Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Johnny Adams - Reconsider Me (SSS International 770)


Reconsider Me

SHELBY S. SINGLETON, JR.
1931-2009

Shelby S. Singleton, Jr. passed away this afternoon, a victim of the agressive cancer that had spread throughout his body. An absolute giant of the music industry, he never forgot where he came from.

From his work with folks like Brook Benton and Dinah Washington at Mercury, to the initiation of the big company's Smash subsidiary in 1961 (when Huey Meaux brought him Joe Barry's I'm A Fool To Care), to his own Plantation and SSS International labels (along with its own various subsidiaries like Silver Fox and Minaret), this was a man who knew a good record when he heard it.

One of the original, seat-of-the-pants 'record men', he told John Broven; "A good promotion man was one that could stay up for two or three days, could outdrink everybody, still be up when they were all on the floor, and could outeat everybody. Just complete workhorses, that's what we all were."

Singleton's Louisiana and East Texas roots ran deep. He was the guy who broke records like Sea Of Love, Hey Paula, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, Chantilly Lace, Running Bear, and on and on in those early days. He had a knack for listening to what the local disk jockeys and juke box operators had to say, and taking it nationwide. Just as with Huey Meaux (who brokenheartedly described him to me this afternoon as 'more than a brother'), Shelby was lifelong friends with Henry Hildebrand, Jr (pictured above), who ran one of the largest record distributors in New Orleans, All South.

It was Hildebrand who turned him on to the work that Wardell Quezergue was doing on his own Watch label with Johnny Adams. When Shelby started up SSS International, he leased Johnny's cover of Release Me from Watch, and took it into the R&B top forty in early 1969. Genuinely impressed with Johnny's unmatched vocal talent, Singleton pulled out all the stops and brought him to Music Row to record this fantastic record we have here today. Written by his old friends from the Louisiana Hayride days in Shreveport, Mira Smith and Margaret Lewis, Shelby's production helped make this Johnny's biggest hit, and one of the all-time great 'Black Country' records.

As we've discussed in the past, when Singleton's Plantation release of Harper Valley P.T.A. became an absolute phenomenon in late 1968, it paved the way for his purchase of Sun Records from Sam Phillips the following year. Shortly after that, he bought up the Blue Cat and Red Bird masters from George Goldner, and continued in that vein, building up an incredible catalogue of great music that he was able to sell and resell over the years. An astute businessman, he presided over his Sun Entertainment Corporation right to the end.

Well loved by all who knew him, Shelby S. Singleton's incalculable contributions to American popular music will live on forever.

May He Rest In Peace.
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Funeral arrangements for Shelby S. Singleton, Jr are as follows:

Visitation: 11am -1pm
Funeral Service: 1pm
Saturday, October 10, 2009

First Presbyterian Church
4815 Franklin Rd.
Nashville, TN 37220
615-383-1815