12th Street
Correc-Tone Story
Thanks to
Graham Finch
Artwork and Website Design
Thanks to
Lowell Boileau

Cash a check, buy gas or groceries - Detroit’s 12th Street was a busy northbound conduit until the riots erupted in July 1967.
Correc-tone’s first studio was about four blocks up from this intersection - the company moved to Grand River Avenue in ‘63.

Laura Johnson – I Know How It Feels
James Velvet – Bouquet Of Flowers

 The first Correc-tone sessions included songs by Wilson Pickett, James Velvet and Gino Washington. Pickett’s tremendous “Let Me Be Your Boy”, launched the label and James Velvet’s “Bouquet of Flowers” was pressed around the same time. They were both sold to MGM’s subsidiary label, Cub.

 The Andantes sang background on these tracks and the session musicians included bassist James Jamerson, drummer Benny Benjamin and guitarist Robert White. Pianist Wilburt Harbert played and also had a hand in writing a few of the early songs. Sonny Sanders - another Satintone - quit Motown to become involved with songwriting and do the arrangements. Soon after Richard ‘Popcorn’ Wylie also jumped Berry Gordy’s ship to join the Wilbert’s Golden’s team, which had quickly become an impressive array of talent.

Laura Johnson worked in Correc-tone’s office and her recording was released on the Brent label in New York

 Other Correc-tone recordings included a great double-sider by Laura Johnson – who worked in the office – titled “Wondering If You Miss Me” b/w “I Know How It Feels”. This, along with Marva Josie’s “Later For You Baby” and The Donays’ “Devil In His Heart”, were sold to Time/Brent Records in New York.

 The Arabians also recorded three songs on 12th Street, but these were never released and have since disappeared without trace. The group’s lead singer, Edward Hamilton, recalled: “We taped three things that Popcorn Wylie wrote; I know one was “Whatcha Betcha”. When we left Mr. Golden, he wanted us so bad, he had tears in his eyes.”
 Gino Washington’s “I’m A Coward”, started life at Warren Quates’ studio on Ryan Road. Ronald Davis, who wrote both sides of the Correc-tone 45, recalled: “I knew Warren Quates well. He had a real small studio and he didn’t care nothing about putting a record out on the market; he just liked to record and play with the machines. He never was interested in making money out of recording.” However, Mr. Quates did release one of Ronald’s songs on his Jackpot label – “The Touch of Love”, which was recorded by Clara Hardy.

 Feeling frustrated, Ronald and Gino went over to 12th Street where “I’m A Coward” and “Puppet on a String” were recorded. The two songs were pressed and the 45 became the third Correc-tone release in May ‘62.
 Ronald Davis also wrote a few other songs at Correc-tone, where he hung out each day: Yvonne Vernee’s “Your Touch” and “So Much In Love”, plus Theresa Lindsey’s “Sugar Mountain. He also penned “’Play a Sad Song” a Sure-Shot label release recorded by Bobby Williams – the flip, “Try Love”, was written by Wilson Picket and Willie Schofield, member the Falcons.

 Unfortunately the early Correc-tone’s recordings didn’t sell well. In fact it’s fair to say they were commercial failures, but the overall quality – especially the catchy songs by Pickett, Josie and Johnson - is unquestionable. All are now highly collectable.

Advert showing the studio’s range of services.

 In 1963, Wilbert Golden moved his operations from 12th Street down to 8912 Grand River Avenue. The new recording studio was a 20-foot-long shoebox shaped room, with an engineer’s booth at one end and a bathroom at the back. Robert Bateman supervised the fitting-out and organized the recording equipment.

 Correc-tone’s new location offered various recording services and the studio quickly became a meeting place for local talent. Don Mancha joined the team - another songwriter whose stint at Motown was truncated: “I had a dispute with Barrett Strong; he was taking my songs; he was showing (them to) other people, saying he wrote ‘em. So I told Berry Gordy that I got to leave or I’d punch this guy out.”

 Don penned and produced a few Correc-tone songs, such as Lillian Dorr’s “The Thrill Is Gone”. But completing the studio on Grand River had drained Mr. Golden’s savings and with meager record sales, Don remembers money began to get tight: “Wilbert was going down for the third time; he was sinking fast.”

“I call it the baloney days. There was not a whole lot of money, but a whole lot of baloney.”
Don Mancha, songwriter and producer

 Despite a lack of cash and chart success, Don bears no malice towards Mr. Golden. On the contrary: “ What a nice guy, man. He was a jewel, a real nice guy”.

 As a way of illustrating the point he recalled how Mr. Golden tried his best to keep Correc-tone afloat: “One time - the recording equipment - he had a note that he had to pay every month on the equipment and he couldn’t make the note. The guy came in to collect, and after Wilbert got through crying on his shoulder, the guy paid the note out of his own pocket! I call this the baloney days. There was not a whole lot of money but a whole lot of baloney.”

 The under-fire Mr. Golden sought financial help from another Detroit numbers guy, the very affluent and influential Mr. Ed Wingate. Wilbert knew Joanne Bratton, Mr. Wingate’s partner, very well: “We grew up together; I went to her and she told him I couldn’t get this (record) played and I couldn’t get that (record) played. So she talked with him and he came in – 50 per cent partnership.“

 The partnership didn’t last too long, as in September 1963 they disagreed about whom to sign and record. Mr. Golden liked David Ruffin but Mr. Wingate preferred Willie Kendrick, who had backed David on his 1962 Check Mate single “Mr. Bus Driver”. As Ruffin’s wife was working as Mr. Golden’s secretary at the studio, Wilbert was inclined towards David, however: “Wingate liked Willie Kendrick, but didn’t want to sign David and we split our partnership over that.”

“We had to burn records to keep warm. I ain’t joking.”
Wilbert Golden, owner of Correc-tone

 Just a day after meeting Willie Kendrick at Correc-tone’s studio, Mr. Wingate flew him to New York, where he recorded “Stop This Train”. It became the first 45 on the resurrected Golden World label.

 On top of that, Correc-tone’s biggest star Wilson Pickett was on the verge of leaving and Robert Bateman had gone to work in New York. This left Wilbert back between a rock and a hard place: “We had to burn records to keep warm. I ain’t joking.”


Correc-Tone Story
Thanks to
Graham Finch
Lowell Boileau