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Windlesoul

Maurice Williams & Zodiacs - Lost Sessions Maybe?

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Nat Speir, founder of (Bob Meyer and the) Rivieras is currently pulling some memoirs together. He has asked me if I could help him with a part of his career which time has blurred the memory a little. Unfortunately I dont have the info he needs but think a couple of individuals might on here....

Basically he used to step in as a Zodiac on occasion in the early sixties. Around 1963 Nat remembers on the back of the success 'Stay' they did a series of recording sessions for Marshall Seahorn and Bobby Robinson, in NewYork (Harlem) and then later in Chatlotte NC. Nat and Bob were there at both. He remembers (as just a young kid from the south) being in awe of people who came by Inc a young Jimi Hendrix, Vera Clay, Marshall Seahorn etc. Whist Nat was there he also did a demo for Betty Boothe (might be that Falew thing?) and the Charts.

Does anybody have the whereabouts or events of Maurice Williams career around 1963? Could this be from same session that Return on Seahorn was recorded? Or those unreleased things that Guy etc played? Also anybody know a date for ' what can a man do', Basically Nat's just interested in the full story if we can piece it together and also identify which tracks they may have cut there.

Edited by Windlesoul

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Dunno if this helps an extract from my book:

 

By the end of 1962 with no further hit records, the group signed with Marshall Seahorn. Seahorn had just left Bobby Robinson’s Harlem based Fire / Fury set up and had started his own label Sea-Horn Records in New York. A single “My baby’s gone / Return” did nothing to further the group’s progress (although it did feature a very young Gladys Knight & Pips on background vocals). Maurice Williams meanwhile would go on to have other singles recorded and released while on the road such as "The Day has come" on James Chavis's Candi Records in 1964, backed by The Inspirations. 

 

Meanwhile the Zodiacs had their own records out on Atlantic and Soma. Despite the somewhat fluid nature of Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs, they would both stay with Seahorn when he relocated down to New Orleans. In March 1964 Seahorn joined Constellation Records and took Maurice Williams there with him. Not long after settling in New Orleans Sehorn also partnered with Allen Toussaint. In the spring of 1965 the two men recorded the Williams & The Zodiacs "May I" for their Deesu production company. "May I" was successfully leased to Vee Jay, Constellation’s parent company. 

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Hi Steve, thought you'd come through with something cheers for that. I have some other bits and bobs around the session I'll post up later.

So looks like Return / My baby's gone came from this session, as I suspected. How about the unreleased stuff that we know?

Edited by Windlesoul

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Some extra info from Nat  - was at the recording studio (Beltone studios?) above Small's Paradise in Harlem. The sessions were booked by Danny Moore, Count Basies trumpet player, on behalf of Bobby& Danny Robinson (Fire/Fury etc) and Marshall Seahorn. They rehearsed for several weeks, it was a real big deal. 

 

Gladys Knight, some of the Pips were there (as Steve says they provided backing vocals for the Seahorn release - so this 45 did come from this session then) and King Curtis was there at one point. Jimi Hendrix was the rhythm guitarist added to beef up the bass.

 

Also whilst they were there Bob Meyer recorded three (demo) tracks with the Zodiacs, and Nat played sax on a demo for The Charts and Betty Boothe.

 

All kinda ties in. The Charts and King Curtis had 45s on Everlast in 63 and 65 respectively (was the 63 Desiree a remake of the 57 orig, or just a straight reissue? The Wand version seems much later in the 60s). Its feasible that the King Curtis 45 was kept in the can until then.

 

This is really intriguing me!

Edited by Windlesoul

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Nat has just sent this....

 

Mark,
 

"Look My Way" was done a year or so after the Bobby/Danny Robinson New York trip. I am the bari sax, I do remember that session at Arthur Smiths in Charlotte. I remember how nervous these sessions made me because there were no overdubs, and usually one or two takes for the band. Woefully, I remember being a little out of tune on this track and out of sync (couldn't hear the drums well enough) on another. "What A Man Can Do" is from another time- It is a better band, including brass, (a good trombone maybe Ivan Hall local jazzer). I don't know much about "Return". I now remember hearing something about The Robinsons refusing to release the New York tunes- not long after, one or both of them died I think. Still, there might be promo copies around, they were big on promos.

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