12th and Clairmount is infamous
for being the starting point for the 1967 riots. but only
a few metres south of the junction stood the studios of Continental
(left of picture) and Correc-tone (right). Both buildings
were razed to the ground in 1967. A housing complex now stands
in their place
Fred left the Air Force in 1960 and got a job as a machine operator with the
Premier Steel Company in Dearborn. The job lasted four years, and he spent
as much of his spare time as possible trying to gain a foothold in the expanding
"By 1961 I was writing songs in our house on Josephine which had a piano
in the backroom. Everyone and anyone came through that house, there was always
music going down.
tinkers with songs in the backroom at No. 218 Josephine
At night I had a second job managing an apartment building which had a piano
in the basement.
My close friend Marv Johnson used to come over. Marv was hitting the charts
regularly with United Artists at the time and I guess I was hoping that some
of his magic would rub off on me.
He did provide me with an important contact however when he introduced me to
Robert Bateman who was working between Correc-tone, Continental and Motown
studios with Brian Holland.
Two of those studios were only yards apart on 12th Street, which was a happening
place back then, and from the Boulevard all the way up to Clairmount you could
find just about anything that you needed, legitimate or otherwise.
I soon got to know Bateman well and he had a special talent
for producing songs. I caught the bug and was up there so often
that I was given a key to the studio. There was quite a bit
of action in that place and I recall seeing a lot of Ed Wingate
and JoAnne Bratton who were keen to use Robert's expertise.
Popcorn Wylie used to work there a lot too.
The first song I got recorded was co-written with my friend Harrison Smith
(Smitty) who was also a good singer.
It was called "Baby don't you weep" and we got it published with
BrianBert, which was a publishing company owned by Holland and Bateman.
Correc-tone's owner, Wilbur Golden, liked it a lot and thought it would
be a great song for Ray Charles but Robert said 'I'll cut it on you',
and he did.
We went down to Special on Duffield to record it. Benny Benjamin was on drums, with
perhaps Jamerson on bass. Backing vocals were by the Andantes.
It sounded so good, and so much better than Wilson Pickett's cover version,
which came along soon after on Double L. Yeah thinking about it again, it was
better than Pickett's, way better!
Bateman took the song to New York City and next thing I knew it was released
on the Versatile label. That was a surprise, but I was just starting out
in the industry, and didn't have no dollars or know-how. I mean, I didn't
know what Publishing was, I only saw myself as the guy who could write the
Pickett continued to hang around Correc-tone and
got credited with their first release, "Let me be your
I was mad, real mad, that I missed out on that song. It had everything. I wanted
it so bad."