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Old 08-23-2014, 08:58 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Another Skeet in the country genre that got started at Fortune was Skeets McDonald—a very underrated honky-tonk singer-songwriter who helped to bring country and hillbilly music into rocknroll. Born Enos William McDonald in Greenway, Arkansas on October 1, 1915, the youngest of seven, young Enos called mosquitoes “skeets” and so that became his nickname. Skeets’ brother was a musician who moved to Detroit in the early 30s. In 1935, Skeets joined him in his band, The Lonesome Cowboys. Shortly after, Skeet formed his own band playing around Detroit, Flint and Pontiac.

Skeets was drafted in 1943 serving in both North Africa and the Far East and earned a Bronze Star. Upon his return to the States, he did radio and television work in Dearborn, Michigan experimenting with hillbilly boogie—the direct forerunner of rockabilly. He signed with Fortune in 1950, playing with Johnny White & His Roughriders (although the Fortune labels list the band as “the Rhythm Riders”). He also cut records for London and Mercury at this same time under the name Skeets Saunders. He also appeared in Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town.

By 1952, Skeets moved out to LA to play with Cliffie Stone (talent scout for Capitol Records, session musician, bandleader and bassist for Merle Travis). Stone got Skeets signed to Capitol who wanted him as a country artist rather than boogie or rock. Skeets recorded 80 sides for Capitol including his first big hit in 1952, "Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes."

In 1959, Skeets released his last material with Capitol. Two of his sessions, "You Oughta See Grandma Rock" and "Heartbreakin’ Mama" featured the great Eddie Cochran on guitar. He signed with Columbia that same year and charted rather well on the country charts for the label. His 1963 release, "Call Me Mister Brown," reached number 9.

Skeets vacillated between rocknroll and tear-jerking country until his death of a heart attack on March 31, 1968 at the age of 52 in Inglewood, California.


Skeets McDonald on Fortune Records - 78 - Birthday Cake Boogie - YouTube
Nice early 50s hillbilly boogie with Skeets and Johnny White. Deliciously filthy. I doubt a woman could have gotten away with singing this one back then.


Skeet's McDonald Tattooed Lady FORTUNE 145 B - YouTube
For some reason, the label adds an apostrophe to "Skeets". I wonder if that was on purpose. You gotta love this guy! Andre Williams has nothing on him!
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Old 08-23-2014, 09:07 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Johnny Powers was born in East Detroit, Michigan (now Eastpointe) in 1938 as John Leon Joseph Pavlik. At 15, he was playing around the Detroit-area in a country & western group called Jimmy Williams and the Drifters. Upon hearing Elvis and Carl Perkins, Pavlik decided to go the rock ‘n’ roll route. He signed with Fortune Records while the Browns tried to figure out how to best market him. Devora saw him eating a Powerhouse candy bar one day and hit on the stage moniker of Johnny Powers. Although Powers only stayed for a couple of years at Fortune, he used that stage name for the rest of his career. Powers recalled a session at Fortune where his backup singers were 4 or 5 young black men. Because of the tight schedule, he didn't get to talk with them for very long but is sure that they were the Diablos.

By 1957, Powers signed with Fox Records and released one of his biggest hits—“Long Blond Hair (Rose Red Lips)” in 1957.


LONG BLOND HAIR, ROSE RED LIPS - Johnny Powers - YouTube

The backing band was Stan Getz & His Tom Cats (no, not that Stan Getz). Getz was a teenaged bassist who led a band that originally backed another Detroit area rockabilly/country cat named Jack Scott (who never recorded for Fortune). In fact, the band’s drummer was Scott’s cousin, Dominic Scafone. This is the band that played on Scott’s immortal rockabilly classic, “Leroy.” After Scott’s sound changed and he began to move more into country, Getz and his boys began backing Powers.

In 1959, Powers signed with Sun Records in Memphis taking the Getz band with him. By 1960, Powers returned to the Detroit area signing up with Motown as their first white artist (Motown had a number of white session men but no headliners) as well as being the only artist ever to sign with both Sun and Motown. But Powers began to write and arrange more for other artists at the label than doing his own recordings.

Johnny Powers is still alive, still touring and still performing. I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing Powers perform but I have seen Jack Scott a number of times who still performs around the Detroit area and has a part of 9 Mile Road in Highland Park named after him—Jack Scott Blvd.




Fortune Records--never forget.
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Old 08-26-2014, 04:19 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Lord Larehip View Post


Detroit’s premier white soul band formed in 1964 and signed with Fortune as the Flaming Embers—after a popular downtown restaurant. Drummer/lead singer Jerry Plunk and keyboardist Bill Ellis were from Tennessee and raised on country music but Plunk loved blues and idolized John Lee Hooker which convinced him to approach the Browns at the store and pitch his band whom they promptly signed (he said he saw Hooker there a few times and was filled with awe).

Bassist Mike Jackson and guitarist Joe Sladich are native Detroiters. All had been in previous bands. Jackson had also been a member of the Reflections ("Just like Romeo and Juliet"). The Embers cut two singles at Fortune, all four songs written by Plunk—"You Can Count On Me" b/w "Gone, Gone, Gone" (actually recorded and produced at Specialty and distributed by Fortune) and "Woe Is Me" b/w "Rain Go Away" (recorded at Specialty but produced at Fortune and with vocals by Ray Kimble). Both singles were locally successful.

The Embers sought out wider distribution and eventually left Fortune although Plunk still recalls those days quite fondly. The band went to the Ric-Tic label and released six singles including "Hey Mama" written by George Clinton but the label folded.

By 1968, the band landed a contract with Hot Wax, Holland-Dozier-Holland’s label and changed their name to Flaming Ember (note the singular). In 1969, their single "Mind, Body and Soul" was released which was a significant nationwide hit and an enormous hit in the Detroit area (I absolutely loved it, my older brother had the single and a musician I know who told me he also had it and literally played the grooves off it and had to buy another). Flaming Ember had two follow-up hits—"Westbound #9" and "I’m Not My Brother’s Keeper." After that, their success died and the band broke up in 1972. Plunk now lives in Tennessee but loves to talk about his Detroit days. Jackson is still active in the Detroit music scene.

One of the most interesting things about this label is I looked at it quickly and thought it was the "Motown " Rare Earth label.........very interesting.
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Old 08-26-2014, 04:20 PM   #14 (permalink)
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This whole thread is fascinating Historical information. Thanks for posting it.
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