Fortune Records

Detroit, Michigan, US
Record Label / Publishing / Artist Management
Soul / R&B / Rockabilly
Fortune Records
Fortune RecordsAdd Fortune Records!
***THIS IS A FAN-SITE FOR FORTUNE RECORDS - not an official page!***
Fortune Records was an independent record label located in Detroit, Michigan from 1946 to 1995. Original releases tapered off after about 1966 and ceased completely after the early 1980s.
Fortune specialized in R&B, blues, soul and doo-wop music, although the label also released pop, big band, hillbilly, gospel, rock 'n' roll, and even polka records. The label owners were Jack and Devora Brown. Fortune released some classic doo-wop tunes by Nolan Strong & The Diablos, such as "The Wind" (Fortune 511, 1954), "The Way You Dog Me Around" (Fortune 518, 1955), and "Mind Over Matter" (Fortune 546, 1962). Other notable artists on Fortune included John Lee Hooker, Andre Williams, and Nathaniel Mayer & The Fabulous Twilights (whose release, "Village of Love," on both Fortune 545 and United Artists 449 in the spring of 1962, was perhaps its most popular release; it reached No. 22 pop and No. 16 R&B on the Billboard chart). "Village of Love" also made the Top Ten in local radio station surveys in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Of course, it was No. 1 in Detroit.
Prior to "Village of Love," Fortune's biggest-selling record was likely "Bacon Fat" (Fortune 831 and Epic 9196, late 1956) by Andre Williams and His New Group, which featured Williams' proto-rap over a sleazy, bluesy arrangment. "Bacon Fat" (the name of the song refers to a dance) reached No. 9 R&B on the Billboard chart in early 1957 after it was leased to Columbia's Epic subsidiary for national distribution.
Record collectors often find Fortune's numbering system confusing because there were several series issued at once, and also because some particular record numbers were used more than once.
Fortune's best-known location was at 3942 Third Avenue in a small concrete block building. Fortune moved there in the fall of 1956 and stayed there until the mid 1990s, when the building was sold and vacated. (The landmark building was demolished late in 2001.) The storefront contained a record shop in the front (the Browns sold their product direct to the public) and the crude 18-by-40 studio in the rear (which originally had a dirt floor).
Whereas its far bigger Detroit rival, Motown Records, perfected a highly polished pop sound, releases on Fortune Records were often characterized by raw, unrestrained vocal performances and relatively simple instrumental arrangements, recorded without excessive care for production values. Recording was accomplished via a few microphones to an Ampex one-track tape deck. As a result, the label's records have a distinctively direct sound and often packed considerable emotional power. It is estimated that Fortune Records and its subsidiaries, Hi-Q Records and Strate-8, released approximately 400 45-RPM vinyl records, as well as long-playing albums, during its existence.
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