Chester St. Anthony (A&M); they remain collectors’ items to this day.
Frank was eager to learn all he could and soon found himself assisting in producing, and supervising recording sessions. In addition he cut most of his own songs as guide vocals for others. As he recalled, “(I) often became the vocal vehicle for my own material”. Both Brenda Holloway and Chris Clark recalled using these demos to learn the songs; when Brenda was asked about ‘Just Look What You’ve Done’ she replied, “I listened to Frank's version ….his (demos) were the best. I loved Frank Wilson's voice. I loved his delivery, his phrasing and everything… I loved recording all of his songs”.
At some point in 1965 the decision was taken to launch Frank Wilson as a Motown artist in his own right. At the latter end of the year, almost certainly during October, he went into Armin Steiner’s 8 track Sound Recorders studio, in Los Angeles, to cut some songs. This recording session, one of so many, would soon be forgotten, as other developments took priority. Years later what happened on that day would make an impact on the lives of a new generation thousands of miles away.
Frank had composed ‘Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)’ and decided to cut this track in addition to ‘Sweeter As The Days Go By’, which he had co-written with Marc Gordon.
Frank Wilson, Hal Davis and Chris Clark
Chris Clark recalls she listened to Frank’s cut of ‘Sweeter As The Days Go By’ to learn the words prior to recording her own version on December 5th 1965. That rendition eventually surfaced on her Soul Sounds album released in 1967
Chris went on to record her own version of ‘Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)’ soon after. Her initial vocal was overdubbed on Frank’s track on January 2nd 1966, again on January 19th 1966, and for a third time on August 7th 1967. It was scheduled as her next 45 but was cancelled. It finally got a commercial release on the CD Tamla Motown Connoisseurs, in 2001.
The session musicians for the day were pulled from the studio regulars that included Billy Strange, Glen Campbell, Hal Blaine, Al De Lory, Carol Kaye and Tommy Tedesco. Frank seems to think that he played keyboard but clearly recalls that he sang backing vocals with the help of Brenda and Patrice Holloway. Both tracks were produced by Hal Davis and Marc Gordon.
As far as it can be established the tapes were dispatched to Detroit, at the beginning of November 1965, where they were mixed by Lawrence Horn for submission to Billie Jean Brown. As Head of Quality Control, Billie would decide if a song was up to par; if it was she would take it to the infamous Friday morning product evaluation meeting. It was here that a vote was taken to decide what would get released, and what would remain in the can.
Frank’s songs obviously got the vote as the next stage of the process, preparing for a release, went ahead. It is from this point that determining the chronology of events becomes a little more difficult.
There has been much debate about the proposed release date for Soul 35019. In his discography Don Waller suggested 31st December 1965: his source for that date cannot be established. In the Sharon Davis book, Motown: The History, the former head of Tamla Motown in the UK, Gordon Frewin, simply indicates December 65. Given the amount of archive research conducted by Gordon, on his frequent visits to the Los Angeles tape library in the 1980s, it is highly likely that he had sight of paperwork that is no longer available.
Extensive research conducted by the team responsible for The Complete Motown Singles CD compilations were unable to add anything more of substance. In essence there was nothing left to find.
When looking at the chronology of release dates Soul 35018 was issued on November 29th 1965, and Soul 35020 was issued on March 11th 1966. Any date between those two would be plausible for Soul 35019, but so would any other date — they didn’t issue the singles in numerical order at all. As Frank recalls “release dates for singles were changed all the time”.
However, it is relevant that the Soul logo design was updated with effect from Soul 35020 and all copies of the Frank Wilson 45 adopt the original design.
What is known is that the record was pressed in November 1965. The Motown ‘Quality Control’ file copy has the date 11/23/65 written on the label, which was a Tuesday, and the annotation ‘ok’ alongside the initials of Norman Whitfield. It is highly likely that this is the copy heard at the infamous ‘Quality Control Committee’, the aforementioned product evaluation meetings. This fits into the time frame for the allocated RCA pressing reference number which is stamped into the dead wax of the record.
Frank was elated that he was about to get his first Motown release, but in the blink of an eye everything changed. His recollection of all that occurred, over 40 years ago, is a little hazy, but he seems to think he visited Detroit for a short time before making a permanent move there in 1966. It was almost certainly during this visit that the life-changing conversation with Berry Gordy took place
“I went to Detroit, and I hadn’t been in town more than a week”, Frank said. “We were standing backstage at the Fox Theater, [where] they were having a Motown Revue, and [berry] said, ‘Frank, now you know I’m getting ready to release this record on you. We’re excited about it. But I want to ask you a question. Do you really want to be an artist, or do you want to be a writer and a producer?’. And it was right then and there I told him I wanted to be a writer and a producer. And it was decided that he would not release that record on me”.
Berry was aware of Frank’s growing ability as a songwriter and producer. As Frank recalled, “Berry Gordy came out several times (to L.A.) and during that brief period of time, I got to know him, and I began to write for Motown. And then, I guess, it was a year later, Berry and I and Hal and Marc, we were taking Mr. Gordy to the airport, and I said, ‘Hey, Mr. Gordy, how about a producer's contract?’, and he said, ‘What makes you think you can produce?’, I said, ‘Because I've been producing much of the stuff that you've been hearing’. So he turned to Marc and Hal. He said, ‘Is that right?’ And they said, ‘Yes, that's right’”.
Just prior to his move to Detroit, the West Coast office, where Frank worked as an office worker for $50 a week, was closed down but Frank stayed on the payroll. Berry “wanted to know if I’d stay on and work out of my house, and they would raise my salary …About six months later the legal team came back out, and mentioned that Berry Gordy wanted to know if I’d be interested in moving to Detroit. And I agreed to do that”.
Within a few days of being in Detroit Frank made an immediate impression when he wrote, and produced, ‘Whole Lot Of Shakin' In My Heart (Since I Met You)’ for The Miracles. Recorded on 11th May 1966 the track became their next single.
The story should have ended there but sometimes the strangest things can happen.
It’s the 1970s and in England the Northern Soul scene is firmly established. Up and down the country thousands spend their weekends, at all night dance clubs, where they worship discarded soul records from 1960s America.
The need to constantly find previously unknown records, to feed the dancers, is a full time job and Simon Soussan is a master at doing just that.
It’s 1977, and in Los Angeles, Simon has just been introduced to Tom de Pierro by the celebrated Northern Soul DJ, Ian ‘Frank’ Dewhirst. Tom is on staff at Motown working on a project that would result in the release of an album of previously unreleased recordings called From The Vaults. Motown are considering signing Shalamar, who would soon hit with their Motown-medley ‘Uptown Festival’. Simon, Ian and Neil Rushton are all involved in the project.
A few people had been privileged enough to see the immaculate archive where copies of all the Motown records were stored. It is believed that two copies of the Frank Wilson 45 were there: one in the Motown Record File, and the other in the Jobete Music Record File. It would appear that by 1979 both were missing.
We will never truly know what took place but, by fair means or foul, Simon Soussan became the new custodian of Soul 35019.
The record was perfect for the Northern Soul scene and Simon, who had been a long time supplier of records to many of the top DJs, knew exactly what to do with his latest ‘discovery’.
He cut some acetates of the track, at a slightly faster speed and sent them over to select DJs. In order to protect the origin of the record, and not for the first time, Simon invented a whole new identity for the track. Those who received it were led to believe the singer was Eddie Foster, a West Coast artist, whose ‘I Never Knew’ on ‘In Records’ had been a very popular spin. Simon knew that using a known name would bring instant recognition and interest.
‘Eddie Foster’ made his debut in November 1977 and was greeted with wild enthusiasm by dancers and collectors alike. Repeated exposure across the country, and particularly at Wigan Casino, turned it into one of the most in-demand sounds of the day.
Simon had frequently bootlegged records, from his base in L.A., shipping them over to UK record dealers to satisfy the demand that had built up in the clubs. He made no exception on this occasion, and in February 1978 copies of ‘Eddie Foster’ became available to the masses to buy for £1.25.
The cover-up had worked as nobody had any idea that this was a Motown recording. Had it been cut in Detroit we might have had our suspicions raised, but without Benny Benjamin’s drum roll, James Jamerson’s bass or a Mike Terry sax break our points of reference were missing.
As time went on rumours began to circulate that all was not as it seemed. Every week a new theory was put forward about the real identity of ‘Eddie Foster’; some said it was definitely Lou Ragland, others countered claiming it was an unreleased recording by the Servicemen, many believed, myself included, that it had been rescued from the Mirwood vaults. Nobody connected it to Motown. It would be July before the truth began to emerge.
Simon decided to sell his record collection to Les McCutcheon, a UK based record dealer and collector and, as Neil Rushton recalled “Just about the last record he was handed was ‘Do I Love you (Indeed I Do)’…Les is said to have gone white with shock when he saw it was a Motown recording. He did not realise he had unwittingly been selling a bootleg as Simon, as was his way, had lied convincingly”. At last the truth was out.
The Motown ‘Quality Control’ copy was now a British resident and over the years it has been owned by various people. In 1979 it was put up for sale, by Jonathan Woodliffe, for £500. Kev Roberts eventually acquired the record for £350 worth of funk/soul albums and 12” records. In 1989 Kev sold it to its current owner Tim Brown, a highly respected collector and dealer, for £5 000.
Despite the fact that the ‘Eddie Foster’ bootleg had sold thousands of copies, UK Tamla Motown decided to issue the record.
The original tapes for both sides of Soul 35019 were requested to be sent to London from America. However, when the tapes were received, they were stereo masters and not the original mono masters. UK Tamla Motown label manager, Gordon Frewin, instantly spotted the technical differences and corrected them at Abbey Road Studios, with the help of his engineer Chris Blair, and the benefit of a copy of the ‘Eddie Foster’ 45 taken to the studio by Motown collector John Lester. TMG 1170 was thus taken from stereo masters but folded into mono for its eventual release on 9th November 1979. The DJ copies were presented in a special promotional sleeve. The stereo master version of ‘Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)’ was eventually issued in 1997 on the UK-issued CD Soul Survivors. Meanwhile, an alternate vocal take appeared as a bonus track in 1995 on the USA issued CD The Sound Of Young America — 1966. The original mono versions of both ‘Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)’, and ‘Sweeter As The Days Go By’, are both featured on the award winning The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 5: 1965, issued in 2006.
Frank Wilson had finally got his first solo commercial release as a Motown artist, although at the time he knew nothing about it.
It was around the time of the UK release that Motown took steps to try and recover their lost record. Despite trying they were unable to locate it and eventually gave up. In Los Angeles Tom de Pierro waited for Simon to return the record. He died prematurely refusing to believe that Simon had sold it.
For many years the ‘Quality Control’ copy remained a one-off but, as often happens, another copy surfaced.
The late Ron Murphy was a legendary Detroit-based record label owner, producer, engineer and avid record collector. Over the years he had assembled one of the best Motown collections in the world. He told the story of his find on the Soulful Detroit Music Forum.
“The prime pressing plant for Motown was American Record Pressing (ARP) located in Owosso, Michigan…now this plant was destroyed by a fire in 1971 but later in the early 80's I contacted some of the former employees to see if they still had saved any of the records pressed there”.
“Well I got lucky and found a few thousand records pressed at ARP starting from 1952 when the plant started right up to 1971. I visited and purchased records from about 25 former workers, (then) one day I received a call from a former manager saying he had about 300 records to sell and this guy ended up having the best Motown items
“Included in those boxes were the Frank Wilson (Soul 35019) and a test pressing of VIP 25034 a ‘MISSING’ number which was the Chris Clark version of the same Frank Wilson song, which had Clark overdubbing her lead vocal over Wilson's track”.
Now here is exactly what he told me when I asked him how he had all these mint records including the Frank Wilson on Soul: “We would press six copies and send three to Motown for approval and keep the other three copies on file”.
Then he said one day the owner told him to get rid of all the older records on file because they were taking up a lot of space BUT instead of throwing away all three copies he saved ONE copy of each and took those home, “and that's what I got”.
“So IF the former ARP manager that I got my copy from was correct”, Ron continued, “and the other two copies the plant had were destroyed then besides the one copy stolen from Motown's files that would leave only two possible other copies to exist”.
Ron eventually sold his entire collection, in 1994, to Martin Koppel, a record dealer based in Canada. It is from this collection that Kenny Burrell purchased an original copy of ‘Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)’ for £15 000.
Exactly how many copies were originally pressed has been debated at length for years. Many refuse to believe that Motown would go to the trouble of just pressing six copies but no concrete evidence has ever been presented to contradict the story as told by Ron.
The fact that cannot be disputed is that the two known copies come from a primary source; both are clearly related to the initial stage of the production of the record. No other copy has surfaced, outside of this inner circle, despite thousands of collectors searching everywhere, through millions of records, for the past 30 years.
Despite this there have been numerous reports of more copies: Berry Gordy allegedly has one, so does Billie Jean Brown, a Motown collector in London, a record dealer in Detroit and another in the Carolinas. Frank certainly never had a copy: “I had NO idea an original even existed!”
Marc Gordon, who co-produced the track, also confirmed that he had never had a copy.
The possibility that more exist cannot be totally, and absolutely, refuted but until these reports are confirmed, with hard evidence, they have to remain as unsubstantiated claims. If we believe that only six copies were pressed then two remain unaccounted for.
The popularity of ‘Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)’ has grown steadily over the years. It has been featured on numerous compilations and generated a further surge of interest when used by KFC for a national advertising campaign. As previously mentioned, the song eventually gained a USA release, in 1995, when it was included in The Sound Of Young America CD series as a bonus track on the 1966 volume. The version used featured an alternate vocal take.
The auction of ‘Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)’ is about to add another chapter to one of the most incredible stories ever told and as Frank has said, “I consider it one of my life's greatest achievements!”.
I don’t think any of us would disagree with that.
Footnote: The 45 sold for £25 742 to an anonymous bidder.
The following are thanked for their contribution: Frank Wilson, Brenda Holloway, Chris Clark and Marc Gordon.
Keith Hughes, Bill Dahl and Harry Weinger - The Complete Motown Singles Volume 5.
Chris Jenner, John Lester, Paul Nixon, Neil Rushton, Ian Dewhirst, Robb K, Stuart Cosgrove, Tim Brown and Ian Levine.
Special thanks to Keith Hughes and the incredible ‘Don’t Forget the Motor City’ http://www.dftmc.info
And finally to Donna, for her support, encouragement and love
5th Dec 1940 - 27th Sep 2012