The Record Collector & The Holy Grail

I am off on a trip next week to Strummer Fest in Agen, France. It is a town that I know absolutely nothing about except that at 26 Rue Garonne, I can buy some 60’s garage and soul singles from King Bees Music.

That’s because before I go anywhere, the first thing I do is look up on the internet is where I can buy some vinyl.  I’ve bought records all my life but probably in the last few years, and especially since I purchased my first Jukebox it’s become a bit of an obsession.

Once whilst on holiday in Paris, and pre-internet times, I followed a rockabilly because he looked cool and was obviously into his music. I had been searching for an album that had been released in France but not in the UK and the Virgin Megastore and French chain stores didn’t stock it. After at least 45 minutes of tailgating him, he led me straight into a record shop where I duly entered and found that elusive album I had been searching for. Result!

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These days my missus keeps telling me that I have too many records and that I need to start selling some as they are slowly taking over the house. I think you can never have enough vinyl and that she should stop buying shoes!

I do only buy music that I like and generally want to DJ with these days. As vinyl is making a comeback, I do view the records as mini investments, but have never bought one that I intended to keep and not play at all. I don’t see the point in that. Buying something that you want to hear and keeping it stored in a box somewhere. You need to love it, cherish it and play it. Sometimes, if it’s that good I give my neighbours a treat and let them hear it too by turning up my amp.

Whatever you collect though you are always on the lookout for a bargain. One day whilst  traipsing through a jumble sale or record fair, I’d  love to find a nice, mint copy of the first MC5 single on AMG (the one I am currently looking out for), God Save The Queen on A&M Records or maybe even Frank Wilson’s ‘Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) on Motown. The last time one of these went to auction, it sold for £25,742 back in 2009 and was considered by many to be the ultimate single for soul collectors.

That was until a post appeared on the Soul Source website
( back in June this year.

Someone had been cataloguing their collection when they came across a copy of Darrell Banks 1966 hit, ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’ on the London American label. The record was listed as being previously available on Revilot, Stateside, Quality & Million but nothing was listed about this issue. A request for info went out on the Soul-Source website (and within hours the record was being hailed as not only authentic, but ‘the find of the century’ and ‘the Holy Grail of Northern Soul’ for U.K. collectors.

So what is the fuss all about?

The song was the first US release by Darrell Banks in 1966 and also the first single on Revilot Records, a soul label from Detroit, Michegan. It reached number 2 in the R&B charts and number 27 on the Billboard Hot 100. Banks although originally credited as the sole writer, lost a legal battle with Donnie Elbert who had claimed that the song was a copy of his composition ‘Baby Walk Right In’.

Back on the other side of the pond, the single was due for a UK release on the London American label which was owned by British Decca. London American had been set up to promote American labels such as Chess, Imperial & Dot which were licensed to British Decca and bore the logo stating ‘London American Recordings” on the label. Licensing issues meant the release was shelved and the record eventually came out on Stateside.

So for many years, soul fans and record collectors had heard about a copy of ‘Open The Door To Your Heart / Our Love (Is In The Pocket)’ existing on London American, but with no concrete proof, was being brushed off as just a rumour. Maybe the release had been scheduled, moulds made, labels had been printed but as the release had been shelved, everything just ended up in the pressing plants skip somewhere.

And then, 48 years later one magically materialised! We can only assume that an employee from the Decca pressing plant managed to take one home, stashed it away in his collection where it remained un-played  for years before being sold on as part of a job lot that was picked up by the current owner.

Photos posted on soul source appear to have satisfied the die-hards that the record is genuine and are hailing this as ‘the find of the century’ and ’the holy grail’ for soul collectors. The single has now been put up for auction via John Manship Records at Within a few hours of the listing, the price hit £3k so who knows what it will eventually sell for when the auction finishes on the 21st December at 18:00 GMT.

It would be great to think someone passionate about the soul scene would be able afford to buy this, or a London American collector. It is likely though that just a general collector, maybe from overseas will just buy it as an investment for a possible UK single record price.

So that’s the brief story of the record, what else do we know about the artist?

Born in Mansfield, Ohio but grew up in Buffalo New York, Banks started signing gospel before choosing a career in secular music. He signed to Revilot Records and recorded ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’, a single that was later to be covered by the likes of Jackie Wilson, Betty Wright & Gregory Isaacs. Banks follow up single ‘Somebody (Somewhere) Needs You was a lesser hit and other releases for the Atco, Cotillon & Stax failed to chart.

He died in Februarry 1970 when he was shot in the neck and chest after allegedly pulling a gun on off duty policeman who was reputedly having an affair with Banks’ girlfriend Marjorie Bozeman.

No enquiry was ever held into his death. He was laid to rest in an unmarked grave in Detroit Memorial Park Cemetary. After his funeral, a benefit gig for his family was played by some of Detroits top performers that included Martha Reeves and The Vandellas where the money raised was gathered in a trust fund for his two children. Years later, thanks to donations from around the world collected via, a memorial bench was placed over his final resting place.

So the final questions must be, if I had the necessary cash in the bank would I bid for the rarest UK soul record ever made?

No, I think I would stick with my £10 Revilot original.

If I owned the record though, would I sell it?

Yes, and with the money safely in the bank I would probably head to pay homage to Darrell Banks in Detroit. It’s a town that I know that used to make cars, has a great musical heritage and that at 4100 Woodward Avenue I can find Peoples Records where I can buy some great sixties garage and soul records and quite possibly I may find that copy of my elusive MC5 single on AMG Records.

Dave Taylor is a Music Promoter and Eyeplug Writer.

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Dave Showplug Taylor

Dave Showplug Taylor is owner of Showplug Promotions, a man who makes things happen, loves providing great affordable quality Events, Gigs, Shows, Comedy Plugs and great all around Entertainment. Works closely alongside Eyeplug Media and lives by the Sea with his Family. Loves the MC5 and Cold Beer.

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