Fortune Records
Andre Williams
CD covers
Marsh 1001
Atomic Jukebox
SAS:NESUG papers
SAS:PharmaSUG papers
SAS:PhUSE papers
SAS:WUSS papers

The Fortune Record Story

The Fortune Record story really begins with composer-lyricist, Devora Brown, who in the early 1940's, had written and published (in sheet music) many of her early songs, long before Rock 'N Roll blossomed in the mid 1950's. Devora and her husband Jack made several unsuccessful trips to Manhattan in order to break into Tin Pan Alley. Undaunted, Jack and Devora decided to establish their own record company with the main purpose to record Devora's songs. In the fall of 1947, Fortune Records was born. With the encouragement of such rhythm and blues dignitaries as Louis Jordan and Lionel Hampton, the Browns started a company that continues to record Black music.

At first they operated out of their home, then they rented a place on Linwood Avenue in Detroit. Their first record was "Jane" by Russ Titus. It was a hit in Detroit. The elusive national hit record came in 1952 with "Jealous Love" by the Davis Sisters (Skeeter and the late Betty Jack Davis), and two years later "Adios My Desert Love" and "The Wind" by the Diablos.  "The Wind" was a triumph in Black vocal group harmony. It featured the exquisite yet eerie vocalizing by Nolan Strong. With the help of these two classic hits, Fortune was firmly on it's feet.

The business.was progressing quite well by the mid 50's, but dissention had invaded the ranks on quiet Linwood Avenue. The neighbors didn't exactly share their enthusiasm for the music they were recording. They called it loud noise, but the Brown's called it beautiful. Jack and Devora sought a more suitable location for their business, so in the Fall of '56 they moved the Fortune Headquarters to their present location on Third Avenue. Their son Sheldon purchased the sound equipment, an Ampex 350 recorder on which most of their oldies were recorded. Devora remembers: "The first recording that was mode there was that of our then teenage daughter, Janice. She had composed and artfully played a classic composition of hers on our mellow sounding old upright piano. Our top plug at the time was Andre Williams great hit 'Bacon Fat'. "

(original liner notes by James Austin)

A few Fortune discographies:

Essential reading

Other links

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