Frank Wilson: “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)” (Soul S-35019, 1965)

Frank Wilson died yesterday at the age of 71. It wasn’t widely reported because Wilson wasn’t particularly famous, but he did have a pretty interesting entry among the footnotes of American popular music. 

WIlson was a songwriter and producer. Born in Texas, he grew up in LA, and when the Motown Recording Company opened its LA branch in 1965, Wilson joined the team. That same year, he recorded “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do).” Berry Gordy didn’t especially like it, and Wilson wanted to focus on producing, so the 250 test pressings of the 45 that would have been Soul S-35019 were ordered destroyed. 

Somehow, a couple of copies escaped annihilation (one of these sold recently for over $25,000), and the song was extensively bootlegged in Britain, where it became a favorite of the Northern Soul scene. So a song that was never supposed to see the light of day became the soundtrack for kids dancing all night at Wigan Casino.

Wilson produced records for Brenda Holloway, The Four Tops, the Supremes, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and the Miracles, among others for Motown, and also had his own publishing companies. He quit Motown after a decade behind the boards there, became born again, entered the ministry, and ended up writing some big-selling inspirational books (he also kept making music—his last credit was in 2006 for John Legend).

His lone solo recording, rescued from oblivion by some unknown twist of fate, is all the inspiration I need from him, though. That pedal guitar part, the charging rhythm, the color saturation of the orchestration, and Wilson’s own vocals, hanging on for dear life, are so obviously the makings of a classic, that the song couldn’t help becoming one in spite of the long odds.