Popcorn Wylie – Funky Rubber Band

2nd August 2022 · 1970s, 1971, Funk, Music, Soul

He’s not exactly a household name but Popcorn Wylie is one of the key figures in Detroit soul music. A producer, songwriter, singer, bandleader, pianist and record label boss, he discovered some of the biggest names and played on some of the biggest Motown hits.

The school band he started, Popcorn & The Mohawks, was a who’s who of future Motown musicians and producers – Lamont Dozier, Norman Whitfield, James Jamerson, Eddie Willis, Mike Terry and Clifford Mack.

They signed to Motown in the label’s early days but failed to find success, despite sensational live shows where Popcorn wore his extravagant stage costume of a homemade Mohawk headdress.

As a solo musician he played piano on hits like Please Mr Postman for The Marvelettes and Shop Around by The Miracles, and recorded with Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Mary Wells and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas.

He went on to become the label’s head of A&R and bandleader for their first Motortown Revue tour but left in 1962 after falling out with Berry Gordy, and set up two labels of his own – Pameline and SoulHawk.

As a producer, songwriter and pianist, he masterminded countless tunes that went on to become Northern Soul favourites in the UK.

Unfortunately he wasn’t aware of his cult status, and reportedly used to let his children play frisbee with many of his old records, unaware they had become highly sought-after collectors’ items.

Then, in 1971, he returned briefly to Motown and made this infectious funk instrumental.