Did you notice the writer’s name? And the producer’s name?: a mark of excellence Richard ‘ Popcorn’ Willie, nothing he did was ever bad, if we could find records with his name on them we would try to buy, borrow, import or steal them. Due to knowing this name we bought an obscure new release in 1968 just based on him being the songwriter at a record shop in Manchester – we knew the owner, we bought lots of records from him and he let us look at all the latest release sheets. Mr Bowker at his shop on Rochdale Road Collyhurst. That record was Going To A Happening by a bloke we had never heard of: Tommy Neal. It was on the UK Vocalion label. Had we not known the name of the writer; we might have thought it was a Hippy song as at that time all things Hippy and their Happenings were in the news. That’s how this record came to be played FIRST at the Blue Note club in Manchester, followed by the Twisted Wheel long after it had caught on big at this rival club. The rest is history, now a standard, claimed by the Northern Soul’ers but this is the real story of its history.
Tommy Neal - Going To A Happening
Going To A Happening
When you hear the term ‘Popcorn’ I guess it’s referring to his music and the style of it in the Soul genre.
He was a prolific SOUL Songwriter. The records he made or contributed to or produced are as numerous as the stars so we won’t list them here as other sources have already done a good job (see links at foot of the page). But here is one:
Rosemary What Happened: this gets into Kev Roberts Top 500 at position 470. Apparently associated or attempted to be so with the film Rosemary’s Baby.
Incidental if you look at the Golden World history there is little doubt that as well as the Funk Brothers some of the Motown staff musicians and writers , certainly Richard Wylie did work for Ed Wingate: it made Berry Gordy furious. He bought out the company. Some hints of Berry’s attitude around the early Motown times is told in a book by his second wife: BERRY, Me, And MOTOWN by Ramona Gordy singleton.
Richard Wylie’s I SPY
The Ideals with MIGHTY LOVER another great Richard Wylie song.
A whole string of great Soul musical achievements from Richard ‘Popcorn’ Wylie – he co-wrote Agent Double-0 Soul, Back Street, Girls Are Gettin’ Prettier, My Weakness Is You, Time.
He produced Custer’s Last Stand, REAL GOOD LOVIN’, Rosemary What Happened, Lost Time. He co-wrote With This Ring for the Platters and Washed Ashore. He also recorded himself – Move Over Babe – the list just goes on, on and on. You can see him interviewed on the CD Set The Strange World Of Northern Soul.
In 1959 he joined Motown as a writer. He already knew Robert Bateman and was the bandleader for Motown’s early tours. In 1961 as Popcorn and The Mohawks he had a few early releases on Motown.
He played piano on Money, Please Mr Postman and Shop Around.
IN 1962 he moved to Correc-tone and Continental. Then on to Golden World. Golden World and Wingate Records, owned by Ed Wingate, were Motown’s biggest competitors and in the same city. ‘ith Richard Wylie moving there and with his own backing musicians (The Funk Brothers) moonlighting over there, Berry Gordy got mad. To this day lots of tracks from this period are still in the archives. Gordy bought out the entire company from Ed Wingate, and a lot of the artists there were left without distribution of their work. (See The Dark Side Of Motown). His story is covered in the Strange World of Northern Soul and he even did a song for Betty Boo.
He released a CD in his own right: Extrasensory Perception
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