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Wes Green

Wes Green: “My lawyer told me that I have PTSD”

Wes Green was just 16 when he met and started working on music with Steve Poindexter, close to forty years ago on the Southside of Chicago. Amongst many tracks they were involved with, one of them, Computer Madness went one to be recognised as a seminal house music anthem; a track that was solely credited to Poindexter. Now, Wes Green is telling the story of what really happened, and his decades-long quest to be credited with its production.

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When did you first start working on what would become Computer Madness, and who was involved?

 We first met when I was 16 and living in the Southside of Chicago. Following our introduction, Steve became a regular visitor to my home, where I had set up a basement studio. Steve was not just a collaborator but also a mentor and a big brother figure I admired, making our hangouts all the more enjoyable.

My gear was modest at the time, comprising a Casio Keyboard, a Synsonic Drum, and later, a Roland TR-505, which I purchased thanks to my job at a local grocery store. While browsing a nearby store with Steve, we stumbled upon a Casio CZ-101. Initially dismissive due to its toy-like appearance, Steve convinced me of its value for professional use. Despite my initial disappointment with its sound, the CZ-101’s synthesizer capabilities intrigued me, and I dedicated six months to crafting new sounds late into the night.

Steve’s revelation about connecting a drum machine to a keyboard piqued my interest, leading me to delve into the world of MIDI. I discovered how to assign MIDI channels to drum components in the TR-505 manual, allowing me to use the machine for basslines while maintaining essential drum patterns, which became the foundation of my music, notably in “Computer Madness.” Sharing this discovery with Steve solidified our creative partnership.

What has led you to take legal action against Steve Poindexter?

Until very recently I have never been credited with these tracks: tracks that are mine. I found a lawyer after the record came out and tried to sue.  The lawyer said that it was an underground label and it would be hard to get money from them.  I guess since he was doing this on contingency he didn’t see any money in it for him and he stopped helping me. So, I didn’t see any way forward at the time. But years later a few things happened that made me determined to get myself properly credited for what I made.

How did Roy Davis Jr. first become involved?

In 2013, during the preparations for Martin Luther King’s birthday party in 2014, my cousin Thomas Bowling and a group of DJs, including myself, gathered for a meeting. I vividly recall this meeting took place in December 2013. Upon entering the room, I immediately spotted Steve Poindexter. Alongside Steve, there were several other individuals present, including J.R. Jordan, Roy Davis Jr., and Ellery Cowles, among others.

As I entered, I placed my hand on Steve’s shoulder, and he glanced up at me. In an enthusiastic manner, Steve exclaimed, “This is the guy! This is the guy who helped me create those tracks!” Roy Davis Jr., in his characteristically calm voice, inquired, “Steve, which tracks are you referring to?” Steve replied, “You know, my first EP – ‘Work That Mutha Fucker,’ ‘Computer Madness,’ and so on.” At that moment, I boldly stated, “Those happen to be my tracks!” Steve lowered his head and uttered, “Damn.”

Roy Davis Jr. then suggested we step outside for a private conversation. He expressed, “It’s an honour to meet you, Mr. Green.” In disbelief, I responded, “You’re Roy Davis Jr., the honour is entirely mine.” Roy went on to confirm if I had indeed created “Computer Madness” and “Work That Mutha Fucker,” to which I confirmed. He revealed that those songs had achieved remarkable success, which surprised me, as I believed they had only received minimal radio play. Roy went on to explain that, collectively, the sales of those two tracks had exceeded the sales of all 384 of his published songs at that time, individually.

I couldn’t believe it and exclaimed, “No way!” Roy requested my contact information and connected me with Jeff Craven of Large Records. Jeff verified Roy’s claims by looking up the licensing agreements online. Roy assured me that he would assist in resolving the matter with Steve.

Do you think this could originally have been an honest mistake on Steve’s part?

No, I honestly don’t think it was. And the fact that he’s refused to engage with me properly since confirms my suspicions.

What would you like to happen? Are you demanding financial compensation, or is this more about taking ownership of what you made?

I’m now at the stage where I just want to share the truth with everyone: that’s important to me. I also want people to understand that life is full of unexpected events. It’s essential to realize that encountering challenges or being taken advantage of by someone doesn’t define you as a failure. The key is to remember that you always have the opportunity to work towards making things right.

How do you think this situation has impacted your life and career?

I’m sure that I would have made more music and played parties all over the world if this didn’t happen.  Recently, my lawyer informed me that I have been dealing with PTSD. He explained that hearing the name “Steve Poindexter” or listening to my own songs can trigger emotional responses. Surprisingly, now when I hear my songs being played or mentioned, it affects me, but in a positive way! My journey has been a challenging and lengthy one, but it’s unquestionably a path worth travelling.

Looking to the future, will we hear new music from you soon?

Yes, I have several upcoming tracks in the pipeline. One of them is titled ‘My First Computer,’ which follows a similar electronic style as ‘Computer Madness,’ utilizing the CZ-101 synthesizer but with fresh, custom-made sounds. Another track is called ‘Friction,’ which leans more towards an Afrobeat influence. Additionally, I’ve crafted a remix of my 2014 release ‘Unconditional Love,’ featuring Kaye Fox. You can expect these tracks to be released in December of this year, courtesy of Creative Limited Recordings. This record label is co-owned by Roy Davis Jr. and myself.

If you had a chance to give some advice to your younger self, about this and the industry in general, what do you think you would say? 

I would have told myself to go to the library and ask for help on getting my music copywritten.  I did do the poor man’s copyright but I was told that it wouldn’t hold up in court.  Also, I would say trust yourself and follow your first mind.  My first mind was to tell Steve that we had to go on a weekend when I could come.  It was my equipment, music and Master Tapes!  I let this fast-talking man talk me out of my best judgment.  Also, I would say talk to your mother and father.  Two different perspectives might have helped me make a better decision.

Thank you.

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