I had initially met Willie Ford at Roberto’s Barber and Beauty Salon on East Seven Mile Road in Detroit. He was sitting in a Chrysler parked out in front of the shop. It was cold. We talked briefly. I was meeting with Larry Webster, part-owner of the shop and the manager of The Dramatics,
one of the Detroit’s iconic recording groups found memorialized on an alley side wall.
In warmer weather, I interviewed Willie Ford in front of Roberto’s. He had joined The Dramatics in 1969 at age 19, replacing the original bass singer. He is now the oldest member. Willie recalled touring for 18 months with the James Brown Revue, all in the same bus. I asked about experiences of racism, and he noted no real trouble. He did witness a KKK parade on the street his hotel sat on when he was performing in Atlanta. He fondly remembered that The Dramatics were the most frequent act on the television show,“Soul Train,” Willie smiled.
More on the Dramatics at: https://www.davidclementsproductions.com/the-dramatics-rehearse-at-detroits-classic-robertos-beauty-and-barbershop/
We were joined by his old friend Greg Finley, a more recent addition to Dennis Edwards’s Temptations Revue. The interview was over. Willie left the car and walked on with Greg to talk about teaming up with The Dramatics. I directed them to a building wall and photographed them. Quickly.
I was thrilled to see Al Finley and Willie Ford side by side performing at Detroit A Go Go’s Thursday night live event.
Once again, lead singer Ricky Littleton was excellent.
On the evening’s bill were The Adorables — Betty Winston and sisters Diane and Pat Lewis. Together, they had backed many artists at Motown and Stax Records. In the U.K., Pat is known as Patsy Lewis. Pat was significant in coordinating and rehearsing all the Detroit A Go Go acts.
Pat was gracious enough invite me to her Detroit apartment where she talked about her history and awards. Her solo career began in 1966 with Golden World Records (Can’t Shake It Loose) and went on to record a whole list of singles (Look At What I Almost Missed, Warning, No One to Love).
She backed Aretha Franklin for four years, then performed for six years (Hot butter Souls with Pat Lewis) backing Isaac Hayes and, later, George Clinton.
During the Thursday night show, Pat/Patsy Lewis (age 71) demonstrated that she is still an excellent solo performing artist. The house was roaring with pleasure.