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Ree Flores and M&H Records: An Article by Jordan Wilson

Ree Flores and M&H Records: An Article by Jordan Wilson magazine cover

I frequently have a tendency to delve into researching a particular subject, only to find myself veering off course after about a month or so, leaving some interesting facts sat on my computer’s desktop. Some might attribute this behaviour to ADHD, but who knows?

Navigating the soul and R&B scene can be a labyrinthine journey, unbelievably it’s a small world where boundaries can blur effortlessly. Delving into research often leads to a mass of discovery, and you can easily lose track of the paths taken and feel overwhelmed! Recently, a discussion about Ree Flores popped up once again, amongst a few friends on Facebook. It made me reflect on some research I did a few years ago - I was able to have a few great conversations with the late George Ree Flores, his wife Betty, and their daughter Jamie, whom I still maintain regular contact with. As my life takes a new journey with the expected arrival of my first born in June, I find myself with more time on my hands so I decided to put the effort in and share my research on Ree Flores and M&H Records and for it's first publish on Soul Source! 

 Screenshot2024-04-08at11_29_04.thumb.png.e3c9856f2bcb3b0e4e0d1653f88754c1.png

Original release of Ree Flores - Look Into My Heart on M&H Records 
Click here to Listen 

I've always been a fan of both versions of 'Look Into My Heart,' and when I started delving into Ree Flores's background, it coincided with my purchase of a 45 by The Tribulations’ entitled 'Packin Up My Bags' and released on Shelly Records (Click here to Listen) (See what I mean about veering off course). This purchase led me to track down and chat with the producer of that recording, Floyd Martin. We talked on FaceTime and he reminisced about a guy he met named Elree Flores. Elree was a member of The Facades, a fellow act under Shelly Records. Floyd's introduction to Elree was during the rehearsal sessions for The Facades' songs, following their signing to Shelly Garret's label based in San Bernardino, California. As you can imagine, I eagerly inquired if this Elree Flores was the same guy as Ree Flores who recorded for M&H Records... Floyd wasn't sure, but he kindly connected me with the Elree Flores he knew. Needless to say, I was thrilled, but little did I know, the story was about to take an unexpected turn!

After a few back and fourth text messages to Elree - It transpired that Elree Flores wasn't the one who recorded 'Look Into My Heart'; instead, to my surprise, he informed me that it was his brother, George Ree Flores, who recorded that track. Elree provided me with George's mailing address, mentioning that George preferred traditional communication methods and wasn't active on social media or email. Embracing the old-fashioned approach, I composed a couple of letters and reached out to George, but sadly received no response. After a month or so, his brother Elree provided me with his direct telephone number so we could chat. Initially, George wasn't entirely convinced by my letters and seemed somewhat suspicious of my motives as a mere music enthusiast. He opened up about how the music industry had let him down multiple times in the past with many false promises. Never the less, after the second phone call, we were able to talk a little deeper about his life. George was now in his 80s with a slightly faded memory, but with the assistance of his wife, he managed to recall and share valuable information about his time in the West Coast music scene.


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George Ree Flores with his Mother & Father 
©MDRECORDSGROUPLTD

George Ree Flores was born on January 11th, 1940, to Thelma Blake and Gregorio Flores. His father, originally from the Philippine Islands, immigrated to San Francisco in August 1922. Before moving to Los Angeles, George's father served two years in the First World War as part of the 2nd Hawaiian Infantry. Following his relocation, he settled himself working at Joelsons Restaurant in Los Angeles. He was later drafted for the Second World War at the age of 44 in February 1942, when George Ree Flores was just two years old. 

George's mother came from Texas before relocating to the Los Angeles area. She primarily worked as a seamstress, a housekeeper, and also offered music lessons. In 1939, Thelma tied the knot with Gregorio (also known as George), and together they were blessed with five children. All the children were brought up within the church and were instilled with the values of serving God and the community.

In 1952, George's brother, El Ree Flores, came into the world. El Ree demonstrated a passion for sports during his school years at Pacific High School. He actively participated in the school's football team whilst delving into his other love - music. He wrote, and recorded for Shelly Garrett's 'Shelly' label. He was the lead vocalist of the soul group, The Fasades and El Ree contributed to the group's releases on the 'Shelly' label in 1967. Notably, he penned both songs on their singles: "Mary Sunshine" b/w "You're Driving Me Out of My Mind," as well as "Take It Like I Give It" b/w "Willie B. And Lera." These songs were recorded at Harmony Studio, which later evolved into the renowned 'Audio Arts' studio under the management of Madelon Baker - This transformation led to the creation of Northern Soul classics by artists such as The Incredibles, The Remarkables, and King George.

 

 

school3.jpg.thumb.jpg.abfcb90fb7ea100e627dac981bcb63c0.jpg

The Fasades, Brothers: George Flores (Left) & Elree Flores (Right)
©MDRECORDSGROUPLTD

For years, UK Soul enthusiasts have mistakenly identified George Ree Flores and his brother El Ree Flores as the same single individual, with people often sharing the above article as ‘proof’ of who Ree Flores really is. When in reality, they are two different recording artists, albeit from the same family. George Ree Flores, recorded on M&H and El Ree Flores recorded on Shelly and was in the group The Facades. 

George Flores made his first debut on Bumps Blackwell's 'Chelan' label with 'Fine Girl,' (Click to Listen Here) co-written by George and Art Jackson, and 'Never Let Me Go,' penned by Johnny Ace. These recordings, made in his early twenties, featured vocal assistance from local group The Duprells, marking George's emergence as a promising artist and songwriter. Unfortunately, George revealed that these tracks were "stolen" by Bumps Blackwell, unbeknownst to him, and released without his knowledge. George went on to confirm that he was indeed both the solo writer and the recording artist of “Fine Girl”, but going onto explain that he only found out about the release of his track when a relative of his, who was in the US military, called him after hearing one of them playing in a jukebox joint. 

With this being his first experience into the music scene as a recording artist, and being young George was unfamiliar with how to handle such a situation, and his rights as an artist and songwriter. Not knowing where to start, he consequently, chose to move on and part ways with Bumps Blackwell and continued to perform live gigs locally across California, expanding his network within the industry. 

During his lifetime, George registered 18 songs with BMI Music, several of which featured on his CD 'Understanding Love,' (Click here) produced in 2006 at Isom Green's Studio. Notably though, three tracks from 1967 highlighted his collaborations with M&H Records. These songs included 'Look into My Heart,' recorded by both himself and Little Willie Faulk, as well as 'Love I Could Never Have,' utilised as the B-side for Little Willie Faulk's release. Additionally, there was a great yet lesser-known track titled 'You've Got to Sing A Song of Happiness,' recorded by Linda Walker and co-wrote by Louis Cuccio and Donald Welshans. 

These tracks were released through Cresta Verde Music and House of Joseph, forming part of the 'Circle City Sound' catalogue. This diverse collection encompassed soul, R&B, and even ventured into Psychedelic Rock territory with the California Bear group.

Following my conversation with George Ree Flores, my interest was definitely peaked. I was eager to discover if the master tapes for M&H Records still existed. Unfortunately, George didn’t have any copies of his records; he mentioned how he never even received a copy of his "Fine Girl" release and his recollection of his involvement with M&H Records was faded; he described his active involvement in the R&B and Jazz scenes, and M&H was an exciting project he stumbled into. I was determined to uncover who was behind M&H Records and delve deeper into George's association with the label – but I hit a brick wall. There was limited information to work with – lacking label addresses for cross-referencing with US Census Records, nothing in newspaper archives, and Cresta Verde Music was no longer registered with BMI. Starting a fresh, I scoured the label and searched for any individuals associated with it. Considering Rene Hall's passing in 1988, I embarked on locating Louis Cuccio and Donald Welshans, hoping they could provide insight!

 

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Unseen Photographs of Ree Flores performing Live
©MDRECORDSGROUPLTD

Using Ancestry, I successfully tracked down George Flores' co-songwriter, Louis Cuccio. I found an address for him, but no direct telephone number. So before I started to mail overseas letters… I joined local Facebook groups in his area in hope to find family or friends to connect me and surprisingly, I was swiftly connected with Louis. His reaction was one of shock, to say the least, upon discovering people were interested in his very brief involvement within the music industry over 50 years ago!

He told me, "We aimed to emulate Motown," he explained. "I was a huge fan of soul, Motown, and overall black music. I'd constantly find myself singing and crafting songs in my head." Louis went onto expand on M&H Records, recalling the main man responsible for the label. "Harvey House! – I met him when he came into the department store Robinson's where I worked. He was incredibly personable and inquired about my interests. I mentioned my passion for music and song writing, and in no time, I was being introduced to Ree Flores and subsequently planning a recording session."

Reflecting on his memories with Harvey House and M&H Records, Louis fondly reminisced about the recording of "You've Got to Sing A Song of Happiness." And it’s flip “This World We Live In” It was a project where he was granted complete creative freedom and control by Harvey - an opportunity he deeply appreciated. He fondly recalled the incorporation of a full orchestra and how he was captivated by the strings and the harmonies from the choir— something which low budget productions didn’t have back then! Which prompted me to ponder... Where were these grandiose production sounds records? But I'll delve into that later...  

After my conversation with Louis, during which he shared details about Harvey House, the man behind M&H Records, I set out on another journey to locate Linda Walker (Do you recall my mention of veering off course earlier?). Eventually, I managed to connect with Linda’s grandson, Antone! I owe thanks to Alan Kitchener (Man From Soul) for uploading a sound file of Linda's M&H 45 on his YouTube Channel and bringing it to my attention – it was through his post that I noticed Antone's comment, confirming that it was indeed his grandmother singing. Antone informed me that Linda had only recorded one double-sided 45 for M&H Records when she was just 17 years old, serving as a gospel singer. The M&H team had discovered her performing at a nightclub and invited her to record the tracks Louis, Donald, and Ree had co-written. Linda signed a contract and recorded the songs with the Amos Temple Youth Choir from her hometown church. Although she was approached to record more tracks after the 45's release, Linda chose to focus solely on her gospel singing. Eventually, she found a way to terminate her contract and never returned to the recording studio again.


Louis acknowledged that although time has blurred some memories, the tracks he co-wrote with Ree Flores and Donald Welshams were the only songs of his ever to be released. He clarified that he never actively pursued a career in music; it was simply a venture he became involved in during that period and he sadly couldn't recall any memories involving Little Willie Faulk, although does recall his name but his projects were mainly based around the Linda Walker tracks and Harvey was involved with Ree Flores & Little Willie Faulk. 

After delving deeper into my research, I soon found myself connected to Harvey House Jr, Harvey’s son, and he scheduled a call to chat with his Dad. Below is the transcript of our conversation, shedding light on Harvey House's involvement in the music scene and the M&H Records. 

"It all began when my mother took me to the Church of God & Christ. Every Sunday spent with her felt like attending a rock concert, while going with my father, who was a Baptist resembled a visit to a library; it was always so quiet. Naturally, I preferred going to church with my mother. In School I studied music. My music teacher was the jazz violinist Joe Kennedy. He played the violin and released an album titled 'Jamal at The Penthouse.' Throughout my school years and during band rehearsals with Joe, we were privileged to have people around us such as Duke Ellington, Paul Gonsalves, and others visit to lecture us."

“That initial exposure really ignited my passion for music. After completing school, I joined the military, and when I got out, I joined the staff at RCA Victor, located at the studio at 6363 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Working there got me the opportunities to be around artists like Jon Denver and Little Jack Jones, which was a pretty cool experience.” 

“I was a 'let's go for it' type of person—I'd dive into various opportunities. My entry into RCA Victor came through Rene Hall. I met Rene around 1964 or 1965. Working with Rene was fantastic—he had able to copyright songs for me, which was quite challenging back then. You had to meticulously transcribe the music onto onion skin paper and mail it off to the Library of Congress for copyright protection. Rene excelled at this task, which contributed to his widespread recognition with a lot of the indie labels. He freelanced for numerous independent labels and was renowned for his musical. He could effortlessly read and write music, truly a brilliant individual. He played on all of my M&H releases.” 

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Harvey House and House Records 
©MDRECORDSGROUPLTD

“My initial venture into the music industry was my label M&H Records, operating under the name ‘The Circle City Sound’ from Corona, California, in the mid to late 60s, whilst working at RCA Victor. I first encountered George Ree Flores while he was performing. He was an extraordinary singer and an exceptional performer. It was in the late 60s, during one of his performances, that I had the pleasure of meeting him. Impressed by his talent, I decided to record him alongside my other groups, California Bear and a folk ensemble I managed. George was a remarkably gifted young man, possessing strong stage presence and performance skills. Around that time, I was also collaborating with Jan Davis. Jan recorded a remake of Ernie Freeman's hit "Raunchy," which was released on Direct Hit and RCA. We even managed to get him on The Merv Griffin Show. However, there was a small mishap – Jan didn't have a suit for the show! So, I had to borrow Ree Flores' suit for him. Jan got a little too carried away and ended up messing up the suit in his excitement, but we had a blast nonetheless”

“Other musicians who contributed to the M&H recordings, alongside Rene Hall, included guitarist Roy Gaines and Wilton Felder on bass, despite his primary role as a horn player and being with The Crusaders”

“It's remarkable how interconnected the music scene was back then. We predominantly recorded our tracks at RCA Victor Studio where I worked. We would sneaking in at night, we worked with engineer Mickey Crawford. He allowed me to take the reins and record a lot of material there. Having the freedom to experiment in such a professional studio environment contributed immensely to achieving that great sound in comparison to the low budget studios around”. 

I inquired with Harvey about Willie Faulk. "Willie Faulk was a singer from Rose California. He was incredibly talented, but he had his emotional struggles. There were hints that he might have been involved with drugs or something of the sort. I always loved his humor," Harvey explained. He confirmed that Willie Faulk was indeed his real name. "Willie, well, he was somewhat... How can I put it? You know, during the hippy movement, when everyone was smoking weed and doing drugs? I'm not saying he was involved in that, but he was part of those circles," Harvey elaborated. "I remember Willie writing a song about a woman he fell in love with, but we never got around to recording it. He was adamant about recording it—a song about him falling in love with a white woman. In the 60s, with the civil rights movement in full swing, I told Willie that releasing such a song could potentially lead to trouble, even harm. Willie was undeniably talented, but he was different—pleasant and polite in his own way."

I proceeded to ask from Harvey why the records are now so scarce on M&H, and what became of them. "Well, the records were pressed quite some time ago, and when I didn't receive the airplay I had hoped for, I decided to move on. In 1989, I began collaborating with an artist named Henry C. During this time, I recorded a gospel album titled 'I Wanna Live for You, Lord'. The music scene underwent significant changes. Back in the M&H days, I used to stroll around with a stack of 45s and sell them on street corners!" 

"Working and developing at RCA Victor marked a significant change for me. I underwent a big learning curve; it felt like to attending college. Richard Moorland and Gary, who managed the West Coast operations, were instrumental in my learning process. We each had our own little office space, which was quite a cool setup - and all credit for that goes to René Hall. He was the individual who orchestrated this arrangement."

M&H Records had a total of five releases throughout 1969, Harvey moved on to do other things and the M&H team broke away. Harvey kept very active in the music and film scene throughout his life with ‘House Productions’. Harvey still produces artists now with a gospel genre. He still supports the local music scene and is still very much in tune with what’s going on. Unfortunately – no master tapes exist from the M&H days and no physical copies are the 45s have surfaced. 

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Ree Flores preforming at California Jazz Festival 
©MDRECORDSGROUPLTD

Ree Flores continued his love for music following his adventure with M&H Records. He performed at the annual Jazz Festival in California and at various venues across the West Coast, captivating audiences with his piano skills. In 2006, he went back into the studio and completed an album, which is available on Amazon. He was preforming right up until his passing at the age of 81 in Sacramento, California in November 2021. 

Despite the ups and downs of his musical journey, George Ree Flores left behind a legacy that remains cherished by the UK Soul Scene. A heartfelt thank you goes out to Jamie, George's daughter, and Betty, George’s wife, for their invaluable assistance and encouragement in this research. 

Additionally, gratitude is extended to Harvey House and Harvey House Jr for sharing their insights into the creation of the music we love on the all-nighter scene in England. Their anecdotes highlight the talent of individuals from that era, a talent often taken for granted. As we eagerly seek out original copies of these tracks. Together, we are planning to collaborate with Harvey, M&H Records and MD Records Group. 

I hope this write up has been of interest! 

© Jordan Wilson 

 

 

 




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wow, great stuff Joran

many thanks for sharing

will promote it to an article later today so if features on the front page and in our articles section, which is for the more deliberate posts such as this

nice one!

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Brilliant words and very cool photos, really fascinating glimpse into the past. Glad you've published this, looking forward to you putting out more stuff like this in the near future!

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35 minutes ago, Northernjordan12 said:

I frequently have a tendency to delve into researching a particular subject, only to find myself veering off course after about a month or so, leaving some interesting facts sat on my computer’s desktop. Some might attribute this behaviour to ADHD, but who knows?

Navigating the soul and R&B scene can be a labyrinthine journey, unbelievably it’s a small world where boundaries can blur effortlessly. Delving into research often leads to a mass of discovery, and you can easily lose track of the paths taken and feel overwhelmed! Recently, a discussion about Ree Flores popped up once again, amongst a few friends on Facebook. It made me reflect on some research I did a few years ago - I was able to have a few great conversations with the late George Ree Flores, his wife Betty, and their daughter Jamie, whom I still maintain regular contact with. As my life takes a new journey with the expected arrival of my first born in June, I find myself with more time on my hands so I decided to put the effort in and share my research on Ree Flores and M&H Records and for it's first publish on Soul Source! 

 Screenshot2024-04-08at11_29_04.thumb.png.e3c9856f2bcb3b0e4e0d1653f88754c1.png

Original release of Ree Flores - Look Into My Heart on M&H Records 
Click here to Listen 

I've always been a fan of both versions of 'Look Into My Heart,' and when I started delving into Ree Flores's background, it coincided with my purchase of a 45 by The Tribulations’ entitled 'Packin Up My Bags' and released on Shelly Records (Click here to Listen) (See what I mean about veering off course). This purchase led me to track down and chat with the producer of that recording, Floyd Martin. We talked on FaceTime and he reminisced about a guy he met named Elree Flores. Elree was a member of The Facades, a fellow act under Shelly Records. Floyd's introduction to Elree was during the rehearsal sessions for The Facades' songs, following their signing to Shelly Garret's label based in San Bernardino, California. As you can imagine, I eagerly inquired if this Elree Flores was the same guy as Ree Flores who recorded for M&H Records... Floyd wasn't sure, but he kindly connected me with the Elree Flores he knew. Needless to say, I was thrilled, but little did I know, the story was about to take an unexpected turn!

After a few back and fourth text messages to Elree - It transpired that Elree Flores wasn't the one who recorded 'Look Into My Heart'; instead, to my surprise, he informed me that it was his brother, George Ree Flores, who recorded that track. Elree provided me with George's mailing address, mentioning that George preferred traditional communication methods and wasn't active on social media or email. Embracing the old-fashioned approach, I composed a couple of letters and reached out to George, but sadly received no response. After a month or so, his brother Elree provided me with his direct telephone number so we could chat. Initially, George wasn't entirely convinced by my letters and seemed somewhat suspicious of my motives as a mere music enthusiast. He opened up about how the music industry had let him down multiple times in the past with many false promises. Never the less, after the second phone call, we were able to talk a little deeper about his life. George was now in his 80s with a slightly faded memory, but with the assistance of his wife, he managed to recall and share valuable information about his time in the West Coast music scene.


Child.thumb.jpg.afea1f54d4e488b2ee425dd16423de0d.jpg

George Ree Flores with his Mother & Father 
©MDRECORDSGROUPLTD

George Ree Flores was born on January 11th, 1940, to Thelma Blake and Gregorio Flores. His father, originally from the Philippine Islands, immigrated to San Francisco in August 1922. Before moving to Los Angeles, George's father served two years in the First World War as part of the 2nd Hawaiian Infantry. Following his relocation, he settled himself working at Joelsons Restaurant in Los Angeles. He was later drafted for the Second World War at the age of 44 in February 1942, when George Ree Flores was just two years old. 

George's mother came from Texas before relocating to the Los Angeles area. She primarily worked as a seamstress, a housekeeper, and also offered music lessons. In 1939, Thelma tied the knot with Gregorio (also known as George), and together they were blessed with five children. All the children were brought up within the church and were instilled with the values of serving God and the community.

In 1952, George's brother, El Ree Flores, came into the world. El Ree demonstrated a passion for sports during his school years at Pacific High School. He actively participated in the school's football team whilst delving into his other love - music. He wrote, and recorded for Shelly Garrett's 'Shelly' label. He was the lead vocalist of the soul group, The Fasades and El Ree contributed to the group's releases on the 'Shelly' label in 1967. Notably, he penned both songs on their singles: "Mary Sunshine" b/w "You're Driving Me Out of My Mind," as well as "Take It Like I Give It" b/w "Willie B. And Lera." These songs were recorded at Harmony Studio, which later evolved into the renowned 'Audio Arts' studio under the management of Madelon Baker - This transformation led to the creation of Northern Soul classics by artists such as The Incredibles, The Remarkables, and King George.

 

 

School.thumb.jpg.bd356b2867f0fa5ffab28bd02f329997.jpg

The Fasades - Brothers: George Flores & Elree Flores
©MDRECORDSGROUPLTD

For years, UK Soul enthusiasts have mistakenly identified George Ree Flores and his brother El Ree Flores as the same single individual, with people often sharing the above article as ‘proof’ of who Ree Flores really is. When in reality, they are two different recording artists, albeit from the same family. George Ree Flores, recorded on M&H and El Ree Flores recorded on Shelly and was in the group The Facades. 

George Flores made his first debut on Bumps Blackwell's 'Chelan' label with 'Fine Girl,' (Click to Listen Here) co-written by George and Art Jackson, and 'Never Let Me Go,' penned by Johnny Ace. These recordings, made in his early twenties, featured vocal assistance from local group The Duprells, marking George's emergence as a promising artist and songwriter. Unfortunately, George revealed that these tracks were "stolen" by Bumps Blackwell, unbeknownst to him, and released without his knowledge. George went on to confirm that he was indeed both the solo writer and the recording artist of “Fine Girl”, but going onto explain that he only found out about the release of his track when a relative of his, who was in the US military, called him after hearing one of them playing in a jukebox joint. 

With this being his first experience into the music scene as a recording artist, and being young George was unfamiliar with how to handle such a situation, and his rights as an artist and songwriter. Not knowing where to start, he consequently, chose to move on and part ways with Bumps Blackwell and continued to perform live gigs locally across California, expanding his network within the industry. 

During his lifetime, George registered 18 songs with BMI Music, several of which featured on his CD 'Understanding Love,' (Click here) produced in 2006 at Isom Green's Studio. Notably though, three tracks from 1967 highlighted his collaborations with M&H Records. These songs included 'Look into My Heart,' recorded by both himself and Little Willie Faulk, as well as 'Love I Could Never Have,' utilised as the B-side for Little Willie Faulk's release. Additionally, there was a great yet lesser-known track titled 'You've Got to Sing A Song of Happiness,' recorded by Linda Walker and co-wrote by Louis Cuccio and Donald Welshans. 

These tracks were released through Cresta Verde Music and House of Joseph, forming part of the 'Circle City Sound' catalogue. This diverse collection encompassed soul, R&B, and even ventured into Psychedelic Rock territory with the California Bear group.

Following my conversation with George Ree Flores, my interest was definitely peaked. I was eager to discover if the master tapes for M&H Records still existed. Unfortunately, George didn’t have any copies of his records; he mentioned how he never even received a copy of his "Fine Girl" release and his recollection of his involvement with M&H Records was faded; he described his active involvement in the R&B and Jazz scenes, and M&H was an exciting project he stumbled into. I was determined to uncover who was behind M&H Records and delve deeper into George's association with the label – but I hit a brick wall. There was limited information to work with – lacking label addresses for cross-referencing with US Census Records, nothing in newspaper archives, and Cresta Verde Music was no longer registered with BMI. Starting a fresh, I scoured the label and searched for any individuals associated with it. Considering Rene Hall's passing in 1988, I embarked on locating Louis Cuccio and Donald Welshans, hoping they could provide insight!

 

Live_.thumb.jpg.cfeb7d2e0e319bae3c1cc11147e2d2a6.jpg

Unseen Photographs of Ree Flores performing Live
©MDRECORDSGROUPLTD

Using Ancestry, I successfully tracked down George Flores' co-songwriter, Louis Cuccio. I found an address for him, but no direct telephone number. So before I started to mail overseas letters… I joined local Facebook groups in his area in hope to find family or friends to connect me and surprisingly, I was swiftly connected with Louis. His reaction was one of shock, to say the least, upon discovering people were interested in his very brief involvement within the music industry over 50 years ago!

He told me, "We aimed to emulate Motown," he explained. "I was a huge fan of soul, Motown, and overall black music. I'd constantly find myself singing and crafting songs in my head." Louis went onto expand on M&H Records, recalling the main man responsible for the label. "Harvey House! – I met him when he came into the department store Robinson's where I worked. He was incredibly personable and inquired about my interests. I mentioned my passion for music and song writing, and in no time, I was being introduced to Ree Flores and subsequently planning a recording session."

Reflecting on his memories with Harvey House and M&H Records, Louis fondly reminisced about the recording of "You've Got to Sing A Song of Happiness." And it’s flip “This World We Live In” It was a project where he was granted complete creative freedom and control by Harvey - an opportunity he deeply appreciated. He fondly recalled the incorporation of a full orchestra and how he was captivated by the strings and the harmonies from the choir— something which low budget productions didn’t have back then! Which prompted me to ponder... Where were these grandiose production sounds records? But I'll delve into that later...  

After my conversation with Louis, during which he shared details about Harvey House, the man behind M&H Records, I set out on another journey to locate Linda Walker (Do you recall my mention of veering off course earlier?). Eventually, I managed to connect with Linda’s grandson, Antone! I owe thanks to Alan Kitchener (Man From Soul) for uploading a sound file of Linda's M&H 45 on his YouTube Channel and bringing it to my attention – it was through his post that I noticed Antone's comment, confirming that it was indeed his grandmother singing. Antone informed me that Linda had only recorded one double-sided 45 for M&H Records when she was just 17 years old, serving as a gospel singer. The M&H team had discovered her performing at a nightclub and invited her to record the tracks Louis, Donald, and Ree had co-written. Linda signed a contract and recorded the songs with the Amos Temple Youth Choir from her hometown church. Although she was approached to record more tracks after the 45's release, Linda chose to focus solely on her gospel singing. Eventually, she found a way to terminate her contract and never returned to the recording studio again.


Louis acknowledged that although time has blurred some memories, the tracks he co-wrote with Ree Flores and Donald Welshams were the only songs of his ever to be released. He clarified that he never actively pursued a career in music; it was simply a venture he became involved in during that period and he sadly couldn't recall any memories involving Little Willie Faulk, although does recall his name but his projects were mainly based around the Linda Walker tracks and Harvey was involved with Ree Flores & Little Willie Faulk. 

After delving deeper into my research, I soon found myself connected to Harvey House Jr, Harvey’s son, and he scheduled a call to chat with his Dad. Below is the transcript of our conversation, shedding light on Harvey House's involvement in the music scene and the M&H Records. 

"It all began when my mother took me to the Church of God & Christ. Every Sunday spent with her felt like attending a rock concert, while going with my father, who was a Baptist resembled a visit to a library; it was always so quiet. Naturally, I preferred going to church with my mother. In School I studied music. My music teacher was the jazz violinist Joe Kennedy. He played the violin and released an album titled 'Jamal at The Penthouse.' Throughout my school years and during band rehearsals with Joe, we were privileged to have people around us such as Duke Ellington, Paul Gonsalves, and others visit to lecture us."

“That initial exposure really ignited my passion for music. After completing school, I joined the military, and when I got out, I joined the staff at RCA Victor, located at the studio at 6363 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Working there got me the opportunities to be around artists like Jon Denver and Little Jack Jones, which was a pretty cool experience.” 

“I was a 'let's go for it' type of person—I'd dive into various opportunities. My entry into RCA Victor came through Rene Hall. I met Rene around 1964 or 1965. Working with Rene was fantastic—he had able to copyright songs for me, which was quite challenging back then. You had to meticulously transcribe the music onto onion skin paper and mail it off to the Library of Congress for copyright protection. Rene excelled at this task, which contributed to his widespread recognition with a lot of the indie labels. He freelanced for numerous independent labels and was renowned for his musical. He could effortlessly read and write music, truly a brilliant individual. He played on all of my M&H releases.” 

Harvey.thumb.jpg.69d2f0277ee9d931eade93aac8748c3a.jpg

Harvey House and House Records 
©MDRECORDSGROUPLTD

“My initial venture into the music industry was my label M&H Records, operating under the name ‘The Circle City Sound’ from Corona, California, in the mid to late 60s, whilst working at RCA Victor. I first encountered George Ree Flores while he was performing. He was an extraordinary singer and an exceptional performer. It was in the late 60s, during one of his performances, that I had the pleasure of meeting him. Impressed by his talent, I decided to record him alongside my other groups, California Bear and a folk ensemble I managed. George was a remarkably gifted young man, possessing strong stage presence and performance skills. Around that time, I was also collaborating with Jan Davis. Jan recorded a remake of Ernie Freeman's hit "Raunchy," which was released on Direct Hit and RCA. We even managed to get him on The Merv Griffin Show. However, there was a small mishap – Jan didn't have a suit for the show! So, I had to borrow Ree Flores' suit for him. Jan got a little too carried away and ended up messing up the suit in his excitement, but we had a blast nonetheless”

“Other musicians who contributed to the M&H recordings, alongside Rene Hall, included guitarist Roy Gaines and Wilton Felder on bass, despite his primary role as a horn player and being with The Crusaders”

“It's remarkable how interconnected the music scene was back then. We predominantly recorded our tracks at RCA Victor Studio where I worked. We would sneaking in at night, we worked with engineer Mickey Crawford. He allowed me to take the reins and record a lot of material there. Having the freedom to experiment in such a professional studio environment contributed immensely to achieving that great sound in comparison to the low budget studios around”. 

I inquired with Harvey about Willie Faulk. "Willie Faulk was a singer from Rose California. He was incredibly talented, but he had his emotional struggles. There were hints that he might have been involved with drugs or something of the sort. I always loved his humor," Harvey explained. He confirmed that Willie Faulk was indeed his real name. "Willie, well, he was somewhat... How can I put it? You know, during the hippy movement, when everyone was smoking weed and doing drugs? I'm not saying he was involved in that, but he was part of those circles," Harvey elaborated. "I remember Willie writing a song about a woman he fell in love with, but we never got around to recording it. He was adamant about recording it—a song about him falling in love with a white woman. In the 60s, with the civil rights movement in full swing, I told Willie that releasing such a song could potentially lead to trouble, even harm. Willie was undeniably talented, but he was different—pleasant and polite in his own way."

M&H Records had a total of five releases throughout 1969, Harvey moved on to do other things and the M&H team broke away. Harvey kept very active in the music and film scene throughout his life with ‘House Productions’. Harvey still produces artists now with a gospel genre. He still supports the local music scene and is still very much in tune with what’s going on. Unfortunately – no master tapes exist from the M&H days and no physical copies are the 45s have surfaced. 

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Ree Flores preforming at California Jazz Festival 
©MDRECORDSGROUPLTD

Ree Flores continued his love for music following his adventure with M&H Records. He performed at the annual Jazz Festival in California and at various venues across the West Coast, captivating audiences with his piano skills. In 2006, he went back into the studio and completed an album, which is available on Amazon. He was preforming right up until his passing at the age of 81 in Sacramento, California in November 2021. 

Despite the ups and downs of his musical journey, George Ree Flores left behind a legacy that remains cherished by the UK Soul Scene. A heartfelt thank you goes out to Jamie, George's daughter, and Betty, George’s wife, for their invaluable assistance and encouragement in this research. 

Additionally, gratitude is extended to Harvey House and Harvey House Jr for sharing their insights into the creation of the music we love on the all-nighter scene in England. Their anecdotes highlight the talent of individuals from that era, a talent often taken for granted. As we eagerly seek out original copies of these tracks. Together, we are planning to collaborate with Harvey, M&H Records and MD Records Group. 

I hope this write up has been of interest! 

© Jordan Wilson 

 

 

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Fantastic article Jordan, so informative and precise. Thought would add his memorial so folks can see a few pictures of him that were posted after his passing, November 25th 2021

 https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/sacramento-ca/george-flores-10470809

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Fantastic research and insight into the artist Jordan and a great acknowledgement and recognition of his wonderful music, which is truly deserved

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Excellent stuff Jordan. A record I've been after for donkey's years and really interesting to read this article putting flesh on the bones.

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23 hours ago, Northernjordan12 said:

I've always been a fan of both versions of 'Look Into My Heart,'

Great article Jordan - what's the other version though? I only know the Ree Flores

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What a terrific piece Jordan, I really appreciate the time and effort you put into filling in the missing pieces of what we know.

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2 hours ago, Chris Turnbull said:

Great article Jordan - what's the other version though? I only know the Ree Flores

The other version is by Little Willie Faulk 

 

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On 08/04/2024 at 12:07, Mike said:

wow, great stuff Joran

many thanks for sharing

will promote it to an article later today so if features on the front page and in our articles section, which is for the more deliberate posts such as this

nice one!

now promoted to our news/article feature and now leading front page article, a great addition


our news and articles feature

https://www.soul-source.co.uk/articles/

 

our article section

https://www.soul-source.co.uk/articles/soul-articles/

 

front page
https://www.soul-source.co.uk/

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Hi Jordan,

Great Article.

I have been abroad until today, and so although i could read your article i coudn't get to my PC files back home. Having now done so...

...So it's George (not Elree) on Chelan records. well well.

FYI, The Duprells 1964 line up; augie jones, ben garth, douglass graha, jim gilstrap & ollie channel. 

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13 minutes ago, Kenb said:

Hi Jordan,

Great Article.

I have been abroad until today, and so although i could read your article i coudn't get to my PC files back home. Having now done so...

...So it's George (not Elree) on Chelan records. well well.

FYI, The Duprells 1964 line up; augie jones, ben garth, douglass graha, jim gilstrap & ollie channel. 

I never knew, until very recently, that the Duprells were signed to back Sam Cooke just before he was killed.

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6 hours ago, Blackpoolsoul said:

I never knew, until very recently, that the Duprells were signed to back Sam Cooke just before he was killed.

That makes sense. Wasn't it Bumps that leveraged Sam away from the Soul Stirrers

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What an awesome piece of investigative journalism. So in-depth and informative. Jordan Wilson take a bow. Your desire and enthusiasm for rare soul, and, to attain as much knowledge as possible, has just gone to another level.

Having been around Jordan for many years, it quickly became apparent to me, that him owning the record, didn't quench his thirst. He also has a huge desire to know about the artist, writer, producer, label, pressing plant, recording studio etc.

The amount of dead ends, hurdles, brick walls etc he comes up against, never saps his stamina, it's one step back and two forward to Jordan, confident that he will eventually find a route, through the branches in the big soul family tree. 

High class information which can now be added to previous historic data, that is now a part of Soul folklore.

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Great article and nice to see the scene is in good hands with the likes of Jordan. Look forward to more in-depth articles in the future.

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