The Mike Hanks Story
MAH'S, MRC and Exit

The latter MAH'S releases have Mike's address printed on the label: see Big Jack Reynolds' 45.

After The Barons split up Lee Rogers made his solo debut in '62 with a rousing, up-tempo, bluesy-guitar-led MAH'S' 45 titled "Troubles," which was picked up by Seg-Way in New York.

The identity of the Royal Ravens remains a mystery, but their "Grand Spanish Lady" is a tremendous doo-wop number. Unfortunately it was released a few years too late to have had a realistic chance of becoming a commercial success, and its meager sales make it a very rare disc.

The latter few of the dozen early MAH'S' 45s have Mike's McGraw address printed on the label. They date from late '62 to the spring of 1963, and include songs by Big Jack Reynolds and Don Heart, plus an instrumental titled "J.F.K." that's credited to Mike. After these discs the label was mothballed for five years.

The Exit label was launched in 1962 by another ex-Baron, Duke Browner, backed The Caravelles on a song titled "Wait." The Paragon's Exit 45 has two wonderful sides - "Pretty Words" and "My Time Is Important To Me" - with Dee Edwards leading superbly on both songs. The Paragons included Dee's brother, Albert, who had sung with The Distants, and ex-Caravelle Tommy Martin and his brother, Freddy.

Funk Brothers Eddie Willis (guitar) and James Jamerson (bass) had a hand in writing Eddie's instrumental on Exit, "Shake Loose," while guitarist and vibe player Dave Hamilton co-wrote "Pretty Words" and a few of Mike's other songs.

One of them was recorded by Charmaine (Dave Hamilton's daughter?) and sold to the Serock label in New York - another enterprise funded by Carmen Murphy. Another nice Hanks-Hamilton collaboration was "I Let Myself Go," cut by Geraldine Hunt and released on the Chicago-based Katron label.

Both these songs have a strong Mary-Wells flavor: she was riding high at the time with hits like "You Beat Me To The Punch," and it's quite hard to tell the difference between Mary's Motown releases and Mike's productions.

The MRC label was also started in '62 and Steve Mancha (Clyde Wilson) was part of the The Sounds (and The Stars), who backed Lawrence Faulkon. It's possible that "MRC" refers to Mike, Renaldo and Chuck, as these three co-wrote the Renaldo Jackson disc that intersects the MAH'S' catalogue numbers. 

With all this recording activity going on, Mike had to choose between working at Ford's and making music. There are no big-money prizes on offer for correctly guessing what he opted to do.

Notes thanks to Graham Finch

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