Label formed in late 1967 by MGM as an outlet for their soul acts. The label was run by former Motown A&R director William "Mickey" Stevenson with help from many other Motown exiles - the company was based in Los Angeles.
What happened to 4001 ? - so far untraced, possibly intended for an unissued Calvin Arnold or Ballads album. Venture was like a West Coast Motown-in -exile as Mickey Stevenson seems to have taken quite a few Motowners with him when he joined MGM not the least of them being Clarence Paul.
Tom Nixon had been an engineer at Motown and later worked at Stax.
Darryl Carter developed into a succesful writer working with Bobby Womack. He also made further solo releases on Hi, TTC and other labels...
Dick Cooper continued writing - he has credits for Martha and the Vandellas among others.
Stephen Bowden had been a Jobete writer - the Natura'elles were apparently led by his wife (?) Loretta Bowden.
Maria Tynes had earlier recorded a soloist for Capitol's soul label, Uptown. She later moved to New Orleans where she continuing writing for Jean Knight among others.
Hannibal - aka The Mighty Hannibal aka King Hannibal. A fascinating character (real name James T Shaw) who'd been recording since the fifties and would continue through the seventies. A career spanning compilation of his work has recently "Hannibalism" was issued recently by Norton Records.
The Ballads - after their Venture follow-ups failed to sell MGM dropped them from their roster - the group returned home and continued to issue the occasional single on the local Boola-Boola label where started their career.
Calvin Arnold - on Venture's collapse he was signed to Dionne Warwick's Sonday label and re-surfaced in the mid-70's on Brown Dogg, the soul subsidiary of the New York based Mainstream label.
Marie Franklin and Madlyn Quebec moved to Ray Charles' Tangerine label for a few unsuccesful singles.
Madlyn Quebec with Bob Dylan... and tearing the house down! Later recorded for Tangerine... 1972
Larry Williams had of course been a huge star in the fifties with hits on Specialty. He was Okeh's head of A&R for the West Coast in 1966-67 and later recorded for Fantasy in the late 70's.
Vernon Garrett moved to a succession of small labels with the occasional single being picked for national distribution by labels like Kapp.
Edward Binns - a total mystery - possibly related to Clifford Binns ?
Neal Kimble - also recorded for Fat Fish among others - another ex-Venture refugee at Tangerine
Toby Ben - no idea who he / they (?)
Southwind - later signed to Blue Thumb where they had an album and a few singles. Basically a white R&B bar band in the same vein as the Hoodoo Rhythm Devils
Johnson Three Plus One - They might be something to do with the Brothers Johnson but no any evidence yet.
Reasons for the labels collapse - MGM issued quite a large number of soul records in the mid to late sixties but their main problem was that they had no promotion staff who had experience ofmarketing soul. When Stevenson was given the job of running Venture he basically had to start from scratch bringing in people who knew the black radio stations - it looks as if running the administration and promotion side of the business left him very little time to write or produce hence his notable absence of credits. MGM itself was in chaos during 68 - 69 with changes of higher management - it looks as if head office decided that Venture wasn't worth their time and pulled the plug on the label after its short life of around 18 months.
Above notes by Davie Gordon
Some singles have the name W.Hutchison.. better known as Willie Hutch.
The 7 Souls were the studio band and played on all Venture releases. Ernie Shelby later made some fine southern soul singles for Polydor ('Bend Over Backwards'... 1972 was recorded in Muscle Shoals Sound in Elvis Presley's old studio. Terry Woodford was the producer. The production and recording contract with Polydor Records was Woodford's) as well as having many further writing credits.
Thanks to Don for the following notes and the photos below!
: The Major IV you are referring about are the Chicago group who had two hit singles on the NS scene before. They went by two group names the Vows and the Majors. First as the Vows with "When A Boy Loves A Girl" b/w "Say You'll Be Mine" on Big Three #403. Later under the moniker the Majors with "Lost In A City" b/w "Say You'll Be Mine". All sides of their Big Three sides all went # in the midwest, the east and the southern cities and regions, especially in Detroit too. Early on the Vows (a/k/a) The Majors IV recorded with the Ran-Dee label, Ran-Dee # 112 with Girl In Red b/w Born With The Rhythm. "Born With..." was written by Andre Williams of "Jail Bait" and "Beacon Fat" fame. Yes, the one and the same. Both sides we're produced by Williams but there is no credit given on the Ran-Dee single, except Williams's name is only credited as producer.
Songwriter and producer William "Mickey" Stevenson was one of the unsung heroes behind the extraordinary success of the Motown sound. As the label's first A&R director, he not only recruited major stars like Martha Reeves [+], but also assembled the company's legendary roster of studio musicians, additionally authoring a number of perennial hits for acts including Marvin Gaye [+] and wife Kim Weston [+]. Stevenson began his career in gospel and doo wop before joining the Tamla/Motown staff in 1959; in addition to co-producing and arranging records for Marv Johnson [+], the label's first recording artist, his earliest duties included organizing the company's house band. Installing pianist "Ivory" Joe Hunter as bandleader, Stevenson brought together a truly remarkable (albeit relatively unknown) group of Detroit-area jazz and club musicians, including bassist James Jamerson [+], guitarists Robert White [+] and Joe Messina [+], and drummer Benny Benjamin [+]. Though their lineup changed frequently in the years to follow, the so-called "Funk Brothers" remained the bedrock of the Motown sound throughout the company's golden age.
In 1961, Stevenson teamed with co-writer Barrett Strong [+] to score his first major hit, Eddie Holland [+]'s "Jamie." For the Marvelettes [+]' "Beechwood 4-5789," he partnered with Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr., as well as recent roster addition Marvin Gaye [+]. Weeks later, Motown released Gaye's first hit single, "Stubborn Kind of Fellow," which Stevenson co-wrote as well. Backing vocals on the record were contributed by Martha Reeves [+], then Stevenson's secretary, and her group the Vandellas [+]; when singer Mary Wells [+] failed to show up for a subsequent session, Stevenson cut a record with Martha & the Vandellas instead, resulting in the group's 1963 debut "I'll Have to Let Him Go." That same year, the producer inspired the Miracles [+]' smash "Mickey's Monkey." In 1964, Stevenson, Gaye, and Ivy Hunter [+] collaborated on Martha & the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street," his biggest songwriting hit for the label. Equally important, and around that same time, he hired Norman Whitfield [+] as his A&R assistant, launching the career of one of Motown's most influential and successful staff producers.
Stevenson's last major hit for Motown was 1966's classic "It Takes Two," a duet between Gaye and the producer's wife, Kim Weston [+].
Tracks in yellow can be downloaded