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Working on a Groovy Thing ! - The Patti Drew Story
This was a happy coincidence because
Maury was the Chicago Manager for Capitol
Records, and Mrs Drew’s three eldest
The collaboration resulted in a contract with Capitol Records, and by 1963 the group’s first single (Written by Carlton Black who became a member of the group by virtue of his marriage to Erma Drew) was released under the name of The Drew-Vels
‘Tell Him’ became an almost overnight
success in the Chicago area, prompting the release of a further two
singles, which also were very busy in terms of a local hit in the
Chicago area. As was the norm, the group obtained a considerable amount
of live work in the
Peter Wright though had recognised the artistry of Patti Drew especially, so he promptly signed her to a recording contract with his own, newly formed, Quill label. Being rather astute, he also reformed The Drew-Vels without Patti, and signed them as well !
Three singles were released, the first one by The Drew-Vels, and then two from Patti. Although none of them were as popular as the previous Capitol releases, Patti’s two singles generated enough business for Capitol to come looking for her and sign her to a solo contract in 1967.
Recognising a good thing when they saw it Capitol then had Patti re-record ‘Tell Him’ as a solo singer. It paid off, the record charted immediately. Unusually for the time Capitol then released an album by Patti entitled, of course ‘Tell Him’. Four further singles quickly followed, but chart success eluded Patti until the release of her fifth Capitol single.
On A Groovy Thing / Without A Doubt’ returned her to the charts with a
bang, reaching #34 on the Billboard Chart and it didn’t chart just
because of it being a localised hot in
The follow up, ‘Hard To Handle’/ Just Can’t Forget About You’ also made the charts in late 1968, and gave Capitol enough faith in Patti to enable her to start recording her third album for the label in as many years.
1969 though was the last year that Patti would hit the charts, this time with ‘The Love That A Woman Should Give To A Man / Save The Last Dance For Me’. However, her popularity as a live artist continued, and she was touring fairly constantly throughout the next couple of years only taking a break to record her fourth and final album for Capitol: ‘Wild Is Love’ in 1970
The album in itself was a departure from her previous style of recording because it was much more Jazz flavoured, and aimed at a slightly different market than her three previous albums. It also demonstrated that Capitol still had enormous faith in Patti Drew. Let’s face it, she had only had four charting singles in four years, and here she was releasing her fourth album in the same number of years. Given that the Sixties were still part of the ‘45’s first’ ethos of record companies for Black artists this was amazing. Not only that, but the fourth album was also apparently released as a picture disk as well as on the normal black vinyl ! Absolutely unheard of at the time, and I have to wonder whether this would have been the first example of a Black artist releasing a picture disk ?
Sadly though, it was all to come to a rather
undignified end in 1971. The pressures of touring had led Patti to form
a crippling drug habit, which by late 1971 meant she was unwilling to
communicate with anyone from Capitol Records, and to a certain degree
anyone else. Fortunately for her sake, her manager at Capitol, Phil
Wright rescued her from the situation she was in and took her home to
Although her health recovered, Patti never really returned to her music, and there were no more releases on Capitol, so her contract just expired. A couple of re-issue labels kept her name alive on vinyl over the next couple of years until her final release came in 1975 as a collaboration with Carlton Black for Carl Davis’ Innovation II label.
The single was a tribute to the famous at the time, but now more infamous, sporting hero O J Simpson. It completely bombed !
The last involvement with music that I can trace is some live work that Patti did, again with Carlton Black, in a group known as Front Line, but no recordings ever took place.
So there you have it, essentially an eight year career that produced some wonderful Soul music whilst it lasted, but just fizzled out due to overwork and the influence of drugs.
Funnily enough, the last releases Patti Drew
has had, have been this year (2007) when the UK Stateside label released
a couple of 7” 45s with a green & white Stateside demo label on them to
promote the wonderful CD
(members Patti Drew (lead), Carlton Black (bass and baritone - later
member of The Naturals), Lorraine Drew (born 1946) and Erma Drew (born
Capitol 2575 -
He's The One (I Love) / Which One Should I Choose - 1969
Capitol 2804 - Tell Him
Capitol 2855 - Working
On A Groovy Thing - 1968
Patti Drew / Dionne Warwick (Armed Forces Radio And Television Service)
AFRTS P-11767 - Wild Is Love / Greatest Motion Picture Hits - 1968
B0000008JU - Tell Him: Golden Classics
Edition - 1994
- The Best Of Patti Drew - Working On A Groovy Thing - 2007
Thanks to Tony Rounce for help with the LP tracklistings.