It was 1974 and our company, Cream Records, had recently acquired Memphis-based HI Records, best known as the home of Al Green. I had the assignment of going to Memphis and working with HI producer, arranger and operator, the famous Willie Mitchell. Although my primary duty was to convince Al Green to produce the album he owed us, I was also there to help Willie with promotion and marketing of all the artists he was working with, and was excited by the challenge and opportunity.
I found my way to Willie’s famed, Royal Studio, at 1320 Lauderdale, an old movie theater surrounded by a fence topped with razor wire--it was in a fairly rough neighborhood. Anyway, I parked the rental car and entered the building through the same entrance that thousands of moviegoers must have passed through in preceding years. The lady at the front desk said she’d been expecting me, and Willie (everyone called him that) was in the control room of the studio, down the hall and up a few stairs. The place was a beehive with musicians and others coming in and out and as I turned the corner I saw an improbable sight, a beautiful woman standing on her head with her feet against the wall.
When I found Willie I mentioned the lady out in the hall and he laughed, ‘Oh that’s Ann Peebles, she’s clearing her sinuses before we cut the vocal for her next release." I believe that session was for “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” a huge record for us out of the box. It would be almost a year before Mr. Green delivered his next album titled, ”Belle,” a story I've todl before (see "Al Green & Belle & Me" - ed), but at that moment the incredibly talented and sweet, Ms. Peebles gave us a good start.
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