George Semper

George Semper

Profile:
In the mid 1960s George Semper recorded and released the "Makin' Waves" album through Imperial Records, reissued on the UK based Hubbub label. Semper's deal with Imperial went bad so in 1966 he became a partner in the Jazzville nightclub in San Diego. He was responsible for bringing in artists like Miles Davis,Little Richard, The Temptations, BB King, Marvin Gaye , Jackie Wilson, Dave Brubeck, Jerry Butler, Gene Chandler, Johnny Guitar Watson, Ramsey Lewis, Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions, John Coltrane, Cannonball and Nat Adderly and Otis Redding major acts that wouldn't normally venture south of Los Angeles.

George Semper had booked Ike and Tina Turner in 1966, it was a high maintenance gig with temperamental Ike Turner threatening not to show. A few days before the Turners were due to play Jazzville, Semper was asked to fillin for a friend and play organ in Las Vegas. The gig was on the same night as the Turner show. After several calls with Ike Turner he was sure that they were actually going to make it and decided it was safe to take the Vegas gig. He played with Ray Charles backing band at a club and hotel called the Moulin Rouge. Unfortunately the band played to an empty club. But having such a good time together they played another night. By the third night word had spread about a hot new band at the Moulin Rouge and the club was busy. The club owner was so impressed he had Semper stay for a week in order to play the following weekend. Semper ended up staying 2 years in Vegas. The band evolved to feature his musicians from San Diego and they eventually moved to Caesars Palace becoming George Semper and the Soul Patrol.

George, sold his stake in the San Diego club and moved to LA in late 1969 with the money he'd saved from his Las Vegas gigs. Between 1969 and 1972 he was kept busy with studio work and made the unusual but smart business decision to request he be able to keep the masters to songs he played on and wrote. That's how songs like the covers of "Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" and "It's Your Thing" appear on this compilation. Semper started his own production company called Inner City Attractions. He made it his mission in life to go and find acts around the country. "I went all over and recorded groups, probably only breaking even when you figure in traveling and taking chances on acts."

Ron and Candy were the first act signed to Semper's Inner City label. Their "Lovely Weekend" single was a massive success selling close to 200, 000 copies. "The two of them came and sang the song at my house and I knew straight away I wanted to sign them," explains Semper. "We recorded it at CBA (Clark Brown Audio) recording studio in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles in 1972. It was a letyourhairdown session with the musicians and singers recording with all of their hearts. They all recorded for free, based on faith that things were going to happen. Even the studio was free. And things did happen so everyone got paid five fold," he adds. "The only thing that kept me from selling a million was that I was on tour with Merry Clayton and Cheech & Chong when the record took off! Being on the road I couldn't keep up with demand for the record in certain markets. I ended up turning down offers from a couple of major labels who wanted to take the single off of me, and I was going to go with MGM before they closed down," says Semper.

The single was even bootlegged by a company in Florida. Featured on this compilation is "Plastic Situation," the BSide to "Lovely Weekend". The Ron and Candy single was so in demand in 1972 that Semper used it as barter to record other tunes that ended up on this compilation. Ray Dobar's House of Music record store in Oakland had an 8track studio in the back. Dobar gave Semper studio time to record In One Peace and Funkafreek in exchange for copies of the single. "It was funky little studio that didn't cost much money," remembers Semper. "The sound is really raw on those tracks, it's so hot it's almost distorted!" he adds.

2 or 3 takes of each track were recorded across several master tapes. Fortunately some of the tapes were sent back to Los Angeles by mail because passing through the XRay machine on the flight home the tapes in Semper's possession were wiped clean! None of either bands tunes recorded in that record store session were released until now. One member of In One Peace went on to release many records. The 14 year old keyboard playing bandleader was Rodney Franklin who had a very successful career as a jazz pianist with Columbia Records.

Several of the artists on this compilation came to Sempers attention through Paul Mack, national promotions manager for Inner City Records who was based in the Bay Area. Finding In One Peace and Funkafreek, he also introduced Parliament and Funkadelic to Semper when they saw how well Ron and Candy had sold. Semper was tied up with a group called Mean Machine at the time and unfortunately couldn't get free to work with George Clinton and Co.

Together Mack and George brewed a Bay Area sound typical for the times. "Funk from the Bay area is so identifiable when you hear it," says Semper. "It's hard to pinpoint, but certain areas have certain styles and the Bay Area had it's own style - Sly Stones band, the Pointer Sisters backing band, Tower of Power, it's loose sounding funk but often more arranged than other funk jams and with vocals. There was a big live scene all around the Bay, and rock mixed with r&b a lot of time. In LA you were doing one or the other, but in San Francisco it was all mixed up - the people were just different there."

Semper and Mack's Bay Area style stuck with them through the 1970s even when they recorded the Perfect Circle in the latter part of the decade. Perfect Circle were another Paul Mack discovery and Semper once again was caught choosing whether he should work with one band over another. He turned down Mandrill to finish up work on the now collectible Perfect Circle album that blended funk, soul and disco influences.

There's a hint of early disco, a touch of boogie tune, and a whole lot of soul in Mary Love's 1975 recording "More Love". Hailing from Los Angeles she was a big attraction on the club circuit. "In the '70s L.A. had clubs from one end of the city to the other end, and Mary Love played nearly all of them," says Semper. Today, Mary Love sings and teaches as an evangelist.

Not all the artists featured here were obscure, underground or one-hit wonders. George Semper was in the line-up for the United Soul Association band, which also included guitar work by Al McKay also a member of the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band and Earth Wind and Fire. The Funkateers were a backup band for Ode record's Merry Clayton, and often toured the University and college circuit appearing with acts like Billy Preston, Carole King, The Rolling Stones, Buddy Miles, ELO, Isaac Hayes, and Johnnie Taylor. Funkproof began as Brenton Wood's backup band. Wood penned and performed three multi million selling hits; "Oogum Boogum Song," "Gimmie Some Kinda Sign," "Baby You Got It." A Funkproof album was scheduled for release by MGM, but just like the song Ron and Candy song it was never released as MGM abruptly closed its doors.
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