By Bob ‘The Record Guy’ Paxon
The conclusion of the RABBIT & GENO story…
About 10 years ago some local collectors asked me to track down a record. They had been talking to Rabbit, who insisted that he had made a second record way back in the early 1960s. But he said he didn’t remember the song titles or the record label’s name; in fact had never even received a copy! These collectors wanted to try to find a copy for him. I did some searching, other people were searching, but nothing turned up. How could it be that, among people who’d been collecting local records for decades, no copy had been found? I formed an opinion that it didn’t exist, or at best had never gone beyond acetate stage.
In that way it was like the legend of the local Supremes 45 – rumored to exist, but nobody had ever seen one. In both cases, we expected these local artists’ records to be found locally. That was the mistake.
With the advent of Google and more advanced searching methods better searching was available but I still couldn’t find anything. Complicating things was the fact that Rabbit claimed to have been taken to King Records to record, by Buffalo’s Donnie Elbert. And the fact that there were many possibilities of label credits – Robert “Count Rabbit” Robinson? Eugene “Geno” (but sometimes Gino”) Washington? Together, separately, or even under some other name?
At that time I wasn’t aware that they had worked out of town for so long.
It wasn’t until I learned that Rabbit had left Buffalo circa 1961 to work in his the city of his early youth that a new possibility came to mind and I contacted some people in Pittsburgh. It was actually through them that I learned that Rabbit and Geno played backup on a Pittsburgh record by vocal group The La-Rells (Public Transportation / I Just Can’t Understand) in 1961. A record I still don’t have! Trying to hunt down a copy, a collector there told me “you know they made a record here too, right?”. And the search was almost over!
It turned out they’d cut a record but it had barely ever made it out of the factory – receiving no distribution. One collector told me only 50 copies were made. This is highly suspect though, as records are never made in batches of 50, and I’ve since tracked down 3 copies (though with great effort!) and seen two more – counting the one in the linked video. Meanwhile another PA collector implied that it was a local hit in Pittsburgh! Which is also suspect, given its rarity.
The truth is probably that only a small amount were pressed and they were sold at club dates. Our dynamic duo appear to have been very popular in the clubs there, which is why they stayed for 6 years.
Deep In The Night came out on TeemA Records in 1962. I don’t know what “TeemA” means but this seems to be only release bearing such a name. The credit on this side reads “Geno & Rabbit”, which confounded exact internet searching asI’d assumed Rabbit always came first! And the flip, Never Before, is credited to Rabbit only. I’m pretty sure Geno is in the background though; and on both sides the La-Rells returned the previous favor by doing vocal backing.
I traded off the first copy I found to my collector friend. I assume he took it to Rabbit. I hope so! It was only a couple years later that Rabbit passed away.
Deep In The Night is another gem, again it’s R&B but has now stepped over the line into Soul. Enjoy!