Some Family Music History
Daptone Records reached out to MO-DO RECORD'S FOUNDED BY , PRODUCER ... WILLIAM NUNN SR.
First African American Recording Studio in Buffalo New York "Fruit Belt" area 50 Orange Street,
physical address of record label:
Label Owner(s): William Nunn, Sr.
Producer /: William Nunn, Sr.
releasing vintage-sounding R&B created by contemporary artists. But Bob and Gene's IF THIS WORLD WERE MINE flips the paradigm: the recordings, made in the late 1960s and early '70s, are vintage, but are being released for the first time in 2007. Only teenagers when they made these homemade demos, Bob Nunn and Gene Coplin deliver the kind of harmonies familiar to fans of the Five Stairsteps and the Jackson 5. In high, emotive voices the two sing about love and social change, among other topics, but it's the overall sound--a sort of underground, lo-fi R&B--that will capture the imagination of soul music collectors
One musician who stood his ground however was William Nunn, a man of many hats: singer, saxophonist, factory worker, union leader and father of two. In the fall of ‘67, he built a music studio in his basement and began inviting neighborhood youth--who might otherwise be tempted by the city’s burgeoning gangs--inside his home to express themselves through music. Mr. Nunn promised investment and belief in their talent if they offered discipline and hard work. To great response, they came, alone and in groups, dreaming of a future as professional recording artists. As a result, Mo Do Records (as in “I’m broke, I need some mo’ dough”) was born.
William Nunn, Sr.'s basement, 50 Orange Street, Buffalo, NY "Fruit Belt"
Area/city/physical address of record label:
Label Owner(s): William Nunn, Sr.
Producer /: William Nunn, Sr.
Song Writing: William Nunn, Sr., William Nunn, Jr., Robert Nunn, Karen W. Renshaw, Levi Ruffin, Jr., Benny Clark, Eugene Coplin, R. Berry, Rev. P. Mann, Leda J. Brinson, E. Cummings, Sharon Lidge, Mary Lewis, Randy Maxwell, Benjaman S. McDougald, Rev. Guy Graves, Gerald Trotter
Oldest son William Jr. known as Billy Nunn was a natural on the Hammond B3 Organ WITH AN ORIGINAL ORIGINAL STYLE the road with the Legendary Johnny Lytle. Upon Billy Jr.'s return he started recording with Mo Do Records on various projects, the 4 Andantes, Bob and Gene, Bill Murry meets Billy Nunn Jr ( a comedy jazz album), as well as the Billy Nunn Trio.
Surrounded by these domestic tones, William’s fifteen-year old son, Bobby Nunn, himself an aspiring singer, was ripe for dreaming. He got together with his sixteen year-old buddy Eugene Coplin and after school the teen duo—now known as Bob & Gene--lost themselves day after day writing and singing love songs. As Bobby says, “We’d see groups like the Five Stairsteps come to town and how the girls would react when they started singing, boy, and that was it, we knew we had to sing too.” The boys dedicated their friendship to perfecting their vocal harmonies while composing original tunes and with the help of older brother Billy Nunn and some of Buffalo’s finest jazz and funk musicians.
Regional radio play propelled the boys to local fame and over the following four years they routinely performed while assembling enough material for a full-length album. But by ‘71, Mo Do, like so many local business ventures at the time, simply ran out of dough. The LP never came to be. Fast forward three decades to 2001. Record collector, DJ and New York soul music historian David Griffiths stumbles across a now rare Bob & Gene 45 whose label hints at an “upcoming album If This World Were Mine”. Curious, Griffiths places one call after another when finally, an elderly William Nunn Sr. happens to pick up the phone. An eventual meeting ensues and, stunned, Griffiths finds himself entrusted with boxes of disintegrating Mo Do reel-to-reel tapes. “It was crazy on so many levels,” Griffiths states. “You had these intensely emotional songs, mixed with this lo-fi quality, that in a way represented so much great music from so many cities that were never really heard by anyone.” Deciding these tapes needed to be heard, Griffiths (with the Nunn family’s blessing) brings them to Brooklyn contemporary soul/funk powerhouse Daptone Records. What you now hold in your hands, 36 years after its intended release is the tender, re-mastered result in its entirety: Bob & Gene’s If This World Were Mine…
Laced with achingly lush soul ballads as well as funky, Five Stairsteps-esque dance numbers, If This World demonstrates FFBob and Gene’s mature songwriting and vocal prowess. With lyrics surely aimed at a “special someone” as well as their ailing community, the twelve songs here are pleas for love and hope during a time when hatred and despair wrapped Buffalo’s bleak horizon. Still involved in the music business today, Billy and Bobby Nunn would eventually leave Buffalo, settle in California and work with artist such as, Philip Baliey, the Jets, and Rick James. Gene Coplin still lives in Buffalo and is a practicing minister. True, Mo Do will go down in the history of soul music, And though, sadly, the late William Nunn Sr. never got to see his labor of love come to its ultimate fruition, through his sons his spirit lives on..
Liner Note Author: David Griffiths.
Recording information: The Multi Talented Music Genius William Nunn Sr.'s of The First African American Recording Studio in Buffalo
Author: William Nunn.
Personnel: Bob & Gene (vocals); R. Nunn (vocals, piano); E. Coplin (vocals); Russell Underwood, Russell Underwood (guitar); Billy Nunn (piano, organ); Kenny Underwood, Kenny Underwood (bass guitar); Babe Wayne (drums); Curtis Lee (guitar, bass guitar); Herman Fisher, Carl Bivens, Herbie Lewis (horns); Virgil Day, Jesse Revere, Harry Pender, Jerry McClam (drums); K.W. Renshaw (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: William Nunn; David Griffiths; Gabriel Roth.
One of Mo Do label's trophy piece, the 4 Andantes "Hipper, Than Me" ( ) were first discovered and played on the Northern scene many moons ago, long before eBay and the internet, being an "unknown" at the time, the first copy was rumored to have exchanged hands for near 2,000 GBP although no specific quantity of the record was ever disclosed. When it was confirmed that the infamous American record dealer, Rich Rosen, acquired the bulk of the label's output in one bittersweet sweep, prices fell to 7-800 GBP. Whether or not quantity of that 45 or any other the Mo Do releases were controlled, still to this day, the 4 Andantes is by no means, a common record. In fact, just this month, it closed at $1,025.00 on eBay. Therefore although unknown to many general soul music enthusiasts, as far as horn tooting & whistle blowing goes, the independently owned & (family) operated Mo Do label should be no secret to rare soul collectors world wide. However, as a result of the general obscurity of this label's catalog, prior to now the actual history of the Mo Do label has been nothing short of mystery.
Meanwhile, having the opportunity to be tutored by the Late Great Legendary Jimmy Smith Billy Nunn Jr. was inspired by "A Walk On The Wild Side" and began mastering his Hammond B3 organ skills during his senior year at Hutch Tech. He gave his first solo performance at the age of 19. Then at the age of 20, he went on to record LPs with Johnny Lytle. Billy Nunn Jr. in 1970 recorded an album on the Mo Do Label with Bill Murry ( a comedian that opened for Johnny Lytle), "Bill Murry meets Billy Nunn Jr" From there he was off to tour in Japan with one of William Nunn Sr.'s Jan's Supper Club residents, The Softones, where he co-wote and recorded "You Go Your WayAnd I'll Go Mine" . Billy returned to the US and joined younger brother Bobby with another legend Rick James, as a member of The Stone City Band, later replaced on synthesizers by another Mo Do recording artist, Levi Ruffin, Jr. (of the 4 Andantes), who was Rick's background singer at that time . After Mo Do closed shop, Billy Nunn introduced Bobby Nunn to Phillip Bailey of Earth, Wind and Fire. They both left Rick's band ( Stone City Band), and signed with Columbia Records, then Splendor was formed. The Nunn brothers continue to work in the music industry on various projects together as well as independently.