Sunday, May 11, 2008

G.C. Cameron - s/t

Soul singer G.C. Cameron is a veteran of more than 30 years in the music business and is still kickin'. He was born in a small township in Franklin Country, MS, but his family moved to Detroit in 1955 when he was young. The Camerons were a large brood; Cameron had nine siblings, but there was always room for more, as Philippe Wynne (Cameron' s cousin) grew up in the household too. The two ran Detroit's mean streets together but never formed a singing group.

Fast forward to the 1960s when Harvey Fuqua and Gwen Gordy sold their Tri-Phi label to Motown. The vocal group The Spinners came as part of the deal and quickly became basement dwellers at their new home. During much of the decade, The Spinners were given shoddy treatement at Motown--used as road managers, chaperones, chauffeurs for other groups, and even as shipping clerks.

After a Marine stint, which included service in Vietnam, Cameron was chosen by the Spinners to replace Edgar "Chico" Edwards, adding a new lead voice to the group. In 1969, the group switched to the Motown-owned V.I.P. imprint.

With Cameron now in the fold, Motown's producers found the Spinners more interesting, and heavyweights like Stevie Wonder started writing and producing for them. A remake of the standard "In My Diary" (1969), made popular to R&B fans by the Moonglows, was their first recording with Cameron. The flip side was "(She's Gonna Love Me) At Sundown," which features Bobby Smith on lead. What should have been a two-sided smash wasn't, due to Motown's lackadaisical attitude toward the Spinners. Stevie Wonder cut "It's a Shame," only to have it put on ice by Motown for a whole year after it was recorded. A remake of the Temptations' popular album cut "Message to the Blackman" (1970) was their second single featuring Cameron. The Spinners' version was good, albeit shorter, but stiffed from lack of support.

Motown finally released "It's A Shame" on June 6, 1970, and watched it rise to number 14 on the Pop chart, becoming the Spinners' biggest hit to date. But the group was fed up with Motown's treatment. Indeed, these frustrations came to a head when the follow-up, "We'll Have It Made," didn't come close to duplicating its predecessor. It was apparent Motown wasn't ever going to take them seriously, so the Spinners made plans to leave the label. Cameron, however, had become romantically involved with Gwen Gordy (Berry Gordy's sister) and stayed with Motown; but he didn't leave the Spinners in a lurch. His cousin, Philippe Wynne, who had been rehearsing with the group, was brought in to take his place. The master improviser had previously worked with the Pacesetters, a band that included Bootsy and Catfish Collins, in the Cincinnati area. Philippe "Soul" Wynne stayed on for five years enjoying chart-busting success on Atlantic Records with producer Thom Bell.

But Cameron wasn't concerned. Motown was going to make him a star--or so he thought. The company placed him on its Mowest label for a series of singles that went nowhere, including "Act Like a Shotgun" (1971) and a tentative follow-up, "I'm Gonna Get You Pts. 1 & 2," scheduled for release but pulled in the 12th hour. Instead, Mowest dropped "What It Is, What It Is" (1972) with scarcely any promotion. Going for broke, they tried a duet with Willie Hutch, entitled "Come Get This Thing," but shelved it in favor of Cameron's interesting "Don't Wanna Play Pajama Games," written and produced by Smokey Robinson, in which Cameron mimics Robinson to a T.

At this juncture, uneasiness reared. The Spinners, with Wynne, were making an unprecedented run with Top Ten hits and good-selling albums, yet Cameron couldn't make the charts. He was switched to the Motown label for his other recordings, including "No Matter Where" (1973) and "Let Me Down Easy" (1973), neither of which sold well. His first solo LP, Love Songs and Other Tragedies (1974), followed; a second LP, the self-titled G.C. Cameron (1976), was preceded by 45 "If You're Ever Gonna Love Me" (1975). The next single, "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday," proved to be a minor hit and served as the the theme song of the 1975 film "Cooley High". The tune became a chartbuster sixteen years later when it was covered by Boyz II Men on their debut album, Cooleyhighharmony.

Cameron's third full-length release, You're What's Missing In My Life, was issued in 1977 and sadly suffered the same dismal fate as his previous efforts.

Later in '77, Motown issued the duet album, Rich Love, Poor Love by G.C. & Syreeta in 1977, and put out one single from the album, "Let's Make A Deal." Two years later, Syreeta scored with Billy Preston on "With You I'm Born Again." Cameron, however, left the company after the pairing with Syreeta failed and his romance with Gwen Gordy soured. By the time "I've Got My Second Wind," a duet with Tata Vega off her Givin' All My Love album, came out in 1981, Cameron was long gone.

G.C. recorded off and on for a bunch of little labels from 1977 on. His most significant recording was 1983's Give Me Your Love, on Malaco Records.

A year later, Ian Levine included Cameron on his Motorcity label as a singer, writer and producer. The association with Levine may have been creatively lucrative, but not financially, as Cameron claims he has yet to receive a royalty check from any recording company he was ever involved with--and that includes the single he cut with the Tams, entitled "Walking Dr. Bill," in the late '90s. The "shag" hit did secure him some dates on the Carolinas' beach music set with the Tams and his own group, The G.C. Cameron Band. The Motorcity recordings, which included a duet with Martha Reeves, were compiled on Right or Wrong (Motorcity 1991) and later on The Very Best of G.C. Cameron (1996, Hot Productions).

In 2000, G.C. returned to the Spinners to fill as 2nd lead for an ill John Edwards. He stayed with the group for two years then left to work on the solo album Shadows which was released in 2004 on Cameron's own Deqajacc label. In 2003, while working on Shadows, G.C. replaced Barrington "Bo" Henderson as lead singer of The Temptations. Cameron left The Tempts in June of 2007 to focus on his group, The G.C. Cameron Review.
Source: edited & tweaked from Wikipedia. Special thanks to WilkyNY ;)

As of this writing, the G.C. Cameron album is still OOP but you can sometimes catch one for a decent price here or here.

Featured cut: "The Joy You Bring"

Listen to the full album here


Musicmeiho said...

Love this guy! thank you!

soulbrotha said...

Damn, what a sad story! Poor man seems to be cursed! I hope his future endeavors work better for him. When I read stories like this, I wonder how Berry Gordy wasn't shot dead by one of the artists he screwed over.

Thanks for the lp. Great post!

Musicmeiho said...

Sweet! Thank you.

Dreamer456 said...

Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to find a song by G.C. for over a year. I know that this song exsists. My sister and I LOVE this song. I can't find it anywhere. Currently my sister is terminally ill, and I would love to play this song for her before she makes her transition. I don't know the correct name, but I believe it may be called Truly Blue. The lyrics goes like this: A song without a melody, has no need for harmony, you are the song i sing.... that you no longer bring. since you've come and gone from me, i rather curse a ............. and i cried for you and even though i smile my smile is blue. Please if someone read this please email me at thank you

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