Ricky Mason is known to Hendrix fans because of his association with Ed Chalpin and P.P.X. Enterprises, Inc. but how this relationship started is not known. Mason was based in Montreal, Canada so it seems quite a leap to record your debut single for a New York City based producer some 300 miles (500 km) away. Whatever the circumstances Ricky`s first single, "Ace Of Diamonds", was produced by Ed Chalpin and released in Canada in November 1964 on the Trans Canada label. The single was well received in Montreal and was next released in the US on the Mercury label in July 1965. It seems, however, that the US release did not catch on as it appears to have received a very limited circulation, possibly only as a DJ promo.

ricky mason

Sometime around August 1966 Chalpin / Mason signed an "album lease deal" with Atlantic Records. 2 No albums or singles, however, seem to have been released on Atlantic.

Chalpin send a record and a letter to Karl Engeman of the Capitol Record Club on the 23rd of February 1967 describing Mason as follows: "please remember that what you are hearing is a boy, 22 years of age, white, and one of the best performers on stage, you have ever seen. The only way to describe him is that he is a medical freak." 1

The club seems to have been interested as this telegram was sent to Chalpin on 9 March 1967 by Karl Engeman`s secretary Connie Bufalini:

It seems Chalpin had mailed the club an lp (or rather an acetate or a reel of songs one assumes) which the club now send back to him and asked him to return by 15th of March 1967. Whatever the purpose of this back and forth it`s clear that Chalpin had sent Ricky Mason recordings to the Capitol Record Club. Since Ricky Mason had an "album lease deal" with Atlantic this may have been a version of a planned Atlantic lp. Capitol Record Club made their own pressings of albums released by other labels so it seems that Chalpin was trying to secure a deal for a Ricky Mason Atlantic lp to be sold through the club.

The contract with Atlantic, however, ultimately did not work out, nothing was ever released on the label. In June 1967 another deal was made with Decca in the UK. The details of the contract were included in a letter dated 29 June 1967 send by Richard B. Rowe to Ed Chalpin. 3 Here are some excerpts:

"The Artist will be contracted direct to Decca for one year with two one year options. "

"Decca do not have the rights to the Artist`s German language recordings, but they do have the total rights for all other recordings, for the world."

The Artist shall record in England a minimum of twice each Contract year. Decca shall recover recording costs and two return tourists air fares, and subsistance from royalties earned. We would wish the first recordings to take place during September of this year."

"In the circumstances that Ricky Mason is released from his present Committment with Atlantic Records, Decca will have the rights to release the already recorded fourteen tracks, and you will be advanced 7,500 dollars. However, if release is not possible from Atlantic, the offer made above becomes void, and a deal will have to be rediscussed.

There may have been 14 Ricky Mason tracks that had been recorded while Mason was contracted to Atlantic, or this could include the previously released singles. Even then there would have had to be several unknown unreleased tracks included as all the Trans Canada & Mercury singles put together total only 9 different tracks. "Sick And Tired", the only known Mason recording with Hendrix on guitar may also have been one of these 14 tracks.

The terms make clear that apart from German language recordings Decca would have owned the rights to Ricky Mason recordings "for the world", the deal with Atlantic was apparently still valid but Chalpin was going to get out of it in one way or another.  Ultimately neither label released any of the 14 tracks.

1 Letter from Ed Chalpin to Karl Engeman of Capitol Record Club dated 23 February 1967. "Karl" is spelled "Carl" but the correct spelling is confirmed by other correspondence in the archive which Engemann has hand-signed "Karl".  -  Ed Chalpin Papers, Library and Archives, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

2 A news item with the headline "PPX Completes Cameo-P`kway, DDG Deals" in Billboard 3 September 1966 reported: "Ricky Mason, whose disks are produced through PPX, has been signed for an album lease deal with Atlantic Records"

3 Letter from Richard B. Rowe of The Decca Record Company Limited to Ed Chalpin of PPX Enterprises Inc. dated 29 June1967- Ed Chalpin Papers, Library and Archives, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

4 Ed Chalpin Papers, Library and Archives, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

5 the promotional shot of Ricky Mason was part of a batch of 50s & 60s artist photographs from "Hotel Ottawa", Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec. From the collection of Camil Fradet.