The advert for the Webb Wood Inn is from May 1964 and the group
are photographed there - left to right: Cleo “Sonny” Barksdale,
Robert Barksdale, Johnny Mitchell and James Holland. The
left-handed guitarist in the center is John Glover. The group’s
Master 45 was recorded at United Sound Studio in Detroit and
released in February 1964.
With Markie not scoring with “I’ll Walk Right Out The Door”,
the group headed back to Detroit and got Joe Hunter to organize
a session at United Sound. The result was two top-notch sides
that the group hawked unsuccessfully around Chicago. Once back
in Detroit they propositioned business Ronald Holmes, who had a
store on Joy Road.
Ron liked what he heard and formed The Master Recording Company.
The 4 Hollidays’ had the maiden 45 on his label in February ’64:
two photos of the group appeared in The Michigan Chronicle. One
showed the four in their uniforms and another was on stage with
WJLB disc jockey “Frantic Ernie” Durham, who enthused about
their prospects. And rightly so: the songs are great.
“Deep Down In My Heart” has Jimmy leading with music by Joe
Hunter’s band, which included famed musicians that were by then
ensconced at Motown. As you would expect, the result is a
high-quality recording that should have shot up the charts. But
the fledgling company wasn’t really set up to properly promote
and distribute the disc and consequently sales never
materialized. It’s now a valuable collector’s item.
In May the group gigged at the Webbwood Inn, a large club on
the corner of Woodward Avenue and Webb where Tony Lee’s Band
backed a revolving set of artists. As a novel way of getting
some attention, The 4 Hollidays started to don colored wigs and
were therefore billed as “the group with purple hair”. The
advert for the gig also shows “guest star” Lillian Dupree, who
had a Don Davis penned song on Mike Hanks’ D-Town label in ‘65.
By then Mike had taken over the management of the club.
“Deep Down In My Heart”
CLICK^ TO LISTEN
It was you
right from the start
I broke your heart
No, I wasn’t too smart
(Deep Down In My Heart)
The Webbwood was one of numerous places that Detroit could
boast about during the 60s. The array of nightclubs dotted
around 12th Street and over on the East Side enabled
entertainers to hone their craft, promote their recordings and
earn a living: The 20 Grand on 14th, The Chit Chat on 12th, Mr.
Kelly’s on Chene and Phelp’s Lounge on Oakland were just a few
of the most popular.
The Four Hollidays appeared at them all and in July ’64 sang at
Lee’s Club Sensation - a place on Owen that had been packing
them in since 1941. The Michigan Chronicle printed a publicity
piece in July ‘64 that plugged The Hollidays’ first appearance
there; they were billed with Cleveland-based singer Kim
When I quizzed Jimmy Holland about gigging at Detroit’s
nightclubs, he had the fondest memories of The Moonglow Lounge
at 8434 Grand River Avenue - a place that rarely advertised in
the local papers. Maybe it didn’t have to:
“You cannot talk about clubs in Detroit without talking about
The Moonglow. The Moonglow was the practice house, it was the
assembly house, it was the love house, it was the entertainers’
house. Then they had the 20 Grand Ballroom - and this is where
you worked when you got your hit record. But… you’re in the
business to create music and the only way you could do that
craft is find a club that would allow you to do it; and would
give you special treatment; and the Moonglow was always nice to
artists. It was only a $2 cover, but you didn’t have to pay. You
gotta remember The Moonglow. The 20 Grand was a step up - that
was where you got dressed up - you did pretty much the same
thing, but it was a little bit more sophisticated.”
Kim Tolliver was based in Cleveland and The Hollidays appeared
with her at Lee’s Club Sensation in July 1964, still plugging
their Markie 45s. Ronald Holmes owned the Master label.