The home page of A Nickel And A Nail emphasizes that its wider purpose, beyond being a commercial entity and serving readers interested in exploring the history of soul and R&B, is to contribute to the preservation of that music history through a variety of means, including reviews, blogs, biographies and supporting self-publishing authors.
Preservation is not just about holding onto what we know soul music's past. It also requires effort to obtain new insights into past events, to add context, debunk myths and get the stories straight. This is achieved admirably by a number of writers and researchers on our soul scene, often through locating recording artists in their latter years and obtaining first hand oral histories. As time moves on though, we become increasingly dependent on combining this with other means to corroborate reports or to fill in gaps in our knowledge. The use of existing documentation and discovering new points of reference from within the music industry is invaluable in this process.
Over the past few months A Nickel And A Nail has focused on a number of sourcing activities which will no doubt be of interest to serious 1960s soul and R&B enthusiasts. Admittedly, obtaining original memorabilia from the music industry has long been a personal passion (and a necessity for purpose of writing biographies in this field). Now the activity has upscaled to such an extent that it also represents what will be an exciting additional direction for A Nickel And A Nail.
These documents have been derived from a variety of sources, and from both sides of the Atlantic. The nature of the individual items varies but includes venue booking contracts, recording and management contracts, in-house memos and correspondence with external agencies, advance press releases, posters, tour programmes and related items. One particular haul includes a sizeable part of the office estate of Walden Artists and Promotions.
From left: Jimmy Hughes, Phil Walden, Alan Walden and Johnnie Taylor and Otis Redding (seated) at the Walden Artists & Promotions office (press publicity image).
For those less familiar, Phil and Alan Walden were close friends of and in business with Otis Redding in the mid-1960s, forming the Redwal music publishing company among other ventures. Before and after Otis’ death, the Waldens established their highly successful booking, promotions and management company. From their Macon, Georgia base, Phil and Alan along with a core team of in-house staff including Otis Redding’s brother dealt with much of the R&B and soul artist activity across the South in the 1960s through to the early 70s; before ultimately turning their hand to Capricorn Records, the Allman Brothers and the like. A Nickel And A Nail has negotiated several in-house documents from this estate, concerning artists such as Z.Z. Hill, Otis Clay, Roscoe Shelton, Garnet Mimms, The Ovations, The Enchanters, Spencer Wiggins, Percy Sledge, William Bell, Clarence Carter, Arthur Conley, Tyrone Davis, Eddie Floyd, Jimmy Hughes, The Kelly Brothers, Sam and Dave, Joe Simon, Bettye Swann, The Van Dykes, Betty Wright, Mary Wells, Mable John, Bobby Womack, Willie Hightower, Ann Peebles and many more.
In addition to the Walden project, I am continually sourcing similar 1960s soul, blues and related memorabilia through networking with collectors, dealers and the entertainment industry; including individuals connected to 1960s UK R&B and jazz clubs, and management companies who dealt with visiting soul and acts from the US and domestic R&B bands through the decade.
It is envisaged that much of this material will be used as a basis to discuss, explore and educate on this website and the Southern Soul Stories Facebook forum over the coming months. Much of this material will be kept for archiving and reference, but there will also be an opportunity for collectors to purchase several of these selected pieces, either through auction or set sale as part of an additional direction for A Nickel And A Nail. Watch this space...