Don Mancha Tribute

Don Mancha

Don Mancha Tribute (Died 9/6/2011) PCRL Radio program

Yet another unknown giant of soul music departs from us in 2011. During the late 80's and through the 90's the UK rare soul soul scene started playing more medium pace Detroit productions and the prices rocketed again. Stafford, the 100 Club and Bretby were championing these small label productions.

Don was Martha's secret admirer!
Don Mancha was one of those producers whose work got more recognition. Don came with Bill Randle to my 'Studio 37' in 1997 with a cassette of unreleased recordings that he had not signed with anybody. He asked if I could master them for a CD that he hoped to put out in the UK.

As you can imagine the sound quality was very poor because the master was on a cassette, but I did my best and it came out over here that same year. I was amazed at his funk tracks sounding much like George Clinton's work, most tunes he hadn't even a name for the artists as they were just shelved back in the day.

Don also recorded a 90 minute program for PCRL radio with Bill Randle that we featured on my Sunday Basement Soul show in serial form over three weeks. Today I've re masted it to digital and up-loaded it for all to hear. I had forgotten what a foundation brick he was for the soul music industry.

Billy Hambic opens interview
Most of his best recordings were re-launched by the rare Northern soul   scene and now command high prices with more collectors than copies. So many small Detroit labels seemed to have not pressed many copies of the records they so finely made.

Take a listen/look at the track listing and you'll see what I mean! If time is short just just check Andrew Hamilton's bio below. I can't find a photograph of Don to include here so while Bill checks his cupboards at home. Newsflash - Now loaded the only photo we can find of Don - Thanks Bill

Tracks featured in interview:
Billy Hanbric - I Found True Love - Drum - 1965
Falcons & The Ohio Untouchables - I Found A Love - Lupine 1962
Wilson Pickett - For Better For Worse - Atlantic - 1964
Wilson Pickett - Baby Call On Me - Double L - 1963
Barrett Strong - Misery - Motown - 1961
Emaunual Lasky - Peace Loving man - Thelma - 1961
Martha Starr - I'm Lonely - Thelma
Billy Kennedy - A Groovy Generation - Thelma
Jack Montgomery - Dearly Beloved - Scepter
Jack Montgomery - Don't Turn Your Back On Me - Barracuda
Just Brothers - Carlena - Garrison
Honey Bees - Let's Get Back Together - Garrison
Bettye Lavette - I Feel Good All Over - Calla - 1965
Darrow Fletcher - What Good Am I - Jacklyn - 1967
Ike & Tina Turner - Nut Bush City Limits - UA -1973
Bettye Lavette - Living My Life On A Shoestring (un-issued)
Freddie Gorman - Take me Back - Ric Tic - 1965

Detroit-native Don Mancha wore many hats during his 40-year foray in the music biz: songwriter, producer, arranger, record label owner, road manager, and radio DJ. It all began in high school where he sang in various vocal groups including the Delrays with Barrett Strong. After Air Force duty, he returned to Detroit and got knee-deep into the city's burgeoning recording scene. Berry Gordy was penning hits for Jackie Wilson, the Miracles, and Marv Johnson. Gordy also had Tamla Records off and running; others followed suit, and labels like Fortune had been on the scene for years. His first big production was the Falcons' immortal "I Found a Love" with a 19-year-old Wilson Pickett belting out the lead vocal. When Pickett left to go solo, Mancha wrote and produced a number of his early sides including "If You Need Me" and "For Better or Worse," working with Robert Bateman and William "Sonny" Sanders.

He moved to California in 1962 and worked with Ike Turner but kept his ties in Detroit where he produced and wrote for Emmanuel Laskey and hit licks at Correctone and Thelma Records, collaborating with Ivy Hunter, Clay McMurray, Freddie Gorman, and others. A move to Chicago on South Cottage Grove proved fruitful as he began writing for locals like child prodigy Darrow Fletcher.

'Peace Loving Man' - Floor Filler!
Back in Detroit, he discovered Jack Montgomery (previously known as Marvin Tyrone Jones) and wrote and produced "Dearly Beloved" (also issued as "My Dear Beloved"), a song that did nothing upon its release on Scepter Records but is sought after now by soul music aficionados, and "Don't Turn Your Back on Me," for Montgomery, who was renamed after the motion picture star. The latter was Montgomery's debut and Mancha issued it on his fledgling Barracuda label. Mancha gave Marvin Jones his stage name and was also instrumental in Clyde Wilson becoming Steve Mancha. Don Davis was trying to come up with a new name for the singer but hit a bump at Steve; looking at Don Juan, Davis asked, "mind if I call him Steve Mancha, using your last name?" "Sure," said D. Mancha, "soulful as this guy sings he can use any name he wants."

Mega-rare double sided 45
Always on the move, Mancha took his writing, arranging, and producing skills to Memphis and New York. He worked with Chaka Khan and Sherrie Payne before she became a member of the Supremes. Mancha assisted Motown's ex-Artist and Repertoire Director William "Mickey" Stevenson on Richard Pryor's Adios Amigo flick and worked on a Disney exercise video starring Mickey Mouse.

He worked as Edwin Starr's road manager for awhile and collaborated with Starr on some songs with extraterrestrial titles: "Flying Saucers Over Georgia," "Earth Man," and "Late Great Planet Earth." He produced a television pilot MCed by Starr entitled Back Beat City in the '80s that was blown away by the emergence of MTV. Based in his hometown, Detroit, Mancha's working on two televisions shows, an album, and a movie. Which may seem like a lot, but it's mere child's play for "Straight Ahead and Straight Up" music hanger-on Don Mancha.


  1. Many thanks for uploading this. An absolutely facinating listen.

  2. Don was my Dad...much thanks for putting this online

  3. thank you for your kind comments.
    Bill Randle


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.