Homer Banks

Soul pioneer of the cheating song

Monday 18 November 2013 05:24
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Homer Banks, songwriter and singer: born Memphis, Tennessee 2 August 1941; married (one son); died Memphis 4 April 2003.

Until the 1970s, the subject of marital infidelity had been largely the province of country music, but the songwriter Homer Banks, with such classic songs as "Who's Making Love (To your Old Lady While You are Out Making Love)" and "(If Loving You is Wrong) I Don't Want to be Right", brought the issues to soul music. For the first time in any type of music, Banks revealed that the participants were enjoying their infidelity. "They were revolutionary and pretty radical," he reflected, "but they sound like Sunday School today."

The mild-mannered Banks, who was born and raised in Memphis, was a member of a group, the Soul Consolaters, at high school. He was keen to break into the music business professionally and his chance came in 1965 when he recorded "Lady of Stone" for the fledgling writers and producers Isaac Hayes and David Porter at the Genie label.

Over the next three years, he made several singles with Hayes and Porter for the Minit label including "60 Minutes of Your Love", which made the US rhythm and blues charts and became a Northern Soul classic, "Round the Clock Lover" and "(Who You Gonna Run To?) Me or Your Mama?". His 1966 single "Ain't That a Lot of Love", which he wrote, was revived by Tom Jones with Simply Red in 1999. The song almost certainly inspired Steve Winwood to write his hit record for the Spencer Davis Group, "Gimme Some Loving".

In 1968 the Stax label in Memphis had their first major hit with Johnnie Taylor's million-selling "Who's Making Love", which was criticised in some quarters for combining an immoral lyric with gospel overtones. Its success caused Banks to ignore his own singing career and concentrate on songwriting, often working with Bettye Crutcher, Raymond Jackson and Carl Hampton in various collaborations.

Banks had written "(If Loving You is Wrong) I Don't Want to be Right" with Wilson Pickett's co-writer Sir Mack Rice, for the Emotions, but the sentiments in the song were considered too powerful for the girl group and the song was not released. Two years later, in 1972, the soul singer Luther Ingram noticed the song on a shelf and, intrigued by the title, he played it and decided to record it. It won him a gold disc and was successfully revived by Rod Stewart in 1980. Banks also wrote a response to the song with the Soul Children's "I'll Be Your Other Woman" in which the part-time lover is expected to be faithful – that is, he must not have more than two women.

Among Banks's other hits were "Woman to Woman" for Shirley Brown and "I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down" for Sam & Dave, which was also a UK Top Ten hit in 1980 for Elvis Costello. Banks often wrote songs with novel themes such as "I Could Never Be President", "Poem on the School House Door" and "Take Care of Your Homework", and he also produced albums for Albert King and J. Blackfoot.

With the demise of Stax Records in 1975, Banks wrote for a variety of labels, having some success with the Memphis soul singer Randy Brown (notably "Welcome to My Room", 1978) and releasing his own album, Passport to Ecstasy (1977) on the Warner Brothers label. One of his best cheating songs was "Caught in the Act (Of Getting It On)" for the Facts of Life, who recorded it for the TK label in Florida in 1976. In the song, the philandering couple are caught in a hotel bedroom by their respective partners, and one of the lovers asks them to wait a few minutes as they haven't finished.

His final song, "Lost in Yesterday", was recorded by Ann Hines last month. Banks's business partner, Lester Snell, said, "He knew what he was doing with his words. He could put the exact thing he wanted in your mind. There was never a doubt what anything meant." It's true – nobody wrote a cheating song like Homer Banks.

Spencer Leigh

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