Wednesday, January 20, 2010

DJ Quin Ivy

I know the beginning of this story, but I don't know the end. He was born in 1937 in Oxford Mississippi, son of a share cropper just like James Brown. His rise to greatness was rapid, and his exit was sudden and unexpected. His retreat into obscurity was so thorough I don't know whether he's dead or alive.

In 1959 Ivy left 1210 WMPS-AM in Memphis, TN for WKDA-AM in Nashville. Some sources say that Ivy was at WMPS for 10 years. But for that to be true, he'd have to have started DJ'ing at the age of 12. Some sources also say he worked at an unnamed station in Oxford and another in Shreveport. Shreveport seems unlikely, but something in Oxford before WMPS seems probable.

For Quin radio was a great gig, and it was there that he met Rick Hall. Rick wasn't a big name at the time, but they became friends. And when Rick started Fame Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, they stayed friends. They didn't even lose touch when Ivy moved to Nashville to work at 900 WKDA-AM. More here.

In 1961 Ivy moved to Muscle shoals to work at 1450 WLAY-AM and began working with Hall in earnest. They began writing songs together. Hall did so much business out of FAME that Ivy opened his own studio to pick up the crumbs, Norala Studios in 1965. It studio was built with spare parts and junk. The mixing board was used, bought from WLAY. His tenure at WLAY is usually cited as about 8 years. Shortly thereafter he started two record labels, Quinvy and South Camp Records respectively; one for ASCAP and one for BMI.

Norala and FAME used many of the same studio musicians, they used the same contacts, they both used connections through Ivys' record store, Tune Town. Everything was copacetic, until Ivy recorded Percy Sledge. The single "When a Man Loves a Woman" was a huge hit and a bone of contention. the receord needed re-recorded, over-dubbed, an engineer was fired.. it was a mess. More here.

Hall was the one that cut a deal with Jerry Wexler at Atlantic. Hall was the one that agreed to a 2% finders fee and hall owned the publishing on the B-side. The single went top 10 in 1966. Ultimately hall made more money on the record than anyone except Atlantic records and Percy Sledge. That rubbed some people the wrong way, session musicians, engineers and Quin Ivy. There was a little fighting, a little awkwardness and Ivy wasn't happy.

In 1970 he moved to a new studio space, selling the old one to Paradox studios. In 1973 Ivy quit completely. He was only 36 years old. He went back to college at Ole Miss and got an accounting degree. He taught at the University of North Alabama from 1980 to 1996. Did I mention he's white?