The mid-1980s was a particularly hectic time for producer /
songwriter Homer Banks. His professional life had been rushed
for years due to demand from artists, record labels, and other
producers for fresh songs from his personal workshop, songs like
the hits he’d provided for Luther Ingram, The Staples Singers,
Johnnie Taylor, Sam & Dave, Rod Stewart, Elvis Costello, and
others. Now he had cofounded Soundtown Records, and was
producing and writing around the clock for artists signed to his
label (Shirley Brown, J. Blackfoot, Carla Thomas, Randy Brown,
to name a few). And he also had executive duties as well,
managing the record company.
Then into Homer’s hive of hyper-activity one afternoon walked a
young man named Willie Brown. Despite a very full plate, a full
roster, and very little free time, Homer was intrigued by
Brown’s voice, and arranged for him to cut a couple of demos.
Pleased with the demo results, Banks offered a singles deal to
Brown and scheduled a session to cut two sides for Soundtown.
Everyone was very happy with the recording session, but – Brown
disappeared soon afterwards. And he’s remained a mystery and a
vanishing memory until now. We’ve rediscovered these tracks
thirty years after the session, thirty years after anyone
connected with the session has seen Willie Brown. Homer Banks
died years ago, as have many of the musicians on the session.
The few people we were able to track down remember Willie Brown,
but they can’t even agree on what he looked like, much less
where he was from, where he might have gone, or what might have
happened to him. But they do all agree on one thing. Without
being prompted, they each said, “He had an amazing voice!”