The Mike Hanks Story
D-TOWN 1965-1966

Lee Rogers - pictured - had D Town's biggest hit and has top spot on this review.

In October of 1965 Mike put on a second D-Town review, this time at the plush 20 Grand. But his impressive roster of artists were beginning to feel restless due to their lack of chart success, and singer-songwriter Melvin Davis, who recorded for Mike's Wheel City label, recalled the situation.

"Mike Hanks was really a devoted person when it came to the music industry. He loved the music business. He hated Berry Gordy. He didn't want to give Berry the credit for being the innovator and the visionary that he really was. Mike thought he was just as good as Berry - which he wasn't. He was a good guy; don't get me wrong. He was good for the music business, he gave a lot of people a lot of opportunity. He gave me an opportunity to develop. He had the biggest heart. He'd let you come in and try to do what you could do, 'Man! That sounds good, man. That sounds good! Berry Gordy - that mother fu--er, he ain't shit, man. I can't stand that mother fu--er.' He would cuss him out every single day! He'd sneak all the Motown musicians in at night. He'd say, 'That's what it is! He's got all those damn musicians. If he didn't have Jamerson, he wouldn't have shit.' He refused to realize that this man (Berry) put together a recording machine that was second to none. From the songs themselves having such great content, to the melodies being great, to the production being great, to the musicians being great, to the promotion. He even had people tell you how to walk, how to talk. he put the whole package together. That's what Mike didn't understand. I think he understood it, but I think he thought it was simpler than what it was. But Mike's stuff was good too! But it wasn't the calibre of Motown. But it didn't have to be! Everything doesn't have to be Motown. I think that's what kinda pissed him off."

As well as running D-Town Mike also started other subsidiary record labels, such as Wheel City, Wheelsville USA, GIG, HOG and USD. None had any more luck than D-Town though.

Gracie prompted him to also start making gospel recordings, which were released on a "Devotional Series" label. The label's six releases include a couple by the Staple Singers and two by The Meditations. And Mike also produced a gospel LP by The Edward LaNier Gospel Singers, released on the Hallelujah label.

But by August of '66 D-Town had released the last of its forty-three records, which left Wheelsville USA as the main outlet for Mike's music. 

Notes thanks to Graham Finch

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photograph credits at end of webisode




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