Barry Despenza

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Barry Despenza co-wrote Tyrone Davis' number one R&B hit, "Can I Change My Mind" and its Top Five R&B/ Top Forty Pop followup, "Is It Something That You've Got." Despenza was the Midwest A&R director…
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Barry Despenza co-wrote Tyrone Davis' number one R&B hit, "Can I Change My Mind" and its Top Five R&B/ Top Forty Pop followup, "Is It Something That You've Got." Despenza was the Midwest A&R director for Los Angeles-based ABC Records during the late '60s. The impetus for "Can I Change My Mind" was Despenza's despondent over the problems that he was having in a romantic relationship. While at Peyton Place, a Cottage Grove Avenue lounge on Chicago's south side, he began to scribble down lyrics on a cocktail napkin while saxophonist Monk Higgins performed. Later he collaborated on the song idea with guitarist Carl Wolfolk. Despenza initially thought the same would be perfect for a Chicago-based singer signed to ABC, Bobby Rush. But another local singer signed to ABC became interested in the song, Tyrone Davis. But then two events happened in succession: Despenza was fired by ABC and Davis was dropped from the ABC roster.

Davis' manager Wally Roker decided to pay for the recording session to track "Can I Change My Mind," which were done at Ray Charles' LA studio, Tangerine. The music was arranged by Monk Higgins. The finished master was submitted to ABC Records who accepted it but then decided not to release it. Davis then signed with Dakar Records, headed by producer Carl Davis (Jackie Wilson, Chi-Lites, Gene Chandler). "Can I Change My Mind" was re-recorded in Chicago with producer Willie Henderson. The rhythm section was drummer Quinton Joseph, bassist Bernard Reed, pianist Floyd Morris, rhythm guitarist "Mighty" Joe Young and lead guitarist Carl Wolfolk. The track was then released as the B-side of the blues shouter "A Woman Needs To Be Loved." Then KYOK Houston DJs Wild Child and Bugaloo George began playing the single's B-side "Can I Change My Mind," and the record took off. Issued as a Dakar single distributed by Atlantic Records, "Can I Change My Mind" held the #1 R&B spot for three weeks and went to #5 Pop on Billboard's charts in late 1968. The Can I Change My Mind LP went to #12 R&B and #148 Pop in spring 1969. Despenza co-wrote the "Can I..." followup, "Is It Something That You've Got," which made it to #5 R&B and #34 Pop in spring 1969. It appeared on the album, Turning Back the Hands of Time, which peaked at #9 R&B and #90 Pop in summer 1970.