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”.

Steve Mancha

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 big-money record.

 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.

Steve Mancha
“Easy Living”

The best is yet to come
now that we’re together

(Easy Living)

 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 again.

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 Eddie Anderson.


Researched and written by Graham Finch


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