The Real McCoy: The All Too Real Hustle of Van McCoy

It’s really telling as I searched the wide web of inter that I couldn’t seem to find an image of a Pre-1970’s Van McCoy.  Given his parity in age, and his extensive catalog of works he created, it’s a sign that he remained much the constructor behind the scenes, not really becoming of note until he put in more than 15 years worth of work.

He was born Van Allen Clinton McCoy January 6, 1940 in Washington D.C. By the time he hit 18 years old, he would move on to college while songwriting, touring with his first group The Starlighters. By the age of 22, he had ownership of his own record label under his belt, while placing songs with faces as fresh as The Shirelles and as time tested as Ruth Brown and Nat King Cole.

v00006899He was in the vanguard of many Brill Building songcrafters, but he was one of the few Black Faces that helped Black Artists within those confines. While Chicago, Detroit and even Los Angeles had more intraracial recording relationships, it was rare for the hit making factories of 1960’s Big Apple to be as familial.

Matched up against writers and producers like Burt Bacharach, Teddy Randazzo, Goffin & King, Mann & Weil among others, he didn’t score as many massive hits, though there’s plenty memorable in his catalog that oft revived the fortunes for sagging chart stars such as Gladys Knight & The Pips and Barbara Lewis. His biggest rewards came in the 1970’s, as we all know “The Hustle” but it wasn’t long after that he broke through to the mainstream that he died at a young 39 years old, 39 years ago this month.

So we look back at 40 of his labors you may have not heard, from the wealth of creativity and connections in the record industry he forged during the 1960’s. Hopefully this shines a light on one of the unsung greats you haven’t heard of.

1) Carole Slade – I Wanna Know Right Now
2) The Starlighters – You’re The One To Blame
3) Ruth Brown – I Burned Your Letter
4) Nat King Cole – Who’s Next In Line?
5) Chuck Jackson – Who’s Gonna Pick Up The Pieces?
6) The Shirelles – Stop The Music
7) Tommy Hunt – Didn’t I Tell You?
8) Roy Hamilton – Let Go
9) Juanita Williams – Some Things You Never Get Used To
10) Walter Jackson – Suddenly I’m All Alone
11) Erma Franklin – Abracadabra
12) The Majors – Ooo Wee Baby
13) The Exciters – Say It With Love
14)  Mary Wells – We’re Just Two Of A Kind
15) The Artistics – You Made Me Happy
16) Lozine Cannon – Quit While I’m Ahead
17) Maxine Brown – I Wonder What My Baby’s Doing Tonight
18) Marjorie Black – You Still Love Her
19) Teri Thornton – Why Don’t You Love Me?
20) Nancy Wilson – Where Does That Leave Me?
21) Lesley Gore – Before And After
22) Irma Thomas – It’s Starting To Get To Me Now
23) The Spellbinders – Help Me Get Myself Back Together Again
24) Jackie Wilson – I’ve Lost You
25) Aretha Franklin – So Soon
26) Gene Chandler – I Can Take Care Of Myself
27) Lulu – Take Me As I Am
28) The Reflections – Shabby Little Hut
29) Sandi Sheldon – Baby You’re Mine
30) Jeanie Screen – While The Lovin’ Is Good
31) The Sweet Things – You’re My Loving Baby
32) Madeline Bell – Doing Things Together With You
33) Ruby & The Romantics – Nobody But My Baby
34) Clyde McPhatter – Everybody Loves A Good Time
35) Florence Ballard – Love Ain’t Love
36) Oscar Weathers – The Spoiler
37) Carolyn Franklin – Chain Reaction
38) Ilana – Where Would I Be?
39) Yvonne Baker – A Woman Needs A Man
40) Nina Simone – For Myself

2 Comments Add yours

  1. bingy says:

    …really great work… Musicology is Joy!


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