Shrine -The full and first issue story by Andy Rix
Shrine - info by ANDY RIX
First Published on Soul Source
Heres a rare one for you, still talking bout original versions here, but this time not about vinyl, but the published word, the original draft full length sleeve notes for kents shrines cd, mmmmmm ... you might be mmmming, so whats so special about that, well hang on, the final published sleeve notes were derived from this original draft , but approx 1300 words were edited out of this "first" cut, and thus some of the info, plus style changes and a few more drafts So could say that this is the "full" version and as with other stuff by andy r, its well researched, informative and best of all enjoyable, so all you info fiends get your eyes on this and suck that info in, and for the average soul fan, read a fascinating story of a once-little known label which has now achieved the status of a soul "legend".......thanks again to andy r for a fascinating insight on the 60s us soul scene
SHRINE LINER NOTES draft 1
Theres an old saying that goes "its not simply if you win or lose, its how you play the game that you will be remembered for in the long run." Little did I know, when that bit of philosophy was laid on me as a child, that in my life and time I would come to know the true import of those words. In that spirit, on behalf of the Shrine Records family, I wish to dedicate this Volume One Issue to the keepers of the flame that reside in the UK, namely Adrian Croasdell and Soul Music historian extraordinaire Andrew Rix, in our sincere appreciation for their non-wavering dedication expressed through their ongoing commitment to honour the effort and the music that is the legacy of Shrine Records and their respect of how we played the game. Eddie Singleton 1998
In the spring of 1965 a flame began to flicker and grow in the heart of Washington D.C.; within two years the flame was extinguished and those present believed it would never cast its light on them again. Ten years later, and thousands of miles away, the flame was rekindled by British devotees of the 60s soul sound who would spend their nights dancing to, and collecting, music from a forgotten era. This is the story of Shrine Records - the rarest soul label in the world whose flame now burns brighter than ever.
EDDIE SINGLETON - THE EARLY YEARS
William Edward Singletary always knew he was going to be somebody in the music industry. His mother Mary, a gospel singer, actively encouraged Eddies musical abilities from an early age. He took his first tentative steps into the world of show business, from his home in Asbury Park, New Jersey, whilst still in his teens by organising concerts at the local army base. During this time he met many talented artists and subsequently felt that there was no reason why he could not join their ranks. A move to New York, in 1956, brought him into contact with Hy Weiss, the owner of Old Town records, and before too long a recording contract was signed. Eddie cut a few solo sides, that remain unreleased, and then moved on to Brunswick Records with a group he had assembled called The Chromatics. Their only release Too Late/My Heart Let Me Be Free (Brunswick 55080), issued in 58, enjoyed moderate sales and remains a collectors item for followers of that genre. The group did a number of shows and dates out of town but Eddie, who was by now composing his own material, decided that he didnt really enjoy being in the limelight as a performer feeling that his talents would be put to better use elsewhere. By 1959 Eddie had his own office at 1650 Broadway. Despite having been in New York for less than three years he had built up an impressive roster of associates and was well connected with all of the major players in the city; Eddie had finally found a home.
Always fiercely independent Eddie was the master of his own destiny; he never sought a position with a major, although he was made numerous offers, preferring to choose who he worked for and on what terms. Over the next few years Eddie explored all of the avenues that were open to him. As a songwriter he was prolific, preferring to write by himself, but happy to collaborate with others when the need arose. The list of writers he worked with bears testament to how widely he travelled and how warmly he was welcomed by his peers; Ahmet Ertegun, Chris Towns, Lockie Edwards, Horace Ott, Donald Height, Wes Farrel, Arthur Brooks, Art Kaplan, Bob Elgin and Frank Augustus (with whom he co-wrote Come Tomorrow for Marie Knight (Okeh 7141), using the name of his first wife Dolores Phillips; Bob and Frank were similarly disguised as they are actually Stanley Kahan and George Butcher).
As an independent producer Eddie was able to place his songs, arrange and supervise sessions for, numerous labels and artists; those who benefited included Etta James, Esther Phillips, Jimmy Jones, Pat Lundy, Joe Bragg, Lloyd Price, Billy Bland, Titus Turner, Dorothy Collins, Lenny Welch, Jerry Williams, Sonny Til, Jimmy Charles, Billy Stewart, The Moments and Doris Troy. In addition to his Sila Productions for other companies Eddie had his own group of artists and record labels. He managed the early careers of Flip Wilson and Tony Orlando, who upon achieving international success with Dawn in the 70s, cited Eddie as one of his major influences. His first record label Keith, named after his son, was the first black owned label distributed through the prestigious London Records Group headed by Lee Heartstone in the UK. The label began issuing records in the summer of 62 and became home to the Matadors, a local group, that featured a young Harold Bass and Richard Tenryck. Harry remained with Eddie for the next five years whilst Richard Tee became Paul Simons lifelong pianist after they were introduced to each other during one of Pauls frequent visits to the Broadway office. In addition to releasing tracks by the Matadors, and Oberia Martin, on Keith Eddie recorded numerous others placing the product with equally as many labels; these included The Elites and The Foxes for ABC, Tommy Knight and The Persians for Gold Eagle, Chuck Leonard for Crackerjack, Billy Frazier for Symbol and Linda & The Pretenders for Assault. The songs were usually published by one of Eddies companies, Nu-Lenora or Kim, named after his daughter, and this is sometimes the only indication that Eddie was involved as he never concerned himself greatly with credits on a record label. Although Eddie had decided sometime before that he didnt want to be a performer there were a couple of occasions when he couldnt resist. Henry Glover, who was a good friend, persuaded him to cut some tracks for his recently established label. The result was Do Your Number/Let Me Know (Glover 211) which when issued sank without trace.
His other trip into the recording studio was through personal choice. He had heard God Bless The Child on the Ed Sullivan Show, being performed by Harry Belafonte, and decided he really wanted to do the song on himself. He booked the studio, arranged the session musicians and fulfilled his wish. Releasing it on his own label Joker (1001), flipped with an original composition called Its Not My Fault, the record, whilst only given a local release, became very popular and remains as Eddies favourite personal performance .
By 63 Eddie Singleton was an integral, and important, part of the New York musical establishment. When he wasnt in the studio cutting tracks he would hang out at Billy Dawn Smiths Brooklyn bar, the Colonial Inn, with Jimmie Steward and Tony Middleton or he could be found buying the latest European suits and Italian shoes. Eddie Singleton was a major success and there was nothing on the horizon to suggest that life would ever be any different.
MISS RAY ARRIVES
The summer of 63 saw the opening of the first Motown office outside of Detroit with Mrs Gordy coming to New York to head up the organisation. Eddie heard that she was in town and, as he already knew some of the Gordy family, decided to visit the Brill Building, to extend the hand of friendship, and offer his services as her "knight in shining armour". Unbeknown to them, at the time, their meeting set in motion a chain of events that would impact on peoples lives for years to come. Raynoma Mayberry was a gifted child, By the time she graduated she had developed an ear for arranging and possessed an enviable knowledge of music theory. Her dream of becoming a singer were set aside when she married Charles Liles, a local musician, in 1955. When the marriage failed Ray returned to the real love of her life - music. She formed a duo with her sister and they entered a talent contest at Detroits infamous Twenty Grand nightclub. Alice & Ray won outright and impressed Winehead Willie, the emcee, enough for him to suggest they call a guy he knew who was managing some groups.
Their audition for Berry Gordy Jnr., the following day, resulted in Ray becoming an integral part of Gordys fledgling empire. By early 1958 Berry was doing fairly well as a songwriter having had his co-compositions recorded, and released, by artists such as Jackie Wilson, The Five Stars, Malcolm Dodds, The Del Vikings, Eddie Holland, The Gaylords, Dorisetta Clark, The Solitaires, Bobby Darin, The Moonglows and Lavern Baker to name but a few. Berry was the creator, the businessman and the leader but Miss Ray was the one with the musical expertise; the partnership they formed took them a step closer towards what would become The Sound of Young America.
Ray initially took charge of coaching the groups, refining their vocal style, teaching musical theory and arranging sessions. Before too long she was writing out songs, and lead sheets, both for the session musicians and for copyright registration purposes.
The following months proved to be hectic ones with frequent house moves needed to facilitate the growing number of rehearsals that often continued through the night. Berrys deals with the majors were not proving to be financially rewarding and money was constantly in short supply. Forming an independent label, to give them the autonomy they desired, was out of the question so Raynoma suggested a compromise - the formation of a music company.
THE BIRTH OF MOTOWN
The Rayber Music Writing Company, registered at the City-County Building, in the summer of 58, as a 50/50 partnership between herself and Berry, was an instant success with aspiring artists queuing at the door to get their own vocals, or lyrics, recorded as a finished demo. Mabel John, Louvain Demps, Mickey Stevenson, Freda Payne, Freddie Gorman and Eugene Remus were just a few of the future Motown signings who cut their first tracks at Rayber with the Holland brothers, Miracles, Satintones, Five Stars or Rayber Voices assisting. At $100 per song there was soon enough money in the pot to move to 1719 Gladstone, home of the first Tamla release.
With business booming Raynoma, and Smokey, finally convinced Berry that it was time to start their own label and break free from the majors who had been lining their own pockets for too long. As winter approached they began to calculate the cost of recording, pressing and promoting a record; $800 was the bottom line. All they needed now was the $800, the right song, and a singer. The money eventually came from the Gordy family, in the form of a loan, on January 12th 1959; Come To Me was the song and Marv Johnson the singer. Berry negotiated a $3 000 advance, for the master, from United Artists plus the right to distribute locally on his own label.
By the end of January Tamla Records, and Jobete Music, were legally inaugurated as a partnership between Raynoma and Berry; the 45 had been issued as Tamla 101 and a second label, Rayber, was started. Rayber only released one local single, by Wade Jones, before being replaced by their third label - Motown. The arrival of the first royalty cheque paid for a move, in July 1959, to new premises Raynoma had found at 2648 West Grand Boulevard Despite having been persuaded by Berry to remove her name from the legal papers "for tax reasons", and giving birth to their first child the previous month, she threw herself into getting the house ready to become a legend - the house was christened Hitsville USA.
Prior to the move Raynomas new group, the Teen Queens, consisting of Alice and Ray with Marlene Nero and an old flame of Berrys called Mamie, had recorded their first single; From This Day Forward/When My Teenage Days Are Over was issued on Aladdin 3458 credited to the Cute-Teens to avoid confusion with the Modern girl-duo who were already well established on the West Coast. After a false start Berry married Raynoma in the spring of 1960 and the following years were filled with creativity, hope, and excitement.
In addition to being Executive Vice President, of Tamla Records, Ray was responsible for managing Jobete and supervised most of the day-to-day administration of the company including the organisation of the infamous Monday morning meetings. Her second outing on vinyl was issued (maybe) on the recently formed Miracle label in April 1961; credited to Little Iva and Her Band When I Needed You had been written, by Raynoma, more than two years previously following the loss of their second child. The lyrical proclamation of her love for Berry would soon begin to turn to tears as his infidelity, detailed in Raynomas book Berry, Me and Motown (1990), caused the marriage to deteriorate. Unable to tolerate the fighting anymore the decision was made to breakup; a Mexican divorce, by mail, was quickly executed. Hurt, and humiliated, Ray started dating in order to seek some sort of revenge.
The relationships were always short lived as none of her new boyfriends were able to tolerate the constant barrage of phone calls, made by Berry, who did not want his ex-wife dating other men. Ray, who still needed to be part of the company, wanted to get away from Berry and Detroit. As Berry recalled in his autobiography To Be Loved (1994) Ray suggested they open a Jobete office in New York; He agreed.
THE MOVE EAST
Raynoma had always been able to count on her half-brother Stanley Mike Ossman. He had stuck by her side during the Motown days and had been employed to assist Ray in administration and the running of Jobete. As a gifted songwriter he co-wrote many tunes that were recorded at Hitsville; these included I Can Take A Hint by the Miracles (Tamla 54078), Just Be Yourself by LaBrenda Ben (Gordy 7021) and The Day Will Come by Freddie Gorman (Miracle 11). When Miss Ray arrived at the Brill Building, in the summer of 1963, Mike was by her side. With Mike handling accounts and administration Miss Ray moved into creative gear. She quickly signed George Kerr and Sidney Barnes as Jobete songwriters who, together with her future brother-in-law, Timothy Andre Wilson, were known as the Serenaders. Their solitary release If Your Heart Says Yes, on V.I.P. (25002), in January 1964, bombed.
Miss Ray was only able to get one other act accepted by Motown; Sammy Turner, whose one-off release Right Now (Motown 1055) again from January 1964, written by Harry Bass and Alice Ossman followed the same path to obscurity. Despite being surrounded by talented individuals, who had submitted at least 100 songs, Ray was unable to make any headway with head office. George Clinton had come on board, with the Parliaments, and Eddie Singleton, who had started publishing some of his songs through Jobete, introduced Miss Ray to a group of musicians he had put together to be his studio band. As a result Eric Gale, Bernard Purdie, Jimmy Tyrell, Richard Tee and arranger Bert DeCoteaux were used on all of the New York sessions.
Financially things were getting desperate. Miss Ray had been able to place a number of Jobete tunes with other companies but had only achieved one chart placing, with the Chiffons A Love So Fine (Laurie 3195), in August 1963. As the cash flow diminished she turned to Berry for help totally unprepared for the response she received. Ray expected a cash injection instead, as she recalled in her autobiography, he replied "Thats your problem....you either come up with a way to do it or close the office"; that was a step she was not prepared to make.
Over the last few months Rays relationship, with Eddie, had continued to develop. Their friendship soon turned into a romance and before long they were living together. Even though Berry had another woman in his life he, again, was unable to tolerate the thought of Raynoma with another man. Eddie was fully aware of their history but thought that, as they were divorced, Ray was a free agent. When the calls started Eddie was confused. He had never "had any conversation, dialogue or confrontation with Berry Gordy Jnr." and couldnt believe "this was really taking place". Miss Ray was aware that Berry was trying to ruin her relationship and was dismayed when he "offered Ed $50 000 to leave". Ed and Ray stayed true to each other but started to feel the strain.
In the April of 1964 Miss Ray had had enough. Her final plea to Berry for money had been rejected and she felt she had no option but to try and get some money whichever way she could. Research conducted by J. Randy Taraborrelli for his book Michael Jackson - The Magic And The Madness (1991) unearthed the "Motown Record Corporations articles of incorporation, dated March 25, 1960" which confirmed Miss Rays position as "a member of the companys original board of directors". Given this scenario Miss Ray felt fully justified in pressing up 5000 copies of My Guy by Mary Wells (Motown 1056), then riding high in the charts, for sale to the local record stores at 50 cents apiece.
Within a week Berry had found out and Ray, with Eddie, were arrested by the FBI for bootlegging and thrown into jail. Miss Ray was given two choices; either to be prosecuted for bootlegging, and face a prison term of up to twenty years, or sign a general release from Motown and all its entities. Following legal advice she chose the latter and was given a non-negotiable settlement of $10 000 plus a monthly allowance and child support. During the legal wrangling it was discovered that the Mexican divorce was not valid so the marriage was once again, and finally, dissolved.
WASHINGTON D. C.
Knowing she had finally been defeated and that they had no real future in New York Eddie suggested that they make a fresh start and remove themselves from "the bitterness created by Berry"; "Lets just take the settlement and go. We can start our own label. Washington D.C. has a big market, a lot of music, and nobody is down there recording". Berry would claim, in his book, many years later that he and Miss Ray "parted amicably. So amicably that after she later married Eddie Singleton I loaned them money to start their own record label in Washington D.C.". The marriage Berry referred to did not take place until some nine months after the release of their first record on their own label. Eddie had often visited Washington D.C., on his business travels, and knew the city had a rich vein of untapped talent. but had never had a label of any significance. Its large black population, and proximity to Baltimore, made it the ideal location for the type of label they envisaged. He visited Ziadora Savin, an executive at BMI, and told her of their plans; she liked his proposal and agreed to assist with operating costs for the first six months. Pooling all of their resources they boarded a plane to start, what they hoped would be, a new life.
During the latter half of 1964, and in preparation for the move, they had already set some wheels in motion. The company needed a name so Eddie, and Ray, who had been staunch admirers of John F. Kennedy, and had been devastated by his senseless death, decided that their record label would reflect the hope and aspirations that Kennedy had held so dear. Upon hearing of Kennedys assassination Eddie had tried to vent his feelings by composing a song; originally called He Went Away he recorded the track with Linda Tate, in November 1963, and after the deal, to issue it, fell through he decided to keep it in reserve. When the decision about the name for their new label had been made it seemed only fitting, given the circumstances of the songs origins and their rationale for choosing the labels name , that this song should become their first release.
They called their label Shrine Records, both as a sign of their respect for John F. Kennedy and because the ethos of their company would mirror that of the man whose dreams for the future they both shared. The next move was to establish their publishing company and, as had so often been done in the past, an amalgamation of names took place. Miss Ray, Mike Ossman and Eddie Singletary, the three owners of Shrine, chipped in a few letters each to create Ramitary; all of the songs written, in the months prior to, and during their Washington stay would be registered, and copyrighted, under this name.
The first Ramitary recipient was Jackie Wilson who recorded the Eddie composed, and Matadors backed, Shes All Right (Brunswick 55273), in August 1964. A recording studio that would allow open access was essential; Eddie had been through the phone book and visited a few establishments before deciding that the Edgewood Studio, owned by Ed Green, was the one that could offer all they would need. The studio was small, not too sophisticated, but state of the art; Green had, up until now, not been heavily involved with the music industry as his main source of business had come from recording the Rose Garden speeches, for the President, and serving the audio needs of the local community. A productive partnership was developed and Green became a valued friend. Arrangements had also been made to have the records pressed at an East Coast plant that was owned by Johnsons Wax; their X mark would appear on the run-out groove of all of the 45s
They finally arrived, filled with hope and optimism, in the spring of 1965. Having quickly settled into their townhouse on G Street they were soon joined by Mike Ossman, Harry Bass and their respective families. The game plan, devised in New York, was to establish a company that could tap in to the rich pool of potential, that existed in the city, who had, up until now, no real outlet for their talent. This company would provide a complete musical service; from finding and fostering the artists, to recording them and getting their records on the radio and in the shops. They wanted to start off at a local level and then gradually build the company into a national one. With the combination of Raynomas Detroit dealings, Eddies New York know how and Harry and Mikes support nobody could envisage anything other than success. Eddie rented office space in a large townhouse situated on the Thomas Circle and from here started to execute the plan. As word began to spread around the city, that there were some new players in town, the Shrine family were busy organising last minute details before launching themselves into the public domain.
Their first 45, Shrine 100, the aforementioned Linda Tate, dubbed Linda & The Vistas, hit the streets almost immediately with distribution being carried out from the back of a van by Harry and Mike. Eddie had already secured a cash-on-delivery arrangement with the local stores not wanting to wait for payment, from a distributor, which could often take months. Local airplay was further spreading the word about Shrine and before too long the local talent, that Eddie knew existed, was queuing at the door hoping to get an opportunity to be involved in the action. The following three releases were already being organised; a local singer called Leroy Taylor had been one of the first arrivals and he had gone into the studio almost immediately to cut two tracks that Eddie had already prepared. Eddie knew it would take some time to assemble a team of new singers, songwriters, producers and arrangers but, not wanting to lose any momentum, continued to utilise the talents of the people who were already in place. Miss Ray, Mike, Harry and Eddie would then become mentors to the new recruits helping them to learn the tricks of the trade.
The next three arrivals were Kenny Lewis, Sidney Hall and Carl Lomax Kidd who had all been group-members of the Enjoyables. They had previously met Miss Ray, in New York, when auditioning for Motown; unable to sign them she had pointed them in the direction of Robert Bateman, an ex-Rayber Voice, who was in charge of A&R at Capitol Records. He signed them on the spot. Kenny and Carl were hired as singers, songwriters and producers and would be at the helm as Shrine moved into second gear the following year. Sidney, who possessed great vocal talent, was hired as a solo act. The last essential team-member to arrive was, the now legendary, Dale Ossman Warren. Dale was Miss Rays nephew and had worked alongside her, at Hitsville, where she had taught him all there was to know about arranging.
With Dale in place Miss Ray was able to take a back seat and, from January 66, he arranged all of the Shrine sessions. After the Leroy Taylor 45 was issued Eddie decided to change the appearance of the Shrine label. He had made a sketch, sometime before, which was representative of the eternal flame on John F. Kennedys gravestone. He gave his sketch to an artist who transformed it into the logo that would become the Shrine symbol from the third release onwards. Everything was going according to plan. Eddie had persuaded Jimmy Armstrong and Ray Pollard to come down from New York to cut some tracks and these would become the next two releases. The records were selling well and had started to make an impression on the local charts.
At this point a local group arrived for their first recording session; Watch Your Step, by the Cautions, became a huge local hit and heralded a change in the distribution arrangement that had, up until now, coped with the demand. Eddie received a call from Jim Schwartz, head of the Schwartz Brothers Distribution Company based in Maryland, as Eddie recalled he said "You are missing so much in the market, you really need to be with us". A deal was struck and Schwartz became the official distributors of the Shrine catalogue. The words Distributed by Shrine Record Dist. Corp." would no longer appear on the label. The Shrine operation had also attracted the attention of a group of New York socialites who, were eager to start their own record label, but lacked experience in the music industry. The group consisted of Lewis DeYoung, Christopher Cerf, Dimitri Villard and Blair Butterfield, all Harvard graduates who had dabbled with recording during their University days. Their families owned successful commercial operations that included Random House Publishing, a chain of stores, a merchant bank and an aviation company. They called on Eddie and suggested a partnership should be established; in return for the Shrine musical know-how they would use their contacts to set up an investment group that could give Shrine a large cash injection.
Within weeks Eddie had been visited by a party from Wall Street; impressed by what they saw they put together a limited partnership which provided the funds Shrine needed to move into the second phase of the plan. With the deal in place Jet Set Records, a name inspired by their mode of transport, came into being. Eddie, Miss Ray and Dale provided assistance with all aspects associated with running a record company as well as songs and artists for their sister label.
The pace of life was becoming hectic; Eddie had maintained contact with Jackie Wilson, and his manager Nat Tarnopol, and had flown back to New York to play them some of the Shrine material. Jackie particularly liked a Jimmy Armstrong track, recorded on July 19th 1965, that Eddie was planning to release; never one to miss an opportunity Eddie agreed to let Jackie put his vocal on the band track and I Believe Ill Love On (Brunswick 55283), recorded in August, heralded the start of Eddies time at Brunswick as A&R Director. Eddie, along with Miss Ray and Dale, would spend the next ten months regularly commuting to New York to work with Wilson. They had a hand in virtually all of Wilsons product until he relocated to Chicago; by this time Eddie, whose relationship with Tarnopol was frequently turbulent, had left after a heated exchange.
January 1966 was a time of frantic activity at the Edgewood studios as tracks by Eddie Daye, Les Chansonettes, Sidney Hall, The D.C. Blossoms and The Epsilons, amongst others, were recorded. Shrine was moving into its second phase; new distributors, the Jet Set investment, an established team of writers, producers and arrangers and a huge group of talented artists were all in place ready for the big push. Surrounded by happiness Eddie and Ray finally got married; nine months later their first child, William Edward Jnr., was born. By April Eddie was ready to start releasing the first batch of the new product onto the market. Although he wasnt 100% satisfied with how some of the tracks sounded he was under pressure from his investors to "come up with the goods" so that they could tidy up their financial portfolios. He arranged for the records to be pressed en masse, planning to release them at set intervals over the following months, thus keeping Shrine at the forefront of peoples minds.
The initial run was 2 500 copies of each record, from Shrine 106 to 119, on receipt of the 45s he sent some over to the Schwartz brothers, stored some in the basement of his house on Argyle Terrace and placed the rest in the office to allow people to take copies home with them. The first release came from the Epsilons; Mad At The World (Shrine 106) was a huge hit all over the tri-state area with a second pressing needed to meet the demand. It seemed that all of their dreams had finally been realised but then a figure from the past stepped back into the picture and things began to go wrong.
Berry Gordy was none too pleased that his bootlegging ex-wife was becoming successful in her own right. As Miss Ray recalled "we were hearing reports from various DJs that Berry had been campaigning against us. Apparently he had put the word out that his troublemaking ex-wife was trying to run him out of business.
Whatever Berry was or wasnt saying, all we knew was that the distributors, who didnt want to lose Motown affiliations, wouldnt help Shrine". As time progressed it became increasingly difficult to get any of the future releases played on the radio and so a vicious circle began. Without airplay and media exposure no demand was being created; without demand the stores werent willing to take the product and, starved of commercial outlets, the distributors werent interested in trying to push the product. Gordy had effectively demolished their promotional network Eddie was becoming exhausted finding it more and more difficult to cope with all of the external pressures that were bearing down on him. By the summer of 66 he felt as if he was being attacked from all sides; Tarnopol had created problems, Gordy was campaigning against Shrine, and regularly phoning Eddie, and then the investors, aware of the problems, pulled out leaving Shrine in a financially unstable, and vulnerable, position.
The stress of it all was taking its toll with Eddies physician warning him to slow down. Eddie and Ray werent prepared to go down without a fight but they needed money, and quickly, to try and turn things around. They pinned their hopes on Florence Greenberg, head of Scepter/Wand, who had been trying to get Eddie on board for a long time. They flew down to New York, for a meeting, and Eddie was hired as head of A&R with Miss Ray, now heavily pregnant, as his assistant. Despite a fresh source of income things back in Washington didnt improve. The Singletons were still commuting to New York for three days a week and then returning to Shrine to try and keep it afloat. Eddie was still recording at Shrine as late as November when he took some tracks by the Cautions, Fall Guy and Take A Look At Your Baby, to Scepter to try and bring some fresh investment in.
The deal didnt work out and to all intents and purposes Shrine was finished. Back in Washington Eddie called a meeting to inform everyone of the decision that had been made. As Eddie recalled "we were out of money and I was out of energy...the blackest day in my life was when I called the meeting and had them all in my office. I couldnt continue on...I walked away and didnt want to look back, it was too painful" Miss Ray wanted to go home, back to Detroit and Motown, she made a call and Eddie, at the request of Ray and Berrys sisters, went with her. He felt it would be an opportunity "to develop a relationship with Berry so he could relax". Eddies wish would never be fulfilled.
Upon vacating D.C. Eddie left behind all of his material possessions. His tapes remained at Edgewood and his stock of Shrine 45s were left at his home, in the office, and at the Schwartz Brothers. Dale Warren recalled that the Schwartz stock was moved to Waxie Maxys which was burnt down, the following year, during the race riots. The remaining stock, of no interest to the new occupiers of the house, or office, was obviously discarded.
All of these acts contributed to the eventual scarcity of the records. Although it would be many years before anybody realised the worlds rarest soul label had just been born.
Andrew Rix 1998
In Volume Two we will take an in-depth look at the contribution that Harry Bass, Carl Kidd and Kenny Lewis made to Shrine. Additionally we will look at the artists, songs and musicians who created the music. The musical treats lined up for Volume Two include a batch of never before heard songs, recently discovered, from Bobby Reed, Tippie & The Wisemen and The D.C. Blossoms
This CD is dedicated to the memory of Stanley Mike Ossman and Dale Warren. With thanks to Eddie Singleton, Miss Ray, Adrian Croasdell, Rob Thomas, Steve Bryant, Rob Hughes, Keith Hughes, Chris Jenner
comments from old feature
Jan 20 2011 08:28 PM
I am from South Africa where Eddie Singleton spent his last years and I had the privilege to meet him and became his friend - he was my mentor, my friend and he taught me more about the music industry than one can learn in a lifetime, he told me about his life in America (that is why I am living here now) his love and his experiences. I would love to meet someone that new him, or cared for him, as he made such a difference in so many peoples lives in South Africa, and everybody should know it - he should never be forgotten. He was my friend and mentor and a remarkable man.