Each week on the Local Show, we dive into a release from Minnesota’s past and explore its origins in the Music History Spotlight. This week, Jackie Renzetti digs into the backstory of a mysterious release from Georgia Clay, which will be played on the Local Show this Sunday night between 6-8 p.m.
Released in 1969, Georgia Clay’s “I’ll Never Go Back to Minneapolis” oozes with groove. The garage soul sound mirrors that of other local funk bands at the time, like Maurice McKinnies and Jack Harris and the Exciters. But the track comes with an air of mystery — who was Georgia Clay, and why did they want to leave Minneapolis?
As it turns out, it was nothing personal.
“The inspiration was not about never going back to Minneapolis,” said Richard Gottehrer, who co-wrote the song. “I just probably thought the ‘Minne-AP’ and the word ‘back’ sounded good together, and created a story around that. I don’t think it was anything more than that.”
Minneapolis-based Peter Steinberg produced and co-wrote the song with Gottehrer, who wrote hits like “I Want Candy” and has produced artists including Blondie and the Go-Go’s. Today, Gottehrer runs Instant Records, Blue Horizon and The Orchard.
The track was released as the B-side to “Sherry Cherry Train” on Sire Records, which was co-founded by Gottehrer and Seymour Stein in 1967. The label went on to sign artists including The Ramones, Talking Heads and Madonna, but had just four or five artists at the time, Gottehrer said. Steinberg had caught Gottehrer’s attention with a track he produced with TC Atlantic, called “Twenty Years Ago In Speedy’s Kitchen.”
“We were fascinated by that, and we wanted to make a record,” Gottehrer said.
So Gottehrer came up to Minnesota, and “I’ll Never Go Back to Minneapolis” was recorded at Dove Studio, which operated in Bloomington from 1965-70. Steinberg co-owned Candy Floss Records, a short-lived record label and management company that recorded at Dove.
It remains unclear who Georgia Clay was, or where they were from. It pains me as a reporter to confess that in all my research and talking with vintage record store owners and local music historians, I can’t find a trace of the artist (or band). It’s possible that since they’re largely unknown in the local music scene, they were from somewhere else. Hopefully, this post could lead to more answers, because as Gottehrer recalls, “Whoever it was that was recording had a soulful voice, and it came across really great.”
Jackie Renzetti studies journalism and political science at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities. She is an editor at the Minnesota Daily and co-hosts Radio K’s “Off the Record.”