Friday, March 8, 2013

The Weekend Vault: AFO Executives and Tammy Lynn, Part 1

    Today we start a two part set featuring the AFO Executives with Tammy Lynn. AFO stands for "All For One' and was the brainchild of New Orleans native Harold Battiste who believed that his city needed and deserved a black owned and operated record label. A place where local songwriters and musicians could come together as a collective and everyone could share in the profits rather than the constant bickering with labels who's dealings were a bit more than shady.
     Part of the support for the label was bankrolled by Juggy Murray who was the president of Sue Records out of New York City, which although giving immediate capital for the fledgling new label and would also provide national distribution. It came right out of the gate in 1961 with Prince La La's single, "She Put the Hurt On Me" (#28 r&b, #119 pop), the next single did even better, Barbara George's "I Know (You Don't Love Me No More) (#1 r&b, #3 pop).

     Subsequent follow-up's to both singles didn't do very well, and Murray, who thought they could do better with George on their own, signed her away to a larger contract. This seemed to be the Achilles heel of AFO as over the three years of their existence, they recorded many of the hottest names in New Orleans at that time; Prince La La, Barbara George, The Blenders, Willie Tee, Mac Rebennack (Dr. John), but they would be "discovered" by bigger labels and would soon sign up with them and move on.
     An interesting sidelight to AFO was their Jazz division. One of the albums featured some of the best session musicians that New Orleans had to offer; Battiste on alto sax and piano, Alvin "Red" Tyler on tenor sax, John Bordreaux at the drums, Melvin Laste on Cornet, Peter Badie on Bass, and a young singer known as Tammy Lynn.
    Tammy Lynn was born Gloria Brown in the Gert Town area of New Orleans in 1942 She began like many singers of that day in the church, but also had a love of musical theater in school. Her first gig came about totally by chance as Red Tyler's band was to play at a club down the street from Brown's house called, the Joy Tavern. Tyler's vocalist was a no show and the owner of the club mentioned there was a girl down the street who was a good singer. Although very nervous, she held her own and soon became a regular singer with the band.
     In 1961, Tyler became a member of the AFC Executives and brought Tammy along with him. Battiste signed Brown (now Tammy or Tami Lynn) and they released her first single on the label called "Baby"/"Where Can I Go"

     The single went nowhere, but Tammy Lynn continued to tour the New Orleans area with the AFO Executives, as they finally went into the studio in 1963 to record, "A Compendium". The album went nowhere at the time, but it's seen now as a classic recording of what was happening in the New Orleans jazz scene at the time.The following is the Barrett Strong song, "Money".
Soon afterward AFO went out of business and many of the musicians went to the west coast. Tomorrow we pick up the story of Tammy Lynn....


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