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Ivy Joe Hunter: See You Around!


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Ivy Joe Hunter:  See You Around! magazine cover

Native Detroiter Ivy Jo Hunter was born Ivy George Hunter on August 28th 1940. As a child his parents sent him to music classes where he learned to play the Trumpet and Euphonium. Which pre-teens saw him perform with the Detroit City Youth Orchestra. Ivy’s mother told her son that being a professional musician was a very unsecure future and persuaded him to take up art at High School. Upon leaving High School Ivy also realized the life of an artist was tough going so he joined the army as an electrical engineer. "¨"¨After four years in the service Ivy returned to civilian life and decided to follow his first love and become a full time musician. After a stint of working several different clubs Ivy eventually wound up at one of Detroit’s most renowned clubs, The Phelps Lounge. It was a chance meeting there one afternoon that changed Ivy’s life around. Ivy was rehearsing with the clubs resident band and giving them their instructions as he had done many times before, when a guy who was just having an afternoon drink stepped out the audience and introduced himself as Hank Cosby."¨"¨Cosby liked what he saw Ivy doing and invited him down to the Motown studios. So in 1963 Ivy Jo Hunter signed four contracts as a writer, producer, artist and artist manager with Motown Records. Cosby was also responsible for introducing Ivy to William “Mickey” Stevenson and thus forming one of Motown’s most accomplished song writing and producing teams of the 60’s."¨"¨Ivy’s song writing credits can be found on a multitude of songs that achieved top 100 status both in the USA and throughout the world. Some of the highlights being such timeless classics as the Four Tops “Just Ask The Lonely”, The Spinners “I’ll Always Love You”, The Marvelettes “ I’ll Keep Holding On” and the Martha Reeves & The Vandellas seminal anthem “Dancing In The Street”.

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“Dancing In The Street” was initially composed as a ballad but Ivy and Mickey struggled to come up with a suitable title. That was until Marvin Gaye intervened, Marvin was chilling out smoking a cigarette in the studio at the time and was listening in to what the guys were doing. He then made the suggestion to call the song “Dancing In The Street” and to make it a up tempo dance number. Thus in doing so earned himself 25% of the song writing royalties."¨"¨While “Dancing In The Street” was recorded as a innocent dance record it also became an unofficial civil rights anthem with many young disillusioned black activists claiming the title was a call to riot. This was vehemently denied by both Martha Reeves and Berry Gordy. Although “Dancing In The Street” is regarded as Martha & The Vandellas signature tune, other Ivy Jo compositions on the Vandellas included the sublime “My Baby Loves Me” and the driving “You’ve Been In Love To Long” (later covered by Barbara Acklin)."¨"¨Towards the end of his tenure with Motown Ivy was placed with the company’s V.I.P subsidiary. The V.I.P logo had the reputation of being somewhat of a graveyard label for artists and writers who had fallen out of favour with Berry Gordy (even though some of Motown’s finest releases can be found on the label). Here Ivy recorded two 45’s “I Remember When (Dedicated To Beverley) / Sorry Is A Sorry Word (V.I.P 25055) and “I’d Still Love You / I Can Feel The Pain” (V.I.P 25063). An album release was also planned although given a release number (V.I.P.S 406) and a title Ivy Jo’s “In This Bag” no release ever materialized. Ivy was to eventually leave Motown in late 1970."¨"¨After leaving Motown Ivy later joined forces with his brother John Maxey (who’s day job was that of a special needs teacher) to form the Independent Detroit based Probe 1 Production Company in 1972. Throughout the 70’s and into the 80’s the brothers continued to produce and record releases on many local Detroit groups, The Citations (five former pupils of John’s) Empulse and North By Northeast amongst others. Most would appear on the labels that Ivy and John operated through Probe1 Productions, Redline, Probe 1 and Midwest International etc

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Ivy himself recorded solo outings such as “Ain’t No Black & White In Music / When Does The Loving Start” (Red Line PRL-01) and “ Everytime I See You It’s Hello / Anthem (Midwest 011087) as well as singing lead vocals on North By Northeast’s “Pain Of City Living / Slave Of Society” (Probe 1)."¨"¨Probe 1 Productions did manage to achieve some limited national attention. Firstly with the mellifluous “Two On A Cloud / Grown Up Fairy Tale” (Buddah 556) recorded by Curt Darin (a.k.a Curtis Gadson) but this release coincided with 20th Century’s buy out of Buddah records and the record failed to make any major impact. Other releases on Gadson (whom Ivy and John actually discovered) included “In The Middle OF The Night” (Midwest International 8150) and the heavily synthesised “Fire It Up” which they released in conjunction with fellow Detroit entrepreneur Ernest Kelley. This was later followed by the song “Hold On To Your Dreams” that Ivy Jo co-wrote with Vernon Bullock. “Hold on To Your Dreams” was recorded on former Dramatics vocalist the late William Howard and was released on the local Detroit Ju-Par label, based on Eight Mile Road. Howard recorded the song under his High School nickname of “Weegee”. The song became a big local hit, and through Ernest Kelley’s long time association with Henry Allen the song was soon picked up by Atlantic records and released on their subsidiary Cottilion label. The deal also included an album release using “Hold On To Your Dreams” as the title track. The album was recorded at the Sound Suite in Detroit under Vernon Bullock’s direction. (“Hold On To Your Dreams” was also later covered by The Staple Singers)."¨"¨A further collaboration between Probe1 and Ernest Kelley in 1981 produced the disco influenced “Coast To Coast” (MT 9710) which was recorded on a local Detroit act by the name of Solid State. This release came out on the Independent Music Town label. A previous Music Town release by Solid State “I’m Gonna Make You Mine”(MT9709) had no production connections with Probe 1."¨"¨1981 also saw the release of the Ivy Jo penned “Love Won’t You Hurry / Open Up Your Mind (To My Mind)” and was recorded by three male singers known as “Suade” this was released on Red Line (101042).

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Released back in May this 45 is well worth another shout as it is simply so good.

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Ivy Jo Hunter in collaboration with William “Mickey” Stevenson formed one of the most formidable song writing teams of the Motown stable during the 1960’s. Ivy’s writer’s credits can be found on a multitude of songs that achieved a top 100 status both in the USA as well as around the world."¨"¨Towards the end of his tenure with Motown Ivy was placed with the company’s V.I.P subsidiary. Here he recorded two 45’s “I Remember When (Dedicated To Beverley) / Sorry Is A Sorry Word (V.I.P 25055) and “I’d Still Love You / I Can Feel The Pain” (V.I.P 25063). An album release was also planned and although given a release number (V.I.P.S 406) with the title of Ivy Jo’s “In This Bag” no release ever materialized."¨"¨Some of the highlights from his eight year association with Motown include such timeless classic’s as The Four Tops “Just Ask The Lonely”, The Spinners “I’ll Always Love You”, The Marvelettes “I’ll Keep Holding On” and the Martha Reeves & The Vandellas seminal anthem “Dancing In The Street”."¨"¨After leaving Motown Ivy joined forces with his brother John Maxey to form the Independent Detroit based Probe 1 Production Company. Throughout the 70’s and into the 80’s the brothers continued to produce and record releases on many Detroit groups and solo artists which appeared on several of their labels. Ivy himself recorded several solo outings such as “Ain’t No Black & White In Music / When Does The Loving Start” (Red Line PRL-01) and “ Everytime I See You It’s Hello / Anthem (Midwest 011087) as well as singing lead vocals on North By Northeast’s “Pain Of City Living/Slave Of Society (Probe 1)."¨"¨Their only releases to break out of Detroit nationally were the mellifluous “Two On A Cloud / Grown Up Fairy Tale” (Buddah 556) recorded by Curt Darin (a.k.a Curtis Gadson) but this release coincided with 20th Century’s buy out of Buddah records and the record failed to make any major impact. Followed by ex Dramatic Willie “Weegee” Howards local Detroit hit for Ju-Par Records “Hold On To Your Dreams” which was later picked up by the major Cottilion label. Ivy eventually hit paydirt when in 1985 David Bowie and Mick Jagger covered “Dancing In The Street” as their contribution to the Live Aid Appeal. "¨"¨And so to the present, for this release Soul Junction have selected two previously unissued tracks from circa 1979 that Ivy Jo cut for Probe 1 productions. The excellent mid paced dancer “See You Around” b/w the sublime ballad “Yea, Yea, Yea” which showcases Ivy’s vocal talents to perfection.




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Absolutely fantastic write up' didn't know his connection with all those 70's labels. Great info.

And a brilliant 45 on Soul Junction, every soul fan needs this.

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Absolutely fantastic write up' didn't know his connection with all those 70's labels. Great info.

And a brilliant 45 on Soul Junction, every soul fan needs this.

Gotta agree it is a great biog. Like you wasn't aware of all his connections, you hear his name and simply think Motown.

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SOUL JUNCTION bring out quality soul offerings for us to enjoy. A great label that deserve you support. I have had the priviledge of playing all of Soul Junctions material on my show every Saturday on SOULFUL ALLSORTS on www.subcity.org. Great music, great label a must buy.

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