By helping former Impressions singer Jerry Butler at the start of his solo career, Curtis Mayfield ended up helping the group get back on track by earning much-needed money, recalls Sam Gooden.
Gooden (above left, with Mayfield and Fred Cash), a member of the Impressions as far back as 1958’s “For Your Precious Love,” recalls that the money Impressions singer/guitarist Mayfield earned from touring with Butler played a key role in the R&B vocal group recording one of its most notable hits.
Sam Gooden: “After Curtis gathered enough funds, Fred, myself and the other two guys [Arthur and Richard Brooks] came into Chicago and we started rehearsing ‘Gypsy Woman’ [with Mayfield]. We liked what we heard, and we liked the demo that we made.
“Our manager, Eddie Thomas, he took us to a guy who had a production company — [he was singer] Maxine Brown‘s husband. He wanted us to come to New York, and we had enough funds for about four hours to record these songs — we were going to record an A and a B side.
“We had about 30 minutes left, and there was something missing from ‘Gypsy Woman.’ And this guy said, ‘What I’d like to do, because this song is about a gypsy, there’s a lady who can play the castanets, and I’m going to get her to use this 30 minutes.’ And it worked — it was perfect.”
— As told to Chris M. Junior
* The documentary DVD Movin’ on Up: The Music and Message of Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions was released in May by Reelin’ in the Years Productions and Universal Music Group International.