Larry and Jaibi
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play hi-fi  It Was Like A Nightmare by Jaibi
play hi-fi  What Good Am I by Jaibi
play hi-fi  You Got Me (original version) by Jaibi
play hi-fi  I'm Not The One by Larry Banks
play hi-fi  We Got A Problem by Larry Banks
play hi-fi  Don't You Know(I Love You) by The Pleasures
play hi-fi  OOHH IT HURTS ME (original version) by Larry Banks
play hi-fi  Don't Pull Away by Larry Banks
play hi-fi  WE CAN DO IT (original version) by Jaibi
play hi-fi  Will You Wait by Larry Banks
This Page is dedicated to the music of my mother, Jaibi(Joan C. Banks) and my father, Larry Banks. All songs were written, produced, composed, and arranged by Larry Banks and were released during the mid to late 60's on Kapp Records/RCA. I put this site up to show the full spectrum of my musical background which spans from my parents to me, and then to my children.

Both of my parents are deceased, so these songs are very special to me. My children never got a chance to meet their grandparents, so these songs will help them get to know the greatness that they were born with.

I hope you enjoy these classics.

I love you mom and dad.

Your son and biggest fan.

The Banks Family and Dave Godin

In 1964 Dave Godin was captivated by Bessie Banks' original recording of 'Go Now' and was incensed by British group the Moody Blues' usurping of the song and what he considered an unduly hasty campaign by the British record company to pass their version off as the original and best.

To make amends on behalf of the small but eager coterie of UK soul fans, he took a special interest in Bessie and her husband Larry, the composer of the song.

Further excavating into the pair's releases lead to more revelatory record finds and soon Dave was to champion Larry's singles on Select, Kapp and Spring and his composing and production work on artists such as the Exciters, Kenny Carter and The Geminis. As time passed he built up many personal links with the family and a bank of information on their work. His discovery of Jaibi's (Larry's second wife) 'You Got Me' on Kapp records was a personal Deep Soul revelation and he awarded the recording the prestigious, last track, "ender" on his first Deep Soul Treasures CD in 1997. In fact Larry's was the first name Dave chose for the "featured artists" on the cover and Bessie and Jaibi also made that tough cut.

The family was well represented throughout the Treasures series but their work wasn't restricted to only Deep Soul and Dave had in mind a CD project to showcase the groupings many talents. Sadly he became terminally ill but asked me as Ace/Kent's main soul music consultant to complete the project and his research work. That work had included contacting Bessie, praising her to the hilt and maintaining a loving relationship with her for many years. His enthusiasm for the family lead to his developing a long correspondence with Bessie and Larry's nephew Reggie May (son of Tony; of whom more later), which would veer from vital facts about musical compositions, to the political and moral injustices of the world; taking in some hilarious side-swipes at appropriate targets. One of Larry's writing partners Herman Kelley was also contacted and Dave let him know how important and culturally significant the pair's work had been.

Dave Godin and the Banks Family's symbiotic relationship probably came full circle at Dave's extraordinary funeral when Bessie Banks' tribute to Dave was read out. After describing how her career felt destroyed after the Moody Blues version of 'Go Now' completely overshadowed her beautiful original, she went on to say -

"All of a sudden, I started getting letters of encouragement from this English gentleman, by the name of Dave Godin, who really knew how to express himself. I was very impressed. He really believed that what was happening with American artists was wrong. Dave started making things happen. He found records that I recorded even before 'Go Now'. I remember 1968 was the beginning of a real friendship. We wrote to each other about everything. All of a sudden, there was hope because Dave believed in me and my late husband Larry. He started his CD series, "Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures". We were always on these CDs along with other artists that he admired. Dave even put me on the cover of Rhythm & Soul USA magazine with a beautiful write up inside. I used to tell him how great he was with words, “ Why don’t you write a song?" I used to say to him. He would laugh. Through him, I started receiving fan mail from England, which made me feel wonderful. I couldn’t believe how fast things happened because of Dave. I remember in the 90’s this old lady was still on the scene with 'Go Now' being used in a Movie entitled what else “Go Now” Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (blows my mind). I remember every Christmas I always got a beautiful card from him, every birthday a long distance call for over 36 years."

Ace records and the Banks Family

Fortuitously a few years prior to Dave's death, Ace had bought many Banks family recordings from GWP productions, for whom Larry worked in the late 60s. Some prime, never before heard, soul songs have emerged from this source and feature here. Dave was particularly thrilled to hear Jaibi’s original intense demo of 'You Got Me', her previously unknown 'It Was Like A Nightmare' and her duet with Larry on 'You Make Me Feel So Good'. We have had access to such a wealth of Banks related material that Dave wanted to highlight as many different recordings and compositions from the grouping as possible. Therefore we have chosen alternate versions of several songs, rather than repeat the original readings which we have already featured on the hugely acclaimed and popular "Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures series". Similarly tracks from the "GWP, TCB" CD, which documents the label and production company’s work, are not repeated. Other vital and important tracks have been licensed in from other labels for this project, primarily RCA and again tracks that featured on our two "Rare, Collectible And Soulful" CDs have been side stepped for new, previously unissued, material from that source. I have continued Dave's research with extensive interviews with many of the concerned parties.

Bessie Banks

"'I remember 1963 Kennedy was assassinated; it was announced over the radio. At the time, I was rehearsing in the office of Leiber and Stoller. We called it a day. Everyone was in tears. “Come back next week and we will be ready to record 'Go Now'”; and we did so. I was happy and excited that maybe this time I’ll make it. 'Go Now' was released and right away it was chosen Pick Hit of the Week on W.I.N.S. Radio. That means your record is played for 7 days. 4 Days went by, I was so thrilled. On day 5, when I heard the first line, I thought it was me, but all of a sudden, I realized it wasn’t. At the end of the song it was announced, "The Moody Blues singing 'Go Now'". I was too out-done. This was the time of the English Invasion and the end of Bessie Banks’ career, so I thought. America's DJs had stopped promoting American artists." So said Bessie in her funeral eulogy to Dave Godin.

This ground-breaking song is featured here from a recently discovered master tape that contained all of the several takes. It is fascinating to hear the song and performance develop over the session, but it is undoubtedly the final rendition that deservedly made the single. The tape's clarity is so good that we feel it must have been recorded at a single recording with all the musicians and singers present and playing live. Hence it is the exception to Dave’s rule of not including previously released tracks on Kent CDs. Tony May who wrote flip side 'It Sounds Like My Baby' with Larry remembers it as an unusual session in that Leiber and Stoller were happy to just record the two songs, instead of the usual three or four over the three hour session, as the material was so strong.

Born Bessie White in North Carolina in 1938, and later raised in Brooklyn, New York, by the mid 50s, she had begun singing with the Turbans vocal group and then joined a quartet called Three Guys and a Doll, who eventually became the Four Fellows without her; one of the Guys and Fellows was Larry Banks. Around this time, at the age of seventeen, Bessie married Larry, on stage at the Royal Theatre in Baltimore. The pair had a son named Kevin and later another named ?????? for whom Bessie took time out of her singing career to raise properly. She did though record a solo single as Toni Banks, backed by the Four Fellows on their Glory label in 1957. Larry's musical talents were not restricted to just singing, he also wrote and arranged the music for the group. By the end of that year, Larry and most of the original members had left and the Bankses next turned up on the Brooks label in 1959, singing as the Companions. Larry's sister Harriette joined the couple in the group and close friend and soon to be writing partner Milton Bennett and his cousin Al Williams were also cited as members. Larry wrote both sides of the single 'Why Oh Why Baby' / 'I Didn't Know (You Got Married)'. It was then picked up by Federal for national release in 1960, that company also have two unissued masters by Toni Banks that had been recorded in 1961.
Reclaiming the name Bessie Banks, she resurrected her solo career. Though she and Larry were by then separated and eventually divorced, they remained close and it was to her that Larry took a new composition that he was very excited about. He had been working on 'Go Now' with Milton Bennett, a family friend who was nick-named Big Reno, since 1962. In 1961 he had set up the Kev-Ton publishing, songwriting and production outfit with his brother in law Tony May who was married to his sister Harriette. The name came from the two eldest children of each family, Kevin and Tony Jr. Tony had come up with the song 'It Sounds Like My Baby' to go with ‘Go Now’ and the three participants went into the Mira Sound studios, where Tony was working as an engineer, and cut piano and vocal demos on the songs. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's offices were only a couple of blocks away and when they got to hear the songs they booked a session at Bell Sound studios to record the tracks for release on their Tiger label in January 1964. Though the producers wanted Tony to engineer the session, he deferred as he felt he wasn't experienced enough at that time and Eddie Smith operated the consul. Gary Sherman arranged the session and Cissy Houston was one of the backing singers. On its release the black radio stations went with 'It Sounds Like My Baby', while the pop stations flipped it for 'Go Now' which as we've seen merely paved the way for the Moody Blues to cash in on a fabulous composition. The record also came out on the associated Blue Cat label and Dave Godin’s badgering earnt it a release on UK Red Bird and later on his own Soul City imprint.
That same year Larry, Tony and Bessie had another collaboration with 'Do It Now' / 'You Should Have been A Doctor'. This time another top New York arranger took the session, Gene Redd, which was produced by Larry and Tony. We featured the excellent A side ballad on "The Sweet Sound Of Success" CDKEND 112 a Scepter Wand label compilation. The single was given a Wand release number but only seems to have come out on the associated Spokane label, though Wand did cut Maxine Brown on the song, a recording that remained in the can until its Kent LP release in the 80s. The poppier flip side is featured here and is typical of early 60s "girly" soul releases.
After the disappointment of 'Go Now' Bessie did not venture back into the studios until January 1967 when she cut three songs 'I Can't Make It (Without You Baby)', 'Need You' and 'Don't Just Tell Me'. The first two came out on a Verve 45 and were both written by Tony May on his own, though the publishing stayed with Kev-Ton. The third track is a beautiful beat ballad that breaks into a dance number, I have only heard it from a rough cassette copy, but we have hopes of negotiating for its eventual release.
Next up came a series of about seven tracks that Bessie cut with Larry's writing partner Herman Wesley Kelley (not to be confused with Herman X Kelly, another black music composer from the same era) and music business veteran Clyde Otis. The first of these tracks to come out were 'Try To Leave Me If You Can (I Bet You Can't Do It)' / 'Ain't No Easy Way' which were issued as a Volt single in 1974. 'Try To Leave' is another Bessie recording that Dave Godin fell in love with and featured on the first "Deep Soul Treasures" CD. Two years later the Canadian Quality label issued 'Try To Leave' with the excellent dance track 'Don't You Worry Baby The Best Is Yet To Come' on its US imprint and a third track 'Baby You Sure Know How To Get To Me' came out a few months later. All of these tracks were Herman Kelley songs written with either Bessie or Clyde Otis, there are still two or three unreleased numbers we are trying to locate.
For a relatively small recording career Bessie has exerted tremendous influence on soul fans and on those in the UK in particular. She continues to sing though she confines herself to gospel music now, unless we can persuade her otherwise!

Larry Banks

Larry's family hailed from the Flatbush area of Brooklyn; they had a big house at 14 Oakland Place where the large musical family grew up. Larry's father Arthur was a devout church-goer and an exceptional baso profundo singer of religious and classical music. So good that Tony May considered him superior to Paul Robeson who was one of his family’s friends. Arthur however had bills to pay and a family to feed and couldn't pursue a musical career in a field that was virtually closed to black people (Robeson had an incredibly tough struggle and had to move abroad to be fully appreciated). Tony describes Arthur as the pillar of the Banks and May family's musical achievements and though of a religious bent himself, had no problem with secular music.

Larry had an elder brother, George, who was quite a character. Herman Kelley remembers him as an articulate and experienced older man, while Tony May tells stories of George getting into all kinds of scrapes. However they both agree that George wasn't a musical person and were surprised to know that his name appears on some of Larry's songs ('Living In The Land Of Heartache' on here) as co-composer. They put this down to Larry's kindness, though I suppose possibly he could have contributed a line or two along the way. The use of nom de plumes in composing credits is a common one and can be for a number of differing reasons, as we shall see. Sister Harriette was a soprano singer of some repute and she sang in the Companions as well as contributing to backing vocals in the Kev-Ton era.

With Tony May regularly visiting the house, old neighbourhood, friends like Milton Bennett popping by and young lodgers such as a 16 year old Herman Kelley renting rooms there, Oakland Place was a very creative milieu for the musicians who passed through.

Larry was the first of the crowd to have success and this was way back in the mid 50s with a group called the Four Fellows, whose other members were Jim McGowan, Teddy Williams and David Jones. Described by ??????? in his book ?????? (Peter showed me this book it’s in the office) as a "soft and soothing black pop group" with a style derived from jubilee spirituals and barbershop harmony, the group had more in common (and indeed some strong connections) with the Ink Spots and Mills Brothers than the doo-wop groups of the time. Larry was the driving force of the group and contributed several songs, he knew this style of music well from his father having been a member of the Dunbar Barbershop Quartet. Their initial release was on the Derby label, but they then moved to a new imprint called Glory and had ten single releases under their own name and two backing up female vocalists, one of whom was Toni aka Mrs Banks. Their third 45 was a David Jones penned song called 'Soldier Boy', an appropriate title for Larry who had served as a US Marine in the Korean war, and it became a big selling, # 4 R&B hit in 1955. Their other releases failed to chart but Larry now had a strong musical CV that he could use simply by mentioning 'Soldier Boy'.

It was this fleeting fame that brother George borrowed to get himself into a vocal group when he was stationed in Anchorage, Alaska with the US Air Force. The air force talent contest was quite a big deal for the servicemen, particularly when stuck in Alaska. The prize for the winner was an appearance on the Ed Sullivan TV show, but merely competing helped to get the men out of working in minus 35 degree temperatures. Tony May was stationed at the same post and when he announced that he was forming a singing group for the talent contest, George's family connections impressed him enough to earn him a place in the line-up. Tony however quickly learnt that George couldn't sing and George was soon back out in the cold! The meeting though later proved beneficial to Tony when he ran into George in a bar in Hampton, Virginia, while posted nearby. Hearing his dulcet tones, Tony greeted George and the pair went off to a party where Tony got to meet Harriette and a long and loving relationship was born.

Soon Tony got to meet Larry and the rest of the family and it was the similarly aged Larry who quickly became his best friend. Apart from the Bessie Banks releases Kev-Ton produced two 45s on girl group, the Pleasures which came out on the RSVP label. This group consisted of Larry's niece Marlene Houston, a school-friend of hers and the lead was taken by Joan Bates. The sessions were taken at the Adelphi studios where Tony was working and produced at least four sides of which only three came out on vinyl. Both singles featured the proto-soul sound 'Don't You Know (I Love You)' that we have featured here and were coupled with 'Plaything' on RSVP 1102 and 'Let's Have A Beach Party' on RSVP 1113. These two sides were more girly group than soul sounds and we hope to feature them in our "Where The Girls Are" Ace CD series in the future. The label obviously believed in the group, as they put a big ad in Billboard for 'Beach Party' but neither single charted. Ironically the side that would undoubtedly have made the biggest noise in the UK and Northern Soul world was the one left on the shelf, 'He Moves Me'. I have only ever heard a poor quality cassette of this song but can tell that it is a truly stunning dance track. It was later covered by the Geminis but by then Larry was in an experimental phase of recording and though it's a great track, full of enchanting twists and turns, it doesn't have the same solid Motownesque beat of the original. In time Joan Bates would metamorphosise into Jaibi and play a big part in this story.

Just before ‘Go Now’ Larry had commenced a solo career in 1963 with 'Will You Wait' a Banks, Bennett song that came out on Select records with an instrumental version on the flip. Dave Godin rated the song highly, likening it in style as a cross between Billy Stewart and Otis Redding and saying in print that it was as good as 'Go Now', though I think he might have gone back on that very slightly over the years. He also enthused about Larry's next release a 1965 single for Kev-Ton productions 'I Don't Want To Do It' / 'I'm Comin' Home', which came out on DCP. Both sides were written by Banks and May and produced by Tony, the arranger was Mitch Farber; it seems odd that they didn't use Larry for that.

Larry at RCA

By 1966 Tony was becoming more involved in his recording studio engineering work, which he had taken to enthusiastically and successfully. So much so that he had less time for the independent productions, but still encouraged Larry to push harder for his own career. The pair were friends with a "Broadway guy" called Kenny Carter who was a superb singer but up to then had only had a couple of 45s issued on Jola and UA. Kenny mainly sang demos for the publishing companies and performed around the city, but he was a little unsure of himself and his talents. Larry supported him where he could and Tony suggested the team should write songs and prepare a full musical package using Kenny's voice, Larry's arranging and Kev-Ton's songs. Between them they got an audition at RCA and in-house producer Paul Robinson liked the package and teamed them up with independent producer Gerrard Purcell whose GWP productions were very influential at the company.

At this stage Tony had to choose between engineering and production and with his and Harriette's children to support, he opted for the regular pay cheques and took something of a back seat. The GWP deal was biased in favour of the party with the contacts and part of the deal was that Millbridge, GWP's publishing arm, would get a part of some of the existing publishing and any of the new Kev-Ton songs that they used. So a new publishing firm called Elbee was formed by Larry and Kev-Ton remained largely inactive. Tony was so keen to progress in the engineering world that he changed his writing name to Anthony Cotto, the surname being borrowed from an actor in his locality named Sonny Cotto, later Yaphet Kotto. This was to negate any feelings of jealousy from work mates or concern from his bosses that he was pursuing another career and may leave with any success. But it also contributed to Larry taking the lion’s share of the musical work going.

Kenny Carter

Kenny Carter hailed from the mid West, and found life in NYC quite tough. Larry saw his talent, became friends with him and helped his career. In the studio Larry was known as the "Soul Doctor" because he could get the best out of an artist and he would help Kenny with his cues and phrasing throughout the sessions. The first RCA one was in December 1965 and produced four songs 'Don't Go', 'Body And Soul', 'I've Gotta Get Myself Together' and 'Round In Circles'. The first single however, took some time to come out, and it took another two song session in January 1966 where 'I've Gotta Find Her' and 'Showdown' were recorded, before GWP and RCA felt there was a good enough coupling of 'Body And Soul' and 'I've Gotta Find Her' for a first single. The second 45 then coupled 'Showdown' and 'I've Gotta Get Myself Together'. Three March recording dates produced a mind-boggling twelve tracks: 'Living In The Land Of Heartache', 'What's That On Your Finger', 'I Can't Stop Laughing', 'How Can You Say Goodbye', 'Smile', 'I'm Not The One', 'You'd Better Get Hip Girl', 'Time After Time', 'I'll Know', 'Like A Big Bad Rain', 'Lights Out', 'I Believe In You'. Then on the 1st of April 1966 a final four recordings of 'I'll Get By', 'I Still Love Her', 'Every Time We Say Goodbye' and 'My Love' were put in the can, sadly to languish there for many years.

The story of how this major musical investment floundered so badly is reputed to be that Kenny, not being the most confident and stable of characters lost his temper during the recording of 'I'm Not The One', told everyone to **** themselves and stormed out of the session. The story then goes that Larry put his own vocals on the track as the studio and musicians had been paid for and that ended up as his next and unexpected solo release on Kapp, another major label GWP had influence with. That may very well have been the case, though I find it odd that RCA or GWP would go back in later and cut another eight songs on such an errant artist, though it could conceivably have been a series of altercations that finally stopped the project. I managed to get an acetate copy of Kenny's version of 'I'm Not The One' and it sounds pretty good to me. However major record companies work in the most bizarre way at times and I'm sure that something along these lines occurred.

The company was clearly about to launch Kenny as their new Roy Hamilton, with an album's worth of standards and brand new ballads but just one final 45 was issued ironically featuring a song from the very first session 'Don't Go' and 'How Can You Say Goodbye'. The very best New York musicians and background singers were used, including Eric Gale on guitar, Paul Griffin on piano, Gary Chester on Drums and Val Simpson, Nick Ashford, Lesley Miller, Toni Wine and others sang. Top arranger Gary Sherman co-ordinated the music and Paul Robinson got the producer credits though a combination of Gary and Larry is more likely. Kenny contributed some of the songs under his aliases of Fred Skau and Bonnie or Jenene Head, Larry of course co-composed most of the new ones and the newly named A Cotto continued to create with contributions to 'What's That On Your Finger' and 'I Can't Stop Laughing'. 'Like A Big Bad Rain', 'You'd Better Get Hip Girl' and 'I Still Love Her' included Herman Kelley credits for the first time with Larry's name. Interestingly of the home-grown compositions, 'Don't Go' is the only one to be a Kev-Ton song, all later ones were a combination of Elbee and Millbridge.

'You'd Better Get Hip Girl' was covered by Freddy Butler on his Pied Piper produced Kapp LP and of course Zerben R Hicks & The Dynamics version of 'Lights Out' was issued on a RCA 45 a year later. Willie Kendrick gave us a Detroit take on 'What's That On Your Finger' and the Hesitations covered 'Don't Go' and 'I've Gotta Find Her' as Kapp LP tracks.

The Geminis

The RCA deal was for a series of recordings from different artists and a month after the first Kenny Carter session Larry was back in the studios with girl group The Geminis. This threesome consisted of Carol Smiley, Barbara Vaught, and Florence (aka Phepe) Washington, though on the first session Anne Phillips, Marilyn Jackson and Barbara Massey were listed but these may have been additional backing singers like Ashford, Simpson, Wine and Miller who were listed on the second session. Herman Kelley actually remembers two of the girls as Gloria and Sharon so the jury’s still out on this one.

The January 1966 date recorded 'Get It On Home' (a hook line from 'It Sounds Like My Baby'), 'No More Tomorrow', 'Half Of A Good Thing' and the aforementioned 'He Moves Me'. There were no complicated machinations for the single release as with Kenny Carter, this time the first two tracks came out on a 45 and the others remained in storage. All except 'Half' were Banks, Cotto songs and were assigned to Elbee though 'He Moves Me', at least, would have originally been written in the Kev-Ton era.

Back in the studios in April 1967 and 'You Put A Hurtin' On Me' and Ashford/ Simpson's 'A Friend Of Mine' (with them on background duty) came out as an RCA 45, while 'You're So Together' and 'Come On Act Right' remained unheard. Interestingly of the three Banks songs all three were composed with Herman Kelley, while two had Cotto credits.

The third session in October saw 'Can't Let You Go' and 'I Hired The Girl' on vinyl and 'Runnin'' and 'You Have No Faults' consigned to history. The first was back to Banks, Cotto while the second and third were two Kelley and Rodney Alston songs. Milton Bennett and one J Bennett helped Larry write 'Faults'. The final session a full year later in October 1967 saw Larry reduced to musical contractor and percussionist only, while three songs by the Poindexter brothers' team were used and no Banks compositions at all. The titles were 'Give This Girl Some Slack', 'Don't Let It Get You Down', 'You'd Better Check Your Guy' and 'I'm Gonna Love You Longer Than That Baby', written by Hollon, whoever that was. None of these songs were used.

Larry's Detroit connection

Shortly after signing Larry as songwriter and A&R man for the black music side of the label, RCA began recording sides in Detroit and Chicago with the Pied Piper set-up of Jack Ashford, Lorraine Chandler, Joe Hunter, Shelley Haimes, Mike Terry and Herbie Williams. Whether Larry made the initial contact is unclear but the first recordings were strictly Detroit acts in the Chicago studios, then Larry became more involved, playing percussion, bringing in New York producers and using his songs on the sessions.

The Cavaliers had these two different phases to their RCA career, starting off with self- penned Detroit dancers like 'Hold On To My Baby' and the unreleased 'Without Someone To Tell Me' on the initial four song session. They then recorded Banks and Kelley's 'Ooh It Hurts Me' along with their own 'It's Guaranteed' on a shorter second appointment. On their final session they cut two ballads originally written for Kenny Carter 'I've Gotta Find Her' and 'Living In The Land Of Heartache' along with Larry's own Kapp single track 'Muddy Water'. By then Joe Hunter had been replaced by New York veteran producer Teacho Wiltshire, and Larry and Teacho finally got credited as producers with Paul Robinson being "moved upstairs" to executive producer.

The original 'Hold On To My Baby' session had Bobby Croft as the main lead singer on three of the four tracks while Johnnie Williams sang lead on the other. Jerome Averette and Keith Illidge were the other members. By the second session Willard Franklin Jr had joined the group and by the final New York produced Bobby Croft had left, leaving Johnnie Williams to take all four solos. Keith Illidge, now known as Keith Loving, from his mother's maiden name, remembers the group singing the vocals over the musical tracks, which is surprising when only three hours studio time was allocated to producing four songs. He was the only instrument player in the group and would demonstrate the music for the other guys to work out the harmonies.

Johnnie and Jerome originally came from Birmingham, Alabama, before making it to Detroit to seek their musical fame, while Keith, Bobby and Willard (aka Jigs) were motor city natives. 'Dance Little Girl' was mainly written by Keith about his daughter's mother, while 'Hold On To My Baby' was written at the very last minute mainly by Bobby Croft. The five-some were looked on as a second Temptations in Detroit, particularly as Jigs was Melvin Franklin's brother, Johnnie was Paul Williams brother and Jerome was a cousin of Eddie Kendricks. Keith remembers playing the 20 Grand club with James Jammerson in the house band. After RCA Jigs got drafted and the rest of the group moved to New York to try their luck. They backed David Ruffin for a while as The Fellas, though Bobbie had left by then. The rest of the group drifted back to Detroit but Keith stayed.

Working as a studio guitarist he enjoyed much success touring with Harry Belafonte, even getting to perform in front of the Queen for her jubilee celebrations in 1977. He also worked extensively with the dancer and singer Gregory Hines and has been on countless hit studio sessions including Roberta Flack's "Feel Like Making Love", Donny Hathaway's "Extensions Of A Man" and even a live Barry Manilow album. Keith continues to record and is working on his own jazz CD with many illustrious musicians turning out on it for him. Sadly his cousin Bobby Croft passed away a couple of years ago and he has lost touch with the rest of the group.

The Dynamics were another Detroit group who followed the same Detroit / NYC path that the Cavaliers did. Oddly though their first Joe Hunter produced session, which was of Detroit penned songs, included their recording of 'I Need Your Love', which was written by the Cavaliers though Keith can't remember the group or the song! The Dynamics at that stage were Fred "Sonny" Baker, Samuel Stevenson, R James and George White. Their second RCA session saw Syling Shasier Jr and Zerben R Hicks in the line up with R James departed. The interesting thing about this session is that although it features two Larry Banks songs 'Without Your Love' and 'We Can Do It' (both of which were on Hesitations LPs), it has two Hicks, Baker songs 'My Life Is No Better' and 'You Make Me Feel Good' that were later covered by Larry and his second wife Jaibi. I can't think of another instance when Larry recorded a song that he or his "family" weren't connected to. Both tracks were finished unreleased master tapes from the GWP sessions and 'My Life' will appear on GWP Vol 2 while Dave Godin has already picked ' You Make Me Feel Good' for his Treasures Vol 4. The Dynamics reading of 'My' Life is quite different to the later version and demonstrates the group's great vocal harmonies.

GWP also had a strong link with Kapp and in 1967 they placed Pied Piper productions from September Jones, Freddy Butler and the Hesitations on the imprint. The latter two even had full albums released. The New York team came up with solo singles from Larry and the ex-lead singer of the Pleasures Joan Bates, now known as Jaibi.

In issue # 26 of the UK fanzine Soulful Kinda Music in 1996 Dave Godin wrote: "The recently received news of the death of Jaibi may not have that profound an impact on many, but for a few, it is like the loss of a dear friend, and a friend whose full potential was sadly, never fully realised. But, particularly for fans of Deep Soul, her Kapp recording "You Got Me" was a masterpiece which many, including myself, cite as their all-time favourite side. When it was first issued in the late 60s, I spotlighted it in "Blues & Soul" as my Number 1 release of the year, and since then, this very rare and exquisite side has not diminished one jot in its brilliance or its power to move and communicate to the inner heart." "Without Jaibi's magnificent recording "You Got Me", my own life would have been less, and certainly Jaibi will always have a special place in my heart and memory because of it. Great artistry always endures and survives the passage of time, and great Soul music is for keeps."
Praise indeed for an artist who only ever had two early girl group singles, one solo 45 and an RCA single release with Larry Banks as Lawrence & Jaibi. However Dave's instincts were proved correct when the GWP vaults revealed 'It Was Like A Nightmare' and another duet with Larry 'You Make Me Feel Good' that both came out on the Treasures Vol 4 CD. Additionally there is the aforementioned 'My Life Is No Better’ scheduled for Vol 2 of the GWP story and the original demo of 'You Got Me' that we present here. Though obviously sparser than the released version Jaibi still sings with emotion and feeling on the great Banks, Kelley song that no doubt Larry wrote especially for her.
Jaibi married Larry Banks in 1965, but family commitments, looking after their young son Corey, now an accomplished musician and singer, and three of her other children, prevented her from ever fully following a recording career. Their marriage eventually ended in divorce, and shortly afterwards she was diagnosed as suffering from leukaemia, to which she eventually succumbed, tragically young, in the early 80s.
Tony May remembers it was the catalyst brother George who originally dated the young Miss Bates but Larry eventually was attracted to her and their relationship became very deep. Apart from singing she composed many songs with Larry including two numbers for the Devonnes, 'My World' for the Hesitations, 'Let's Groove' for the Metros, Larry's own Kapp single 'Muddy Water', You're Not Mine for their RCA 45 and the atmospheric and haunting 'What Good Am I' featured here. Joan was a very accomplished woman, who earned a Batchelor Of Science computing degree from Long Island university. She was an early pioneer of the computing industry for IBM, whose work was such that several financial companies chased her computing know-how and she commanded a good salary. That would of course also cut down on the time she could devote to music. It was somewhat ironic that from being Larry's protégé, Jaibi developed into the commercially successful one of the pair.

The Hesitations
This was a Cleveland group who were picked up by Pied Piper and had a whole, Detroit sourced, Kapp LP from that team. When Pied Piper got into bed with GWP, Larry became involved with the group and eventually took them back to New York and moved them into a more middle of the road groove than their Detroit album style had been. The commercial success of their version of 'Born Free' proved Larry right with the new sound, but the second album still contained some excellent dance tracks in 'Push A Little Harder', 'We Can Do It' and 'Without Your Love'. By the third album however the MOR hits, which had continued, dictated the whole of the group's style and by then they were clearly a Las Vegas type attraction. This would have suited Gerry Purcell down to the ground as that was exactly the type of venue that he would place his acts.

However in turn the show-tune hits dried up too and Ed Bland and George Kerr moved the group back to the R&B market with their GWP releases. 'No Brag Just Fact' was a Larry Banks, Herb Rooney composition and an odd choice to make up the flip of a Debbie Taylor & The Hesitations single which was produced by Ed Bland. Ed can hardly remember Larry being around by that time and it was Larry's last contribution to GWP.

Later RCA recordings and Spring

The Lawrence and Jaibi single 'You're Not Mine' / 'Walk Away, Walk Away' was issued in 1968. The same year saw a full Exciters album produced by Larry and Teacho and arranged by Larry and Herb Rooney. Herb was a member of, and the driving force behind, the Exciters, a three girls and a guy group who had hit big in the early 60s with 'Tell Him', 'Do Wah Diddy' and 'He's Got The Power'. After fruitful spells at United Artists, Roulette and Shout, Herb teamed up with Larry to write the 'You Don't Know What You're Missing' / 'Blowing Up My Mind' single for GWP on RCA and the number ?? R&B hit that it scored was enough for the companies to give the go-ahead to the "Caviar and Chitlins" LP. Though Blowing Up My Mind' is best known in the UK due to its fantastic dance rhythm and wildly imaginative lyrics, the A side that Americans bought the 45 for is very worthy in a grittier and funkier vein.

Herb composed other songs with Larry including the aforementioned 'No Brag Just Fact' and 'Don't Pull Away' a solo Larry Banks single that came out on the Spring label in 1970. The flip of that 45 'We Got A Problem', was written by Larry and Jaibi and you could easily picture it as a duet from the RCA time. Both sides demonstrate Larry at his quirkiest odd-ball best, it came out in a period when Motown's "on the fours" rhythm was making way for disco or funk, the ensuing hybrids are often captivating; like these two songs.

The Shaladons

The GWP tape vault threw up some marvelous finds and none were better than the three tracks on a male vocal group called the Shaladons. All three tracks were cut on other artists but the group's fine harmonies and lead vocals give the compositions new reading and new life. Their version of 'Showdown' was very well received by Dave Godin when I sent a copy to him and for him to enthuse over another version of that song, which had been sung so finely by Kenny Carter was praise indeed. The group also performed great versions of the dancers 'We Can Do It' and 'Without Your Love' that the Hesitations had cut on their second LP. Unfortunately we are still no nearer to finding the names or even any memory of the Shaladons after coming up with blanks from Tony May and Herman Kelley, presumably they must have been a Larry and Jaibi project that never got further than the recording studio: but what a missed opportunity and a sadly neglected talent!

Larry’s Demos
We featured an acetate version of Larry’s original ‘Ooh It Hurts Me’ on the GWP CD and here we have the original demo sung with great feeling and even more enthusiasm. From the same tape reel we also have ‘Let’s Roll Up Our Sleeves’, a bluesier number for a change, which Larry wrote with his “homeboy” Milton Bennett.

Herman Kelley
A row with his parents lead to Herman leaving home at 16 years of age and fortuitously he took a room in the Banks household for the princely sum of $10 per week. There he remembers the embryonic stages of ‘Go Now’, Larry and he auditioning songs to each other over a joint, and a house full of music. Herman’s guitar playing soon got him a job with the Drifters and he began to develop his song writing. His collaborations with Larry and Larry’s demand for new material for the Geminis and Kenny Carter lead to a GWP song writer’s contract and compositions such as ‘You’d Better Get Hip Girl’, ‘I Still Love Her’ and ‘You Put A Hurtin’ On Me’ were the fruits of that arrangement. Most of their collaborations were done between 1964 and 1966 and from 1967 to 1971 Herman became a Broadway song hustler working with the likes of Clyde Otis, Luther Dixon, Rose Marie McCoy and Dorian Burton, the latter with whom he cut a 45 for Brunswick as Doris and Kelley called ‘Groove Me With Your Lovin’’. He also sang solo on a great RCA 45 ?????????? (Tony knows it!) which shows what an excellent singer he could also be.
Good fortune struck again in 1972 when he moved to a new residence on the Eastern Parkway and soon bumped into Bessie Banks who was living nearby. They developed a close and fruitful relationship. Herman used his contact with Clyde Otis to get Bessie back in the studios and the aforementioned Volt and Quality tracks were cut. When Dave Godin contacted Herman to tell him that some of his compositions were to be included in his top 500 soul songs list and potential book, he was thrilled. Dave actually said that the Banks family group would have eleven songs in their, a fantastic achievement in such an all encompassing work.
By the 80s Larry and Herman were working more together again, forming a trio with Jaibi’s brother CP Jones, a conga player who also sang in Bill Godwin’s version of the Ink Spots that Herman and Larry sang with. CP wasn’t the best time keeper though and eventually Larry and Bessie’s eldest Kevin Banks took over. They also cut some demo tracks of Kevin’s music around this time, songs that apparently are of a very high quality and which Ace are hoping to hear soon.
Herman also mentioned how he and Larry were both black belts in Karate and they once shared a shop in Crown Heights where Larry conducted music business from the front and Herman taught karate in the back: men of many talents.

The Devonnes
This east coast group had differing names and line ups. Billed as eitherThe Devonnes, De Vonns or DeVons, they cut for Parkway (their reward for winning an Appollo talent contest), Redd, Mr G, King and Colossus. We are not sure which line up recorded the session with Larry Banks for GWP but they produced four wonderful tracks. This version of ‘Doin’ The Gittin’ Up’ (a wonderful dance track with some highly amusing lyrics) is quite different to the one played by myself, Mick Smith and Butch off Bell Sound or RCA original acetates and eventually released as a Kent anniversary single in 2005. This is an alternate vocal take which is quite high up in the mix; it was on a reel with other GWP Banks productions that were aimed at getting RCA releases. The potential flip was another great Banks / Bates song called ‘I Couldn't Build A World (With You On The Outside)’ a very melodic, slightly poppy number, a style that was prevalent in the late 60s.

Milton Bennett
Though he is best remembered for his song writing which included seminal works such as ‘Go Now’, ‘Showdown’ and Kenny Carter’s ‘Don’t Go’ he was also a very good singer. He was a later member of the Four Fellows, singing lead on ‘The City’ a Tony May number that the group recorded, was one of the Companions and also Ink Spotted for a while. ‘What’s One More Lie’ was another terrific Banks, Bates dance track and it seems part of the ‘You Didn’t Say A Word’, ‘You Only Live Twice’ lineage with the James Bond inspired rumbling brass section underpinning it. It’s already caused quite a stir in the Northern Soul world and its long awaited commercial release will win it more fans.

Tony May

Tony May came from an arts based family, his father was an actor and his mother was a jazz pianist and composer who wrote Ella Fitzgerald’s second record. He learnt the piano and as a teenager, tuned them in places like the Harlem and Brooklyn Apollos and many other top black music night spots; giving him further insights into the musical world. A degree course in Physical Education at Temple University didn’t work out, he couldn’t get into the course and quit. Musicians had always fascinated him but his first job was in the air force as a technician. Eventually he got into the music business as a humble record store worker to learn more about the industry. A similar job at the big publishing organisation BMI was meant to teach him more but he got moved into accounts, which wasn’t really the idea. While he was there he had begun to write songs on the piano and a meeting with a fellow songwriter named Naomi Stancil lead to a recording session, as Naomi knew an engineer. On entering the studio Tony fell in love with the whole milieu and was prepared to drop his wages from $250 per week to $55 to get into a studio as a lowly gofer. Within a year he was well versed in recording techniques; having found his technical work with the air force helped him there. He worked as a full studio engineer first at Adelphi, then at Mira Sound, in the Hotel Americana with Brooks Arthur, who was Goffin and King’s main engineer. Later workplaces included DCP for Don Costa and the top independent studio in the town, Bell Sound. He eventually became a master engineer and worked for RCA for many years along with film work for classics like Barbarella, Cotton Comes To Harlem and Alice’s Restaurant. The list of his musical engineering credits are endless but ‘It’s Your Thing’ for the Isleys and the “Moondance” album for Van Morrison (recorded live) stand out.

Though his engineering career was taking off rapidly, he still pursued his musical bent and apart from his work with Larry, he teamed up with Teddy Randazo at DCP and wrote ‘You’re Not That Girl Anymore’ for Little Anthony and the beautiful ‘It’s A Big Mistake’ for the Royallettes which came out on MGM. Other credits from the 60s include Gayle Harris ‘Here I Go Again’ for DCP and ‘Do You Feel It’ for The Joe Cuba Sextet on Tico. A whole album was cut on Marion Love on A&R, the label division of the studios, who had just come out of her Capitol contract. One of the tracks was the splendid ‘Don’t Just Tell Me’ that Tony did with Bessie on the Verve session. A Walker Brothers UK recorded LP track called ‘Now That I Love You’ doesn’t seem to have a US counterpart, but is a Tony May Kev-Ton song.

His writing with Larry continued through the RCA period and songs such as ‘I Can’t Stop Laughing’ and ‘Come On Act Right’ are testimony to his talents.

As the years have passed he has fallen out of love with the music industry to a large degree; having to engineer an endless list of ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ CDs will do that to a man with taste. But he is proud of the work he and his soul mate Larry did throughout their lives. When Larry died Tony was devastated and the loss of his loving wife Harriette only a year later made that period an incredibly tough time for him. However now he is re-evaluating Kev-Ton and hoping to become more active in the musical world again.

Larry Banks passed on 26th February 1992. As a US Marine Veteran of the Korean War he was laid to rest at the Veteran’s cemetery in Calverton (Long Island), New York. At his internment a letter was read from the then-president Bush, thanking him for his service to his country; a military jet flew overhead as “Taps” was sounded on the bugle.

Written by Ady Croasdell for Dave Godin
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