Darrell Banks

TrackSingle / Album
Open The Door To Your HeartRevilot 201 (UK Stateside SS 536)
Baby What'cha Got ( For Me)Revilot 203
Here Come The TearsAtco 6471
I Wanna Go HomeCotillion 44006
Just Because Your Love Is GoneVolt 4014 (UK Stax 124)
Beautiful FeelingVolt 4026
No One Blinder
(Than A Man Who Won't See)
Volt 4026
I'm Gonna Hang My Head And CryDarrell Banks Is Here
Forgive MeHere To Stay
I'm Knocking At Your HeartThe Lost Soul

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Darrell Banks photo

Darrell Banks

 

Contributor: Cal Taylor

To paraphrase a well known advert – this is probably the best soul record ever. Obviously that would always be a subjective judgment but if it is not the best soul record ever it is certainly the most expensive if you own it on UK London 10070 – because that record recently cost over £14,500! (see Footnote).

If you have heard Open The Door To Your Heart before, you will know how good it is – if you haven’t, play it a few times and you will find out how good it is. It was first released in May 1966 and less than four years later Darrell was dead, aged only 32. In that time seven high class singles were released and this was the last one, Beautiful Feeling, from late 1969.

While he was alive he also had two LPs released, which included the fourteen tracks from the seven singles plus ten others – a total of 24 tracks.

Our man was born Darrell Eubanks on 25th July 1937 in Ohio but he grew up in Buffalo, New York and played there in the local music scene. Around 1960, he married Beverly Simon (known as Kay) and they had two children but by the mid-1960s the couple had divorced. Kay was white and interracial marriages were pretty unusual at that time in the USA but Darrell was one who would not be averse to courting controversy in his short life.

The song that was said to have inspired Darrell was Hank Ballard & The Midnighters’ Annie Had A Baby, a No.1 R&B hit in 1954. Darrell would have been 17 years old.

He played in local groups, The Daddy B Combo and Grand Prix, and by the mid-1960s struck up a relationship with Doc Murphy who ran a nightspot in Buffalo called Club Revilot. Doc became Darrell’s manager and with his connections was introduced to LeBaron Taylor (see Footnote), a legend in Detroit’s music scene in the sixties. This resulted in Darrell recording Open The Door To Your Heart on a new record label, Revilot, named after Doc Murphy’s club. Originally, the only writing credit went to Darrell but it later transpired that his friend and fellow soul singer from Buffalo, Donnie Elbert, had actually written it (see Footnotes on both Donnie Elbert and the songwriting credits on Open The Door To Your Heart).

Open The Door To Your Heart was a massive seller, reaching #2 in the R&B charts and #27 in the pop charts. The flip side, Our Love (Is In The Pocket), just missed this top ten selection. It was very good. It was part written by George Clinton of the Parliaments (later Parliament/ Funkadelic) who had been closely associated with LeBaron Taylor.

Darrell’s second record and his last one on the Revilot label was Somebody (Somewhere) Needs You. Again, it just missed my top ten. It was Darrell’s only other hit, reaching #34 in the R&B charts and #55 in the pop charts. The song had originally been recorded by Ike & Tina Turner the year before, in 1965. However, the flip side Baby What’cha Got (For Me) (co-written by Edwin Starr) is in my top ten and here it is:

Darrell’s seven singles were released on four different labels, which might give the wrong impression that he easily chopped and changed but after the Revilot 45s the others were on Atco, Cotillion and Volt which all had connections to each other.

In 1967, Darrell’s third single and first on Atco was Here Come The Tears. It was a great version of the Gene Chandler record, that had been released in 1965, but it did not chart. Coincidently, both Darrell and Gene were born in July 1937.

Later in 1967, one more record was released on Atco before Darrell’s next release came out on Cotillion the following year. Cotillion was Atlantic/Atco’s new ‘soul’ label that was launched in 1968 and it’s first release was Otis Clay’s wonderful rendition of William Bell’s You Don’t Miss Your Water. It was understandable that Darrell was transferred to the new Atlantic subsidiary. The record was I Wanna Go Home.

Before the Cotillion single an LP, Darrell Banks Is Here, was released in 1967. It comprised his first four singles, including the ones on Revilot, plus two other tracks – one of which was I’m Gonna Hang My Head And Cry and it deserves a spot in my top ten.

After the Cotillion single Darrell went to Volt Records, a subsidiary of Stax. Up to 1968 all Volt records had been distributed by Atlantic but this arrangement ended. The new co-owner of Stax, Al Bell, cosmetically relaunched its Volt off-shoot with a new 4000 series. In 1969, Darrell’s first record on Volt was Just Because Your Love Is Gone. I think that next to Open The Door To Your Heart this is his best record. It was co-written by Homer Banks (no relation).

The quality of Darrell’s records was consistently high. I’ve already referred to his final single release, Beautiful Feeling, but the flip of this 45 also makes my top ten. It’s called No One Blinder (Than A Man Who Won’t See).

Of the seven US singles, three of them were released in the UK. Volt issued Darrell’s second LP, Here To Stay, in 1969 and, maybe surprisingly, it too was released in the UK. I bought it then and it is still in my collection. It contained eleven tracks, only three of which were released on 45s. There are many really excellent tracks on this album and I have picked Forgive Me to be in my top ten.

Unfortunately, Darrell was not ‘here to stay’ and was shot dead in February 1970 (see Footnote) and, as I noted earlier, up to that point 24 different tracks had been released – all of a remarkable, consistently high standard. The world lost a truly great soul singer.

In 1997, a 27-track Darrell Banks CD, The Lost Soul, was released on the Goldmine label. It contained three previously unissued tracks. My final selection is one of those, I’m Knocking At Your Heart. This was later issued in the UK in 2010 on the Outta Sight label.

To complete Darrell’s total output (as far as I know) a CD, I’m The One Who Loves You: The Complete Volt Recordings, was issued in 2013 on the Kent label; a reissue of his Here To Stay LP plus eight bonus tracks. Of these eight additions one had been released before as a single, three were different mixes of tracks already issued and there were four previously unreleased demo tracks. That brought Darrell’s complete output to 31 different tracks. Whether there are any more knocking around in various record labels’ vaults is unknown but he left us with a fantastic legacy.

 

FOOTNOTES

£14,500 for a record
Open The Door To Your Heart was scheduled to be released in the UK on the London label on 19th August 1966. Decca – who owned London – and EMI had been in competition for the rights to issue the hit from the US Revilot catalogue. It seems that Decca ‘jumped the gun’ believing that they had won the deal but, for whatever reason, they had not and EMI had actually won the rights to issue Darrell’s US hit. EMI then issued it on their Stateside label, releasing in on 2nd September 1966. Although promotional copies had been issued of the London single and a catalogue number had been designated, it was believed all copies due for public distribution were scrapped/melted down. On the face of it, London HL10070 was never issued. Although there was speculation about its existence no one ever produced an official non-demo copy of the London disc until … nearly fifty years later when one was put up for auction. This single stock copy had been purchased from the estate of a deceased Decca pressing plant employee. It fetched £14,500 in the auction in 2014. So, as I said in the main article, one can debate whether Open The Door To Your Heart is the best soul record ever but what cannot be disputed is that, on the London label, it is certainly the most expensive soul record ever!

LeBaron Taylor
He formed Solid Hitbound Productions (SHP) with musician/songwriter/ record producer, Don Davis, and a sound engineer, George Taylor. Revilot Records was a division of SHP. Previously, LeBaron Taylor had been a disc jockey and/or musical director at various radio stations in Detroit from the beginning of the 1960s. Prior to forming Revilot Records, SHP’s recordings had been released on the Ric Tic label, which was later swallowed up by Berry Gordy in 1968, to rid himself of the competition. In 1970, Taylor relocated to Philadelphia, working for Radio WDAS before getting a job with Atlantic Records in an A&R capacity. In 1974, he moved to CBS to run their newly formed Black Music Marketing Division. Sony bought CBS Records in 1988. Taylor was multi-talented in the recording industry together with being a powerhouse in its politics. In 1992, he became senior vice president of corporate affairs for Sony Music worldwide and was still working there when he died of a heart attack in 2000, aged 65. The list of artists with whom he was associated is almost endless and included Edwin Starr, the Parliaments (including George Clinton), J. J. Barnes, Johnnie Taylor, Tyrone Davis, Sister Sledge, Jackie Moore, Bettye Swann, the Isley Brothers, Earth Wind and Fire, the Jacksons plus artists from Gamble & Huff’s roster including the O’Jays, Billy Paul and Teddy Pendergrass.

Donnie Elbert
Donnie was born in 1936, so was a year older than Darrell. He had lived in Buffalo from the age of three and he and Darrell had been friends. His debut solo release in 1957 was What Can I Do. That record reached #12 in the R&B charts. With a distinct falsetto singing voice he is probably most well known in the UK for his A Little Piece Of Leather which was originally recorded in 1965 but when re-made/re-recorded got to #27 in the UK pop charts in 1972. His biggest hits, however, were Motown covers; both Where Did Our Love Go (Supremes) and I Can’t Help Myself (Four Tops) were reworked and climbed to the higher reaches of the pop charts in the US and the UK in 1971 and 1972 respectively. His record Without You got to #1 in the Jamaican charts. He lived in Britain between 1966 and 1969. Like Darrell Banks, he was/is a Northern Soul favourite. He suffered a massive stroke in 1989 and died, aged just 52.

Who wrote Open The Door To Your Heart?
My copy of the song on Revilot shows the writing credit as ‘Darrell Banks’. However, soon after its release in the US in May 1966, his friend Donnie Elbert recognised it as a song he had written for Darrell that he had called Baby, Walk Right In. Donnie thought there had just been an oversight or some sort of paperwork mix-up but when he checked with BMI (the performing rights organisation) he found that the song clearance form submitted by Darrell registered ‘Banks’ as the sole songwriter, which would entitle him to all the income for writing the song. A legal battle ensued which resulted in Elbert being awarded a 50% songwriting credit. It seems Darrell ‘got away with one’ there, as it appears Donnie most likely wrote it by himself and all Darrell had done was to speed it up a bit and change the title. The giveaway might be that Darrell never wrote anything else but Donnie was credited with writing well over a hundred songs! Later releases of Open The Door To Your Heart show Banks and Elbert as co-writers.

Darrell Banks shot dead
In Detroit, Darrell had been dating a lady named Marjorie Bozeman but it appears she was looking to end the relationship. When he was waiting for her to return home after work, he found that she was accompanied by an off-duty policeman, Aaron Bullock. An altercation ensued, guns were drawn, which resulted in Darrell being shot in the neck and chest. He died the same day, 24th February 1970. The death certificate states that it was a ‘homicide’ and, mysteriously, the announcement of Darrell’s death was held back for a week. No charges were ever brought. Darrell was buried in an unmarked grave in Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery until over 30 years later when, through the endeavours of Soulful Detroit forum members, money was raised for a permanent memorial in the form of a bench.

Darrell Banks bench

Darrell Banks may have been compulsive and may have had roguish traits but did he deserve to die? Obviously we will never know Darrell’s version of events surrounding his shooting. No matter what the rights and wrongs were, a simple fact is … ‘we wuz robbed’ of a phenomenal soul singer who would still have had much to offer the world of music.

 

Darrell Banks (1937–1970)

 

The Darrell Banks Story on the Soulful Detroit website

Darrell Banks Soul Classics contains 27 tracks on MP3

Darrell Banks Discography at Discogs

Darrell Banks biography (iTunes)

Cal Taylor has avidly collected records since the early 1960s, gravitating to deep soul and blues. As time went on he got more and more into studying pre-war blues and accumulated a vast record collection. Cal saw many such artists live in the sixties. He has written several posts for this site including Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, Blind Willie Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, Otis Redding, Betty Harris, and several more joint posts with Dave Stephens including Arthur Alexander, Little Willie John and Chuck Willis.

TopperPost #717

5 Comments

  1. John Chamberlain
    May 8, 2018

    Another gem from Cal. Thank you. Again a revelation, as he was new to me. I thought that “45” would have been yours, Cal !

  2. Dave Stephens
    May 8, 2018

    Cal, you’ve put me to shame. I was vaguely aware of Darrell but had never got round to listening to him. Thanks to your excellent introduction, I’ve now come to a realisation of what I’ve been missing for all these years. With a voice that owed nothing to anyone and a level of consistency to be envied, Darrell should be up there in the Hall of Fame. Loved the bit part players too. Donnie Elbert, the man with the amazing voice, must be deserving of a Topper of his own one day.

  3. Andrew Shields
    May 8, 2018

    Cal, thanks for this great piece. Have to admit I knew next to nothing about Darrell before reading this, but what a superb voice he had. Thanks again for the introduction.

  4. Neil Waite
    May 9, 2018

    Not my genre at all but I really enjoyed this post. Certainly made me realise I need to explore other worlds. Thanks for this Cal. Great stuff!

  5. Cal Taylor
    May 12, 2018

    John, Dave, Andrew and Neil, I am really pleased that you all enjoyed the Darrell Toppermost and thank you very much indeed for your kind comments. From these, I think it highlights how underrated he was, what a fantastic voice he had and what a loss he was to music. John, Dave and Andrew, I am sure you only needed a small nudge in the right direction to be made aware but Neil, your horizons are now limitless!

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