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Dave Rimmer In Conversation with

Don Mancha

So who was Jack Montgomery ? It's A Question that has been asked again and again in '60s Soul circles. Very little was known about the man when Tim Brown wrote 'The Complete Jack Montgomery' back in 1989 in 'Voices From The Shadows #10, other than the recorded output. There were only four singles released, all on different labels, two of Detroit origin, one New York, and one Chicago. Until now nothing else has been discovered about the man who made the records.

In fact the answer was there all the time, Jack Montgomery's real name was Marvin Jones, and he's down as the co-writer of both sides of the Scepter single, both sides of the Revue single, and co-producer of the Austons single.

So what incredibly complicated investigative process led me to this conclusion ? Did I don my dirty mac and do a Columbo around the backstreets of Downtown Detroit ? Or run up a huge transatlantic phone bill ? None of these, it was so simple really. I had the pleasure of having Don Mancha (Legendary writer / producer / arranger of Soul records in the late Sixties) as a guest one evening, and I asked Don what he knew of Jack Montgomery. His reply:

"Jack Montgomery ? Well I gave him the name Jack Montgomery for a start."

Whaaaat ! Guess what my next question was !!?

Don's reply "He was called Marvin Jones, he came to me as a singer with a good voice and ambitions, he was a draughtsman by trade, a regular guy. My partner at the time was Don Montgomery, so we just changed the name because it sounded better."

I then asked for a little more information, I'd always assumed that the Austons single was the first. As usual I was wrong.

Don: "When he came to me he hadn't recorded anything, so we put him on my label, Barracuda, with a track I wrote, I did the production as well, Empire Productions was me, it's also a name I used when I DJ'ed on the radio."

The next stage was to move onto the Scepter release, which was of course 'Dearly Beloved / Do You Believe'. How did the tracks end up at Scepter in New York ?

Don: "Simple really, Don (Montgomery) and I wanted major label budgets for a couple of songs I'd written, Jack was the guy we wanted to sing them, So I flew out to New York and hooked up with Johnny Terry because of the connections he had in the Music industry in New York (He was a member of The Drifters at one stage). He didn't really have the experience, but he had the connections and the enthusiasm. I went to several labels, RCA I remember, that's where Robert Bateman went when he left Detroit, but they kept me waiting around for about three weeks, and then wouldn't come up with the budget I wanted, then we got in at Scepter through Johnny and recorded three tracks."

Don actually did the production and arrangement himself even though Johnny Terry's name appears on the labels. This does though totally discount the theory that Terry and Mancha were Mike and Steve.

Don: "In fact Steve Mancha was chosen as Clyde's (Wilson) name by Don Davis and me. Steve is not related in anyway, but we decided that the name Steve Mancha sounded real good."

I also asked Don about the different labels on the Scepter single. The more common issues and the white demos have 'Dearly Beloved' as the title, whereas some issues which are considerably rarer have 'My Dear Beloved' as the title.

Don: "I don't know anything about that, the track was registered as 'Dearly Beloved'." So that's one mystery I was unable to solve.

That officially ends Don Mancha's involvement with Jack Montgomery. Of course that's not the end of the story. Don had recorded three tracks at Scepter and returned to Detroit to carry on with other projects, leaving Johnny Terry to deal with the finances from the New York end. Apparently Johnny Terry couldn't read or write, but he could certainly add up, especially in his favour. After several acrimonious conversations the partnership was dissolved for want of a better phrase.

Don: "My partner, Don Montgomery, was connected in Detroit, if you know what I mean, and he really wanted to whack Johnny Terry, he really did, but I persuaded him not to. Then it turns out that Johnny had absconded with the master tapes to the third track we recorded on Jack in New York."

This of course turned out to be 'Baby Baby Take A Chance On Me' on Revue 11009. Which also has a rather strange configuration of releases: Demos with the vocal on both sides, the rarer demo with vocal and instrumental, and issues with vocal and instrumental. I played Don the single.

Don: "Yeah. That's the third track we cut on Jack in New York. but you won't find my name on it because Johnny (Terry) had taken the masters, but I recognise the drums and piano as one of mine."

So that does end the Don Mancha involvement in the Jack Montgomery story, and it goes a long way to explaining why there was never a vocal to the other side of 'Baby Baby Take A Chance On Me'.

With regards to the fourth single, 'Beauty Isn't Born' on Auston's 0001, Don has no knowledge of either the company 'Jozelle' of which Austons is a subsidiary, and cannot recall ever coming across anyone called G A Grizzell who is the co-producer with Marvin Jones. It can only be surmised that this single was a last attempt by Jack Montgomery to get a hit. It has to be the last single though because there is no involvement from Don Mancha (Who came up with the name Jack Montgomery) or Johnny Terry (Who disappeared with the master tapes for the third single) unless of course G A Grizzell is a pseudonym for Johnny Terry.

Don's final comment on Jack Montgomery: "He passed away several years ago."

So that really does conclude the Jack Montgomery story.

Jack Montgomery discography