NOTE: We are re-posting this story from July of 2018 on request.
Mansfield has produced and nurtured its fair share of talent over its 200 year history. The roster of individuals born, raised, and supported here that have achieved some measure of success in artistic endeavors is a long one.
Sure, you know of Luke Perry, and Sylvia McNair, and the Music Explosion. Have you heard of Darrell Banks, however? No, not the Richland County Commissioner; we’re referring to a name known to many lovers of pop and soul music in the latter part of the 1960s.
Darrell Eubanks (later known as Darrell Banks) was born in Mansfield in 1937, but grew up in Buffalo, New York. His love of music and signing came from gospel singing as a youth, but by 1966 he was recording singles in an attempt to make it big. His first single was “Open the Door to Your Heart,” which hit the #2 spot on the R&B chart and #27 on Billboard’s Top 100.
Other singles included “Here Come the Tears,” “Angel Baby,” and “I Wanna Go Home,” the latter under the Atlantic Records label.
The end of Banks’ life was marked by tragedy. In February 1970, he was shot and killed by policeman Aaron Bullock in Detroit, Michigan. According to an online biography, “The story goes that Banks was seeing a woman named Marjorie Bozeman, who was trying to break off the relationship. Bullock intervened when Banks grabbed Bozeman’s arm and pulled a gun and shot him. Banks was then rushed to the New Grace Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, where he was pronounced dead at the age of 32.”
Some 27 years later, a three-track compilation album was released of Banks’ music. Then, in December 2014, an online auction in the UK saw a bidder pay some $23,000 for an original pressing of “Open the Door to Your Heart,” and other of his singles have become collectible.
Buried in an unmarked grave in Detroit, an international funding campaign resulted in a memorial bench being placed over Banks’ grave in 2004.
Mansfielders had the opportunity at least once to listen to their native son in person. As he was getting started singing in nightclubs and music halls, a 22 year old Banks — then still going by Darrell Eubanks – visited Mansfield in 1959 to sing at Fergie’s Blue Note, located at 214 North Main Street. Billed as “Mansfield’s Own Singer,” he shared the bill with Natoma, the “Interpretive Dancer Fire Goddess” (no, we did not make that up); Catina LaDoll, an “Exotic Dancer;” and D. Ware, a “Singer of Blues.”
Now, in 2018, you can listen to Darrell Banks as well. Here he is with “I’m the One Who Loves You.”
Sources: Wikipedia, Find-A-Grave, Mansfield News Journal; Photo: by source, fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40651868