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Dramatics On Crackerjack


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Hi all

I'm looking for confirmation on the Dramatics - Toy Soldier on Crackerjack 4015 please.

Have seen conflicting reports on whether or not this is the same Dramatics that recorded on Wingate, Sport, Volt etc.

I have also seen the Crackerjack record listed as being released in 1963 as well as 1968 :ohmy: (sounds more like '63).

The Crackerjack release certainly has Detroit connections - as can be seen from the credits on the attached scan.

Can anyone answer these questions please - and if a different group what is the line-up please?

Cheers

Richard

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According to Ron Murphy, the Crakerjack group was a Detroit group, recorded in Detroit by Joe Hunter and Fred Brown. They leased the master to Juggy Murray's Sue/Crackerjack Records in New York in 1963. We're reasonably sure that Lee Gates (or Harry Gates (brother or same guy?)) was lead singer in that group. His voice is very distinctive (a brother could have had a similar familial tone). You can see Harry Gates listed as first writing credit on the song. He may have written the song, originally, and brought it with his group to Brown and Hunter, who "polished it" receiving the additional writing credits, and recorded the group and marketed the recordings, and got the record deal.

Murphy also stated that Ron Banks was asked about that recording session. He stated that he and his Dramatics had nothing to do with that recording. Banks was only 15 years old in 1966, when HIS Dramatics (also from Detroit) recorded their FIRST record for Ed Wingate (Wingate Records). He would have been only 11 or 12 in 1963, when the first was recorded. Apparently, the first Dramatics were only a "studio group", formed for that one record in 1963 (or a group that formed and broke up quickly after their record flopped). No one we talked to remembers that first Dramatics group appearing around Detroit. Hundreds of Detroit groups popped up during the '60s, with different singers moving around to various groups. By the time Ron Banks' Dramatics started in 1965, the first Dramatics group was long disbanded, and hardly anyone had known of them even in 1963. Both Joe Hunter (a few times SDF poster) and Fred Brown were asked about the first Dramatics group. They stated that they remember the first group WAS from Detroit (if memory serves, they were seniors in a Detroit high school (NOT the one that Banks attended). But, unfortunately, they couldn't remember any of their names.

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Nice one Robb - thanks very much for the info - a convincing account indeed

If it's the same Lee Gates that recorded on the Detroit Enterprise label then he definitely has a distinctive vocal style :yes:

Cheers

Richard

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Nice one Robb - thanks very much for the info - a convincing account indeed

If it's the same Lee Gates that recorded on the Detroit Enterprise label then he definitely has a distinctive vocal style :yes:

Cheers

Richard

Yes, THAT'S the bloke. Give a listen to his Enterprise cuts, and then "Toy Soldier, back-to-back. I think he's the group's lead. We'll probably NEVER find out who the groups other members were.

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I Think that Harry Gates was Lee's brother rather than the same man using two different first names. Harry was listed as lead of the Caravelles on Detroit's Starmaker Records in 1962-63. His voice has the same distinctive familial tone to it, but, yet sounds a bit different from Lee's. Maybe it was Lee who sang lead on "Toy Soldier", but the song was written by his brother. We should have someone talk to some people that are left from that time (they are dropping like flies, and those who remain alive have their memories of that time growing dimmer and dimmer. Harry Gates was a writer with Ed Kaplan's labels, and with the Enterprise/Ruby/Heart/Dynamic labels, and worked with Mike Hanks and Carmen Murphy at HOB/Starmaker/Soul and with Joe hunter and Fred Brown. Surely there are a lot of people left that will remember him. They might remember his Dramatics group.

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Thanks again Robb :thumbsup: Much appreciated

I have and really like Lee Gates - Nothin' But Wonderful/Don't Make It A Habit on Enterprise - prefer the latter slower track actually - although Lee's vocal do go a bit all over the place

Will give it a listen against the Dramatics on Crackerjack as you suggest

What else did Lee record?

Great info - thanks :yes:

Richard

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First, we have to confirm that Lee and Harry Gates were two different people. Harry was lead singer of The Caravelles on Starmaker, and was also in another group (I forget which). He also wrote both of Lee gates' songs, and wrote a fair amount of songs for Bob Schwartz' and Ed Kaplan's productions, and some other Detroit labels. I don't remember seeing Lee Gates' name on any other records. We had some threads about them on Soulful Detroit, but we never got our questions answered. Unfortunately, Ron Murphy died before he could finish doing the research for the CD for Carmen Murphy's labels (HOB, Starmaker, Soul, Spartan, etc.). I don't know if any of the people from Enterprise/Ruby/Dynamic/Heart are still around. Maybe some of Ed Kaplan's MSK people can remember about Harry Gates?

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First, we have to confirm that Lee and Harry Gates were two different people. Harry was lead singer of The Caravelles on Starmaker, and was also in another group (I forget which). He also wrote both of Lee gates' songs, and wrote a fair amount of songs for Bob Schwartz' and Ed Kaplan's productions, and some other Detroit labels. I don't remember seeing Lee Gates' name on any other records. We had some threads about them on Soulful Detroit, but we never got our questions answered. Unfortunately, Ron Murphy died before he could finish doing the research for the CD for Carmen Murphy's labels (HOB, Starmaker, Soul, Spartan, etc.). I don't know if any of the people from Enterprise/Ruby/Dynamic/Heart are still around. Maybe some of Ed Kaplan's MSK people can remember about Harry Gates?

Thanks again Robb

Was the CD shelved?

Cheers

Richard

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Thanks again Robb

Was the CD shelved?

Cheers

Richard

I'm hoping SOMEONE will pick up the project and finish it. I think that Mrs. Murphy had some unreleased masters that would have been added to rare 45 recordings. The CD would have a lot more interest for R&B and early Soul fans than for northern "Soulies", as much of the music is from 1958-60. But some of the 1963 "HOB resurrection material" under Dino Courray from HOB, Soul and Starmaker Records is NS crossover. There were other Detroit collectors involved (and I might contribute records and information to the project). Maybe Ady Croasdel and Ace/Kent are already involved or might do. We should ask him about that.

Edited by RobbK
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once had a bell sound acetate of this and the date on it was 1963...

That confirms what Joe Hunter and Fred Brown said about it, that they recorded it in 1963 (but they could only remember that it was a local, Detroit group, but not remember who the members were).

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  • 3 years later...

I'm wondering now whether Harry or Lee Gates is the lead singer on Motown's (Miracle 7) by The Equadors "Someone To Call My Own"/"You're My Desire".  The lead's voice is very similar.  We've been wondering for years about that mystery group.  The lead from "Toy Soldier" sounds very like The Equadors' lead, and also like Lee Gates, and also a bit like The Caravelles' lead.  Nobody at Motown we asked remembered or knew ANYTHING about The Equadors, including who Rex Robertson was.  Take a listen to all those songs and let me know what you think.

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So Harry Gates sang as "Lee Gates" on Enterprise Records.  He was lead singer in The Caravelles and first Dramatics group.  He was a regular songwriter on the Detroit Soul scene.  I bet he sang in other groups as well.  I think he may have been lead singer of The Equadors on Miracle, and I suspect that he sang in other Detroit groups between 1961 and 1967.  I'd be curious to know in what other groups he was a member, and for which other labels he performed, and anything else about him.

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  • 5 years later...
17 hours ago, The Yank said:

Here's an unreleased song from Harry that uses the same backing track as Tony Hester's "Just Can't Leave You" - 

 

That doesn't sound to me like Harry/Lee Gates' voice.  Is it listed on the Pied Piper CD as being sung by Harry or Lee Gates?

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Harry Gates died a long time ago, but I did interview one of the singers from The Caravelles - Harry was the lead singer on that Star Maker 45 and as said, he also recorded on Enterprise as Lee Gates.

The Caravelles joined Dave Hamilton and were about to record under a new name - I have a photo of them in uniforms - but it all fell through. I should have asked about The Dramatics' recordings as I now believe Toy Soldier is by 'The Caravelles', led by Harry Gates.

 

 

 

Edited by G F
typo
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17 hours ago, G F said:

Harry Gates died a long time ago, but I did interview one of the singers from The Caravelles - Harry was the lead singer on that Star Maker 45 and as said, he also recorded on Enterprise as Lee Gates.

The Caravelles joined Dave Hamilton and were about to record under a new name - I have a photo of them in uniforms - but it all fell through. I should have asked about The Dramatics' recordings as I now believe Toy Soldier is by 'The Caravelles', led by Harry Gates. 

 

 

 

At least we know that Harry Gates sang lead.  The voices on Toy Soldier, its flip, The Caravelles' 2 sides and The Lee Gates 2 sides match.  I think it's possible that he was lead singer on "Someone To Call My Own" by The Equadors, as well.  But the voice on that one doesn't seem to be as close as the others, so it is still in doubt.

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