Tuesday, 16 September 2008 16:13 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF


Though his name would mean nothing to the average music lover, RICHARD 'POPCORN' WYLIE was revered by the soul cognoscenti. Sadly, the great man died on 7th. September - aged 69. Details surrounding his passing are unclear but he died at his Detroit home and his daughter PATRICE NELSON said that he'd been suffering from congestive heart problems for some time. The iconic artist, keyboardist, writer and producer was born RICHARD WAYNE WYLIE in Detroit in 1939 and he earned his distinctive nickname at High School, where he was a valued member of the football team. During games he developed the habit of suddenly "popping" out of the team's bonding huddles - hence "popcorn". It was at school that he teamed up with people like JAMES JAMERSON and that pair played together in a number of youthful bands. It was natural that they'd find their way to the embryonic Motown set up and WYLIE played on some of the label's groundbreaking first hits including 'Money', 'Shop Around' and 'Please Mr. Postman' as well as recording in his own right as POPCORN AND THE MOHAWKS. BERRY GORDY held him in such esteem that WYLIE was singled out as the band leader for the first nation-wide Motown revues. He left Motown in 1962 and signed with Epic but he also worked as a producer and writer with labels like Ric Tic and Golden World. POPCORN eventually founded his own Pameline label but by 1971 he was back at Motown leaving in '75 for ABC Records. A fallow period followed, though in the '80s and '90s, like many ex-Motowners, he threw in his lot with IAN LEVINE. Much of his work - as artist, writer and producer - is held in huge esteem by those who really know soul and though his achievements are numerous, the man himself claimed that his best work was 'With This Ring' - a big hit, of course, for the PLATTERS. He was so damn proud of it simply because he wrote it for his wife….


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