Monday, June 29, 2015

Quinton Claunch

Back in 2008, when we were working on the O.V. Wright Memorial Weekend, Quinton Claunch (then 87 years old) agreed to join us for lunch at what we billed as the Goldwax Rendezvous, where he would be reunited with Roosevelt Jamison, the man who introduced him to O.V. (as well as to Goldwax mainstays James Carr and The Ovations). A last minute illness forced Claunch to cancel, but we never gave up.

In 2012 (thanks to Quinton's wife Nell, his son Steve and Roosevelt's wife Linda), John Broven and I were finally able to bring them together. Over the course of a lazy August afternoon spent at Leonard's Pit Barbecue, we were enthralled by these two men as they shared their stories about the very dawn of Memphis Soul.

We didn't know it then, but this would be the last time they would see each other. Roosevelt would pass away the following Spring, falling victim to the cancer that had ravaged his brain. Just a week after Jamison's funeral, Quinton and Nell were involved in a serious automobile accident - an accident from which she would never recover. She passed away from injuries sustained in the crash in June of 2013. After being married for sixty nine years, Quinton was suddenly alone.

He would find solace in his music and began writing songs again. Incredibly, at 92 years of age, Quinton returned to Muscle Shoals (where it had all started for him some seventy years before!) to produce an album on an artist he had discovered that just 'knocked him out', a young guitar player and singer from Kentucky named Alonzo Pennington.

Released on his own revitalized Soul Trax imprint, Claunch had dedicated the entire project "to the Memory of my Beloved Wife Nell," and invited John and I back to his house this past August to listen to the song he had written about her for the album, Taste Of Heaven.

To sit there in that place, in the same room where Quinton had sat on the floor with Roosevelt, O.V. and James Carr and listened to that mythic demo tape they had cut with Earl Forest fifty years before, was an experience we will not soon forget. Incredibly, even though Claunch was recently listed in Who's Who, even though his place in American Music History is secure as one of the greatest songwriters, label owners and producers of all time, he has been unable to find a record company willing to distribute the album.

Last I heard, he was still waiting for some of the friends he thought he had in the industry to return his phone calls... he deserves better.

- red kelly, June 2015

No comments:

Post a Comment