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
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
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
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.
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.