In 1968, Steve Mancha recorded these Groove
City sides for Don Davis, who credited them to The Hollidays –
with two Ls. You can see that ex-Holiday Tony Hester wrote the
popular Northern Soul side, “I Lost You”.
A legend on Northern Soul scene, Steve Mancha’s recording
career kicked off in 1962 with Wilburt Jackson as Two Friends –
the duo making just one record.
An aside: In ’67, Wilburt joined Cyril Clark – a writer of the
Four Hollidays’ Markie 45 – in a group called Two Plus Two and
cut a record for the Velgo label.
Once Steve and Wilburt had left North Western High School they
signed with Harvey Fuqua and recorded their gorgeous self-penned
song - “Just Too Much To Hope For” - that was released on
Harvey’s obscure HPC label.
This label, along with his better-known Tri-Phi and Anna labels,
became part of Motown’s growing empire once Harvey married Berry
Gordy’s sister. Although some Motown artists recorded Steve’s
compositions, none made a big splash and during his few years at
West Grand Boulevard, he became frustrated at not getting a
chance to record.
Tammi Terrell beautifully re-did “Just Too Much To Hope For”,
but by then Steve had left Motown to join Don Davis at Solid
Hitbound Productions to get a real chance of studio action.
Don didn’t think Steve’s real name – Clyde Wilson - would sell
records, so fellow producer Don Mancha came up with Steve Mancha
and in 1965, his first solo 45 came out. This was the
wonderfully soulful “Did My Baby Call” on the Wheelsville USA
label, which somehow managed to defy success. It’s now a
Steve then kicked off the groovy looking Groovesville
label in October ‘65 with the great “You’re Still In My Heart”
and followed it up in March ’66 with a Billboard hit - “I Don’t
Want To Lose You”. This was the second of his five singles on
the label - each of them a jewel of Detroit Soul. One of them is
Tony Hester and Popcorn Wylie’s first collaborations, “Friday
Night”, but sadly only “Don’t Make Me a Story Teller” got him
back into the national charts, reaching 34 in February ‘67.
The best is yet to come
now that we’re together
Steve’s last 45 on the label was in the
summer of ’67: the stupendous “Just Keep On Loving Me”, but
Solid Hitbound Productions had already started to unravel.
Following J. J. Barnes’ huge success with “Baby Please Come Back
Home”, on Groovesville, the label eventually became a casualty
in the war between Don Davis and LeBaron Taylor’s battle over
J.J.’s contract and royalties. Don subsequently continued alone
with his Groove City label while LeBaron released 45s on the
Revilot and Solid Hit labels.
The Groove City platter, “Hate Yourself In The Morning”, was
Steve’s next 45, which sold well around Detroit. However, his
follow-up, “Easy Living”, was a song that he wasn’t too happy
with and one that brings us back to The Holidays story. Steve:
“Don told me that I could either put the song out under my name,
and I said I don’t want that type of song… so he just put The
Hollidays. No, I couldn’t imagine doing a song like that on
stage; I mean, with that many words in it.”
Of all The Hollidays’ 45s, this Groove City one is probably the
most valuable due to the flip side, “I Lost You” - a Northern
Soul favorite. It was penned by Tony Hester – probably during
his Golden World days as a Holiday - and in yet another bizarre
twist to this Holidays’ story, Steve’s “Easy Living” was
included on the Volt LP titled “Rare Stamps”, but mis-credited
to J. J. Barnes.
Don Davis had begun producing and writing for Stax/Volt records
in Memphis and made his name – and some cash - with Johnny
Taylor’s 1968 smash “Who’s Making Love”. Don was using Memphis
and Detroit for recording and mastering sessions, but apart from
the Rare Stamps LP - a compilation of Groovesville songs - Steve
didn’t get to record anything new. Frustration was setting in
Enter Eddie and Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier, who had
acrimoniously left Motown and started the Hot Wax label. The
songwriting trio obviously knew Steve from his years at Motown
and also knew he’d be a great asset to their new venture. Steve
jumped at the chance to join them.
A group was put together, named 100 Proof Aged In Soul, that
included Steve, Eddie Anderson (yes, the ex-Holiday) and
ex-Falcon Carlis ‘Sonny” Monroe. Their first record in ’69
didn’t do too well, but “Somebody’s Been Sleeping” shot up the
national charts in 1970, spawning an LP and follow-up hits.
The trio also cut “She’s Not Just Another Woman” - a song Steve
had co-written with Ronald Dunbar - but as 100 Proof already had
a record high in the charts, it was credited to 8th Day. When
this record also took off, another new group was hastily put
together - fronted by Melvin Davis, who Steve had been jamming
with since the early 60s.
Tony Gray also joined the Invictus setup, singing background on
sessions. OK, this is becoming a digression.
Steve Mancha’s first solo 45 was on the
Wheelsville USA label in 1965, followed by five on Groovesville.
His Grove City disc, "Hate Yourself In The Morning", was released
in ’68 and in 1969 he sang in the Hot Wax group, 100 Proof Aged
In Soul - initially with Carlis “Sonny” Monroe and ex-Holiday