The Mike Hanks Story
Wheelsville Review

This Wheelsville Review was in August '66 and featured Silky Hargreaves plus Toby Lark.

 The label had released about twenty records by late '66 and musically it carried on where D-Town left off.

The Fabulous Peps' great dancer, "Love Of My Life," is an in-demand example of Wheelsville's uncomplicated, fired up, horn-driven sound. Others include Lee Rogers' maelstrom of a song, "How Are You Fixed For Love" and his storming "Cracked Up Over You" - two recordings that sounded just too black to have made the pop charts.

It's hard to decide which is the best side of Silky Hargreaves' 45: "I'll Keep On Trying" or "Love, Let's Try it Again." Perhaps I should say the most fantastic, as "Trying" has a wonderfully atmospheric track with Silky pleading as soulfully as it gets while his self-penned "Love" has a punchy, Funk-Brother arrangement courtesy of trumpeter Floyd Jones. Both these songs have a higher fidelity sound than most of the label's recordings and were possibly cut at Golden World's nice studio on Davidson - Cody Black mentioned Silky did some sessions there.

Accomplished arrangers like Floyd Jones, McKinley Jackson and Dale Warren started working for Wheelsville, while Rudy Robinson's involvement waned. His name isn't credited on the labels and Ziggy Johnson reported in his weekly Michigan Chronicle column that Dale Warren was Pete Hall's musical director.

That was in August 1966 and Mike had probably backed out of the D-Town subsidiary. His MAH'S publishing disappears from the labels - replaced by "Group Four" or "Premium Stuff" - and indicates he'd handed control to Pete.

As well as appearing on big reviews - like the one at the 20 Grand shown above - D-Town and Wheelsville's roster of talented singers would also gig at some of the Motor City's smaller nightspots. There were lots of them.

Pete and Mike had been running the Stadium Lounge - a cozy club close to the Pig Pen - since '65-ish. And Mike also managed the Webbwood Inn, which was located on Woodward Avenue and Webb.

This popular place boasted a massive dance floor and Cody Black helped to keep the joint swinging, telling me:

 "The Webbwood days. those were great days. I had a job there. I was the stockman. I handled all the liquor, took the inventory, made sure all the machines were emptied, counted the money. There were some great clubs back then, the Webbwood was one. Lee's Sensation was another; it's gone. The Casino Royale; gone. The Parrot, that's gone. And the Chit Chat on 12th.they had some nice clubs on 12th. They're all gone."

Melvin Davis also had fond memories gigging for Mike at the Webbwood: "It was big. That's where he'd put on most of his shows. He'd have a band there from Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But at the Stadium it was just weekends. In the Club Stadium we'd have a regular band, about five to six pieces, but at the Webbwood sometimes there'd be maybe eight pieces. maybe ten. sometimes a horn section."

The very last Wheelsville USA 45 was a re-issue of Buddy Lamp's dancer, "I Wanna Go Home," and came out in the summer of '67. And Mike's key men - Rudy, Cody, Sam the engineer, plus The Magic Tones - had started Ram-Brock Records. But Detroit hadn't heard the last of Mike Hanks.

Notes thanks to Graham Finch

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photograph credits at end of webisode




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