Ady Croasdell - GWP Records
I had visited Jerry Purcell in the 80s when he had an office in Manhattan and, while asking him about Debbie Taylor and the Persians, of which he had very little knowledge, could not stop my eyes wandering over to some old metal filing cabinets, intrigued by what might be hidden inside. The conversation did not get as far as “Can I just delve through your files for half an hour?” so they remained untouched by British hands. Twenty years on, I was contacted at Ace by Mr Purcell’s office who indicated that they were ready to make a deal to license their masters to Europe; the previous meeting had held us in good stead. A trip to New York was duly arranged but by then GWP was virtually dormant. Most of the publishing had lapsed and Jerry had relocated his office to his home in Bayside. There I met Ed Bland, a charming musician and arranger who had done the early work for the GWP label who, as Jerry’s right hand man, had been entrusted to organise the deal. After surveying the fascinating looking tape cache I caught site of one old filing cabinet and asked Ed what was in there. “Oh just old music sheets, record samples and contracts”, “Could I look?”, “Sure”. I pulled open a drawer and found that the container was a treasure trove of records and acetates. The company had filed their samples fastidiously and in between the cardboard dividers could be found four demos and two issues of September Jones’ 45, five issues of the Dynamics’ ‘I Need Your Love’, a Kenny Carter single in a German pic cover, Willie Kendrick’s ‘Change Your Ways’ plus many more vinyl singles: but oh, the acetates.
10” RCA label acetates of ‘I’m Not Afraid’, ‘She’ll Be Leaving You’, ‘My Imagination’, a 7” RCA label of Willie Kendrick’s ‘Watch Yourself (She’s Fooling You)’, Larry Banks’ original version of ‘Ooh It Hurts Me’ and three or four Millbridge publisher acetates of ‘You Only Live Twice’. From a collector’s viewpoint the records and one-off acetates of brilliant unissued tracks I had discovered years ago was astounding. There were many more discs of interest but musically the biggest buzz was finding unissued recordings I had not come across at RCA. There were a full four sides of top-notch dancers from Nancy Wilcox, a stunning Cavaliers number called ‘Without Someone To Tell Me’, a desolate Lorraine Chandler ballad, ‘Lost Without You’, as well as her uptempo beauty ‘I Hear Music’, a 7” RCA copy of the Devonnes’ ‘Doin’ The Getting’ Up’ and the Geminis’ strident ‘Runnin’’.
Playing it cautiously, as thirty years of record dealing had taught me, I took only the spares of the records, leaving a sample copy of each, should they need it. I was more cavalier with the unissued acetates as I knew these were probably the only available sources for the music and it was my duty to try and acquire these artefacts for posterity. In some of these cases I may have been economical with the truth but, as I suspected, Jerry did not give two hoots about them and would have been happy to give me the whole pile. I insisted on paying a respectable fee, part morality, part experience; these things can come back to bite you later on. There was the very strong likelihood that I would access the files again once the deal had been sealed.
Sadly Jerry died and his son inherited the house and its contents. Ed Bland kept me informed of proceedings and I asked him to tell the new owner to keep the files intact until we came over and finalised the deal. When that day did arrive, Ed and I went up to the house whereupon Eric Purcell informed us he had just built a gym in the old office space, but “Don’t worry all the tapes are safe in a cupboard”. “What about the files?”, “Oh they were taking up too much room so they’re buried in a land fill site in the Jersey countryside somewhere.” With a heavy heart I concluded the deal for the masters; most of the music was safe but irreplaceable photos, contracts, acetates and records had all been destroyed.