Rudy became D-Town's Music Director and Mike's right-hand
man in '63. For the following few years he juggled his roles
of arranging tunes and song-writing with cracking jokes,
playing organ and bantering with Mike, often all at the same
time. As Cody Black put it: "Rudy was a genius, man."
in Detroit in 1940, Rudolph "Rudy" Robinson got seriously
involved in music after he joined the army, straight out of
found a band and played clarinet. Then we got a jazz group
and I played piano in Germany and Holland. I was a jazz
then spent a year gigging near his Oklahoma army base before
he returned to the Motor City in '62 - aged 21 - to hook up
with a local outfit and meet wheeler-dealer Sam Motley.
started with Roosevelt Fountain and the Pens of Rhythm. We
had a hit called "Red Pepper." That was my first record,
when I didn't know anything about the business. I was green
as a lettuce."
produced the session and The Pens of Rhythm included
guitarist Freddy Butler, who led the group on a follow-up 45
called "Pitter Patter," released on Freddy's own M&M record
label. It was probably Freddy who introduced Rudy to Mike:
put the D-Town thing together," Rudy recalled. "People were
coming in the door, and Mike would sign 'em. I was on damn
near everything that came out of D-Town."
not a glib generalization. He also penned many of the
label's songs after giving his instrumental "Red Pepper"
some lyrics and a slight makeover to become "A Telegram With
Love" - the second D-Town release.
top-notch musician had a few organ-led 45s released:
"Chicken Scratch" on D-Town was the first, with his version
of "I Want You To Have Every Thing" on Wheelsville followed
by "The Mustang" on Wheel City. And The Twiners' disc is
probably Rudy's band too; he wrote and arranged it.
Although Mike brought James Jamerson and other Funk
Brothers to play on some sessions, D-Town's regular
musicians were a different crew to Motown's. Drummers
included Curtis Sharp, Clifford Mack, Zach Slater, Robert
Welch and Hindal Butts, with sound engineer "Long Head Sam"
also occasionally picking up the sticks. And Sam sometimes
played bass too, along with the gifted Tony Newton and Ernie
Ferrell. The chief guitarists were Freddy Butler and "Little
Charlie" Herndon. Trumpet players included Gordon Camp and
Funk Brother Floyd Jones, with Johnny Clapton and Wyman
Stoudemire on sax. McKinley Jackson blew trombone as well as
after nearly four years the novelty of jamming at D-Town
wore off and Rudy got his family doctor to fund a new
recording venture - Ram-Brock - telling me, "I wanted to do
my own shit. D-Town kinda faded away and I got into another
deal with some doctors, and we started the Ram-Brock thing."
persuaded his family practitioner, Dr Brockington - and a
few of his fellow doctors - to buy Forest Hairston's Viney
Recording studio at 11625 Dexter and started producing
sessions. This was just after the riots in July '67.
first Ram-Brock 45 by the Magictones was followed by Cody
Black's hit - "Going, Going Gone" - and a sister label, Lau-Reen,
simultaneously released an instrumental of Rudy and his
band: The Hungry Four. They got their unconventional title
from always being absent and on the hunt for food whenever
Rudy wanted them to get on stage.
was another spin-off label that scored local success with a
self-penned blues song by Joe L Carter titled, "Please Mr.
Foreman" and things were buzzing at the company. But Mike
then got involved and as Rudy bluntly put it: "He fucked it
Brockington elaborated: "In those days it was cheap to go
into the business. half of Detroit was into trying to make a
record. It came to an end because Mike stole this tune from
us and sold it to the UAW. It was their theme song on TV:
Please Mr. Foreman. slow down the assembly line.
don't mind working.
do mind dying.
arranged countless songs during his long career and was
involved in the local New Moon and Flip-O labels; one of his
instrumentals, "Vick," was given the lyrics of Ruth Brown's
"Everytime It Rains" and soul songster Na Allen recorded it
real success came later with various Dramatic's albums, with
Rudy continuing to be a gravitation point for Detroit
musicians and singers until his untimely death in 2002.
Notes thanks to Graham
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credits at end of webisode