One of my more curious record-acquisition techniques in the middle 1960s was to sit by the phone and wait for a chance to win one from one of the two Top 40 stations in town. The big 5000-watter, much harder to get into, usually just mailed you a card which you could redeem at a local music store. The little thousand-watter, though, gave you stuff right out of their music library, where I bagged a few enduring hits and rather a lot of non-hits.
And one record which I broke, maybe, and forgot about. It was some time late in 1965 when I claimed this 45 at the station, and about a year later when it disappeared. I don’t remember what happened: did I break it? Did I lend it out? Where did it go? No answers forthcoming, I let it go, and gradually it faded from memory.
Now here we are, just about 48 years later, and the record is on my mind once again. All I can recall is the record label itself, because the spelling of the name was a bit eccentric, and the last line of the song, which was probably the title. My Google-fu would be challenged to the max.
The first clue came from a reference site/message board called Soulful Detroit, which actually knew the label: it was on the fringe of the Eddie Wingate empire. Wingate, you may remember, operated a pretty decent sub-Motown operation in those days, and had one sizable hitmaker: Charles Hatcher, aka Edwin Starr, aka Agent Double-O-Soul. Ostensibly to acquire Starr’s contract, but mostly to get the Funk Brothers to stop playing on other people’s records, Motown HMFIC Berry Gordy Jr. offered Wingate a ton of money to do a disappearing act.
And Wingate, it appeared, owned a piece of this independent-ish label called Volkano, with a K, which would issue four singles during its short lifespan, including one by a fellow named Bob Santa Maria. (It is suspected that Bob’s real last name was Seger.) The first issue on Volkano was “The Beginning of the End,” by Little John and Tony; “Tony” was Pete Saputo, also known as Anthony Raye — the more pseudonyms, the better, am I right? — and “John” was producer John Rhys, who co-wrote the song with longtime Detroit bassist Dennis Coffey. Coffey also arranged the record, and, most important from my point of view, still had a copy of it.
Now if I could just find a copy on YouTube — or, better yet, iTunes.