As our regular readers will be aware, we are massive fans of Memphis soul music. Through the years we have focused on recordings from the Stax, Goldwax and Sounds Of Memphis labels, unearthing no end of gems from the 1960s and 1970s. We have covered most of the biggest and best names, from Otis Redding to George Jackson, but there’s one artist we feel has been overlooked: Dan Greer. Ever since we began working with the Sounds Of Memphis catalogue we have wanted to put together a CD of his work. Now, finally, here it is.
Dan was a talented writer and producer, and these activities ultimately got in the way of his ability to concentrate on being a performer. Born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, he moved to Memphis with his mother in the early 50s and lived close to the thriving musical scene on Beale Street. The talent he mixed with – William Bell, Maurice White, Louis Williams of the Ovations, Percy and Spencer Wiggins and many others – were part of the generation that underpinned the golden era of Memphis soul.
Dan returned to Holly Springs to attend art college, where he learned the techniques that have sustained him for the past five decades as a talented designer. When he came back to Memphis he got into the music business. After hanging out at Stax and Fernwood, he ended up working at Goldwax, alongside new songwriting partner George Jackson. The pair had their songs recorded by all the label’s biggest stars – James Carr, the Ovations and Spencer Wiggins – as well as releasing their own 45 under the name George & Greer. Their partnership fell apart when George was poached by Rick Hall to work exclusively at Fame.
This may have been good for Dan, as it forced him to push forward on his own. He produced a single on the singer Barbara Ingram, which led to him releasing his own disc on Ode, ‘Curiosity Killed The Cat’. This brought him to the attention of Gene Lucchesi at the Sounds Of Memphis Studio, who was just starting up his own label. Recognising Dan’s all-round talent, Gene signed Dan as head of A&R, songwriter, producer and artist. Dan was behind the desk on records by Barbara Brown, the Minits, Lou Roberts, Vision and Spencer Wiggins. He signed the Ovations and scored a couple of big R&B hits with them, confirming his theory that the label needed an established act.
Dan also found time to release three singles of his own, but with his busy schedule it seems likely he didn’t have time to promote them properly. Yet during his three years at the label he continued to record. Some of these recordings were used as templates for versions by other artists – check Dan’s brilliant version of ‘She’s Not Mama’s Little Girl Anymore’, which was released by Lou Roberts – but many of his excellent songs have never been heard before.
Dan Greer was an excellent southern soul songwriter and performer. If you enjoyed our collection of George Jackson’s Sounds Of Memphis recordings, you will love this CD too.
By Dean Rudland