La Cade Products was another of many Chicago-based black hair care firms (that I detail here) during the late 60s through the 1970s. Though not as well-known as Supreme Products (who created Duke and Raveen) or Johnson Products (who created Soft Sheen, Afro Sheen, and Ultra Sheen), La Cade left behind scant but fascinating evidence of its existence.
First off, it left some pretty great advertisements starting around 1972 (my favorite is above, from a 1974 issue of Ebony Magazine). How’s that for swagger? There’s a sort of street romantic and cinematic appeal to the image used. They also came up with some clever product names: one of which got them in legal trouble… but we’ll dig into that later in this post.
Most notably, to me (and probably, many Darkjive readers, as well) is that sometime around 1974 La Cade decided to put together a small recording division, based at their Corporate Headquarters (2411 South Michigan in Chicago). They recorded no less than two artists on two singles: both of which are as gritty and charismatic as the ad above.
The first is “Beginning of the Void” backed by “Love Me Too” by Danny Hunt (who sounds to me very much like a young Stevie Wonder on his records). I actually love this record. Very soulful, with a stone cold groove, the lyrics are remarkably socially aware and include:
Just another ghetto child
never see his Daddy smile
He’s in the beginning of his void
The following year, Hunt released a beast of a cut arranged by the iconic Tom Tom Washington and released on Dynamite Records (another tiny Chicago-based imprint). Last time I checked, Danny Hunt was alive and well in the Chicago-area singing Gospel music.
The other record I have found is by Walter “Butterball” Davis, titled “Baby (Wacha Doin to me)” backed by “Girl Stop Begging”. He had also put out a record called “Nobody Cares for a Junkie” on Butterball Records… it’s deep. Really deep. But, Back to “Girl Stop Begging”: the cut is a bluesy-funky little gem penned by Davis himself.
Both records suffered from lack of promotion and distribution and stalled out. It was about this time that La Cade trademarked a product name that I think is very seventies and cool: “The Last Tangle”, presumably inspired by the controversial 1972 film “Last Tango in Paris”. In the film (which was Rated X at the time), Marlon Brando’s middle-aged character has a torrid affair with a soon to be married young Parisian woman with scandalous results. Oh yes, these folks had some swagger.
Not long after La Cade’s foray into the Record Business, they were embroiled in a legal battle with one Roux Laboratories over a product name. The Laboratories were initially contesting La Cade’s claim to copyright the term “Mink” as in La Cade’s product “Ultra Mink”. Roux Laboratories apparently had a hair product called “White Minx” and stated that the product names were too close for comfort. The case took a turn when Roux Laboratories’ counsel stated:
MR. SULLIVAN: I would like to renew my running objection that the only question involved here is the applicant’s right to use the descriptive term “ultra.”We do not object to its use of the term “Mink,” which has been disclaimed by applicant. Neither have we objected to the use of others using the term “Mink,” but we are objecting to the use of the descriptive term “ultra” which we had adopted and used as part of the “ultra White Minx” trademark but using “ultra” merely in its descriptive connotation, and that is the whole substance of this opposition.—ROUX LABORATORIES, INC. v. LA CADE PRODUCTS CO. 558 F.2d 33 (1977)
Ultimately, Roux Laboratories’ counsel dropped the complaint, but not without costing La Cade a lot of money in legal fees. By 1977, the firm had stopped advertising in Ebony Magazine, had stopped releasing records, and the trail goes otherwise cold. But, in a few short years, La Cade surely left behind some waves: both soundwaves and hair waves. Jive on!
April 11th, 2012 at 9:49 pm
Danny Hunts “The Beginning Of The Void”, Dope, Dope, Dope! Love the blog and this cut. The search is on!
April 12th, 2012 at 10:59 am
I agree, truelivin. It’s one of my favorite lesser known Chicago cuts. Luckily, that record is not super-hard to find. Good Luck.
April 19th, 2013 at 1:40 pm
This is fantastic. Danny Hunt can be found at DannyHuntMusic.com Great music.
September 12th, 2013 at 11:40 pm
Danny Hunt is at http://www.DannyHuntMusic.com
April 7th, 2016 at 10:56 am
[…] (for more of the LaCade Records story [including music] click here) […]
May 15th, 2020 at 2:47 pm
I hate this company no longer sells la Cade hair grease. My hair grew so long with this stuff, it smelled great and it was the truth.
March 1st, 2021 at 11:42 pm
This was my grandfather! Thank you so much for doing an article about him! Info on his legend is hard to come by!
March 17th, 2021 at 4:01 pm
Thank you, Carmen. It was definitely a challenge to dig up info, but those ads (and the records) are so cool, the legacy definitely deserved to have some light shone on it!
August 2nd, 2021 at 2:02 pm
Good afternoon trying to find this Lacade hair grease or can I order it from your company been looking for it for quite some time helping me with this matter will be deeply appreciate thank you have a good day
September 4th, 2022 at 9:58 pm
Walter “Butterball” Davis was my father. I didn’t know he sang and made music for a hair company! Thank you as well for this article, I’d love to learn more about him.