The Masqueraders playing the 20 Grand

The first group that La Beat auditioned were The Masqueraders. They had come from Dallas, Texas to try their luck at Motown, and had stumbled across La Beat by accident after their audition on West Grand Boulevard.

It was clear that Motown wasn't going to work out and the industry norm of  "don't call us we'll call you" was still ringing in their ears when they stepped up to the mics on 14th Street. A contract soon followed and the group found themselves in accommodation across at the motel.

Over the next few months, The Masqueraders would get some quality advice from Fred who worked relentlessly on their harmonies and song writing skills.

And while their earliest songs were written by either Beatty or Trusell and Mills, their finest moments on the label were courtesy of Bridges and Knight with the classic double-sider "I got the power" b/w "One more chance".

Lou Beatty leads Johnny Mills of the Masqueraders through a song in December 1966

Fred recalls, "Man, on "Power" I pushed their lead singer, Lee Jones, to the top of his range and he almost didn't make it!

And you know, Stevie Wonder used to come around that studio with Junior Glover, and he used to rave about that song .  Clay McMurray and Berry Gordy also expressed a lot of  interest but nothing came of it."

La Beat would soon expand to include the Mary Jane and Cool School labels. 

The product was flowing and Fred had his hands full.

Hendrix's Carrie label also made a fleeting appearance and with a new numbering system gave the impression that this was an extension to the partnership. Carrie's key releases were by Clifford Binns and Edward Hamilton.

Clifford Binns

Fred was now working closely with Teddy Harris and between them they produced some great songs which which were coming from the pens of Curtis Trusell, Johnny Mills, James Shorter, Don Equhart (Don Hart), Melvin Davis and Junior Glover.

Beatty is also credited with writing and producing a number of songs on his own, but I would imagine that these were supervised due to him being completely new to the business. 

Sadly, Fred and Richard would also have to deal with clerical error at La Beat. “We wrote a song called 'I’m coming home' for Edward Hamilton & the Arabians. They made a mistake and called it  'Baby don’t you weep'. "

This is one of a number of songs which Fred lists as missing from the BMI database. It would be sad to think that they had missed out on royalties for this classic song.

Edward Hamilton


Notes thanks to David Meikle.

Pictures courtesy of Grapevine Records,, Ron Murphy, MotorCityMusic & Shades of Soul Magazine.


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