Gwen Owens

Gwen Owens

Profile:
Born in Detroit, Gwen got into singing in church and at school. When she was a Junior High school pupil, she (along with about 11 others) was taken by a teacher to visit the Continental Records studio to see if they would be interested in using the young singers. They were told to return with a smaller group and even though the initial visit wasn’t followed up on by the school, the trip had planted a seed in her mind with regard to becoming a recording artist.

While at Pershing High School, she performed in a talent show and Henry Smith, who was an alumni at the school, saw her perform there. He was impressed with her and asked if she would be interested in recording and she stated that she would. Her first release soon followed, the REM 45 "Mystery of Love". In 1964, with Henry Smith again making the introduction, she hooked up with the owner of Oncore Records and a single, "Mystery Man / Someone To Love" was issued. By this time, Gwen’s vocal prowess was gaining wider recognition although she had been ruled out as a potential new recruit to local female trio the Debonaires (her voice being considered too strong to fit into the group setting).
She then had to wait until 1967 before enjoying her next release, this being the Tony Wilson produced "I Lost A Good Thing". This self-written song, cut at New Haven, became the debut outing on Larry Lick’s Velgo label (backed with "I’ll Be Crying") and was soon a local hit. She and Velgo tried to build on this success with a follow up single, "Just Say You’re Wanted And Needed / Still True To You". However nearly all the copies of this 45, when manufactured, had a pressing fault that prevented them from playing correctly and so they never officially made it into retail shops. The vast majority of copies didn’t even get to leave the warehouse, being smashed up to create space for other releases.
Next up came the single coupling "Make Him Mine / One Day More" which was released on the local Lau-Reen label. Around the same time (mid 67), Gwen also enjoyed a release on LA based Uptown Records, "Take A Look". In 1969, George McGregor (working in conjunction with Timmy Willis) produced some tracks on Gwen and two of these were leased to Josie Records, "Keep On Living / It Ain’t Hardly Over".

In the early 70’s however, Terry Woodford and Clayton Ivey signed her up to a production contract. At the time the pair had the idea to start up a ‘Motown South’ organization and so were negotiating with Motown. Thus in 1972, Gwen found herself as a Motown artist but recording down in Muscle Shoals with Terry Woodford and Clayton Ivey. They committed 5 songs to tape but Motown decided to pass on them all. With no plans to release any of her cuts, Motown released Gwen from her contract but Terry Woodford shopped her master tapes around. They soon secured a deal with Casablanca Records and the label released "You Better Watch Out / Everybody Needs Love" in 1973. The company was however going through a change in distributor at the time (Warner Bros) and so in 1974 they reissued the single and it was also to become Gwen’s first UK released single in the same year. Still signed to the production deal with Terry Woodford and Clayton Ivey, she had given up on recording and formed the group, Sugar and Spice. Soon after though, Woodford & Ivey escaped from their Motown deal and were ready to record her again. Gwen suggested that they give a listen to the group, which had been working on ‘The Wolfman Jack Review’. Woodford & Ivey liked the trio and a decision was made to change their name to Hot. In 1977 then Hot enjoyed a self-titled album release on Big Tree. The label must have believed in the group, as in all, they lifted 7 tracks off the album for single release. Two of these, their debut release "Angel In Your Arms" (February 77) and "The Right Feeling At The Wrong Time" (August 77) made it onto the Billboard national chart. Further Big Tree albums were released on the group in 1977 and 1979 and although Gwen never quit the group she also embarked on a solo recording project. In 1979 this resulted in Big Tree releasing a single on her, "I Don’t Want to Dance no More / Hold me Like You Never Had me" and this also gained a UK issue. All these Big Tree recordings were made down in Alabama with Clayton Ivey and Terry Woodford handling production duties.

In the 1980’s she became a session singer and also secured some acting work, landing a couple of decent film roles. Ironically just as her US recording career was coming to an end, releases by and credited to her were stepping up in the UK. UK record dealer Adey Pierce got hold of a copy of some tracks cut in Philadelphia back in 1971 for Weldon McDougal. Believing them to be by Gwen, he released them as such on a 45 coupling the tracks "Lies” & “ Rain" on his Mel-Ady label (Gwen however is sure these tracks don’t feature her voice). More recently, due to continual demand from UK collectors, Goldmine Records released "Just Say You’re Wanted and Needed" on a single here. Today, Gwen is based in California and has recently been working for the Holland brother’s HDH Records set-up. She still however finds time to sing on a regular basis, being a member of the gospel outfit, Melodious Hearts. In fact, her first US release in many years is expected in December as a CD album by Melodious Hearts is scheduled for issue.
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Hot
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Gwen Owens Discography

Singles & EPs

Gwen Owens Just Say You're Wanted (And Needed) / Still True To You Velgo US 1966 Sell This Version
Gwen Owens I Lost A Good Thing / I'll Be Crying Velgo US 1966 Sell This Version
MA 100 Gwen Owens Lies / Rain(7", Mono, Ltd, S/Edition) Mel-Ady MA 100 UK 1967 Sell This Version
1002 Gwen Owens Make Him Mine / One More Day(7") Lau-Reen 1002 US 1968 Sell This Version
Gwen Owens Keep On Living / It Ain't Hardly Over Josie Records US 1969 Sell This Version
Gwen Owens You Better Watch Out / Everybody Needs Love (Single) Casablanca US 1974 Sell This Version
Gwen Owens I Don't Want To Dance No More Big Tree Records UK 1979 Sell This Version
OSV033 Gwen Owens Just Say You're Wanted (And Needed) / I Lost A Good Thing(7") Outta Sight OSV033 UK 2011 Sell This Version
GS 012, GS012 Gwen Owens / Andrea Hendry Gwen Owens / Andrea Hendry - Just Say You're Wanted And Needed / I Need You Like A Baby(7") Goldmine Soul Supply, Goldmine Soul Supply GS 012, GS012 UK Unknown Sell This Version

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