Anna Records

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Anna Records was a short-lived record label, known as a forerunner of Motown, founded by sisters Anna and Gwen Gordy and Roquel Billy Davis in 1959 and located in Detroit, Michigan. Gwen Gordy and Davis had written hit songs for Jackie Wilson and Etta James prior to founding the label. Anna Records recorded acts like David Ruffin, future lead singer of The Temptations, Joe Tex, Herman Griffin, Johnny Bristol and his partner Jackey Beavers (the original duo behind the Supremes' "Someday We'll Be Together"), and future Motown hit-making songwriter-producer Lamont Dozier (who went by the name Lamont Anthony at the time). They hired future Motown star Marvin Gaye as drummer for the label.

Berry produced a record on the Penny Label (part of early Anna Records) in the Spring of 1959 showcasing a white doo-wop group known as "Bryan Brent and the Cutouts". Berry had hoped that "Vacation Time", written by himself and Billy Davis, would be the hit side. However, "For Eternity",[3] written by the Cutouts, became the summer hit and enjoyed an unprecedented #1 spot in the greater Detroit area for 8 weeks. Bryan Brent and the Cutouts performed on Soupy Sales late-night TV show and on Mickey Schorr's Detroit Bandstand TV show, as well as many radio station-sponsored dance parties, such as Tommy Clay's Sock Hop at the Light Guard Armory on 8 Mile Rd. Not restricted to white venues, the group also performed for Martha Jean "The Queen" from WJLB at many of her popular weekend dances. While Bryan Brent and the Cutouts never enjoyed the security of a contract, they did enjoy the summer of 1959. In spite of missing notations in the history books, "For Eternity" is recognized as a doo-wop classic in the US and in Europe.

Anna Records is most notable for issuing the first national Motown hit, "Money (That's What I Want)", recorded by singer-songwriter Barrett Strong, which hit number two on the R&B chart in early 1960. The label wasn't so successful afterwards and in 1961 Anna and all its artists were absorbed by Gwen and Anna's brother Berry Gordy into Motown. Gaye, in particular, became a solo artist and signed with the corporation's oldest label Tamla while still serving as a session drummer, and Ruffin later joined The Temptations, having signed a separate contract with the Gordy subsidiary just prior to signing with Anna. Ruffin's brother Jimmy also briefly recorded for the label.

After the label wound up, Anna Gordy joined Motown's staff writing team and Gwen later separated from Davis, going on to form a partnership with singer Harvey Fuqua, whom she married. The couple later formed Harvey Records and Tri-Phi Records. Both labels were also absorbed by Motown in 1963. Gwen and Harvey later joined the Motown songwriting staff. Davis found success as a staff songwriter for Chess Records shortly after Etta James released his co-composition, "All I Could Do Was Cry".

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

Year Month Title Artist Catalogue Number
A-side B-side
1959 Apr "Hope and Pray" "Oop's I'm Sorry" Voice Masters Anna A-1101
"Needed" "Needed (For Lovers Only)" Voice Masters Anna A-1102
Jun "Hit and Run Away Love" "Advertising for Love" Hill Sisters Anna A-1103
Aug "Peppermint (You Know What to Do)" "Never More" Bob Kayli Anna A-1104
Oct "All I Want Is You" "Take Me Back (I Was Wrong)" Wreg Tracey Anna A-1105
Dec "The Hunch" "Hot Cross Buns" Paul Gayten Anna A-1106
"Hot Cross Buns" "The Hunch" Paul Gayten Anna A-1107
1960 Feb "Lonely and Blue" "Let's Go to a Movie Baby" Johnny & Jackey Anna A-1108
"With Tears in My Eyes" "I'll Get Along Somehow" Larry Darnell Anna A-1109
"Just for Your Love" "This Heart of Mine" Falcons Anna A-1110
Mar "Money (That's What I Want)" "Oh! I Apologize" Barrett Strong Anna A-1111
"Beatnick Beat" "Scratch Back" Paul Gayten & his Orchestra Anna A-1112
May "I Need You" "I Got That Feeling" Letha Jones with The Rivals Anna A-1113 (first issue)
"I Need You" "Black Clouds" Letha Jones with The Rivals Anna A-1113 (second issue)
Jul "Orphan Boy" "Everything About You" Ty Hunter with The Voice Masters Anna A-1114
May "Hurry Up and Marry Me" "Do You Want to See My Baby" Herman Griffin & The Mello-Dees Anna A-1115
Jun "Yes, No, Maybe So" "You Knows What to Do" Barrett Strong Anna A-1116
Jul "I Feel It" "So Good" Ruben Fort Anna A-1117
"Blue Moon" "Don't" Allen "Bo" Story Anna A-1118
Aug "All I Could Do Was Cry Pt. 1" "All I Could Do Was Cry Pt. 2" Joe Tex Anna A-1119
Sep "Hoy Hoy" "No One Else But You" Johnny & Jackey Anna A-1120
"The Big Time Spender Part I" "The Big Time Spender Part II" Bill Murray & George Copeland Anna A-1121
Oct "Tight Skirts & Crazy Sweaters" "I'm Afraid" Cap-tans Anna A-1122
Dec "Free" "Everytime" Ty Hunter & The Voice Masters Anna A-1123
1961 Jan "I'll Never Break Your Heart, Pt. 1" "I'll Never Break Your Heart, Pt. 2" Joe Tex & The Vibrators Anna A-1124
"Popeye (The Sailor Man)" "Let's Talk It Over" Lamont Anthony Anna A-1125 (first issue - withdrawn)
Feb "Benny the Skinny Man" "Let's Talk It Over" Lamont Anthony Anna A-1125 (second issue)
1960 Dec "All I Want for Christmas (Is Your Love)" "Take Me Back (I Was Wrong)" Wreg Tracey Anna A-1126
1961 Feb "I'm In Love" "One of These Days" David Ruffin Anna A-1127
Mar "Ain't I a Mess" "Baby You're Right" Joe Tex Anna A-1128

See also[edit]