The Sahara Club was located in the Sahara Hotel, which was on the same street as the Showboat.
The jazz spot featured local favorites, including Jimmy Heath and Bootsie Barnes. Billy Paul met Kenny Gamble while singing at the Sahara Club. Paul recalled:
I was singing in a jazz club called the Sahara. He had a record shop right round the corner and I was singing with a trio at the Sahara club on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. He came over and said, “I am starting a record company and I would like to sign you.” Low and behold I took all the material I sung every weekend and I did an album in three and a half hours — a whole album. I had this album, and I produced it — me and my wife.
And we gave him this album called “Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club” to help start the record company and that was the album that helped start it up. I was singing totally jazz then, but when I heard The Beatles and heard the gospel influence and everything I just said I can make jazz with R&B.
Gamble later wrote and produced “Me and Mrs. Jones,” which was Philadelphia International Records’ first #1 hit.
The Cadillac Club was located in North Philly. It was owned by Benjamin and Ruth Bynum. It played host to legends-in-the-making, including George Benson, Aretha Franklin and Billy Paul.
[Billy] Paul recalled: “[The Cadillac] was a famous, famous club. Aretha Franklin worked there. Me and George Benson used to work there all the time.” Located at 3738 Germantown Ave. in North Philadelphia, the Cadillac opened in 1965 and was run by Benjamin and Ruth Bynum before becoming the Impulse Discothèque in 1977. Benjamin booked the entertainers, Ruth handled the finances, and their two young sons Robert and Benjamin Jr. worked at the club. Benjamin Jr., who with his brother followed in their parents’ footsteps and ran their own jazz club Zanzibar Blue [and here] from 1990-2007.