Dynamic Duo in The D – Eddie & Courtney’s reign

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“Eddie Jackson was old school and represents that whole era right before things kind of went crazy in the 80s,” Taylor said. “People were drawn to him and he ran with a fast, celebrity-filled crowd. He was cool and calm, not a hothead and not someone who wanted to start chopping people up like some of his successors. Making money and having fun was what he got off on, not death and destruction. He was the last of that kind in a lot of ways.”

The larger Eddie’s name became on the streets, the more high-profile company he started to keep. Word quickly spread after Henry Marzette’s passing that the best place to get your stuff was with Eddie Jackson and “The Empire.” And it wasn’t just within the city’s drug world. Practically all of Detroit’s biggest black celebrities of the time who used drugs as habit or mere recreation beat a warn path to Eddie’s doorstep. Motown Records stars David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks and Marvin Gaye were frequent social companions of Eddie and Courtney and some of his best customers. When men like comedians Richard Pryor and Red Foxx came into town for gigs, Eddie’s house was often their first stop once they touched down at the airport.

It was at this time that Eddie also developed a very close relationship with iconic black author, Donald Goines, a born and bred Detroiter himself. Goines, who made a legendary reputation in the African-American community writing fictional stories of seedy street life, was fascinated by Jackson, his profession and position in the underworld and the fact that the Fat Man lived the stories he wrote about. They would spend days on end holed up in luxury hotel suites together snorting cocaine and exchanging stories back and forth. Often Eddie would take Goines with him on business trips to New York or on vacations out West to California to see the music concerts of the men he was supplying back in Michigan. Rumor has it that one of Goines’ most celebrated novels, “Dopefiend ,“ as well as several others had central characters in the plot based on Eddie Jackson and instances depicted in the storylines plucked straight from their friendship.

Eddie and the Empire hit their full stride in the fall of 1973. The top of the mountain peak brought in more money than possibly fathomable, even by today’s standard. Unfortunately, like was the case with much of the success on he attained on the wrong side of the law, it was accompanied by a series of bitter legal setbacks.

“When I arrived in Detroit in the 1970s, it was evident that Eddie Jackson out in Southfield was controlling most of the drugs flowing into the city,” said Mike Carone. “I was advised that he had taken over operations from Henry Marzette. Not a lot of people remember or talk about Jackson today, maybe because he didn’t have the flashy nickname or wasn’t spread all over the headlines ordering killings and stuff. But he was as big as they got in that world in Detroit for a good chunk of time.”

Earlier that year, Eddie, Courtney and nearly three dozen of their lieutenants were convicted in federal court on drug conspiracy charges. The government’s evidence was too damning to overcome. Roosevelt Nabors’ testimony, combined with the wiretap transcripts and the surprise testimony of George Blair’s wife Ruth, who told of life inside the Jackson-Brown compound and inner-circle, simply blew the jury away and led to a fast guilty verdict.

It continued to get worse as Jackson and Ronnie Garrett were convicted of further federal charges spawning from a routine June 1972 traffic stop on the Pennsylvania turnpike where police found 11 kilos of heroin and three kilos of cocaine in their vehicle.

Bonded out on both charges by mob-connected bail-bondsmen, Charles “Chuckie G” Goldfarb,” Eddie went about business as usual. And business was more than good. From October until December, The Empire cleared a staggering 50 million dollars, clocking nearly a million dollars a day of gross profit.

The good times lasted for another four years until April of 1977, when with all of his appeals exhausted, Eddie Jackson was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison, ordered to be served concurrently between both the Detroit and Pennsylvania convictions. The Judge in the Detroit case didn’t take it much easier on Courtney, hitting him with a 21-year bit. Released on an appeal bond in 1983, Jackson went back to work in the drug game for 15 months before being jailed on another narcotics conviction. He died of natural causes in April 1995 in a federal prison in Colorado. Following his release, Courtney Brown also drifted back into the world of illicit powder and was hit with a federal drug best and sent back to jail in 2002.

“Most people don’t remember Eddie Jackson these days”, Taylor said. “But he is an important figure from that time period. Men like him and Marzette, blazed a trail for all the guys, like YBI, Pony Down and Best Friends, who came after him. Jackson represented a mentality, a level of empowerment that people around Detroit had never been exposed to before. The fact that all the characters that most people know of that followed him in the game had that same mentality at the core, a mindset that ‘Hey, I’m gonna go for mine and not bow down to anyone’, is no coincidence.”

Motown Mafia Detroit Kingpins
Eddie Jackson and his son Eddie, jr

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