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PERCY SLEDGE

WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN
As far as currently known Jimi Hendrix played with Percy Sledge only on one occasion, at an Atlantic party to "fête" Sledge and the When A Man Loves A Woman -album (and song). The party was held at The Prelude in New York City on Thursday 5 May 1966. Jimi was playing guitar with the King Curtis Band (who served as the house band), backing Percy Sledge, Esther Phillips, Wilson Pickett and Don Covay.

The main focus of the party was Percy Sledge but the other artists that appeared, Esther Phillips, Wilson Pickett and Don Covay, all had new Atlantic singles coming out within a few weeks.

Percy Sledge`s debut single, both his first for Atlantic and his debut as a solo recording artist, the 45 "When A Man Loves A Woman / Love Me Like You Mean It" (Atlantic 45-2326) had been released in March 1966. 1

Cash Box 26 March 1966:
"Atlantic`s Bob Kornheiser off and running with a new blues item by Percy Sledge titled "When A Man Loves A Woman.""

Cash Box 6 May 1966:
"Percy Sledge`s Atlantic single of "When A Man Loves A Woman" (which, we´re told, first broke in San Francisco) is one of the most impressive sides of the year. But try speeding it up to 78 RPM on your turntable and see if you don`t agree that it sounds a lot like the late Sam Cooke`s composition "Havin` A Party""

(I actually tried speeding the track up to 78 rpm and no, it does NOT sound like the Sam Cooke song...)

Here`s a clip of Percy Sledge performing "When A Man Loves A Woman" live on the tv show The Beat in 1966 (introduced by Otis Redding):



The LP When A Man Loves A Woman (Atlantic 8125 - mono / Atlantic SD 8125 - stereo) was released in May 1966. 5
  It seems that the album was not yet out at the time of the party, but the club was decorated with slicks of the cover artwork so one of the aims of the evening probably was to plug the upcoming lp release to industry people, as well as the various soon to be released Atlantic singles by the other artists present.

Percy Sledge German Atlantic SD8125
GERMAN STEREO RELEASE OF THE LP

All of the songs released on the Percy Sledge single and album had been recorded over two sessions earlier in 1966: 6

17 February 1966 Fame Recording Studios, Muscle Shoals, Alabama

9941 When A Man Loves A Woman
9942 Love Me Like You Mean It
9943 You Fooled Me
9944 You're Pouring Water On A Drowning Man

21 April 1966 New York City

10163 Love Me All The Way
10164 Thief In The Night
10165 Put A Little Lovin' On Me
10166 My Adorable One
10167 Love Makes The World Go Round
10168 When She Touches Me (Nothing Else Matters)
10169 Success

Following the party Percy Sledge had a one week Apollo booking for Friday 6 May 1966 - Thursday 12 May 1966. Who backed Sledge during these gigs is unknown but I doubt it was King Curtis as he would have been mentioned in the ads.

Thu, May 5, 1966 – 645 · Daily News (New York, New York) · Newspapers.com


WHEN A WOMAN LOVES A MAN
Esther Phillips released her "answer" to the Percy Sledge hit (very likely to have been an idea cooked up by someone at Atlantic), the 45 "When A Woman Loves A Man / Ups And Downs" (Atlantic 45-2335) in May 1966. 8

Cash Box 14 May 1966:
"Jerry Wexler personally cut Little Esther Phillips on the Percy Sledge answer record, "When a Woman Loves a Man." This should be her biggest smash since "Release Me." 12

The song had been recorded by her just three days before the Prelude-party: 6

2 May 1966 New York City

10218 When A Woman Loves A Man
10219 These Four Walls


YOU PUT SOMETHING ON ME
Don Covay had just recorded the A-side of his next Atlantic single two days prior to the Prelude-party, "You Put Something On Me / Iron Out The Rough Spots" (Atlantic 45-2340) would be released in June 1966. 9

3 May 1966 Fame Recording Studios, Muscle Shoals, Alabama

10238 You Put Something On Me
10239 Here Where I Make My Exit
10240 I Can't Stop


NINETY-NINE AND A HALF (WON`T DO)
Wilson Pickett`s upcoming single had already been recorded in December 1965 but the 45 "Ninety-Nine And A Half (Won`t Do) / Danger Zone" (Atlantic 45-2334) was only released six months later in May 1966, shortly after the Prelude-party 10 The same recording session had also produced Wilson`s preceding single release: 11

20 December 1965 Stax, Memphis, Tennessee

9682 I'm Drifting
9683 634-5789
9684 Ninety-Nine And A Half (Won't Do)


THE PRELUDE
The Prelude opened in September 1959 at 3219 Broadway, New York City, New York 7

Sat, Sep 19, 1959 – Page 10 · The New York Age (New York, New York) · Newspapers.com
The interior of the club was described in detail in the liner notes of the album "Reg Garland At The Prelude", recorded live in 1959. Some details may have changed but the place probably still had much the same look (and atmosphere) in 1966:

"It is one of the handsomest supper clubs in New York. No four-four or chi-chi, just a masculine, good looking place where men are at ease and their women find it easy to be with them. It is located on Broadway and 129th Street, only one block above Broadway and 125th Street (my addition isn`t faulty - that´s the way the blocks tumble). On entering the Prelude, you come into a long, well-appointed bar area where high fidelity speakers put the music right at your elbow as it bends. The second room is longer and wider with tables flanking the walls. Finally there is a decent of several steps into a circular room. In the center, under a star-flecked, blue-domed ceiling, on a slightly elevated platform, sits the piano. Be it a Baldwin, Bechstein, Mason & Hamlin or Knabe, I know not. All I know is that it sounds the way a piano should when it is being properly treated."

The New York Age described the club in a small article on 13 February 1960:

"Good food, good music and reasonable price are a rare combination in these inflationary days. That`s why it`s so exciting to find all three in one package. And uptown to boot. [...] The low key lightning and black-and-gold decor make eating a joy.

The musicians perform on a center stage visible from any corner of the place. The dining room is split level and set well back from the leather cushioned bar. The entire setting is a welcome relief from the brassy and expensive clubs that are in over-abundance.

Dinner is a la carte, delicious and reasonable. Specialty of the house is Chicken Casino. This is a combination of chicken and ham, on toast points, smothered with a cheese and mushroom sauce. Served with baked potato and a salad at a low, low $2.50.

The rest of the menu is along similar price lines, and offers an interesting variety of taste tempters. Your hosts are Mike Hedley and [sic] ex-musician and Horace James an ex-cop. Both are genial and give the place a special welcome-mat quality."


THE PARTY
The party was captured on film by William "Popsie" Randolph. Popsie took a lot of photographs that night but the website www.popsiephotos.com only features one tiny shot of Jimi on stage.

More can easily be found with Google, and a Kindle eBook, Photos by William “PoPsie” Randolph presents: Heavy Soul The “Lost” Jimi Hendrix Performance - The Prelude Club, NYC - May 5, 1966: Atlantic Records and the Ascent of Soul Music, was published in 2010, still available from amazon.com (you can install Kindle here: www.amazon.com/kindleapps.)

The photos include all of the artists present (that we know of) and notable guests. There are no photos showing Don Covay performing, just pictures of him posing in group shots with other artists. But Popsie´s original negative sleeve with handwritten notes (as published in the eBook) lists Don Covay along with the other artists. That Don Covay did perform is also confirmed by Cash Box in the 21st of May 1966 -issue:

PERCY`S PRELUDE - Percy Sledge, who`s currently roaring along the r&b and pop charts with his latest Atlantic deck, "When A Man Loves A Woman," was feted by the label last week with a party held at the Prelude Club in New York.

The blues blast, which preceded the chanter`s opening at the Apollo Theatre, was highlighted by Sledge himself, who warmed up his tonsils and the crowd with a `live` performance of the hit tune. He was later joined by Atlantic waxers Esther Phillips (who let loose with her femme answer to the hit, "When A Woman Loves A Man"), Wilson Pickett, Don Covay and the King Curtis band. The gig was attended by deejays, rack jobbers, label distributors, salesmen and execs.

The news item also included what might be Jimi`s first photo appearance in a newspaper (the small picture at the top of the page): he can be seen playing guitar in the background behind Esther Phillips and Percy Sledge.

Billboard also noted the party in it`s 21 May 1966 -issue but concentrated reporting on the business side of things, printing a photo with the caption:

"ATLANTIC RECORDS gave a party in honor of Percy Sledge, who is scoring for the label with "When a Man Loves a Woman" at New York`s Prelude Club. Shown here, from left to right, are Sledge; Quin Ivy, disk producer; Jerry Wexler and Nesuhi Ertegun, Atlantic vice-presidents."

And Record World 21 May 1966:

Stars Shine For Sledge
NEW YORK - Atlantic Records threw a party in honor of Percy Sledge last week at the Prelude club, preceding his opening at the Apollo Theatre on May 6.

Party was attended by New York area disk jockeys, rack jobbers, Atlantic distributors, salesmen and executives.

Percy sang his hit "When a Man Loves a Woman" at the affair, backed by the King Curtis band. He was later joined by Esther Phillips singing her answer to the Sledge hit, "When a Woman Loves a Man", as well as by other Atlantic stars Wilson Pickett and Don Covay.


Jack Walker (more of whom later) wrote in the liner notes for the second Percy Sledge -lp on Atlantic, Warm And Tender Soul:

"Percy Sledge comes from a small Alabama town called Leighton. His first trip to the Big City came shortly after his first hit. We met him when Atlantic Records threw a "welcome" bash at the famed Prelude Supper Club on New York's upper Broadway. Percy was as dazzled by the bright lights as the critics and radio people were dazzled by his performance. As part of the "fun-and-games" that night, he and Esther Phillips sand a duet version of When A Man Loves A Woman while King Curtis and his band backed them up. Percy and Esther sang nineteen choruses of the song before they finally quit "

According to the Popsie archives the party on this night lasted from 9 P.M. to 1 A.M. The following artists and guests (and many others yet to be identified) made an appearance:

The King Curtis Band
Sax & vocals: King Curtis
Guitar: Cornell Dupree
Guitar: Jimi Hendrix
Bass: Chuck Rainey
Drums: Ray Lucas

Setlist:
- The King Curtis Band served as the house band for the party, backing up all of the artists. One of the photographs shows the band playing in the background with Percy Sledge, Esther Phillips and assorted other people posing for a "press photo" in front so the band probably also served as a musical backdrop for the mingling guests. A selection of King Curtis instrumentals is a likely setlist for the "solo" set but there are no known titles.


Percy Sledge
Setlist:
- When A Man Loves A Woman
Esther Phillips
Setlist:
- When A Woman Loves A Man (duet with Percy Sledge)
Since "When A Woman Loves A Man" is the same song as "When A Man Loves A Woman", just with amended lyrics, is a bit hard to saye what was actually performed at this show. Which versions of the song? A medley? Which parts were sung by whom? It seems that Percy Sledge first performed his version "solo", and later Esther Phillips & Percy Sledge did a duet version, probably each singing the lyrics of their version of the song?

The photographs also show Wilson Pickett joining Esther Phillips and Percy Sledge on stage but it`s unfortunately impossible to tell who was guesting on whose song...


Wilson Pickett
Setlist:
- no known titles, possibly "Ninety-Nine And A Half (Won`t Do)"


Don Covay
Setlist:
- no known titles, possibly "You Put Something On Me"


Other people present: 3
Jack Walker, "The Pear Shaped Talker" (DJ), Juggy Gales (record promoter), Henry Allen (Atlantic A&R), (first name?) Allen (wife of Henry), Arif Mardin, Latife Mardin, Nesuhi Ertegun (Atlantic vice president), Jerry Wexler (Atlantic vice president), Quin Ivy (producer of the Percy Sledge 45), Kal Rudman (R&B editor for Record World)


THE RECORDING
Popsie`s photographs show that WLIB DJ Jack Walker, "The Pear Shaped Talker", recorded at least parts of the show.

The pictures show Walker conducting an interview, Percy Sledge is sitting down next to him and talking into a microphone. Esther Phillips is standing next to the two men and seems to make some sort of a comment. A tape deck can be seen sitting on a chair, a Philips or Norelco portable cassette recorder 2.

Another Popsie picture shows Jack Walker on stage, making an introduction or an announcement. The microphone is again visible, fixed to the breast pocket of his suit while he´s doing his speech.

philips EL 3300
PHOTO COURTESY OF PHILIPS


So, interviews and possibly parts of the show were recorded by a WLIB DJ, thus it is very likely that some of the recordings were broadcast by the station. It is unfortunately also very very unlikely that the cassette(s) would have survived for 50+ years. There were, however, 7 million people living in New York City in 1966, so it is theoretically possible that someone might have recorded the radio broadcast - if there was one. Finding that hypothetical tape is quite a task though...

Jack Walker died in 1971, the New York Times published an Obituary on 26 February 1971: 4

"Jack Walker, operations manager and vice president of radio station WLIB, died last night at Lenox Hill Hospital after complications developed from a stab wound inflicted on New Year's Eve. He was 48 years old. Mr. Walker was allegedly stabbed by a probationary engineer for the station, who had been told that he had not successfully passed’ his probationary period."

Anybody know how to reach any possible relatives of Jack Walker, or whether any archives of his were preserved? If so please let me know at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


With thanks to R.MacNeill




 SOURCES
1 Cash Box 26 March 1966: "Atlantic`s Bob Kornheiser off and running with a new blues item by Percy Sledge titled "When A Man Loves A Woman."". The same issue also includes a review of the single.

2 a small edge of the deck in it`s carry case can be seen in the picture, and it looks exactly like the black (faux?) leather carry case that came with the Philips EL-3300. Philips, however, was rebranded Norelco for the US market. There also seem to have been many small variations to the packages sold, different carry cases, different microphones etc. The deck here matches the carry case and microphone of Philips EL-3300, but may also be a 3001 model, or a Norelco 150, as we do not see the actual deck itself at all. It is, however, clearly a Philips or Norelco cassette recorder. The carry case is a match, as is the microphone. The microphone had a clip on it so that you can fix it to your clothing, Jack Walker attached it in the breast pocket of his suit.

Deck photo on this page taken from https://www.usa.philips.com/a-w/about/news/archive/standard/news/press/2013/20130910-Philips-compact-cassette-golden-anniversary.html

3 Most of the people in the Popsie photographs are identified in the captions of the Kindle book but I`ve made a few additions:

Popsie book location 142:
Juggy Gales is pictured far left, stated in the caption as "Unknown", the person on the far right is also identified as "Unknown" in the book and remains so.

Record World 21 May 1966 issue, Kal Rudman is pictured on the front page: worldradiohistory.com/Archive-Record-World/60s/66/RW-1966-05-21.pdf
The same Popsie shot is included in the Kindle book at location 172 but Kal Rudman is not captioned at all.

Arif Mardin`s wife, a well known author, was named Latife Mardin.

4 https://www.nytimes.com/1971/02/26/archives/jack-walker-48-manager-of-radio-station-wliboies.html

5 When A Man Loves A Woman -lp sleeves can be seen on the walls of the club in the party pictures so apparently the artwork was done and possibly the sleeves already printed at the time of the 5 May 1966 party, But Billboard and Cash Box both only reviewed the lp in the 28 May 1966 -issue so the actual release of the album probably took place a week or two after the party. The sleeves visible in the Popsie pictures are all of the mono album. The stereo album had slightly different artwork with the catalog number on the front of the sleeve at the top whereas the mono issue has it at the bottom. The Cash Box and Billboard reviews both use the stereo album art.

6 Atlantic Records Discography Vols. 1 & 2 (compiled by Michel Ruppli), info also available online at www.jazzdisco.org/atlantic-records/discography-1966
Another version of events is that "When A Man Loves A Woman" was actually recorded at producer Quin Ivy`s Norala Recording Studio in late 1965, and that Atlantic accidentally released this take (with out of tune horns) instead of the new February 1966 recording. I don`t however think this story is entirely correct. The 2010 Rhino Handmade Percy Sledge The Atlantic Recordings -set has "When A Man Loves A Woman" listed as a 1966 recording, and it also includes an alternate take, in identical audio quality, which actually is the SAME take of the song with the same Percy Sledge -vocal and basic track.

The difference between the two versions is the horn part, either the alternate take (which is actually more of an alternate mix) uses a different take of the horn part, or the horns have been mixed differently. In any case it seems to me that yes, Atlantic may have gotten confused between two versions, but just between two different mixes of the same take from the 17 February 1966 session, not between two different recordings of the song. I have not seen the liner notes for the The Atlantic Recordings -set, anybody who has this and could check the dates / story given?


7 the Popsies archive note lists the address of the club as the 125th Street. The column "And Clyde Reid Says... Some Supper And The Supper Clubs" published in The New York Age 12 September 1959 starts with "The best of everything to The Prelude, a supper club which opens Thursday at Broadway and 129th Street." And finally an ad from The New York Age published September 1959 announces the opening of the club and gives the address as "3219 Broadway (corner of 129th street)".

These addresses are basically all correct - 3219 Broadway is sandwiched between the 125th and the 129th street, located at exactly the same distance from both.

8 The book Photos by William “PoPsie” Randolph presents: Heavy Soul The “Lost” Jimi Hendrix Performance - The Prelude Club, NYC - May 5, 1966: Atlantic Records and the Ascent of Soul Music Is extensively captioned but unfortunately all of the captions seem to have been written by author Cliff Malloy based on what he believes is happening in the pictures and not on any contemporary notes. For Esther Phillips, for example, Malloy writes that "Esther Phillips sings her latest single “When a Woman Loves a Man”". The track had however just been recorded only three days earlier and thus was not her latest single but rather an upcoming release. And of course without contemporary notes Malloy cannot know if that actually is the song that Esther Phillips was singing when the picture was taken. So it would seem creative license was taken by Malloy with all of the captions. Most of them are very good guesses at what probably is happening, but are still unlikely to have been based on fact.

Record World 21 May 1966:
"Also grabbing a lot of sales action last week was a flock of new singles. Among the strongest were Esther Phillips` "answer" to the Sledge hit, "When a Woman Loves a Man," and Wilson Pickett`s "991/2 (Won`t Do)", both on Atlantic."

Billboard 14 May 1966:
"Answer lyrics to Percy Sledge`s top tenner are given an excellent reading by Miss Phillips for a strong chart entry."

9 "You Put Something On Me" was reviewed in Cash Box issue 18 June 1966: "Don should stir up sales both R&B and Top 40 with this low down, funky ode. The Chanter puts heart and soul into his reading of the powerful lyric." In Billboard issue 18 June 1966 the single was "Predicted to reach the HOT 100 Chart".

10 the single was reviewed in the Cash Box 21 May 1966 -issue: "R&B and pop deejays should really dig Wilson Pickett`s excellent follow-up to his recent "643-5789" triumph. The top lid here, "Ninety-Nine And A Half (Won`t Do)," is a rhythmic, medium-paced romantic ode which claims that every guy needs his gal`s affection 100% of the time. "Danger Zone" is a rhythmic, tradition-drenched infectious blueser."

11 Atlantic Records Discography Vols. 1 & 2 (compiled by Michel Ruppli), info also available online at https://www.jazzdisco.org/atlantic-records/discography-1965/

12 Record World 14 May 1966. The same issue also included a review of the single and a full page ad.