Murphy established her House of Beauty parlour around 1948
and developed it into a well-respected and profitable
establishment. In the late 50s she ventured into the music
business when DJ-cum-singer Jack Surrell persuaded her to
fund gospel recordings. She had a piano placed in the
salon's basement, converting it into a practice room, and
consequently became an unlikely pioneer of Detroit R 'n'
first secular HOB label release was made around 1959 by one
of Detroit's premier vocal groups, The Peppermints, whose
members included Lee Rogers, Jesse Greer and Duke Browner.
1960 Mike and Willie "Tony" Ewing had formed Spin
Records and the label's first 45 was a Jackson and
Hanks' composition titled "A Possibility"
that Willie's group, The Twilighters, recorded. Mike
had obviously got to know Carmen Murphy, as the address
printed on their record label is her House
of Beauty salon, at 111 Mack Avenue.
'61 The Peppermints became The Barons and launched
Carmen's Spartan label. They followed up their moody and
with a second 45 that had an appropriately ironic title: "Money
Don't Grow on Trees." The two discs feature Jesse
Greer on lead and sandwich one of Mike's few vocal
outings, "When True Love Comes To Be," that was later released on the
six months later the group had a 45 on Carmen's new label:
Soul. It was a Mike Hanks' composition titled "Dog
Eat Dog" and
they followed this up with "Who's
in the Shack," with "While the Cat's Away" on
the flip side. Mike arranged both songs, which have Roger
Craton singing lead on "Cats" and Tyrone Douglas leading
on "Shack." Tyrone would later become one of The
Magictones while Roger went solo, using the name Lee Rogers.
also co-wrote the tremendous double-sided Soul
platter sung by Johnny West; which is probably Buddy Lamp
using a pseudonym. The official A-side is "Tears Baby"
- a smouldering, mid-tempo, blues-tinged number with
great guitar work. The B-side, "It Ain't Love," pounds
into Rhythm-and-Blues-life after some dramatic dialogue
between "Johnny" and his love-starved girlfriend. It's
a collector's must-have 45.
were at least two further Soul label 45s released in 1963,
but these came from an independent Detroit company called
Soulville Productions, run by Dino Courreay.
history books tell us that Raynoma introduced Berry Gordy to
Carmen and that they subsequently had their first Jobete
production released on her HOB label: "I Need You," recorded by Herman Griffin
and The Rayber Voices.
around 1963-64 Carmen sold the "Soul" name to Berry and
he used it for Motown artists like as Jr. Walker, Gladys
Knight and Jimmy Ruffin. Although Carmen had offered him the
name for free, Berry's legal team wanted it done properly
and insisted on paying for it: they gave her a dollar.
a handful of 45s Carmen sold her HOB label to Scepter in New
York and it continued using it for gospel recordings, while
Carmen carried on funding various Detroit record labels.
Notes thanks to Graham
image must not be
reproduced, used or copied photograph
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