Marion Black

Marion Black will always be best known for his signature composition “Who Knows.” Millions have now heard the song in television shows, movies, and advertisements, as its somber groove is constantly in demand for its undeniable dramatic effect. Black’s career began in 1969 when the singer approached Columbus, Ohio, music maven Bill Moss with a song he had written called “Who Knows.” Essentially a sophisticated blues number, Moss felt that he could turn it into a hit. Black’s distinctively deep voice was the perfect vehicle for the haunted lyrics and the single would launch Moss’ flagship Capsoul label. Ironically the flipside of the Capsoul 45, “Go On Fool,” became the minor hit, peaking at #39 on the 1971 Billboard R&B chart. Black never quit his day job as a headwaiter, however, and only toured lightly in support of the single. He also felt that he didn’t make enough money from the obviously successful single, so he chose not to record for Moss again.

Black’s career slowed down when it should have sped up, and he didn’t enter a studio again until the call came from Clem Price, whose Prix label was still on the quest for a hit record. Black remained technically under contract with Moss, so a deal was drawn up to buy him out. Black would record prolifically at Harmonic Sounds, rehearsing his compositions constantly. “Listen Black Brother” takes the dark mood of “Who Knows” into the gritty terrain of social commentary and strains any semblance of hope out of the tune. His other releases on Prix included “I’m Gonna Get Loaded” and “(More Love) Is All We Need” and were less musically successful efforts. Later in the 1970s, Black would produce himself at Jack Casey’s Rome Studio on East Broad Street, which yielded another nationally distributed single, “Off The Critical List” on Shakat, and a handful more.

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