FORTUNE RECORDS - was an American family operated, independent record label located at 3942 Third Street, Detroit, Michigan from 1946 to 1995. The label owners were Jack and Devora Brown, their son Sheldon Brown recorded for the label. Original releases tapered off after 1972 aside from
a few albums in the mid-1980s.
Fortune specialized in rhythm and blues, blues, soul and doo-wop music, although the label also
released pop, big band, hillbilly, gospel, rock and roll, and polka records. Fortune released some 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, Doctor Ross, 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 number 22 pop and number 16 Rhythm & Blues on the Billboard chart). "Village of Love"
also made the Top Ten in local radio station surveys in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. It was number 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 was 5 Dollars on Fortune not Epic),
which featured Williams' proto-rap over a sleazy, bluesy arrangement. "Bacon Fat" (the name of the song refers to a dance) reached number 9 Rhythm & Blues on the
Billboard chart in early 1957 after it was leased to Columbia's Epic subsidiary for national distribution.
The Five Dollars were from
Detroit and were originally known as The Shamrocks and The Del Torros. The members of the group were lead singer Eddie Hurt, tenors Lonnie Heard and Richard Lawrence, baritone James Drayton, and bass Charles Evans. After working on their music and stage presence, they picked up a manager named Sandy Amour and began to sing at area clubs and talent shows. What they were looking
for most at the time was a chance to record, and soon in 1955 that goal was realized with a session at home town independent Fortune Records. On August 20, 1955 Dorothy
Brown of Fortune announced the signing of the group along with Andre Williams (who was related through marriage to Eddie Hurt) who would also record with the Five Dollars.
The newly renamed Five Dollars recorded some songs for Fortune and in the late summer of 1955 the label released "Doctor Baby" and "Harmony Of Love"
on number 821. Richard Lawrence was soon drafted into the military and so the Five Dollars became a vocal quartet. In October Fortune released "Going Down To Tijuana"
and Jump, Shake, And Move" by Andre Williams and the group which was billed on the label as Andre Williams & The Don Juans which was released on number 824. In December 1955, Fortune Records announces the release of The Five Dollars with "So Strange" and "You Know I Can't Refuse" on number 826. However, the record was not actually released until March 1956.
Early in 1956 the group recorded again as The Don Juans this time behind vocalist Joe Weaver on "Baby I Love You So" and "It Must Be Love" on number
825. During the spring the group once again as The Don Juans provided backup vocals - this time for vocalist Don Lake on the tunes "Oh Oh Those Eyes" and "Cha Cha Of
Love" on Fortune number 520. In August 1956, an interesting bill was put together for a stage show in Windsor, Canada (right across the river from Detroit). Featured on the bill was Stan Kenton and his Progressive Jazz Orchestra, The Nite Caps, Diabolos, and the group now called The Four Dollars. That same month Fortune re-released "Going Down To Tia Juana" by Andre Williams & The
Don Juans. In September "Bobby Jean" and "It's All Over" by Andre & The Don Juans is issued by Fortune on number 828, quickly followed by "Cool As A Cucumber" and
"Going Back To Chicago" on number 829. In October back as The Five Dollars recorded "Hard Workin' Mama" and "I Will Wait" on number 830. Late in the year Andre Williams
with The Don Juans hit with "Bacon Fat" and "Just Because Of A Kiss" on number 831. This time the record gets a lot of attention and generates sales especially in the Midwest.