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Edwin Starr, Agent Double-O Soul

Mr. Edwin Starr / Agent Double-O Soul

I would like to pay tribute to another underrated artist of the Motown / Detroit soul era. Mr. Edwin Starr / Agent Double-O Soul, himself. Born, Charles Hatcher on Jan 21, 1942, in Nashville, Tenn, he moved from Nashville as a child to Cleveland where as a teen stated his own vocal group the Future Tones.

In 1960, he went into the Armed forces where he entertained troops around Europe, where he was stationed at. Returning to the US, he was recruited into the Bill Doggett combo for the next few years. Bill Doggett’s manager, Don Briggs said to the lad out of theblue before his first show with the combo, that one day he was going to be a star. That’s when Edwin recruited the name Starr to be his last name, and taking his middle name Edwin for his first name.

Years later Edwin left the Bill Doggett combo and signed with record honcho Ed Wingate on his new Detroit label Ric-Tic. Ed Wingate also started Golden World in 1964 and Impact. Edwin’s first hit for the label was Agent Double-O Soul in 1965. It was written because of the OO7craze during the early part of the 60’s. Other classic hits would follow such as, " Back Street", " Headline News" " Harlem" a B side classic, and the foot stomping classic " Stop Her On Sight (S.O.S.)". He would also join label mates, J.J. Barnes who had a classic hit entitled "Real Humdinger " in 1966, "Come On Back" and " Now That I Got You Back" both in 1967, and Steve Mancha who also had hits as well with " Don’t Make Me A Storyteller" and " I Don’t Wanna Lose You" in 1966-67, with the Motown session singers The Andantes as the group The Holidays on a 1966 soul classic entitled " I’ll Love You Forever". Ed Wingate released the song as The Holidays, because he didn’t want it to clash with Edwin Starr’s song " Stop Her On Sight" since he was the lead singer on both hit songs.

So he went to recruit a fake group to tour as The Holidays since Edwin, Steve, and J.J were to busy having solo careers of their own. Edwin was also a gifted songwriter as well. He wrote and produced the hit single " Oh How Happy" for the group Shades Of Blue in 1966, on the Impact label. Over the next two years, being in popular demand, Edwin continued to tour overseas in Europe.


Edwin Starr, 25 Miles, S.O.S., War, My Girl, Let

One day on his return back to the U.S., Edwin flew into New York for an appearance at the Apollo Theater with The Temptations. When he arrived there, one of the Temps welcomed him into the Motown family. Edwin had no idea that he was part of the Motown label until he tried to telephoned the Ric-Tic offices. When he finally got though, the secretary answered the phone and said, "Motown Records may help you". What happened was that Berry Gordy was tired of his session musicians moonlighting over at Ed Wingate’s labels, he bought out all of the labels ( Ric-Tic, Golden World, and Impact) including all of their masters tape recordings. That’s why Edwin Starr’s LP " Soul Master" and "The Fantastic Four Greatest Hits" LP was reissued on Berry Gordy’s," Soul" and "Gordy" labels. When Berry Gordy found out about his musicians moonlighting, he fined then each $1000. Ed Wingate was more than happy to pay their fines but obliged when Berry Gordy offered a him certain sum of money to buy his labels. The contract negotiations would go on to stretch for nearly two years and a half, between Motown and Ed Wingate. Edwin found himself in an unnecessary situation that kept him from recording for that period of time. In 1968 his chance would come. In an appearance on popular tv show in Detroit " 20 Grand" named after the famous night club, Edwin sang a song that he wrote in 1965 entitled " Twenty Five Miles" on the show and was asked by Motown would he like to record it. Funny the same time he pitched the song to Motown executives, they turned it down saying it didn’t have the potential of a hit song.

The rest of course is music history. He recorded the song in late 1968,and was released in Jan, of 1969. The song was a smash hitting both the top ten on the R&B and Pop charts, making Edwin an international star. His second LP was released ( his first being the classic smoker " Soul Master" in 1968)" Twenty Five

Miles" and included his second release " I’m Still A Struggling Man" another

Smoker in 1969.

In 1970, Motown producer Norman Whitfield was producing The Temptations’ LP " Psychedelic Shack". When the LP was released, it contained the song " War". College students all over the country began to write to Motown about releasing the song as a single. This is during the time when young college students began to protest about the war in Vietnam. Motown decided not release the song on the Temps because of other plans they had for the group at that time.

So Norman Whitfield asked Edwin Starr would he like to record the song. Edwin agreed because he hadn’t recorded anything in over six months and was ready to get back into the studio. The song was released in the summer of 1970 and became an instant million seller. Edwin would go on to win a Grammy in 1971 for " War" for best R&B Male Vocal Performance. In 1971, Motown released Edwin’s third LP entitled " Involved" which contain the hit " Stop The War Now". Edwin really didn’t want Motown to release the song close to the original and figured the public would tire of songs about war. The song would hit top ten on R&B charts and No.26 on the Pop charts. Edwin would continued with Motown though out the 70’s with hits like " Time", " Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On", and "There

You Go". He was asked by Hollywood film director Larry Cohen to record the sequel soundtrack to the movie " Black Ceasar" entitled, "Hell Up In Harlem", after James Brown refused to do the soundtrack, after Larry Cohen rejection to one of James Brown songs which was "The Payback". That’s another story I won’t get into.

The soundtrack LP flopped on it’s release in 1974. Edwin left Motown in the mid 70’s and continue to record for various labels such as "Granite " and "GTO". He signed with 20th Century records in 1978 and made comeback (after a long dry spell over the years) with the classic disco smash " Contact" from his LP entitled " Clean".


Edwin Starr, 25 Miles, S.O.S., War, My Girl, Let

He relocated in Europe where he continued to tour the golden oldies circuit. He recorded an tribute LP to Marvin Gaye in England, in 1984, on the Streetwave label.

He’s also featured on the Walt Disney children’s workout LP entitled ‘Mousercise" in 1995. The song on the LP is "Get The Money ( Uncle Scrooge’s Money).

Edwin Starr’s birthday is on Jan 21, 2001. Let’s make the most and say Happy Birthday and thank you, to this talented underrated great soul shouter of Motown!


Mike" Chancellor of Soul" Boone

The Very Best Of Edwin Starr


I realize that a few of you might be questioning the presence of Edwin Starr here on a FUNK music website, I suppose that some of you might see him as more of a Classic Soul artist?

Edwin Starr’s songs ATTACK and challenge the listener!

The song WAR for example was a challenge when it first came out.

True it was a massive pop music hit and was certainly right on time.

Motown is generally thought of as being "conservative" when it comes to music, after all it was the "Sound of Young America"?

In some ways that is more of a myth than a reality and the anti war song WAR (which came out BEFORE WOODSTOCK), a big hit proves that!

However, the song that really earns Edwin Starr a home here on the P-Funk Review is the song playing in the background, FUNKY MUSIC SHO NUFF TURNS ME ON. I have heard this song many times, it was a minor hit back in the day. However, listening to it today, with a fresh set of ears, the resemblance of this song to the music of EARLY Funkadelic is quite stunning.

With BLARING GUITARS , FUNKY HARMONICA and a SHOUTING Edwin Starr, this song sounds more like a "funkadelic relic", than Classic Motown to me.

Oh but there is more…

Check out the songs, "There You Go" and "Easin In"

If these two songs were to be released today, they would be placed in the category of "acid jazz". Not at all what we would expect to hear when the name Edwin Starr is mentioned.

Think more along the lines of a CTI jazz kinda groove!

Both songs are extremely FUNKY and bring to mind the kind of music that Brand New Heavies and others were doing in the early 1990’s.

People have been writing into me for years about so called "lost soul", "rare groove" (whatever those silly terms mean…, telling me about artists that they have only recently discovered, that I remember using their album covers as dustpans back in the day because their music was horrible.

Well here is some damn "lost soul" from an artist who has literally been right in front of our faces all along.

Check him out if you get a chance.

You might just be in for the surprise of your life

–Bob Davis

1. 25 Miles

2. Stop Her On Sight (S.O.S.)

3. Agent Double-O Soul

4. Back Street

5. Headline News

6. I’ll Love You Forever

7. I’m Still A Struggling Man

8. If My Heart Could Tell The Story

9. War

10. Stop The War Now

11. Time

12. Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On

13. There You Go

14. Easin’ In

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