His uncle, Robert Bateman, was one of the early
pioneers at Motown, serving as a talent scout, engineer, and
co-producer. Bateman was also a co-writer and producer of the company's
first number one hit, "Please Mr. Postman" by the Marvelettes.
As a child, Perry and his four siblings sang everywhere
and anywhere for anyone who would listen. When he was 12, Jeff's
brothers cut their Atlantic debut as the Perry Brothers. Along
with younger brothers Dennis and Zachary, Jeff started
doing background vocal sessions for Chess Records. Another brother,
Greg Perry (whose '70s Smokin' album remains a cult classic) started
producing for Holland/Dozier/Holland's Invictus and Hot Wax Records.
Perry got into production and songwriting.
Greg Perry co-wrote and produced the gold single "Somebody's
Been Sleeping in My Bed" for Jeffree Perry's group 100 Proof Aged
in Soul. The two brothers assisted each other with hits for the
Honey Cone ("Want Ads," "Stick Up," and "One Monkey
Don't Stop No Show"). The hits continued with the Chairman of the
Board's "Pay to the Piper" and the gold controversial classic "Bring
the Boys Home" by Freda Payne.
For a couple of years, Perry worked with Motown. During his tenure, he
met and worked closely with legendary Motown bassist James Jamerson,
became a close personal friend of Marvin Gaye, and scored a hit,
"One Love in My Lifetime," with Diana Ross. Coming to
Chicago, Perry began working with producer Carl Davis (the Chi-Lites,
Gene Chandler). The collaboration lead to Perry writing and
producing Jackie Wilson's last commercial album, Beautiful Day. More Below
Soon afterwards, Perry launched his solo career on Clive Davis' Arista
Records. His "Love Don't Come No Stronger" was the label's first
R&B hit. Teaming up with producer Norman Whitfield, he recorded an album
for MCA, Jeffree, and worked with the group Stargard. The two
smooth singles from Jeffree, "Mr. Fix-It" and "Love's Gonna
Last," and the album itself charted in the lower half of Billboard's
charts in 1979.
In the mid-'80s, Perry got married and moved back to Michigan where he,
along with two wealthy businessmen, formed Master Wax Records.
Later, Perry and some business partners formed Creative Connection
In 1990, a curious thing happened. The club jocks and Kenny B.,
who had his own show, the Saturday Night Dusty Steppers on radio station
WVAZ-FM, began playing "Love's Gonna Last" from the
Jeffree album. Suddenly, an album that had been selling in cut-out bins
from 50 cents to a dollar began to skyrocket in price.
The demand bordered on frenzy, as jocks, music lovers, and the
record-buying equivalent of scalpers scrambled to act on this
phenomenon. Carl Davis contacted Perry, telling him about the almost
rabid interest in his only album.
Davis' friend, veteran promoter Gus Redmond, handled the media visits,
press interviews, and all the other activities associated with a hit
record, even though the record was long out of print. But that didn't
last long as bootleggers went to work, pressing up shoddy copies of
"Love's Gonna Last."
Seeing the demand, distributor Ruby Lawrence contacted his friends at
MCA and worked out a deal with the label's special products division to
reissue the album. The first single, "Mr. Fix-It," and "Take
My Love" started getting club play and received massive airplay. The
success of the Jeffree album promoted Perry to release a new album,
Call It Love, on his own Creative Connection label in 1997.
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