(Updated August 23, 2014)
These were two separate rock and roll singers from the 1960s. They make a very interesting story. There has been confusion among record collectors for decades.
Velvet is Jimmy Tennant, Velvit is James Mullins. They worked together in the early 60s, Tennant acting as manager for Mullins. Then they split due to disagreements.
Mullins started everything by recording We Belong Together in Texas in 1961. He was noticed, and became part of a tour with Chuck Berry. When American Bandstand tried to find him they couldn't locate him. Tennant then took his place, using the show name Jimmy Velvet. From there Tennant (Velvet) became the celebrity, and Mullins (Velvit) faded. Velvet became championned by Dick Clark. His own rendition of We Belong Together became a minor national top 100 hit, as well as his recording of It's Almost Tomorrow.
They are both still around and have kept doing occasional recording.
LEFT: JIMMY VELVET (TENNANT)
RIGHT: JIMMY VELVIT (MULLINS)
Velvet 201 single from 1963. Sung by Tennant, copying both sides of Mullins' previous single:
Notice that the label is printed with the name VELVIT, and it appears that the I has been changed with a marker into E. You can right-click and view an image larger. These are newly arranged by Bill Justis, which was not the case with Mullins' record. This is a hopelessly rare record. He released this on his own label, which did not get enough distribution. Feel free to post any knowledge you have.
When ABC-Paramount released his rendition nationally in 1963 as #10488, he put "History Of Love" on the other side, and never did I'm Gonna Try again.
We Belong Together by Jimmy Velvit (Mullins)
We Belong Together by Jimmy Velvet (Tennant)
I'm Gonna Try by Mullins
I'm Gonna Try by Tennant
Here are some Jimmy Velvet biographical notes from his obscure 1973 album "Blue Velvet". At the time he was still recording and releasing on his own "Music City Records". To view it separately more clearly, click on it.
Jimmy Velvit biographical notes from a 2000 CD "The Original Jimmy Velvit - Rockin' With Velvit ...the 1960s" on the Seduction label, #SCD-102. It's a good one to get, if only it were available.
There's a certain amount of lying or misinformation in the hit claims. Neither one of them had a national #1 hit, only local. And only Tennant appeared on the Billboard top 100 - his We Belong Together was #75 in 1963 on the ABC-Paramount label, and It's Almost Tomorrow was #93 in 1965 on the Philips label.
Jimmy Velvit's national releases
After releasing some songs and having local Dallas hits on the Division label, MGM's Cub label released two of them nationally:
Sometimes At Night /Look At Me ____1961 Cub #9100
We Belong Together /I'm Gonna Try __1962 Cub #9105
The James Velvet single
As if there wasn't enough confusion in this, Cub also released #9111 in 1962 by James Velvet. This was a completely different Motown negro singer. It contained Bouquet Of Flowers and When I Needed You.
Listen to samples of both sides:
James Velvet - Bouquet Of Flowers, When I Needed You
Tennant and Mullins working together
Here's a clue on how they worked together in the early 1960s. Tennant actually became quite involved in the music business, and set up his own booking agency in Dallas. This poster shows one of his productions, which included Jimmy Velvit. This would be Mullins singing, not Tennant, before Tennant started using the Velvet name. Soon after this his venture folded and he returned to Florida.
Recording engineer Phil York of Dallas has the only photo of the two Jimmys together, in the recording studio. We could use more information on their involvement at the time. Tennant doesn't mention Mullins in his book "Inside the Dream".