I found this photo of The Lamp Sisters recently and since I always find it nice to put faces to the records I listen to, I thought I’d go ahead and share it here with you.
The Lamp Sisters hailed from Detroit, starting out as backup singers for who else but name bearer Buddy Lamp. Buddy, a recording star who jumped to Don Robey’s Duke imprint in 1968, wielded plenty of attention and commercial success that could easily highlight band members to the masses during intermissions. Robey likely saw both the talent and selling points of three attractive ladies that already stood so close to the limelight and signed the group to a recording deal. The results were four 45s issued on Duke over the next few years, none of which seemed to climb the charts to much-coveted positions. Continue reading
While vinyl relics from Houston become tougher and tougher to locate as the years pass, proving the existence of other ephemera from a bygone era can feel more fiction than fact at times. It would only make sense that a record company the size of Don Robey’s Duke imprint would manufacture their own 45 single sleeves. After all, Robey paid enough attention to Duke’s sister company Peacock that he used beautiful five-color labels on his 45s. A dauntingly expensive endeavor at the time for a record enterprise, as the more colors used for printing, the more expensive the label being stuck onto to the actual vinyl became. This is the reason many record companies, particularly independents ones, tend to use one-color labels to this day.
Records, being made of polyvinyl chloride or styrene tend to weather the storm of time decently enough. As long as the listener doesn’t toss them around like frisbees and returns them to their sleeves after playing them, there’s not much threat of degradation. Paper on the other hand seems to deteriorate at a much faster pace and paper 45 sleeves tend to be no exception to the rule.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, only a few men held enough water to influence the sounds of soul music on a commercial scale in Houston. The men that could put your record in the Billboard charts or put your musical career in the ground, the gate keepers so to speak of the Bayou City.
There was Don Robey, owner of the illustrious Duke-Peacock-Backbeat family of labels. He recorded everyone from Bobby Bland and Junior Parker to OV Wright and Carl Carlton. He built a small empire from his office over on 2809 Erastus Street (The building which still stands today as the Charity Baptist Church) including the legendary nightclub the Bronze Peacock.
Skipper Lee Frazier split his time as a radio DJ on KCOH 1430AM (he still broadcasts today on KWWJ 1360AM) and as owner of his Ovide Records imprint. The 1968 release of Archie Bell and the Drells “Tighten Up” firmly cemented Lee’s stature amongst the heavyweights of Texas record label men. But even if it didn’t, having other acts like the TSU Toronadoes and Masters of Soul on his roster certainly did.
But neither Robey nor Lee had the influence on the scale that Huey Meaux had.