Wheeling, Dealing & Losing


Nathaniel Mayer and a poster displaying some of the Fortune Roster 

Fortune had several acts under contract, but a number of the Fortune releases were on artists who had financed themselves (which explains the poor quality of those issues), but on their own artists, the Browns issued some of the best R&B records of the 50’s.

It’s unfortunate that the company didn’t have national distribution, because with the proper promotion, Fortune could have competed with labels like Speciality, Imperial, Sun and Chess.

Eleven Fortune 45's were fronted by Andre

Only twice did Fortune lease material to bigger labels. Andre Williams’ “Bacon Fat” went to Columbia’s Epic label and Nathaniel Mayer’s “Village Of  Love” along with the follow-up “Leave Me Alone” going to United Artists. Jack and Devora felt they got burned both times.

Nathaniel Mayer's "Village Of Love" reached #16 R&B in May 1962

With “Bacon Fat” they received $500 for the master lease (which was typical for those times, and later got only $2,000 in royalties for a record which made Billboard’s national top 100 chart. With “Village Of Love”, after several delays from United Artists, they were finally paid on sales of 180,000 records which Devora still feels today was way below the actual total sales.


Notes thanks to Ron Murphy

.Poster image courtesy of Nikki Gustafson : label scans courtesy of Motorcitymusic. Image notes David Meikle


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