Darrell Banks had one of the greatest voices in soul music – and plagiarised his biggest hit from the equally great Donnie Elbert in their hometown of Buffalo, New York.
There’s no dispute about the vocal ability of Darrell Banks, who was considered by many to have the greatest voice in soul music.
And no dispute that Banks was given his biggest hit – Open The Door To Your Heart – by Donnie Elbert, a fellow singer in Buffalo, NY.
Banks sped up the tempo, changed the title from Baby Walk Right In… and had a huge hit with it in 1966. He also put his own name on the songwriting credits.
A shocked Elbert assumed at first that this was a clerical error as all that Banks had done is speed up the tempo a bit. They ended up in court where Elbert’s credit was rightfully restored (though Banks ended up with 50% of the royalties).
By the end of his career, this was still the only song Banks had ever “written” – adding further evidence to Elbert’s claim that he didn’t write songs at all.
Nonetheless, the plagiarist enjoyed a decent – if brief – career off the back of it, on the Atco and Volt labels, including I’m The One Who Loves You and Beautiful Feeling, plus its excellent B-side No One Blinder (Than A Man Who Won’t See).
Away from the stage, where he was an exciting entertainer, Banks was “often less than pleasant: described as moody and quick tempered, with a permanent scowl on his face.”
His career came to a premature end after seven singles and two albums when the man considered by many at the time as soul’s finest voice was shot dead March 1970 in Detroit by an off-duty policeman.