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GENE CHANDLER JUNE 1978 INTERVIEW
THE DUKE OF EARL IS BACK
Having grown tired of working the chittlin' circuit, Gene went off the road to concentrate on the business side of things…and scored some notable successes. Happily, he's now back in harness as a performer and scoring his first hit in four years.

SIXTEEN years ago, Gene Chandler topped the pop and R&B charts with a simple but effective ditty entitled "Duke Of Earl". To say that it transformed his life is a firm understatement because it put Gene — born Eugene Dixon in Chicago, still his home base — on a road that peaked some ten years later with a string of chart-topping records on Mercury.

Then, just as suddenly as he had hit, so he seemingly disaappeared.

"I guess I became disillusioned," he admits. "I had grown tired of the so-called 'chittlin' circuit' and decided to concentrate my efforts on the business and management side of things."

So, Gene formed his own record company, production company, publishing company and management company and settled into the life of a businessman. And it worked, too.

He formed Bamboo Records and had a million selling international hit with Mel & Tim, entitled "Backfield In Motion" and followed through with "Good Guys Only Win In The Movies".

He formed Mr. Chand Records thru Mercury and had success with Simtec & Wylie and "Gotta Get Over The Hump". He produced the Sisters Love for A&M. But it still really didn't satisfy the restless Cancerian.

"I didn't do everything right, I know that by looking back now," he admits further. "I went about it by getting the deals and the money in the bank — before I got the people to work with and then when the time came, I found I couldn't get the people. So I was in the studio all night, working the office by day and slowly killing myself.

"I was like the Gamble without a Huff. Sure, the hits came but I found my sound was repeating itself over and over again because I was working too hard, getting too tired."

All of which explains why you'll once again see the name of Gene Chandler back on the charts today. "I just decided that it was time to get myself out from behind the desk," he explains. "I feel now that there is room for me out there and that's what I'll be concentrating all of my efforts into.

"I have learned so much over the years that I feel I can benefit from my experiences. And by being back with Carl Davis (Gene and Carl started together with "Duke Of Earl" and Carl is President of Chi-sound Records) I feel he can elevate my career to the right plateau so that I don't become disenchanted again."

When you ask Gene what the greatest single thing he has learned over the years is, you'll get a surprise. "My biggest mistake was not taking good care of myself physically," he says.

"I used to be racing around everywhere, eating junk food, hamburgers and then I was wondering why my weight was high and why I was always tired out on stage. I was drinking too heavily, partying too much and all of the things that were harmful to me.

"Today? Well, I've given up drink completely. I've lost 30 pounds and only weigh 170 pounds now. And I get to bed at a reasonable hour so that my body gets all the rest it needs.

"I'm exclusive in what I do, I jog every day and I play tennis and other sports. This time, I'm ready and I feel that I still have my old fans and that there is a new breed out there who don't even know me but who I can get over to."

Currently, Gene is enjoying his first hit in four years via his debut Chi-sound release. Tagged "Tomorrow I May Not Feel The Same", it was produced by Carl Davis.

"I started out with Carl and I feel that we have both learned a great deal during the years apart," Gene will happily say. "Our philosophies seem to gell and the chemistry is just right and my voice has a new sort of maturity to it that it has never really had before."

In the meantime, Gene has just completed his first album for the company. It's his first album in five years, since leaving Mercury.

"It's mostly new material," Gene relates. "We did "What Now" over again — that was a Curtis Mayfield song that was on Constellation, if you recall. And we did "Please Sunrise", a song that Barbara Acklin did on Brunswick some years back. Otherwise, it's all original material.

"There are three disco type cuts in there — there's "Get Down" and "Love Quake", which are both what I would call funky type dance tracks. And there is another called "The Greatest Love Ever Known", which is a more sophisticated disco track. Tom-Tom Washington arranged everything except for the funky disco tracks and Sonny Sanders did those."

On the basis of the new-style Gene Chandler, it would not surprise me if Gene actually proves his hit single to be just right because 'tomorrow he may not feel the same' because success could well be his again. And deservedly so, I might add.


  
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