The Donay’s Brent label 45 is a
Correc-tone recording that The Beatles covered.
Theresa Lindsey – pictured - scored Correc-tone’s
biggest hit with “Gotta Find a Way”.
Theresa Lindsey – Sugar Mountain
Danny Woods – You Had Me Fooled
Over 400 different record labels mushroomed in Detroit during the 1960s. With that figure in mind, you could be forgiven for thinking the unheralded Correc-tone Recording Company was just of one of the many outfits that failed to make it in the notoriously dog-eat-dog music business. But don’t jump to conclusions; there’s something special about this particular company.
Out the myriad of recording companies, Correc-tone was the one that should really have competed with run-away leaders Motown. It was Mr. Wilbert Golden’s studio where many early Motowners went once they became disillusioned with Berry Gordy’s vaunted dream. Holland, Dozier and Holland almost signed; other talented producers and songwriters - including Robert Bateman, William ‘Sonny’ Sanders, William Weatherspoon, Don Mancha and Richard ‘Popcorn’ Wylie - actually did. William ‘Mickey’ Stephenson was with the deep-pocketed Mr. Golden before successfully teaming up with Motown.
So was Ivy Hunter. And Correc-tone used the same top-notch musicians as Berry; the Vandella’s hit ‘Dancing In The Street’ was drafted there; the label’s young an enthusiastic roster included the likes of Wilson Pickett, The Pyramids, Marva Josie, Theresa Lindsey and Gino Washington. It seemed it have all the prerequisites of success.
So, what went wrong? The reasons are depressingly familiar: cash flow problems, a lack of managerial savvy and hard luck. Over the next few pages you’ll read how the hopes and aspirations of the studio’s talented crew withered and hear some of the music recorded by them, which amply demonstrates the verve, talent and expertise involved; certainly much better than any words of mine can.
You know I put all my faith and trust in you
And you promised, promised me, that you would always be true
That you would be a true lover and that you would never love another
Oh, you had me fooled
Danny Woods – You Had Me Fooled (Correc-tone 1052)
William ‘Mickey’ Stephenson, who became famous as Berry Gordy’s A&R man, is the man who surreptitiously got Correc-tone going. Mickey had formed Stepp Records in the late 1950s and released three records. Each failed to make it. Lacking sufficient financial clout, he went to Mr. Wilbert Golden.
Mr. Golden was raking in piles of cash from his lucrative numbers operation: “At that particular time I had money. I was doing $2,500 a day worth of business,” he told me in 2002. Mickey persuaded Mr. Golden to set up in the music business; they rented a storefront office at 9031 12th Street and installed Crown two-track recording equipment.
Although Mr. Golden didn’t really know much about creating music, he had faith in Mickey: “We were real tight, but he told me he couldn’t come and what I should do is get in touch with Robert Bateman and Sonny Sanders.“
Mickey – whom Berry Gordy described as ‘sharply dressed, hip, fast-talking and much more street than I ever was’ – knew Robert and Sonny from Motown Records. Robert had sung bass with The Rayber Voices and teamed up with Sonny in The Satintones, the first group on Berry’s Motown label.
Their song “Motor City” was released on Tamla and Robert claims the Motown label was created for The Satintones, as he had told Berry the company needed more than one: “I accused Berry of not pushing us and of pushing The Miracles. I said we need another label. Motown was intended for me; Miracle label was intended for Smokey’s group (The Miracles).”
Robert had been with Berry from the beginning and you can hear his deep voice on Marv Johnson’s early Tamla hit, “Come To Me”. He co-wrote The Marvelettes’ smash ‘Please Mr. Postman’ and together with his singing buddy Brian Holland, he quickly graduated to become Berry’s first producer. Brian and Robert formed Brianbert publishing, which was anathema to Mr. Gordy and seemed to exacerbate the already factitious relationship Robert had with his boss. Robert became increasingly disillusioned with life at Motown.
“Wilbert started me at $150 a week. It was a hell of a lot of money back then."
Robert Bateman, songwriter and producer
Early in 1962, Robert Bateman left Berry for good and joined Correc-tone, a switch he attributes to Mickey Stephenson, whom he remembers as ‘a very ambitious fellow’: “He is responsible for me not going back to Motown. He put me in touch with Wilbert because he didn’t want me to come back.”
Mr. Golden began pumping his dollars into Correc-tone’s operations and Robert was put on salary: “Wilbert started me at $150 a week. It was a hell of a lot of money back then.”
Mr. Golden almost recruited other to-be-famous personnel to his fledgling set-up: “We were to get Lamont Dozier; we brought him in as a producer. The Holland brothers came over, and that’s where I made my blunder. The reason I didn’t put them on salary was because I had too much expense - then Berry called them back; he started paying them; he bought them a car.”
Nevertheless, Correc-tone was brimming with eager talent and by March of ‘62 was up and running.