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

Like the first Correc-tone 45s, The Pyramid’s disc was released on both CUB and Sonbert and is an ‘answer record’ to the Marvelettes’ 1962 Tamla hit “Playboy”. The group’s lead, Vernon Williams, used to be part of Motown’s Satintones and Rayber Voices with Sonny Sanders and Robert Bateman. Sonbert is an amalgam of Sonny and Robert.

The Pyramids – I’m The Playboy
Yvonne Vernee – Just Like You Did Me

 Sonbert was a subsidiary label to Correc-tone and you’ve probably already guessed that its name is an amalgam of Sonny and Robert. Prior to starting the label, the two were members of The Satintones, a group that had some of the first records on the Tamla and Motown labels.

 Sonny had actually started his career in The Quailtones when he was just 14. With fellow members Freddy Gorman, Ted Scruggs, John Franklin and James Martin, the group cut a 78 with bandleader Sax Kari for Josie records around 1955:

 “We sang at junior school,” Sonny recalled. “Freddy played saxophone and I played trumpet and Freddy formed the group. James lived down the block and we started hanging out. We sounded pretty good. Freddy then got me in with Motown.”

 Sonny knew Robert as one of the Rayber Voices, the primary Motown group that had sung background on the very first Motown recordings - including Marv Johnson’s 1959 Tamla disc, “Come To Me”.

 Sonny soon teamed up with Dale Warren and Miss Raynoma Giles to sing background and were collectively known as the Ray-son-dale singers. However, it wasn’t long before Sonny joined Robert Bateman, Chico Leverett and Jim Ellis in The Satintones. And his resume also includes touring for a while with the first Motor City Review - as a member of the Love Tones.

 It didn’t last too long: “I quit the road because of lack of pay for one thing… when you’re only being paid as a background artist and especially when you got to take care of some of your expenses. And, when you want to be an arranger and when you’re out on the road, some other guy is doing the arranging.”

 Back in the studio, The Satintones cut a handful of 45s on both the Tamla and Motown labels before Sonny and Robert began to get involved in arranging and producing - it was Sonny who wrote the string arrangement for Eddie Holland’s mini-hit of 1962, “Jamie”.

 Vernon Williams joined and sang on the group’s latter 45s. However, it wasn’t long before he left Motown’s Hitsville studio on West Grand Boulevard for Mr. Golden’s Correc-tone on 12th Street, following in the footsteps of his pals Sonny and Robert.

The Satintones included Sonny Sanders (bottom left) and Robert Bateman (top right).

 At the time Mr. Golden was flush with cash, but it wasn’t long before his savings were depleted and to get around the problem of not paying his key staff, he proffered a deal, as Sonny explained:

 “Money is usually is good incentive. Instead, Sonbert was supposed to be our incentive to work for no salary. I wanted the label to succeed. There was just certain artists that we were allowed to do on Sonbert, and the rest of them would go on Correc-tone - we were still working on Correc-tone stuff. We didn’t make a lot of money out of that ”

 The label’s first 45 was a couple of songs by The Pyramids, a group that included ex-Satintone Vernon Williams, plus Bobby Jones, Damon “Rocky’ Rockland, Norm Worthy and Robert Gibson. Vernon sang lead on “I’m The Playboy”, which was released not very long after The Marvelettes’ smash “Playboy” had climbed into the national charts - in May ‘62.

 Regardless, “I’m A Playboy” isn’t a weak clone and is arguably more polished than the Tamla label original. Like the initial Correc-tone releases, it was also farmed out to Cub Records and around that same time Robert Bateman sold another Pyramids’ 45 to Vee-Jay records in Chicago – the raucous “Shakin’ Fit” with a flip titled “What Is Love?”, which sounds very much like The Isley Brothers’ Wand label chart-topper from ’62, “Twist and Shout”.

“There was a lot of despondency around then.”
Sonny Sanders, songwriter and arranger

 Unfortunately these two Pyramids’ discs were nowhere near as commercially successful and consequently Correc-tone started to feel the pinch even greater, as Sonny recalled:

 “It takes so much money just to get into the business. What happens is, if you don’t get those big smashes, your investment has got you so far under that you can’t manage to pay anybody. There was never that big record. We had that one shot at it with Wilson Pickett - and Solomon Burke covered it and killed it. There was a lot of despondency around then.”

 After Wilson scored that hit, Robert Bateman began to work more in New York, while Sonny started working in a restaurant and at a couple of car washes to support his family - doing arrangements for Correc-tone in his spare time.

 The next Sonbert release was by Yvonne Vernee, a singer who had been a member of The Donays, the group that had originally recorded “Devil In His Heart”. This – their only 45 - had been sold to the Brent label and although many people know The Beatles included three Motown hits (‘Money’ - ‘Please Mr. Postman’ - ‘Do You Love Me’) on their second LP, not so many know this song was a fourth cover of a Detroit recording. Liverpool’s Fab Four had got to hear them as all four were released in the UK on the Oriole label.

 The Donays’ Yvonne Symington went to school with the other three members - Janice, Gwen and Michelle – and it was there that they were spotted by a talent scout, who took them down to Correc-tone. Richard Drapkin had already penned two songs for the girls to cut, with “Devil In His Heart” being the B-side and “Bad Boy” the plug side, which go some airplay. Yvonne:

“ ‘Bad Boy’ was being played a lot, and they were talking about traveling. The mothers wanted the girls to go to college... Michelle’s Mother was leery about the music world, so they dropped out.”

 That was the end of The Donays. However, Yvonne had got the recording bug and opted to start a solo career with Correc-tone. She just needed a better name: “Mr. Golden said nobody will remember the name Symington and he came up with Vernee.”

 With her new moniker, Yvonne recorded “Your Touch” and “It’s Been a Long Time” - an up-tempo number that should probably have been the plug side. The record was released in 1963 and then in ‘64 she cut “Does He Love Me Anymore”, which came out on the main Correc-tone label. It wasn’t until ’65 that she had a third 45, but it was well worth the wait.

This advert appeared in the Michigan Chronicle in March 1966.

 Written by Tony Clark, “Just Like You Did Me”, is the zenith of the sixties Detroit Sound. As the track powers along, Yvonne’s vocal delivery incorporates all the hurt, bitterness and sorrow that engulfs someone who has been rejected. Her voice fuses into a super Sonny Sanders’ arrangement that brought out the inimitable best in Detroit’s famed sessionists:

 “James Jamerson, Benny Benjamin, Robert White, Popcorn Wylie, the Andantes. He had all the people. He had what it took,” is how Yvonne remembered her days at Mr. Golden’s studio.

 Bewilderingly, the record didn’t sell and is now a much sought after and valuable 45. One sold on eBay towards the end of 2007 for US$3,200.

 It was one of the last records that Mr. Golden released - just before his company finally folded. After that, Yvonne then took a regular job. But then in 1971 she got a call from an old friend about going on tour with one of Motown’s less famous groups – The Elgins:

“James Dean, who I went to school with, told me The Elgins were looking for a replacement. So, they got in contact me and I auditioned and became an Elgin.”

 The group’s 1966 VIP label release “Heaven Must Have Sent You” had become a belated hit in England and she flew across the Atlantic to sing the song at various clubs. I vividly remember seeing her perform at a Royal Air Force base at the time, overwhelmed by the warmth of the British fans’ love for the music.
 The only other Sonbert 45 – four in total - was Gino Washington’s re-recording of “I’m A Coward”, which became “Gino Is a Coward”.

 His original 1962 Correc-tone song had a more spontaneous live sound, which local DJs didn’t really care for at the time. So in ’64 it and the flip - “Puppet On A String” - were both redone and the wheels-within-wheels aspect of Detroit’s recording business becomes evident when you see it was also used to re-launch Mr. Ed Wingate’s Ric-Tic label just weeks later.

 It was this release that became a local pop hit for the young Gino Washington, climbing into Detroit’s WJBK top ten in May ’64.

 Instead of Mr. Golden’s cash-strapped studio getting some cash, it was wealthy Mr. Wingate’s Golden World company that scored - eventually going on to become a serious rival to Berry Gordy’s Motown. Yet in another bizarre twist to this story, it was Mr. Wingate’s deep pockets that helped Correc-tone enjoy its biggest hit with vocalist Theresa Lindsey.


Correc-Tone Story
Thanks to
Graham Finch
Lowell Boileau