Hobby Bar
Correc-Tone Story
Thanks to
Graham Finch
Artwork and Website Design
Thanks to
Lowell Boileau

Cornelius Watt managed the Hobby Bar and this advert shows Laura Johnson appearing with Northern Soul legendary Jack Montgomery in May 1968. Laura recorded with Correc-tone in ’63 - her songs were sold to the Brent label in New York. Tamiko Jones’s Checker 45 was recorded at Correc-tone’s studio and released around March 1963.

Timiko – Is it a Sin
Laura Johnson – Wondering If You Miss Me

 Just a couple of blocks down Linwood Avenue from The Parizian, the Hobby Bar was another eastside venue that mainly showcased local artists.

 It was where Mr. Watt had been working for the owner, Mr. Harold Bernstein, since it opened in 1960. Mr. Bernstein had promised to sell the club to Mr. Watt, whose expertise had made it a lucrative nightclub. But he significantly upped the asking price after he returned from a month in Israel and found his takings had increased. Feeling cheated, Mr. Watt quit and turned his attention to buying a failing strip club on Fenkell – an east-west conduit about 5 miles north of downtown Detroit.
 Most of Mr. Watt’s cash had come from running numbers; an activity shared by Correc-tone’s boss Mr. Wilburt Golden and largely controlled by the wealthy Mr. Ed Wingate. Although it was illegal in Michigan, many Detroiters played the numbers: a simple process of choosing three digits that were linked to horseraces. Many people picked ones that were linked to life’s events, which were outlined in a special book. Mr. Watt explained:

 “You got a dream book and ‘baby’ was 121 - so if your wife had just had a baby, you chose 121. Death was 967; 369 was adultery.”

 It was a popular form of gambling - albeit illegal - and, as Mr. Watt told me: ”A lot of people made a lot of money that way - I sent my kids through college. That’s what gave me the money to buy Mozambique. The feds don’t care as long as you had a $50 tax stamp that you had to have on you. But it wasn’t legal as far as the city (police) was concerned.”

 Detroit’s police department was notoriously racist and it was a brutal raid on a blind pig (gambling den) on 12th Street in 1967 that sparked devastating riots. “I got busted two or three times,” Mr. Watt said. “So when I bought Mozambique, I had to put it in my brother’s name.”

 After getting caught, police told him not to let it happen again and so he sold his numbers operation, which, as Mr. Watt succinctly put it, was “hard to give up when you make fresh money every day.”

Danny Woods, whose career started with Correc-tone, opened Watt’s Club Mozambique in April 1969, which was around the time he signed with Invictus Records as one of the Chairmen of The Board.

 Since the early 1960s, the African country of Mozambique had been fighting for independence and from continually hearing it mentioned in the news, Mr. Watt had fallen in love with the exotic sounding name. By the late 60s, African consciousness had swept to the forefront of American culture and Mr. Watt named his latest venture Watt’s Club Mozambique. He carried the theme on and decorated the interior with bamboo wallpaper and had banana leaves draped around the ceiling.

 It was a hit from day one. McKinley Jackson and former Correc-tone artist Danny Woods shared the opening bill in April 1969 - along with The Terrifics, a group signed with James “Diamond Jim” Riley’s recording company.

 Diamond Jim had a nearby after-hour gambling joint - a blind pig - that had a jukebox and offered a steady supply of liquor. It was where people went once they left the regular clubs – such as Club Mozambique.

 Mr. Riley’s legal business was a gym that he ran: he loved boxing. To add a bit of showbiz glamour to his life, he started three record labels in the mid sixties: Big D, Diamond Jim and Riley’s.

 Known as a flashy dresser with a penchant for diamonds - he even had one set in his front tooth – he held lavish public birthday celebrations that included a cake with ‘a gem in every slice’: usually in the 20 Grand’s up-market Driftwood Lounge. Diamond Jim couldn’t be described as bashful and as Mr. Watt recalled with understatement, “He was very well know and dressed sharp.”

 In 1970 Mr. Riley committed his megalomanical persona to vinyl in “The Legend Of Diamond Jim” - a monologue released on his Diamond Jim label, which extends to Part 2. Here’s a brief sample:

The ladies fall right into Diamond Jimís trap
Cause they just love his smooth taking rap

 You get the idea. But these self-delusional lyrics were soon to become his undoing.

 “Diamond Jim used to come to the club every night; that was his hangout,” Mr. Watt recalled. “Because that’s where he’d get the crowd from to go to his after-hours club.”

 Mr. Watt clearly remembered one particular Saturday night in May 1971: “There were two or three young girls sat in the corner and he bought them champagne all night. Then at the end of the night he asked them to go to his after-hours club. They kept turning him down, so he said, ‘You bitches… sip my champagne all night and then tell me you ain’t going to my club?!’”

 “The guy that was with him said, ‘Don’t call them bitches; one of them is a friend of mine.’ “

 “Jim said, ‘Motherfucker, if you feel that way about them…’ and he turned around and knocked that guy over two tables, then kicked him while he was on the floor.”

 “When he was getting up, he pulled a gun out. But Diamond Jim don’t have no gun - this guy was acting as his bodyguard.” Donald Bryson then emptied his gun into Mr. Riley, reloaded and then fired some more.

“I just wasn’t making any money at jazz.”
Cornelius Watt, owner of Watt’s Club Mozambique

 With Disco dancing having already killed off most live entertainment, Diamond Jim’s death was another nail in the coffin, with fewer and fewer singers and musicians appearing live on stage. Numerous once-popular Detroit nightclubs were closing down and it wasn’t long after Diamond Jim’s demise that Mr. Watt decided that having male strippers for a women-only clientele would be a more lucrative and far less dangerous dollar-earner: “I just wasn’t making any money at jazz. But I told a lot of the groups, don’t worry, this ain’t gonna last. You’ll all be back.” But that never happened.

 Mr. Watt, whose managerial career spanned a few decades, sold Mozambique shortly before he passed away in October 2006. It’s still catering to a female audience.


Correc-Tone Story
Thanks to
Graham Finch
Lowell Boileau