The Mike Hanks Story
D-TOWN 1965

Two of a few 45s that should have been hits in 1965. 

The house purchase fell through and again Cody Black told me how things unfolded. "Mike tried to buy a building next door to Motown. Him and Berry didn't get along at all, 'cause Mike always said, 'I was driving a Cadillac when he was riding a bike.' He shouldn't have been messing with Berry. He bought the building and somehow Berry pre-dated the contract that he had on the building - and they snatched the building off of Mike. Because it was too close to Motown! You know what he (Mike) did - he put some dog-doo on the board and he walked around out in front of Motown with a sign saying, 'What you see on this board is what's in this building'. That was it for us. Believe it or not that was it for us! That was the end of that road. Then they (radio stations) started not playing our product. Somebody had told them not play our stuff, or paid them not to play it. Mike sincerely believed he was being stepped on." 

But Mike was undeterred and bought a place a little further along, at 3040 East Grand Boulevard, at the corner of John R. The roomy, detached house became D-Town's main office and was used for general admin and rehearsals, while most of the recording sessions still took place at the Pig Pen.

The move gave everyone at D-Town a boost and 1965 saw some of the company's best recordings released. Sadly, none of them sold as well as they merited. Lee Rogers had distinctly less success with his follow up disc, "You're the Cream of The Crop," released around February, and Silky Hargreaves's catchy debut, "Hurt By Love," was one of a several that should also have made the national charts.

As you can see from the advert above, D-Town's second review at Mr. Kelly's featured Silky and various other artists plugging their current releases. Ronnie Love's "Detroit, Michigan" was later covered by The Peps, and is found on the flip of their "You Never Had It So Good." The song is a celebration of everything Detroit: "Talking about a soulful groove - we got it." Even Hitsville, Mary Wells and The Supremes get a mention. Ronnie's real name is Ronald Dunbar and although this disc sank without trace he had success with Holland, Dozier and Holland at their Invictus label in the 70s.

Other great sides released in '65 include "Hide And Seek" by Lillian Dupree. She'd split from Jackie and The Tonnetts after the group had seen their sublime "Steady Boy" bomb, and this and several other D-Town 45s are now valuable collector's items.

One of them is Cody Black's tremendous "Mr. Blue." Sam (the engineer) kicks it off by walloping the drums to give it one of those killer-Detroit intros, while Lillian, Silky and Tom Storm of the Peps add delicious backing vocals to a typically superb performance by Cody.

And The Precisions' wonderful "You're Sweet" is a 45 that somehow also managed not to climb the charts. It's hardly surprising Mike felt he was being stepped on. 

Notes thanks to Graham Finch

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photograph credits at end of webisode




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