...Here's the full story......
Frank Wilson - Artist/Producer/Songwriter, Los Angeles/Detroit, USA
Tom DePierro - Promotion Manager, Motown Records, Los Angeles, USA
Ian Dewhirst - DJ/Record Collector, Los Angeles/Leeds, UK
Simon Soussan - Record Collector/Bootlegger/Producer, Los Angeles, USA
Les McCutcheon - Record Company Owner/Publisher, London, UK
Johnathan Woodliffe - Record Collector, Nottingham, UK
Kev Roberts - DJ/Record Collector, Nottingham, UK
Tim Brown - Record Collector/Dealer, Todmorden, UK
Ron Murphy - Mastering Engineer/Record Collector, Detroit, USA
Martin Koppel - Record Dealer/Collector, Toronto, Canada
Kenny Burrell - DJ/Record Collector, Fife, Scotland
John Manship - Record Dealer, Melton Mowbray, UK
? - The Winner Of The Auction April 2009
This is the story of the rarest, most-wanted soul record in history and the fascinating journeys that the two known copies of the record have taken since one was borrowed from the Motown record library in 1976 by a notorious Los Angeles based bootlegger and the other was purchased from the original pressing plant, ARP in the late 1970’s by a legendary Motown collector. Both copies have gone through a total of 9 different owners over 31 years making it one of the most fiercely collectible records in history.
In April 2009, one of the two known copies in existence is being put to auction where it is expected to become the most expensive record ever auctioned.
A Brief History
In the early to mid 1960’s Frank Wilson was a moderately successful Producer/Artist/Singer-Songwriter who was working with West Coast acts like Mary Love, Connie Clark and the Autographs plus early Motown acts like Brenda Holloway, her sister Patrice Holloway and Chris Clark. By mid 1965 Frank was just about to embark on what he thought would be a successful career as a solo artist for the increasingly powerful Motown group. His first release, “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)” was scheduled to be released in December 1965 when Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, decided that Frank would be better suited as a Producer/Singer-Songwriter working behind the scenes at the busy label. Frank reluctantly agreed realising that to disagree with Berry would effectively kill his career anyway. The pressing order at the ARP pressing plant was halted immediately with orders that the initial pressing run was to be destroyed save for a reputed 3 copies which were sent to Detroit and a further reputed 3 copies which were to be retained by the pressing plant. Frank then embarked upon a highly successful ‘behind the scenes’ career as a Producer and Songwriter at Motown working with acts like Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Brenda Holloway, The Temptations and Diana Ross & The Supremes amongst others whilst writing or co-writing such successful songs as “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”, “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”, “Up The Ladder To The Roof”, “Stoned Love” and many others.
The unreleased Frank Wilson record(s) then got filed into the Motown Record Archive with the remaining three other copies retained at the ARP pressing plant.
Motown Records eventually moved to Los Angeles in 1972 and the Record Library was re-located to the West Coast headquarters of Motown, where, out of the 3 copies which had been sent to Detroit in 1965, a single copy remained in the master library.
In the summer of 1976 a UK based Northern Soul DJ called Ian Dewhirst moved to Los Angeles and met up with an L.A. based Record Dealer/Collector called Simon Soussan. Soussan was notorious for previously bootlegging Northern Soul records but had re-invented himself as a legitimate businessman and fledgling record producer. Dewhirst and Soussan decided to collaborate on co-producing a Disco record – a medley of old Motown tunes which was eventually called “Uptown Festival” with the name Shalamar given to the studio group.
In the course of trying to get the record signed to a major company, Dewhirst dropped in to the Motown offices to try and make an appointment (as “Uptown Festival” was a Motown medley). Whilst he was in the reception he met a young Promotion assistant called Tom DePierro. Tom invited Dewhirst into his office where they played the Shalamar record which Tom then passed to Suzanne DePasse – the then Head of A&R at Motown. Dewhirst and DePierro agreed to keep in touch until they heard back from Suzanne.
In the intervening weeks, Dewhirst’s 6 month visa was about to expire, so he instructed Soussan to continue the talks with Motown. Soussan subsequently met DePierro and had a couple of meetings with him before Motown declined the Shalamar track (which was eventually signed to Soultrain Records where it subsequently became a million-selling hit). . However, Soussan remained in touch with DePierro following the success of the Shalamar release realising that DePierro had access to the Motown vaults. On one of his subsequent trips to the Motown offices, Soussan managed to get access to the Motown archive library where he then ‘borrowed’ a number of recordings and acetates. Among the records he ‘borrowed’ was the single promotional copy of Frank Wilson’s “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)” which was from the master library. It would be the last time that Tom DePierro or Motown would ever see the records and acetates again.
When Soussan got home and listened to the record, he realised that he had a major Northern Soul hot property which had never been heard. Within weeks Soussan had some acetates cut and sent the record to some Northern Soul DJ’s in the UK under the title “Do I Love You” by Eddie Foster. The record immediately took off in the UK and became an instant hit on the Northern Soul scene, primarily via plays by Russ Winstanley at the UK’s biggest Northern Soul venue at the time, Wigan Casino. Soussan subsequently then bootlegged 2000 copies of the record on his Soul Fox label and sent them to the UK where they quickly sold out. Meanwhile Tom DePierro was unaware of this activity and was being rebuffed by the smooth-talking Soussan whenever he requested the items to be returned (it should be noted that Simon Soussan had a long history of obtaining goods and records by deception and was notorious within record collecting circles for his devious tactics).
By the early 1980’s Soussan’s luck was beginning to dry up, his record productions were less successful and he required some urgent surgery for a stomach ulcer which had plagued him for years. In order to raise some quick cash, he agreed to sell his record collection to a UK entrepreneur and business associate called Les McCutcheon.
Les eventually acquired the records and promptly forgot about them for several years until a chance meeting with Nottingham record collector called Johnathan Woodliffe resulted in Johnathan buying the record and discovering that the Eddie Foster record was actually Frank Wilson. Johnathan realised that he had one of the rarest records of all time and kept it for a while before eventually selling it to Northern Soul DJ and entrepreneur Kev Roberts.
Kev then kept the record for 10 years before eventually selling it to his then partner in Goldmine Records, Record Dealer and Collector Tim Brown, for a then mouth-watering £5,000.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic ocean, legendary Detroit Collector, Motown engineer and archivist Ron Murphy managed to obtain a 2nd copy of Frank Wilson from the owner of the ARP pressing plant, where the initial handful of copies of “Do I Love You” were first pressed. Ron was informed by the owner of the plant that only 6 sample copies had originally been pressed with 3 copies sent to Motown and the remaining 3 kept in the archive at the plant. However, of these 6 copies, 2 were destroyed when the plant was told they only needed to retain one copy of each record in the archive and to save space they destroyed all but one copy each of everything they’d manufactured. This last remaining copy was the one which Ron purchased from the owner of the plant. Ron eventually sold the record to Toronto based Record Dealer and Collector Martin Koppel who eventually sold his copy to his UK partner and fellow Collector Tim Brown, who by now was in possession of both of the known copies of “Do I Love You”.
Tim then sold the copy obtained from Ron Murphy via Martin Koppel to DJ and Record Collector, Kenny Burrell for the then-staggering sum of £15,000 in 1997.
Now, after a further 12 years, Kenny’s copy will be auctioned by the world’s premier Record Dealer and authority on rare records, John Manship.
Since the original discovery of the record in 1977, only two known promotional copies of “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)” have ever surfaced – both of them being ‘relieved’ from Motown’s library and Motown’s then pressing plant. No other copies have ever emerged despite the record being the most sought-after record ever on the collecting scene.
The history of the record would indicate that it has every chance of establishing the Guinness Book of Records highest price for a 7” legitimate record (as opposed to an acetate).
The auction is primed to commence on Thursday 2nd April 2009 and will run for 4 weeks ending on Thursday 30th April.