The Emanuel Lasky Story
Mid Sixties

This Teen Calendar article appeared in Detroit’s Michigan Chronicle newspaper
in September 1965.

“The strain I’m under is no illusion
I finally came to the only conclusion
I’ve got to run for my life
I’ve got to keep on running”
(I’ve Got To) Run For My Life

Thelma Records continued to use the United Sound studio on 2nd Avenue for recording sessions and their storefront office at 6519 Grand River Avenue for practicing - it had a couple of rehearsal rooms.

Emanuel’s next 45 was a super piece of mid-sixties Detroit dance music, Lucky To Be Love By You - a Don Davis tune that was leased by Wild Deuce Records in New York. There are many vinyl collectors living in hope of finding a copy of Thelma #103, but they don’t exist. That catalogue number was allocated to Pat Smith’s unreleased recording, Going Through A Whirlpool – Ron Murphy found the documentation in United Sound’s archives.

Emanuel’s 45 was released in March ‘65, but bafflingly failed to chart nationally. Don began to see greener grass around Golden World’s new studio on Davidson and left Thelma Records to start a production company with DJ Lebaron Taylor - Solid Hitbound Productions.

Emanuel Lasky singing
Don't Lead Me on Baby

During ’64, Don had recruited Joey “Kingfish” Stribling to Thelma, a guitarist who often played in a trio with Jamerson, and drummer Melvin Davis at the Frolic Show Bar – which is where Don met him. 'Fish carried on where Don left off and was behind various Thelma classics, notably Emanuel’s gem that you’ve (hopefully) just heard a snippet, Don’t Lead Me On Baby. DJ Frantic Ernie had it at number 6 in his weekly Chronicle chart in October, but the song should have propelled Emanuel to national fame.

You would be hard pressed to tell the difference between Emanuel’s Thelma mid-sixties records and many Motown ones. Berry Gordy certainly thought Don’t Lead Me On Baby mimicked The Four Tops hit, I Can’t Help Myself, and considered Joe Matthews’ Thelma disc – Sorry Ain’t Good Enough – to be very similar to Marvin Gaye’s latest tune.

Berry was not a happy bunny and told his ex-wife, Thelma, what he thought. But it wasn’t plagiarism on the songwriter’s part; the similarity was down to the musicians who were playing on those late-night Thelma sessions at United Sound. They were the same ones that Berry was trying to keep secret; “The greatest musicians in the whole wide world,” as Emanuel succinctly put it. “People like James Jamerson, Robert White, Pistol, Benny Benjamin, Popcorn Wylie, Floyd Jones, Al Watson… just to name a few.”

Although Emanuel didn’t have any records out in 1967, he regularly appeared in Detroit’s most popular nightclubs; the Chit Chat on 12th Street being one of them. This show with Betty Lavette was in February that year.

Don Mancha and Clay McMurray joined forces on two great Thelma tunes, I’m A Peace Loving Man and Sweet Lies which Emanuel recorded with his usual aplomb. Peace Loving Man is one of those classic Vietnam-era songs that unashamedly gets people moving and grooving, while Sweet Lies shows Clay’s gift for melody. The songs have sisters Pat and Diane Lewis harmonizing beautifully and a vibraphone effectively tapping you on the head and saying – get on that dance-floor! How this double-sided 45 didn’t make the charts will remain one of life’s mysteries.

John Jones was behind Emanuel’s August ’66 disc - his last one on Thelma - titled I’ve Got To Run For My Life.  Emanuel described it as the songwriter’s epitaph – John and his girlfriend were found slumped in the front seat of a car; they had both been shot through the head.

 The article below appeared in the Detroit News newspaper on May 4, 1966.



Notes thanks to Graham Finch

Page Lead-in Clip from “I’ve Got To Run For My Life”  [Thelma Recording Co. T-110-A]



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