Gordon Neal / Herman Lewis Griffin
by Jordan Wilson
My name is Jordan Wilson, I am a musical historian from The Soul Archive in England and I also work alongside MD Records. I am currently researching two indie producers from Cincinnati. One called Gordon Neal and the other is called Herman Griffin Lewis.
The reason why I am researching them both is all based around a record on Prime Records called 'David Thomas - I'll Always Need You'. This 45 has been one of my favourite records for the last ten years. The track means the world to me and has always been a record I know absolutely nothing about. Over lockdown I decided to start up The Soul Archive, a place for blogging to start. I wanted to write about this particular record after I had researched to the best of my potential.
A local producer to Cincinatti has been helping me with my research, Randy McNutt. Randy has been amazing - he has told me so much about the music scene in Cincinatti but we are still struggling to find out who actually owned Prime Records. The tracks on the label are registered to Gordon C Neals music catalogue 'Stone Blue Music' and I found a newspaper clipping which mentions Gordon and Herman Griffin as 'The Presidents' of the label but this article also mentions two other names; Gaile D Moore and Harry E Lenz Jr (I have attached the 1968 clipping for you to review).
I have now been researching for months on this label. I found out that Gordon Neal passed away due to cancer in 1991 and Herman Lewis Griffin passed away in the late 1980s. Through a long process, I managed to find Gordon's widowed wife, now re-married with a different surname and living in Arizona... She was not even aware of his involvement with Prime Records. She said she met him later on in life and it was likely he was more of a producer/A&R man for the label as up until the day he passed, he always wanted his own studio and label.
I have struggled to contact Herman's family. He married Marian Jackson (From The Charmaines) and had a son called David. But David has sadly passed away recently due to a heart attack, the same condition that Herman died off in the late 1980s.
So, I went along the lines of tracking down other recording artists on the label... I spoke to a member of The Shirtails (Chuck Smith) he told me that he also did not think Gordon owned the label and the recording studio they used was in Detroit at Terra Shirma with the Funk Brothers backing. I spoke to Vince Sanders of The Accents who had a release on Prime - he didn't even have any idea their record came out!!! He said they cut it at King Studios in Cincinatti.
I have now decided to reach out to you because you worked with Gordon Neal as the engineer for the Main Line Records.
I would really love to know if you know anything about this mysterious label and WHO David Thomas was? I would love to know if he did anything else.
I look forward to your reply.