July 1968, London
As referenced in post #62 of ‘The Diary Of A British Soul Man,’ the Soul City team gets a visit from a short American man with a moustache asking for Dave Godin. The man in question, Dave Kapralik, is an executive at Epic Records who is aware of the licensing requests we’re making for our newly-birthed Soul City Records label to release tracks by the likes of The Staple Singers, Erma Franklin, Major Lance and Billy Butler among others. He is also the manager of the multi-ethnic R&B/funk group Sly & The Family Stone – and as we later learn, manager with Barbara Baccus of the duo Peaches & Herb, quite a long way musically from Sly and co.!
Dave, Robert Blackmore and I have agreed to promote Sly & The Family Stone’s major US hit “Dance To The Music” since CBS Records in the UK has been unable to really make much headway with the record. Mr. Kapralik is aware that our little Soul City team has been successful in gaining a Top 40 UK charted hit with Gene Chandler’s “Nothing Can Stop Me” and he likes our ‘downhome’ approach! Duly hired, Dave and I head off to the BBC to present “Dance To The Music” to the ‘pluggers’ who, if they like it, will ensure it gets played on Radio One. We succeed and on July 17, 1968, Sly & The Family Stone have their first British chart entry at #47, the same week that former Ikette and then-resident UK soul singer P.P. Arnold enters the Top 50 with “Angel Of The Morning” and the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, The Nice, The Small Faces and Dusty Springfield all have new releases that hit the very diverse British pop charts at the same time. The British Black music group The Equals are at No. 1 for a second week with the fast-n-furious “Baby Come Back” while smooth soul man O.C. Smith’s “Son Of Hickory Holler’s Tramp” is No. 2!
Sly & co. (Larry Graham, Rose Stone, Freddie Stone, Cynthia Robinson, Greg Errico and Jerry Martini) – later cited as ‘the first major American rock group to have a racially integrated, male and female lineup’ – are the epitome of the San Francisco ‘flower’ children in terms of appearance and manner, blending rock, R&B and funk into a fusion often referred to as ‘psychedelic soul.’ Their music is not quite what most of our Soul City customers are drawn towards but Dave, Robert and I are quite happy to do what we can to bring visibility to the group and as columnist Richard Green of the New Musical Express notes at the time, “For months now, advance copies of the record [“Dance To The Music”] have been getting lots of plays in the clubs and copies have been changing hands for as much as fifteen shillings each.” [Note: fifteen shillings in 1968 was a LOT of money for collectors to pay for a record in Britain!].
Certainly, Dave Kapralik’s hunch that our Soul City can deliver is proving to be right and ahead of a planned September 1968 UK tour, Dave comes back to London at least once more to hang out with Dave, Robert and I. It is quite a ‘different’ experience! Dave K wants to go to Brighton so we organize a Sunday trip to the seaside venue: the three of us are waiting, literally, on the train station for him to arrive…and he does so at the last minute with a new ‘friend’ who he’s met the night before at a club! It soon becomes obvious to me (and Dave and Robert!) that Dave’s ‘guest,’ a friendly young Irishman, is what is best described as a ‘rent’ boy! Amazingly, a photo taken outside The Brighton Dome has survived all these years.
Life at Soul City is certainly not dull!