Peachtree Records was a small soul label set up in 1968 by singer/composer William Bell and his manager Henry Wynn in Atlanta, Georgia and lasted till 1972. Its small catalogue of 20+ ‘southern soul’ 45’s are considered prized rarities by Northern and Modern soul fans worldwide despite not having contemporary national ‘hits’ at the time of release.
William Bell was born William Yarborough in 1939 and became part of the Memphis soul scene in the ’50’s backing singer Rufus Thomas, and then joining the Del Rio’s, before working for the Stax label as a writer. Whilst Bell was gaining acclaim for his writing skills at Stax (composing timeless tracks such as “Born Under a Bad Sign“, later covered by Hendrix, Albert King, and Eric Clapton), he was drafted for a short spell in the army, returning to start his solo career and release his debut solo album The Soul of a Bell on the Stax label in 1967.
Henry Wynn was an Atlanta booking agent and manager that had worked with many of the artists that were soon to be part of Peachtree, but also soul heavyweights such as Sam Cooke, Jimi Hendrix and Jackie Wilson.
Peachtree Records was born out of Wynn’s Supersonic Attractions booking agency whilst he was managing Bell. Wynn had a roster of musicians that he wanted as support acts for Jackie Wilson’s 1968 tour, however, most of these artists did not have fresh music cut. They needed records to sell on tour, so Bell did most of the writing and producing for these acts whilst Wynn acquired and managed them. Peachtree records were distributed by Mercury for a short while after Bell became close friends with the Charles Fach, the executive vice-president of Mercury at the time. The last record for the label was cut in 1972. Artists such as Mitty Collier, The Four Dynamics, Jimmy Church and James Fountain were released on Peachtree.
A taste of the Atlanta Peachtree flavour:
- James Fountain, My Hair is Nappy (1970)
- Despite his small discography, Fountain is one of the most popular of Northern Soul singers with his better known track Seven Day Lover. My Hair is Nappy has a raw, screaming soul sound that has elements of James Brown. Little information of Fountain’s life is online, making him a soul-man of mystery and according to Discogs, this was Fountain’s last official release.
- Mitty Collier, Love On Borrowed Time (1970)
- Mitty Collier born 1941 in Birmingham, Alabama is a gospel, R&B and soul singer who had been on the Chess label roster for 8 years in the 60’s. Henry Wynn was Collier’s manager in the late 60’s and after “inadequate promotion” under Chess, Mitty crossed over to the Peachtree label to release a series 7″ singles written by Bell. Singing soul success never came for Mitty as sadly she lost her vocals in 1971 but the ballad-loving singer did continue to release music throughout the 20th century as she dedicated herself to her gospel roots.
- Gorgeous George, You Can’t Stop a Woman (unreleased, reissued on Grapevine 2006)
- Sharing his name with one of the most popular American wrestlers of the 1940’s-50’s, Gorgeous George was a flamboyant tailor and singer, who apparently influenced the style of Muhammed Ali and many others during his stage-performance days. Originally recorded on Peachtree but apparently not released, the Northern Soul UK reissue label Grapevine gave this soul-ballad an official release on a Peachtree comp’ in 2006.