See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The secret equation: 33+45=78 rpm

Posted By on Tue, Jan 11, 2011 at 5:20 PM

We set it aside when it first came in, but we just got around to reading in its entirety a six-page letter (five pages on 11-inch-by-17-inch sheets, a sixth on 8 1/2-by-11, all front and back, annotated and illustrated, no less) from one Dennis A. Lambiris, written in response to our November Music Issue with our list of the top Detroit hits that should have been.

Lambiris travels far and wide with anecdotes about Detroit music: a tale of how he and others nearly saved the Graystone Ballroom, a plea to save the Vanity Ballroom on Detroit’s east side, reminisces of Nolan Strong’s funeral and seeing Rob Tyner for the last time, an account of pirate radio operation “WLSD & WFAG,” etc., etc.

Naturally, Lambiris shares his favorite tunes, many new to us (like “Black Saxs” b/w “Wicked Ruby” by Danny Zella & the Zell Rocks, starting off the list, spelled just like that), others familiar (such as Nolan Strong’s “Mind Over Matter”).

And there was this story, its text around the edges of a sheet filled with copies of labels from classic 45s: “I was almost beaten to death in 2002. I was comatose and unconscious for over five months. When I finally came to, the doctor said that, while I was out, some old black and white guys came and visited me and left me something to help me in my recovery. I asked the doctor what was it and he reached out and put a framed, full-color picture of the Fortune Records Company building on my chest. Talk about class.”

Of course, the 45 labels on that page were from the Fortune label: “609 Boogie” by John Lee Hooker, “Detroit Hula Girl” by York Bros., “Just Because of a Kiss” by Andre Williams among them.

But what we haven’t been able to get over is a simple equation written several times in his letter. In several photographs, the equation also is written on the burned-out Fortune Records storefront with someone, we guess Lambiris, posing. The equation: 33+45=78 rpm.

How come we never noticed that before?

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 28, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit