Previous Page | The Funky 16 Corners

• Anthony Black Bio & Interview
• Miles "Butch" Loyd Interview


In 1969 Anthony Black had to “go to work” as a technician at Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals in Indianapolis, but he had a music-jones that he couldn’t shake. His brother’s best friend, a young drummer named Matthew Watson, had a small deal with local entrepreneur Herb Miller’s LAMP imprint with his group Ebony Rhythm Band. Watson suggested that Black approach Miller as a songwriter. He did, and Black left LAMP’s offices enthused when Miller opened the door for submissions. Grabbing a copy of The Vanguards’ LAMP hit “Somebody Please,” Black returned home and crafted early ideas for a tune called “It’s Too Late For Love.” To his surprise, one year later The Vangurards recorded his song.

As payment for his songwriting, Miller offered Black the opportunity to release a single on LAMP. Watson was busy with Ebony Rhythm, so Black sought out Miles “Butch” Loyd, a funk wunderkind who at age sixteen had already written and played on a LAMP release, The Diplomatics’ “Hum Bug.” Loyd, familiar with Black’s Vanguards tune, agreed to back his vocal “Huh” in exchange for free reign over the single’s B-‘side. The resulting song, recorded over the next two months with Loyd’s high school buddies Revolution Compared To What, reflects both Loyd’s funk and jazz roots and Black’s songwriting ability. The groove sprung from Loyd, the vocals and soulful hook from Black.

Here, the two primary forces behind “Go To Work” tell the tale of one incredible piece of home-spun funk.

E: So how’d you get involved in music?
A: I got involved in music in the military. Every so often, (my friends and I would start) kind of crooning on the corner under the lamp post. Some of us started to sound good. I can’t remember their names.

E: Where did all this take place?
A: I was stationed in Springfield, Massachusetts on Sach Airforce Base. This was in the mid 1960s. ‘64 or so. I got out, and returned to Indianapolis where I got a job with Eli Lily.

E: What kind of a company was that?
A: We made pharmaceuticals. We made medicines. And I stayed in music. I’ve never really formally written a song - I wrote something in the Airforce that the guys kinda liked. We didn’t win a talent show we entered, but the guys were walking around the halls singing the songs. I’m thinking, “Maybe I should do this again!” And I wrote something else, to let the guys listen to. They liked that too - but we didn’t do anything with that in particular.

E: So you were back in Indy after your military stint…
A: Actually, after the service I worked in several locations. We moved to Lafayette, Indiana at one point. A couple guys there were interested in singing. This was in early ‘67. Some of the guys in the hood that I frequented…. This was a small town, everyone knew everyone. There were three fellas there that wanted to sing. We got together, tried to kick around some ideas. Then there a couple threats on my life….

E: What?!
A: It had nothing to do with music, it was over women. I was an outcast, I wasn’t raised in that neighborhood. Then there were ladies and their boyfriends. I needed to get out of town, so I asked my employer if there was anything back in Indianapolis. I moved back. Still singing into my tape recorder….

E: How did you end up with Herb Miller and his LAMP label?
A: I wanted to write songs, I had determined that much. I had the opportunity to audition something with The Impressions. So I started putting something together - professionally - for them. I didn’t know much about music; I was more of a poetry and melody man. But one of my brother’s best friends was Matthew Watson.

E: Drummer of Ebony Rhythm Band. They were doing all of LAMP’s backing tracks back then.
A: Yes, I knew he had a band so I went to him. I said, “Can you can get my songs together professionally, for The Impressions?” He said he couldn’t do it, but there was someone locally I might want to check out first. Before I went to Chicago. He said, “His name is Herb Miller.” By that time they had probably already done the “Soul Heart Transplant” 45. So I brought a tape to Herb. He said it was interesting, something he might be interested in. But he made no real hard promise. There was no one definite he wanted to use my songs for, so he said, “Why don’t you try to write something for someone specifically?” The group he had that was popular at the time was The Vanguards. So I went home and listened to The Vanguards’ record – “Somebody Please.” It was their hit. So I played around with it, and got one - “It’s Too Late For Love.” I took a tape to Herb. It was a little more promising in his opinion; something he could use. Now, I didn’t sign any contract. This was the summer of ‘69. Nothing much came of it, but I got a call in the fall – November. Herb said he might try to do the song from the tape. He wanted me to come and perform it for him. He wanted me to come to a nightclub on Indiana Avenue - The Blue Flame. The Vanguards were performing; Herb wanted me to perform during the break. The people there weren’t even checking for The Vanguards!

E: Harsh crowd.
A: I was very nervous. So I sat down at the organ during the break. Herb introduced me to leader of the group. With the best effort I could put forth, I tried to put the song together. A couple guys in the band were listening. James, the friendliest one, said, “I think we could work with that.” One guy said, “That sounds like shit!” That sure built my confidence! I was somewhat dejected, but James said they could work with it.

E: What happened next?
A: Then in April of ‘70 – or it may have been ’69 - I was downtown making a payment on my Wurlitzer. I walked to the car, outside of the bank. I got in car and turned on the radio - my song was playing on the radio! I didn’t even know they had recorded it.

E: How did you feel?
A: I was somewhat elated and somewhat shocked. I hadn’t heard anything. I had to find Herb. I got up with Herb - Matthew had played on that record. He told me to become associated with a performance group - Herb suggested that I get with BMI. I did, and as my record was being played, I received checks in the mail. But I was more grateful to Herb for acknowledging that I had written the song than for getting me any money.

E: What happened next?
A: A couple of years went by, but the group didn’t follow up on their momentum. Some wanted to stay with Herb, some didn’t. In the interim, I was submitting songs to The Vanguards. But they had a friend that wrote most of their songs. I eventually approached Herb and asked him if I recorded a song, would he put it on out on LAMP? This was a hobby thing - whatever happened, it was real unprofessional.

E: And Herb agreed?
A: Yes, and I tried to find someone to polish my songs. I don’t remember who told me about Butch. But I didn’t have much money to offer. Matthew was off with his band and not available to record. Anyway, someone gave me Butch’s address. He lived in the neighborhood, so I went to the house.

E: Break down that fateful day.
A: Well, I could hear music. I went to the door and someone came out. I asked about recording some songs. Butch overheard what was going on, and got me in. I hung around ‘til the rehearsal was over. These were mostly high school guys but their band was tight - I could tell that already. They were doing songs that were popular on the radio. After rehearsal, we talked about the record I had written for The Vanguards. Butch knew it - these were my credentials. To my knowledge, they hadn’t recorded at that point. So I said, “If you help me out, your band can put a song on the other side of my record. And if it sells, everyone benefits.”

E: And Butch accepted for his band?
A: Yes, Butch was in favor. We made some jokes about how nothing would happen anyway. So we set up rehearsals. I went to Butch’s house, and wound up with the band leaving after they were done. Then I suggested rehearsing at my own house. That was agreeable. I finally got Butch nailed down to get the song I wanted to record. It was called “Huh.” Butch listened to the demo I had made on the Wurltizer and he got some other of the young guys together. We did all the music with two reel to reel tape recorders. The instrumentation for “Huh” was done at the house. I think we tried to overdub vocals. In the meantime, Butch worked out the flip at his own spot.

E: “Go To Work.”
A: There was dialogue on Butch’s side. The instrumental was already there. I heard their demo dialogue, but I wanted to tighten it up. Some of it didn’t quite fit - it was pretty haphazard. Butch was in agreement.

E: How’d you title the song?
A: The name came from the dialogue. We did new vocals at my house - “Go To Work” never saw the studio. We went with the feel they had already worked out. After the phone call, Butch played the boss. The trumpet player was the lazy employee. I felt the song needed a hook, so I created on

E: “Everybody’s got to go to work/ Rise and shine/ Getting up in the morning/ Is so hard..” So the beginning and the end was the extent of my contribution on that track.

E: Did you ever hear it on the radio?
A: It got a little radio play but not much. Spider played most of it.

E: And you’ve stayed involved with music over the years.
A: I’ve always stayed with music. I’ve written songs, but not too many. I worked at Eli Lilly for 27 years.


E: Now you were rocking some serious funk when you were in high school, so you must have gotten an early start in music!
B: I started at age 8, on the piano. I played that for several years, then got side-tracked ‘cause I was listening to radio. I heard all the r&b groups - rock groups. At that point I decided I wanted to learn guitar, so piano went by the wayside. Eventually I left the guitar and picked up on bass. From then on, my music developed with certain groups around town.

E: How about your professional start?
B: The first band I made money in…. I was about 12 years old. This was around 1968. I played a military ball at one of the high schools. I’d rehearsed for a couple weeks. In high school I hooked up with some neighborhood guys –a friend named Paul Hines. Then I got with Steve Mason, on organ and keys. We started gigging together. More or less we played weekend or sock-hop type deals. In summer, we played three nights a week at a summer fest for the kids.

E: So how old were you when you recorded your two singles for LAMP – The Diplomatics’ “Hum Bug” and “Huh”/”Go To Work?”
B: Well, I graduated high school in 1973. I had recorded with The Diplomatics and Tony while I was still in high school.

E: How were you introduced to LAMP?
B: Well, I had done the song with The Diplomatics. Before that, I had been playing with a jazz trio – The Grooving Three. I was still in 8th grade then. We did a number of concerts around town - mostly for free. Then the bass player with The Diplomatics got an offer to go with The Spinners. I knew the group, they were older, but we grew up together. The bass player asked me if I would fill in. That meant leaving the Grooving Three. In 8th grade! But it looked like I could make some money – The Diplomatics were a real popular group.

E: What kind of group were they? “Hum Bug” is one wicked funk tune!
B: They were a vocal and instrumental group. Around ages 18 to 20. Rodney Steppe was the leader of band and keyboards, Bobby Gayheart was the drummer, Jerry Miller played guitar, Maurice – uncle of Billy from Revolution Compared To What – played trumpet, Richard Gamble was on sax and I played bass. I was the youngest in the group.

E: A real professional outfit?
B: The Diplomatics were a show band, a dance band. We were doing covers.

E: The “Hum Bug” was an original though – you co-wrote that one?
B: “Hum Bug?” I can barely remember that one! Someone got interested enough and wanted to do a recording. Maybe it was Herb. So I wrote that song with Steppe. I wrote most of the song - Steppe came up with the melody. They recognized my ability as a songwriter.

E: That’s the only song you all recorded?
B: The group disbanded after a while, people went their own directions. That was the only record we did.

E: How did you meet up with Tony Black?
B: I met Tony while I was rehearsing with the Revolution Compared To What.

E: And who was in that band?
B: Let’s see…. William Perry played trumpet, Les Pippens played sax, Deon Lang was on trombone, Lee Martin played guitar, Tony Davis was on bass, Clifford “Buzzy” Wilson played drums and I played keys.

E: These were some of your high school buddies.
B: Well, none of them went to my high school, and most were older. Billy was in military – I had known him for years, though. Deon was in high school, he went to Crispus Attucks, I sent to Shortridge. Lee was the oldest, he was in his 20s. The rest were around 15 to 16. The oldest was 17. Anyway, I hooked up with Tony while rehearsing. He came by, somebody had schooled him on me.

E: How did the songs develop for Tony’s single?
B: Basically through a one on one with Tony. He came to me and played some demo stuff of what he had done - I was already familiar with “It’s Too Late For Love,” the song he’d written for The Vanguards. He did all his demos on his organ, it had a basic rhythm track on it. He wanted me to help him out, I said OK. I was about 16, and he was older, a grown man. He was in his 20s. I think I was a junior in high school.

E: And you guys came to a mutually beneficial agreement.
B: Basically the agreement was that Tony would finance the whole thing, and we would do all the stuff at home, except the vocals or saxophone. Tony had a reel to reel tape recorder. We did it all between our two houses. He said, “I’ll give you the B side if you help me do the A side.”

E: And you came up with “Go To Work”
B: “Go To Work” started off with one of my grooves. Then Tony Davis and “Buzzy” chimed in and we had a good groove going! As far as the idea, the title, Tony came up with that. The music was mine. He came up with the idea of the boss and all that.

E: He did have a good bit to do with the creation of that song!
B: He tried to sell himself short on that, he was an important part of that song. (On the version released on LAMP single 89) I play the boss, Lang was the other guy who was asleep and didn’t want to come to work.

E: Do you remember the recording process?
B: Well, we overdubbed the vocals. We did the music first then we did that part with the solo and all that. We did it all with Tony in a trailer park and back at my parents’ house in the living room. Tony had some kind of mixing board. We were ping ponging, bouncing (tracks) back and forth. We knew we’d lose (quality) every time we did that, so there was only a certain amount of times we could do it. We managed to keep the bounced tracks to a minimum so we could come up with the final version. But I don’t remember the actual production, Tony did most of that. He was doing a lot of this while I was probably in school.

E: And you didn’t take “Go To Work” to the studio?
B: He may have gone to the studio and had some kind of enhancement done on it. I wasn’t around for most of it, so I remember recording it and all the bouncing that we had to do. We were only working with two track stereo. We had to put all the mix on two tracks. It had to be right the first time.

E: How long did the project take to assemble?
B: I want to say it took maybe a month or two to do. No longer than two months. To get it pressed was another problem.

E: Have you recorded anything else besides “Hum Bug” and Tony’s two tracks?
B: I did a record with my little jazz trio - a lot of remakes of older jazz pieces. It was a result of a high school project that my drummer’s father did. His father worked at a prepatory high school, a Jesuit school. He got wind of kids whose project was to record a group and make an album and see where it could go. So they heard of our group. They made some albums, financed the whole thing. It was on their label – this was so long ago. I remember it was recorded at Ohmit’s studio. This was around 1968. Then we started doing a lot of gigs around town, especially at the Christian theological seminary. Dave Baker came to hear us. We got a write up in the Indianapolis Star.

E: I bet you were adding a bit of funk to those “older jazz pieces!”
B: Those were my roots more or less - funk and jazz. I’ve always had a mixture of that - I grew up with those two (musics). Anything I do, even now, any songs that I write are going to have a jazz element. I played with all jazz musicians around here, that’s the flavor I’m going to put in any song I write.
And the funk? I heard it. You hear it through James Brown, Earth, Wind and Fire, The Barkays. I grabbed whatever I could when I was growing up.

E: What have you done since your days with Revolution Compared To What?
B: After the Revolution, Icame into another group - Cosmic Jones. We never recorded anything, we were just nightclub act. A bar band. Now I’m just writing. If someone calls me for a job, I might do it if I’m free. I’m in it for collaborating, writing music. I work as a corrections officer. I started that back in 1985.