CHAPTER THREE

The Fat Man and the Field Marshall

 Eddie Jackson, left, and Courtney Brown grew up together in Paradise Valley. In the 1970s, they became two of Detroit’s biggest heroin dealers.  Courtesy of Courtney Brown Jr..

Eddie Jackson, left, and Courtney Brown grew up together in Paradise Valley. In the 1970s, they became two of Detroit’s biggest heroin dealers. Courtesy of Courtney Brown Jr..

Eddie Jackson and Courtney Brown are childhood best friends from a poor neighborhood. Eddie is the troublemaker, drawn to Detroit’s seamier side; Courtney is his quiet, serious sidekick. As they grow older in a city with dwindling job options, they go their separate ways. But when Eddie dives into the heroin trade, Courtney faces a choice: play it safe and stay broke, or join his friend’s burgeoning empire and get rich.

LISTEN TO CHAPTER THREE


THE FAT MAN RECRUITS THE FIELD MARSHALL

 As he started earning more money from selling heroin, Eddie Jackson, right, developed a taste for the finer things. His appetite eventually earned him the nickname “the Fat Man.”  Courtesy of Courtney Brown Jr.

As he started earning more money from selling heroin, Eddie Jackson, right, developed a taste for the finer things. His appetite eventually earned him the nickname “the Fat Man.” Courtesy of Courtney Brown Jr.

I said, I’m not going nowhere with this. I’m going to see Eddie.
— Courtney Brown
 Courtney Brown was more reserved than Eddie, and he handled many of the operational aspects of the business, earning him the nickname “the Field Marshall.”  Courtesy of Courtney Brown Jr.

Courtney Brown was more reserved than Eddie, and he handled many of the operational aspects of the business, earning him the nickname “the Field Marshall.” Courtesy of Courtney Brown Jr.


THE BUSINESS

 Eddie Jackson dressed up for occasions like the “Fight of the Century” in New York City, where he allegedly made a connection to the Gambino crime family. A photo of Eddie (center) was published in a 1971 issue of Ebony Magazine.  Courtesy of Courtney Brown Jr.

Eddie Jackson dressed up for occasions like the “Fight of the Century” in New York City, where he allegedly made a connection to the Gambino crime family. A photo of Eddie (center) was published in a 1971 issue of Ebony Magazine. Courtesy of Courtney Brown Jr.

We really didn’t know the quality of what we was getting. We just knew it was dope and it was good.
— COURTNEY BROWN

The worst part is seeing my friends that I’ve known all my life, some people got addicted. Some of them broke from it.
— CHARLES RUDOLPH
 Charles Rudolph, one of Eddie’s lieutenants, quickly learned the ins and outs of the heroin business. But he also saw friends grow addicted to the drug and die from overdoses.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Charles Rudolph, one of Eddie’s lieutenants, quickly learned the ins and outs of the heroin business. But he also saw friends grow addicted to the drug and die from overdoses. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.


THE KINGPINS MOVE TO THE SUBURBS

 Eddie’s house in the wealthy suburb of Southfield was outfitted with a swimming pool.  Courtesy of Courtney Brown Jr.

Eddie’s house in the wealthy suburb of Southfield was outfitted with a swimming pool. Courtesy of Courtney Brown Jr.

It was new to me, to know that you could buy anything you wanna buy. And it changed my whole lifestyle.
— COURTNEY BROWN
 Eddie Jackson and Courtney Brown both owned multiple luxury cars. Eddie customized his Cadillac with this “Crowd Pleaser” decal. He would periodically drive the car through depressed areas of Detroit and throw money out of the window.  Courtesy of the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University.

Eddie Jackson and Courtney Brown both owned multiple luxury cars. Eddie customized his Cadillac with this “Crowd Pleaser” decal. He would periodically drive the car through depressed areas of Detroit and throw money out of the window. Courtesy of the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University.


EPISODE CREDITS

Crimetown is Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier. This season is made in partnership with Gimlet Media and Spotify. It’s produced by Samantha Lee, John White, Rob Szypko, and Soraya Shockley. The senior producer is Drew Nelles. Editing by Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier. Editing help from Alex Blumberg and Caitlin Kenney. Fact-checking by Jennifer Blackman. This episode was mixed, sound designed, and scored by Kenny Kusiak. Original music this season composed by Homer Steinweiss. We recorded some original music at Rustbelt Studios in Detroit in partnership with Detroit Sound Conservancy. Special thanks to Carleton Gholz and Maurice “Pirahnahead” Herd.

Additional music by Kenny Kusiak, and additional mixing by Bobby Lord. Our theme song is “Politicians In My Eyes” by Death. Our credit music this week is “Somethang’s” (I just don’t do)” by Detroit Soul Ambassador Melvin Davis. Archival research by Brennan Rees. Show art and design by James Cabrera and Elise Harven. Thanks to the Detroit Free Press, Peter Bhatia, Jim Schaeffer, Mary Schroeder, the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University, Mary Wallace, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, Melissa Samson, the Detroit Historical Society, Scott Burnstein, Courtney Brown Jr., Cody Ryder, and everyone who shared their stories with us. Detroit is an amazing place, and we’re honored to tell a small part of its story.