Edwin Starr — “Time Is Passing By”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — January 6, 2023


693) Edwin Starr — “Time Is Passing By”

Super soul song from the SuperStarr’s first album, telling a girl who got hurt in love to dust herself off, get up and try again, ‘cause the clock is tickin’. I like Starr better when he’s making/singing about love than when he’s making “War”!

Steve Huey tells us that:

[Charles Edwin Hatcher] formed a doo wop quintet called the FutureTones while still in high school . . . . but Starr was drafted into the military in 1960, stalling the group’s momentum. When he returned in 1962 . . . he wound up joining Bill Doggett’s group as a featured vocalist . . . . Two years later, Starr wrote what he felt was a surefire hit in the spy-themed “Agent Double-O-Soul,” and left . . . to sign with Ric Tic Records . . . . [It] hit the R&B Top Ten later in 1965, and just missed the pop Top 20. . . . [He] return[ed] to the Top Ten a year later with “Stop Her on Sight (S.O.S.).” Motown head Berry Gordy subsequently bought out Ric Tic and took over its artist roster . . . . Starr [had] his biggest hit yet in 1969’s “25 Miles,” which reached the Top Ten on both the pop and R&B charts. . . . When he returned to the studio, it was with producer Norman Whitfield, who’d been reinventing the Temptations as a psychedelic soul act. . . . [and] had co-written a strident anti-war protest song, “War,” for the Temp[tations, but] Motown didn’t want the group to take such an aggressive stance. Whitfield recut “War” with Starr, and the resulting version was arguably the most incendiary song Motown ever released. It zoomed to the top of the pop charts in 1970 . . . .


Michigan Rock and Roll Legends tells us more:

Doggett’s manager, Don Briggs, . . invited [Hatcher] to join the combo . . . . After hearing Edwin’s voice, Briggs told him that he would be a star some day and said that he should use the name ‘Starr’ with the extra ‘r’. Starr traveled with Doggett’s organization for two-and-a-half years and gained valuable road experience. “If you’d done something wrong,” Starr recalled, “Bill would play a little riff on his organ, which meant you would be fined five dollars. One night he introduced me as Edwin Starr and played a riff, so I knew my new name would cost me five dollars.”. . .

We had like three or four days off in New York,” [Starr] told writer Bill Dahl. “I went to the movie while I was there, and the movie happened to be Goldfinger . . . . watched the movie like three times, and then went back to my hotel room . . . . I came up with ‘Agent Double-O-Soul’.” Starr went to Doggett and told him that he wanted to record his new song, but Doggett didn’t think he was ready for a solo career and advised him to wait a year. “I said to him, I can’t wait a year”, Starr recalled to Dahl. . . . [“]it’ll be old hat.” Convinced that his secret agent song was a surefire hit, Starr quit Doggett’s group . . . . [It] went all the way to # 8 on the Billboard R&B chart and reached # 21 on the Hot 100. . . .

During the 1980’s, Starr moved to England where he was a hero on the Northern Soul circuit.


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