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Showing posts with label Rhythm 'N Blues. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rhythm 'N Blues. Show all posts

Friday, October 28, 2011

Nina Simone






Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), better known by her stage name Nina Simone , was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music. Simone aspired to become a classical pianist while working in a broad range of styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.
Born the sixth child of a preacher's family in North Carolina, Simone aspired to be a concert pianist as a child. Her musical path changed direction after she was denied a scholarship to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, despite a well-received audition. Simone was later told by someone working at Curtis that she was rejected because she was black. She then began playing in a small club in Philadelphia to fund her continuing musical education to become a classical pianist and was required to sing as well. She was approached for a recording by Bethlehem Records, and her rendition of "I Loves You Porgy" became a smash hit in the United States in 1958. Over the length of her career, Simone recorded more than 40 albums, mostly between 1958 — when she made her debut with Little Girl Blue — and 1974.
Her musical style arose from a fusion of gospel and pop songs with classical music, in particular with influences from her first inspiration, Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied with her expressive jazz-like singing in her characteristic low tenor. She injected as much of her classical background into her music as possible to give it more depth and quality, as she felt that pop music was inferior to classical. Her intuitive grasp on the audience-performer relationship was gained from a unique background of playing piano accompaniment for church revivals and sermons regularly from the early age of six years.
After 20 years of performing, she became involved in the civil rights movement and the direction of her life shifted once again. Simone's music was highly influential in the fight for equal rights in the US
Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, North Carolina. The sixth of eight children in a poor family, she began playing piano at age three; the first song she learned was "God Be With You, Till We Meet Again". Demonstrating a talent with the instrument, she performed at her local church, but her concert debut, a classical recital, was given when she was twelve. Simone later claimed that during this performance her parents, who had taken seats in the front row, were forced to move to the back of the hall to make way for white people. Simone said she refused to play until her parents were moved back to the front, and that the incident contributed to her later involvement in the civil rights movement.
Simone's mother, Mary Kate Waymon, was a strict Methodist minister and a housemaid. Simone's father, John Divine Waymon, was a handyman who at one time owned a dry cleaning business, but who also suffered bouts of ill health. Mary Kate's employer, hearing of her daughter's talent, provided funds for piano lessons. Subsequently, a local fund was set up to assist in Simone's continued education. With the assistance of this scholarship money she attended high school.
After finishing high school, she had studied for an interview with the help of a private tutor to study piano further at the Curtis Institute, but she was rejected. Simone believed that this rejection was related directly to her race. Simone then moved to New York City, where she studied at the Juilliard School of Music.
To fund her private lessons, Simone performed at the Midtown Bar & Grill on Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City, whose owner insisted that she sing as well as play the piano. In 1954 she adopted the stage name Nina Simone. "Nina" (from niña, meaning 'little girl' in Spanish) was a nickname a boyfriend had given to her, and "Simone" was taken from the French actress Simone Signoret, whom she had seen in the movie Casque d'or. Simone's mixture of jazz, blues, and classical music in her performances at the bar earned her a small, but loyal, fan base.
In 1958, she befriended and married Don Ross, a beatnik who worked as a fairground barker, but quickly regretted their marriage. After playing in small clubs, in 1958 she recorded a rendition of George Gershwin's "I Loves You Porgy" (from Porgy and Bess), which she learned from a Billie Holiday album and performed as a favor to a friend. It became her only Billboard top 40 success in the United States, and her debut album Little Girl Blue soon followed on Bethlehem Records. Simone missed out on more than $1 million in royalties (mainly because of the successful re-release of My Baby Just Cares for Me during the 1980s) and never benefited financially from the album, because she had sold her rights to it for $3,000.
After the success of Little Girl Blue, Simone signed a contract with Colpix Records, and recorded a string of studio and live albums. Colpix relinquished all creative control to her, including the choice of material that would be recorded, in exchange for her signing the contract with them. At this point, Simone only performed pop music to make money to continue her classical music studies, and was indifferent about having a recording contract. She kept this attitude toward the record industry for most of her career.
Simone married a New York police detective, Andrew Stroud, in 1961; Stroud later became her manager
In 1964, she changed record distributors, from the American Colpix to the Dutch Philips, which also meant a change in the contents of her recordings. Simone had always included songs in her repertoire that drew upon her African-American origins (such as "Brown Baby" and "Zungo" on Nina at the Village Gate in 1962). On her debut album for Philips, Nina Simone In Concert (live recording, 1964), however, Simone for the first time openly addressed the racial inequality that was prevalent in the United States with the song "Mississippi Goddam", her response to the murder of Medgar Evers and the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four black children. The song was released as a single, and it was boycotted in certain southern states. "Old Jim Crow", on the same album, addressed the Jim Crow Laws.
From then on, a civil rights message was standard in Simone's recording repertoire, becoming a part of her live performances. Simone performed and spoke at many civil rights meetings, such as at the Selma to Montgomery marches.Simone advocated violent revolution during the civil rights period, rather than Martin Luther King's non-violent approach, and she hoped that African Americans could, by armed combat, form a separate state. Nevertheless, she wrote in her autobiography that she and her family regarded all races as equal.
She covered Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit", a song about the lynching of black men in the South, on Pastel Blues (1965). She also sang the W. Cuney poem "Images" on Let It All Out (1966), about the absence of pride she saw among African-American women. Simone wrote "Four Women", a song about four different stereotypes of African-American women, and included the recording on her 1966 album Wild Is the Wind.
Simone moved from Philips to RCA Victor during 1967. She sang "Backlash Blues", written by her friend Langston Hughes on her first RCA album, Nina Simone Sings The Blues (1967). On Silk & Soul (1967), she recorded Billy Taylor's "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" and "Turning Point". The album Nuff Said (1968) contains live recordings from the Westbury Music Fair, April 7, 1968, three days after the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. She dedicated the whole performance to him and sang "Why? (The King Of Love Is Dead)", a song written by her bass player, Gene Taylor, directly after the news of King's death had reached them. In the summer of 1969 she performed at the Harlem Cultural Festival in Harlem's Mount Morris Park.
Together with Weldon Irvine, Simone turned the late Lorraine Hansberry's unfinished play To Be Young, Gifted, and Black into a civil rights song. Hansberry had been a personal friend whom Simone credited with cultivating her social and political consciousness. She performed the song live on the album Black Gold (1970). A studio recording was released as a single, and renditions of the song have been recorded by Aretha Franklin (on her 1972 album Young, Gifted and Black) and by Donny Hathaway.
Simone left the United States in September 1970, flying to Barbados and expecting Stroud to communicate with her when she had to perform again. However, Stroud interpreted Simone's sudden disappearance, and the fact that she had left behind her wedding ring, as an indication of a desire for a divorce. As her manager, Stroud was in charge of Simone's income.
When Simone returned to the United States she learned that a warrant had been issued for her arrest for unpaid taxes (as a protest against her country's involvement with the Vietnam War), causing her to return to Barbados again to evade the authorities and prosecution.Simone stayed in Barbados for quite some time and she had a lengthy affair with the Prime Minister, Errol Barrow.[[25] A close friend, singer Miriam Makeba, then persuaded her to go to Liberia. After that she lived in Switzerland and the Netherlands, before settling in France during 1992.
She recorded her last album for RCA Records, It Is Finished, during 1974. Simone did not make another record until 1978, when she was persuaded to go into the recording studio by CTI Records owner Creed Taylor. The result was the album Baltimore, which, while not a commercial success, did get good reviews and marked a quiet artistic renaissance in Simone's recording output. Her choice of material retained its eclecticism, ranging from spiritual songs to Hall & Oates' "Rich Girl". Four years later Simone recorded Fodder On My Wings on a French label. During the 1980s Simone performed regularly at Ronnie Scott's jazz club in London, where she recorded the album Live at Ronnie Scott's in 1984. Although her early on-stage style could be somewhat haughty and aloof, in later years, Simone particularly seemed to enjoy engaging her audiences sometimes by recounting humorous anecdotes related to her career and music and by soliciting requests. In 1987, the original 1958 recording of "My Baby Just Cares For Me" was used in a commercial for Chanel No. 5 perfume in the United Kingdom. This led to a re-release of the recording, which stormed to number 4 on the UK's NME singles chart, giving her a brief surge in popularity in the UK. Her autobiography, I Put a Spell on You, was published in 1992. She recorded her last album, A Single Woman, in 1993.
In 1993, Simone settled near Aix-en-Provence in Southern France. She had suffered from breast cancer for several years before she died in her sleep at her home in Carry-le-Rouet, Bouches-du-Rhône on April 21, 2003. (In addition, Simone received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder in the late 1980s. Her funeral service was attended by singers Miriam Makeba and Patti Labelle, poet Sonia Sanchez, actor Ossie Davis, and hundreds of others. Elton John sent a floral tribute with the message "You were the greatest and I love you".[ Simone's ashes were scattered in several African countries. She left behind a daughter, Lisa Celeste Stroud, an actress and singer, who took the stage name Simone, and has appeared on Broadway in Aida.

Discography(Studio&Lives):



1958 Little Girl Blue (Studio) Bethlehem Records part 1 part 2
1959 Nina Simone and Her Friends (Studio) Bethlehem Records
1959 The Amazing Nina Simone (Studio) Colpix Records altrn
1959 Nina Simone at Town Hall (Live and studio) Colpix Records altrn
1960 Nina Simone at Newport (Live) Colpix Records part 1 part 2
1960 Forbidden Fruit (Studio) Colpix Records
1962 Nina at the Village Gate (Live) Colpix Records part 1 part 2
1962 Nina Simone Sings Ellington (Live) Colpix Records
1963 Nina Simone at Carnegie Hall (Live) Colpix Records
1964 Folksy Nina (Live) Colpix Records
1964 Nina Simone in Concert (Live) Philips Records altrn
1964 Broadway-Blues-Ballads (Studio) Philips Records altrn
1965 I Put a Spell on You (Studio) Philips Records
1965 Pastel Blues (Studio) Philips Records altrn
1966 Nina Simone with Strings (Studio) (strings added) Colpix
1966 Let It All Out (Live and studio) Philips
1966 Wild Is the Wind (Studio) Philips
1967 High Priestess of Soul (Studio) Philips
1967 Nina Simone Sings the Blues (Studio) RCA Records
1967 Silk & Soul (Studio) RCA Records altrn
1968 Nuff Said (Live and studio) RCA Records
1969 Nina Simone and Piano (Studio) RCA Records
1969 To Love Somebody (Studio) RCA Records
1970 Black Gold (Live) RCA Records
1971 Here Comes the Sun (Studio) RCA Records
1972 Emergency Ward (Live and Studio) RCA Records altrn
1974 It Is Finished (Live) RCA Records
1978 Baltimore (Studio) CTI Records
1982 Fodder on My Wings (Studio) Carrere
1984 Backlash (Live) StarJazz
1985 Nina's Back (Studio) VPI
1985 Live & Kickin (Live) VPI
1987 Let It Be Me (Live) Verve
1987 Live at Ronnie Scott's (Live) Hendring-Wadham
1993 A Single Woman
(Studio) Elektra Records


Compilation:

2000 The Essential Nina Simone" (compilation, RCA, ) FLAC



Saturday, October 23, 2010

Legend: Otis Redding

Otis Ray Redding, Jr. (September 9, 1941 – December 10, 1967) was an American soul singer. Often called the "King of Soul", he is renowned for an ability to convey strong emotion through his voice. According to the website of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (where he was inducted in 1989), Redding's name is "synonymous with the term soul, music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm and blues into a form of funky, secular testifying." In addition, rock critic Jon Landau said in 1967, "Otis Redding is rock & roll".Redding died in a plane crash at the age of 26, one month before his biggest hit, "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay", was released. Redding was born in the small town of Dawson, Georgia. When he was five, his family moved to Macon, Georgia, where Redding sang in a church choir and as a teenager won the talent show at the Douglass Theatre for fifteen weeks in a row.His earliest influence was Little Richard (Richard Penniman), also a Macon resident.Redding said, "If it hadn't been for Little Richard, I would not be here. I entered the music business because of Richard – he is my inspiration. I used to sing like Little Richard, his Rock 'n' Roll stuff, you know. Richard has soul, too. My present music has a lot of him in it." The sleeve notes accompanying the 1966 Atlantic album Otis Blue – Otis Redding Sings Soul, written by Bob Rolontz, describe Redding's early career: "Like all success stories, it was a long path for Otis Redding before he first hit on records. He entered and won a number of local amateur contests in his home town of Macon. Redding became the vocalist with Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers, a group that had started to establish itself in Southern colleges and universities. An early record that Otis Redding made with the group, 'Love Twist' (which was released on Atlantic) created some regional action. A long time after that while Redding was still a member of the group, he recorded his own song 'These Arms Of Mine,' at the end of a Pinetoppers session. It became a solid hit, and Redding was on his way." In 1960, Redding began touring the South with Johnny Jenkins and The Pinetoppers. In addition to singing, Redding also served as Jenkins' driver (the bandleader did not possess a driver's license). That same year he made his first recordings, "Fat Gal" and "Shout Bamalama," with this group under the name "Otis Redding and The Pinetoppers," issued on the Orbit and Confederate record labels before being picked up by King. In 1962, Redding made his first real mark in the music business during a Johnny Jenkins session when, during studio time left over, he recorded "These Arms of Mine", a ballad that he had written. The song became a minor hit on Volt Records, a subsidiary of the renowned Southern soul label Stax, based in Memphis, Tennessee. His manager was a fellow Maconite, Phil Walden (who later co-founded Capricorn Records). Redding was also managed for a brief period by Walden's younger brother Alan Walden while Phil was overseas due to a military draft.Otis Redding continued to release for Stax/Volt, and built his fan base by extensively touring a live show with support from fellow Stax artists Sam & Dave. Further hits between 1964 and 1966 included "Mr. Pitiful", "I Can't Turn You Loose" (a sped-up instrumental version was to become The Blues Brothers entrance theme music), "Try a Little Tenderness" (a remake of the 1930s standard by Harry Woods, Jimmy Campbell, and Reg Connelly, later featured in John Hughes' film Pretty in Pink), "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones), and "Respect" (later a smash hit for Aretha Franklin). Redding wrote many of his own songs, which was unusual for the time, often with Steve Cropper (of the Stax house band Booker T. & the M.G.'s, who usually served as Otis's backing band in the studio). Soul singer Jerry Butler co-wrote another hit, "I've Been Loving You Too Long". One of Redding's few songs with a significant mainstream following was "Tramp", (1967) a duet with Carla Thomas. In 1967, Redding performed at the large and influential Monterey Pop Festival. His extraordinary musical gifts were then exposed to a wider audience and may have contributed to his subsequent success as a popular music recording artist. On December 9, 1967, Redding and his backup band, The Bar-Kays, made an appearance in Cleveland, Ohio on the local "Upbeat" television show. That night they performed at Leo's Casino, a small venue club in Cleveland. The next afternoon, Redding, his manager, the pilot, and four members of The Bar-Kays were killed when his Beechcraft 18 airplane crashed into Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin, on December 10, 1967. The two remaining Bar-Kays were Ben Cauley and James Alexander. Cauley was the only person aboard Redding's plane to survive the crash. Alexander was on another plane, since there were eight members in Redding's party and the plane could only hold seven, and it was Alexander's turn in the rotation to take a commercial flight. Ben Cauley reported that he had been asleep until seconds before impact, and recalled that upon waking he saw bandmate Phalon Jones look out a window and say, "Oh, no!" Cauley said the last thing he remembered before the crash was unbuckling his seatbelt. He then found himself in the frigid waters of the lake, grasping a seat cushion to keep afloat. Redding's body was recovered the next day when the lake bed was searched.He was entombed on his private ranch in Round Oak, Georgia, 23 miles (37 km) north of Macon. The cause of the crash was never precisely determined. Redding was survived by his wife Zelma, mother and father, his daughter Karla and his sons Dexter and Otis III.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________




Studio albums


  • Pain in My Heart (Atco Records_January 1, 1964)
  • The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads (Volt Records_March,1965)
  • Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul (Volt Records_September 15, 1965)
  • The Soul Album (Volt Records_April 1,1966)
  • Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul (Volt _1966)
  • King & Queen (with Carla Thomas) (Stax Records_March 16,1967)

Posthumous studio albums


  • The Dock of the Bay (Volt Records_February 23, 1968)
  • The Immortal Otis Redding (Atco Records_1968)
  • Love Man (Atco Records_1969)
  • Tell the Truth (Atco Records_1970)

Live albums
  • Otis Redding - Live in London and Paris 1967 [2008 Stax] 
  • Live in Europe(Atco,1967)
  • In Person at the Whisky a Go Go(Atco,1968)
  • Live On The Sunset Strip(Stax,2010(1966))

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Legendary Esther Phillips




Esther Phillips (December 23, 1935 – August 7, 1984) was an American singer. Phillips was known for her R&B vocals,[1] but she was a versatile singer, also performing pop, country, jazz, blues and soul music.

Biography
Early life
Born Esther Mae Jones in Galveston, Texas, when she was an adolescent, her parents divorced, and she was forced to divide her time between her father in Houston and her mother in the Watts area of Los Angeles. Because she was brought up singing in church, she was hesitant to enter a talent contest at a local blues club, but her sister insisted and she complied. A mature singer at age fourteen, she won the amateur talent contest in 1949 at the Barrelhouse Club owned by Johnny Otis. Otis was so impressed that he recorded her for Modern Records and added her to his traveling revue, the California Rhythm and Blues Caravan, billed as 'Little Esther Phillips' (she reportedly took the surname from a gas station sign).

Early career
Her first hit record was "Double Crossing Blues", recorded in 1950 for Savoy Records. After several hit records with Savoy, including her duet with Mel Walker on "Mistrusting Blues", which went to number one that year, as did "Cupid Boogie". Other Phillips records that made it onto the U.S. Billboard R&B chart in 1950 include "Misery" (number 9), "Deceivin' Blues" (number 4), "Wedding Boogie" (number 6), and "Faraway Blues" (number 6). Few female artists, R&B or otherwise, had ever enjoyed such success in their debut year. Phillips left Otis and the Savoy label at the end of 1950 and signed with Federal Records.

But just as quickly as the hits had started, they stopped. Although she recorded more than thirty sides for Federal, only one, "Ring-a-Ding-Doo", charted; the song made it to number 8 in 1952. Not working with Otis was part of her problem; the other part was her drug usage. By the middle of the decade Phillips was chronically addicted to drugs.

In 1954, she returned to Houston to live with her father to recuperate. Short on money, she worked in small nightclubs around the South, punctuated by periodic hospital stays in Lexington, Kentucky, stemming from her addiction. In 1962, Kenny Rogers re-discovered her while singing at a Houston club and got her signed to his brother Lelan’s Lenox label.

Comeback
Phillips ultimately got well enough to launch a comeback in 1962. Now billed as Esther Phillips instead of Little Esther, she recorded a country tune, "Release Me," with producer Bob Gans. This went to number 1 R&B and number 8 on the pop listings. After several other minor R&B hits on Lenox, she was signed by Atlantic Records. Her cover of The Beatles' song "And I Love Him" nearly made the R&B Top Ten in 1965 and the Beatles flew her to the UK for her first overseas performances.]

She had other hits in the 1960s on the label, but no more chart toppers, and she waged a battle with heroin dependency. With her addiction worsening, Phillips checked into a rehab facility. While undergoing treatment, she cut some sides for Roulette in 1969, mostly produced by Lelan Rogers. On her release, she moved back to Los Angeles and re-signed with the Atlantic label. A late 1969 gig at Freddie Jett's Pied Piper club produced the album Burnin'. She performed with the Johnny Otis Show at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1970.

The 1970s
One of her biggest post-1950s triumphs was in 1972 with her first album for Kudu Records. The song penned by Gil Scott-Heron, "Home Is Where the Hatred Is," - an account of drug use — was lead track on From a Whisper to a Scream which went on to be nominated for a Grammy Award. When Phillips lost to Aretha Franklin, the latter presented the trophy to Phillips, saying she should have won it instead.

Taylor continued to cut albums with her until in 1975, she scored her biggest hit single since "Release Me" with a disco-style update of Dinah Washington's "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes". It reached a high of a Top 20 chart appearance in the U.S., and Top 10 in the UK Singles Chart. On November 8, 1975 she performed the song on an episode of NBC's Saturday Night hosted by Candice Bergen. The accompanying album of the same name became her biggest seller yet, with arranger Joe Beck on guitar, Michael Brecker on tenor sax, David Sanborn on alto sax, and Randy Brecker on trumpet to Steve Khan on guitar and Don Grolnick on keyboards.

She continued to record and perform throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, completing a total of seven albums on Kudu and four with Mercury Records, for whom she signed in 1977. In 1983, she charted for the final time on a tiny independent label, Winning with "Turn Me Out," which reached #85 R&B. She completed recording her final album a few months before her death, but it was not until 1986 that the label (Muse) released the record.

Death
Phillips died at UCLA Medical Center in Carson, California in 1984, at the age of 48 from liver and kidney failure due to drug use. Her funeral services were conducted by Johnny Otis

1951 Hollerin' and Screaming
1963 Release Me
1965 And I Love Him!
1966 Esther Phillips Sings
1966 The Country Side of Esther
1970 Burnin' [live]
1972 From A Whisper To A Scream
1972 Alone Again (Naturally)
1973 Black-Eyed Blues
1974 Performance
1975 What a Diff'rence a Day Makes
1976 Capricorn Princess
1976 Confessin' the Blues
1976 For All We Know
1976 Gold Blues
1977 Live At The Rising Sun Club
1977 You've Come a Long Way, Baby
1978 All About Esther
1978 Esther Phillips
1979 Here's Esther Are You Ready
1981 Good Black Is Hard to Crack
1990 Better Beware
1992 A Way to Say Goodbye

Friday, April 2, 2010

Legendary Mavis Staples



Biography

Born in 1940 in Chicago, most of Mavis Staples' career has been as lead singer for the Staple Singers. She first recorded solo for Stax subsidiary Volt in 1969. Subsequent efforts included a Curtis Mayfield-produced soundtrack on Curtom, a disappointing nod to disco for Warner in 1979, a misguided stab at electro-pop with Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1984, and an uneven album for Paisley Park. Staples has a rich contralto voice that has neither the range of Aretha Franklin nor the power of Patti LaBelle. Her otherworldly power comes instead from a masterful command of phrasing and a deep-seated sensuality expressed through timbre manipulation. Both the Staple Singers and Mavis found fresh audiences stemming from their participation on the CD Rhythm Country and Blues, and in 1996 she issued Spirituals & Gospel: Dedicated to Mahalia Jackson. Her next recording project didn't land for another eight years, although Have a Little Faith on Alligator became her highest-profile release in years. We'll Never Turn Back appeared three years later in 2007.


Discography


A lot of thanks to Rare 1 for the the album Oh What A Felling - 1979

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Legendary Group: Earth, Wind, and Fire


The band, at various times, comprised of:
  • Maurice White (b. 19th December 1941, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A., drums)
  • Verdine White (b. 25th July 1951, Illinois, U.S.A., bass)
  • Philip Bailey (b. 8th May 1951, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A., vocals)
  • Ronnie Laws (b. 3rd October 1950, Houston, Texas, U.S.A., saxophone, guitar)
  • Larry Dunn (b. Lawrence Dunhill, 19th June 1953, Colorado, U.S.A., keyboards)
  • Michael Beale (guitar)
  • Wade Flernmons (vocals)
  • Jessica Cleaves (b. 1948, vocals)
  • Roland Bautista (guitar)
  • Sherry Scott (vocals)
  • Alex Thomas (trombone)
  • Chet Washington (tenor saxophone)
  • Don Whitehead (keyboards)
  • Yackov Ben Israel (percussion)

Earth Wind & Fire were formed in 1969 in Chicago, Illinois, by Maurice White. Maurice was singing gospel by the age of six and at the age of eleven he took up drums and formed a band with schoolmate Booker T. Jones. In 1960, he relocated to Chicago and studied music composition and percussion at Roosevelt University. He had the intention at the time of becoming a music teacher.


Maurice used to record, between 1963 and 1965, for the Chess Imprint, where he worked alongside Fontella Bass, Betty Everett, Jackie Wilson, Billy Stewart, the Radiants, the Dells, Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions and Etta James. In 1967, at the age of 22, he'd replaced Red Holt in the the Ramsey Lewis Trio. Ramsey introduced Maurice to the kalimba, an African thumb piano that would prove to play a large part in his future ventures.

By 1969, he had left Ramsey's ranks and began a songwriting partnership with keyboardist Don Whitehead and singer Wade Flemons. This collaboration led to the formation of the Salty Peppers, who signed to the Capitol imprint and had a hit with the song 'La La Time.'The group also released the single 'Love Is Life' and had another small hit with the song.


Maurice left the group and then relocated to Los Angeles. It was here that he decided to form the group Earth, Wind and Fire, named after three of the elements in his personal astrological chart. Maurice's brother, Verdine, was asked to join the group in 1970, alongside Don Whitehead, Wade Flemons, female singer Sherry Scott, guitarist Michael Beal, tenor saxophonist Chet Washington, trombonist Alex Thomas, and percussionist Yackov Ben Israel.


Earth, Wind and Fire signed to the Warner Brothers imprint and released their first, self titled, album in 1970. In 1971, a second album was released, entitled 'The Need Of Love'. They also performed on the Melvin Van Peebles film 'Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song'. The group's line-up changed, due to a lack of commercial success, in 1972 and a new line up formed consisting of female vocalist Jessica Cleaves, flute / sax player Ronnie Laws, guitarist Roland Bautista, keyboardist Larry Dunn, and percussionist Ralph Johnson. Philip Bailey also joined via a Denver R & B band called Friends & Love. The group opened for the singer John Sebastian in New York, which led to Clive Davis signing them to CBS.

Their first album was released for the label in 1972, entitled 'Last Days and Time'. By the end of 1972, Ronnie Laws and Roland Bautista had departed. They were replaced by Andrew Woolfolk and guitarists Al McKay and Johnny Graham. In 1973, the group released 'Head To The Sky', which was followed a year later by the album 'Open Our Eyes', which contained the popular song, 'Devotion'. This was the group's first collaboration with producer, arranger, and songwriter Charles Stepney.


Maurice's brother Fred White was enlisted as a second drummer. The single 'Mighty, Mighty' became Earth, Wind and Fire's first Top Ten hit on the R & B charts. 'Open Our Eyes' additionally, went gold. By 1975, Earth, Wind and Fire completed work on another movie soundtrack, entitled 'That's The Way Of The World'. The album stood up in it's own right, with the movie almost an after thought. 'Shining Star' went to the top of the R & B charts. The title track has become a Soul Classic in recent decades, with the album winning a Grammy for Best R & B Vocal Performance by a Group.


'That's The Way Of The World' reached the number one slot on both the pop and R & B charts and went double platinum. The song 'Reasons' showcased Philip Bailey's vocal dynamics, whilst the track 'See The Light' found favour with the Jazz Funk following (the song being covered by the fusion artist Eddie Russ). That album financed Maurice's further live developments which included stage stunts designed by the magician Doug Henning.

Earth, Wind and Fire employed a horn section, the Phoenix Horns, headed by saxophonist Don Myrick. 'Gratitude' followed later that year, an album of mainly live material, however one side of studio tracks proved immensly popular amongst Soul purists, especially the song 'Can't Hide Love', a track later to grace the dancefloors of the U.K. via a version by the jazz artist Jimmy Smith in 1977. 'Sing a Song', from that album, reached the pop Top Ten and the R & B Top Five.

During the 1976 sessions for Earth, Wind and Fire's next studio album entitled 'Spirit', Charles Stepney died suddenly of a heart attack. Maurice White took over the arrangments for the album, posthumously. The Charles Stepney produced 'Getaway' reached the top of the R & B charts, and the song was utilised by the BBC as part of the companies segue's between programmes that year. 'Spirit' was successful on the charts, reaching the number two spot.


Maurice took on further musical commitments, including work for the group the Emotions ('Flowers' and 'The Best Of My Love'), Pockets, Ramsey Lewis and kick starting Deneice Williams solo career via her successful album 'This Is Niecy' that year. The following year, the group began an incredible run of chart success via the album 'All N' All'. Maurice achieved massive success via the Earth, Wind and Fire songs 'Fantasy' and 'Serpentine Fire' alongside a number one single with, the Emotions song, 'Best Of My Love'. By 1978, he had formed his own label, ARC, and appeared in the film version of 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band', with the group delivering their take on 'Got To Get You Into My Life', a version of the Beatles tune, that made the Top Ten. That same year, 'The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1' produced another Top Ten hit (and R & B number one) with the new song, 'September'.

The group hit the top of the charts with the Emotions collaboration 'Boogie Wonderland'. 'After the Love Has Gone', featured on the album, has since become a Soul Classic. The following year, the success began to wane somewhat, however 'Faces', an experimental double album package, contained some very fine moments, including the title track, an epic of a Jazz Funk tune, and the song 'And Love Goes On', popular with the Soul Purists. After this release Al MacKay left the group.

'Raise' was released in 1981, an album that secured a top five hit with the song 'Let's Groove'. 'Powerlight' followed two years later which was considered a substandard offering by the critics. The Phoenix Horns then left the group and Earth, Wind and Fire released the album 'Electric Universe' later that year, following which, Maurice and the group went their seperate ways for a while. Verdine White became a producer and video director and Philip Bailey embarked on a solo career. He scored a one off number one single after joining forces with Phil Collins for the duet 'Easy Lover'. Phil Collins utilised the Phoenix Horns on some of his 80's records, both solo and then with his group Genesis. In 1985, Maurice White produced his own solo, self titled, album in between his outside productions.

The group were re-united in 1987 for the album 'Touch The World'. The latest line up included Maurice and Verdine alongside Philip Bailey, Andrew Woolfolk, Ralph Johnson, and new guitarist Sheldon Reynolds. Earth, Wind and Fire scored R & B hits with 'Thinking of You' and the number one song, 'System of Survival'. In 1990, 'Heritage' was released with guest appearances from Sly Stone and MC Hammer. The group then left the Columbia imprint.

Signing to the Reprise label, Earth, Wind and Fire released the album 'Millennium' in 1993. They achieved a Grammy nomination for the song 'Sunday Morning' and then tragedy struck that year when, one time horn leader, Don Myrick was murdered in Los Angeles. Philip Bailey and Maurice and Verdine White returned once again in 1997, on the independent Pyramid label, with the album 'In the Name of Love'. The track 'Cruisin' proved popular with soul fans. In the year 2000, it was announced that Maurice White had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Maurice continued to output product, producing a new project for a group called 'Xpression' entitled 'Power'. 'A return to the roots of soul' he commented on the sleevenotes.

In 2003, Earth, Wind and Fire released the album 'The Promise', a set that was perceived to be a fine return to form for the group some 35 years since their conception and featured a further collaboration with the group The Emotions, along with artistic input from Angie Stone. By 2005, a further set was released, entitled 'Illumination'. Maurice resides in Santa Monica today, is making a full recovery from his illness (according to reports), whilst Earth, Wind and Fire were, recently, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.

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Albums:

Compilations

Live Bootlegs

Solo albums



Resources

Monday, August 10, 2009

Legend: Sam Cooke



b. Sam Cook, 22nd January 1931, Clarksdale, Mississippi, U.S.A.

d. 11th December 1964, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Sam Cooke died way before his time. He was one of eight children by a Baptist minister and his wife. Sam first performed publicly with his brother and two sisters in their Baptist quartet, the Soul Children. As a teenager he joined the Highway QCs, before replacing Rebert 'R.H' Harris in the Soul Stirrers. Between 1951 and 1956, Sam sang lead with this gospel group. During that decade the Cook family moved to Chicago's South Side, where the Reverend Charles Cook quickly established himself as a major figure in the religious community. He recorded 'Touch The Hem Of His Garment' and 'Nearer To Thee'. The Soul Stirrers recorded for the Specialty label, where producer, 'Bumps' Blackwell, was to provide Sam with pop material. 'Loveable' / 'Forever' was issued as a single, under the pseudonym 'Dale Cook' in order to avoid offending the gospel audience.



Initially content, the label's owner, Art Rupe, then objected to the choir on a follow-up recording, 'You Send Me', and offered Sam a release from his contract in return for outstanding royalties. The song was then passed to the Keen label, where it sold in excess of two million copies. Further hits, including 'Only Sixteen' and 'Wonderful World', followed. The latter was used extensively in a television jeans commercial and in 1986 the re-issue reached number 2 in the U.K. charts.



Sam left the label for RCA Records where 'Chain Gang' (in 1960), 'Cupid' (in 1961), 'Twistin' The Night Away' (in 1962), 'Bring It On Home To Me' and 'Little Red Rooster' all followed. He also founded the Sar and Derby labels on which the Simms Twins' 'Soothe Me' and the Valentinos' 'It's All Over Now' were issued. Sam's own career continued with '(Ain't That) Good News' and 'Good Times'. The drowning death of his infant son in mid 1963 had made it impossible for Sam

to work in the studio until the end of that year.

On 11th December 1964, following an altercation with a girl he had picked up, the singer was fatally shot by the manageress of a Los Angeles motel. Sam had dinner with a famous artist on the 11th December 1964, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. He and a friend picked up a couple of models and went to a hotel. After arranging rooms, Sam became aggressive with his female friend and frightened her. When he went to the bathroom, she stole his trousers and left the hotel. Sam went into a rage, and, after being unable to find his companion, he started banging on the office door demanding to know where the woman had gone. When inside he attacked the female manager, during the struggle she was able to reach behind her and pull a gun from the desk drawer. In fear for her life, she shot him repeatedly. The female escort's name was Eliza, a euroasian model. The motel manager was not prosecuted, as it was deemed to be self defence. 'A Change Is Gonna Come', went on to become a Soul classic, and was utilised by the Sixties America's Civil Rights movement.



Sam was buried at:
Burial: Forest Lawn Memorial Park Glendale Los Angeles County California, U.S.A. Plot: Garden of Honor

There are some alleged matters which some believe bring into question Sam's final days, along with the jury trial. These comprise of:

After a brief trial, the jury deliberated for fifteen minutes and came back with a verdict of justifiable homicide. Bertha Franklin and Lisa Boyer were free. The Cooke family hired an private investigator who uncovered the following facts:

Cooke had dated Lisa Boyer three weeks prior to his murder despite the fact that numerous people warned him about her colorful past which included prostitution. If Cooke was dating her, why would he try to rape her?



Singer Etta James revealed in her book 'Rage To Survive,' that Cooke was so badly beaten that his head was nearly decapitated from his shoulders, his hands were broken and crushed, his nose was smashed and he had a two inch bump on his head. These injuries were never explained and a woman could not inflict these type of injuries.

Bertha Franklin had a .32 registered in her name, yet she killed Cooke with a .22, she would move to Michigan and die eighteen months later.

Lisa Boyer would be arrested for prostitution one month after Cookes death and in 1979 she would be found guilty of second degree murder in the shooting death of her boyfriend.

Other related matters:

Singer Otis Redding would die three years later on the exact day that Sam Cooke was killed.

Cooke's widow married Bobby Womack three months after his death. They have since divorced.

Barbara sold the Sam Cooke publishing catalogue to a businessman for a mere $103,000. This catalogue currently generates $3-5 million per year.


Albums:


Compilations

Resources

Thanks to Zand and Mr. Moo for contributions

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Legendary Group: The Isley Brothers





The nucleus of this enduring group are three brothers:

  • O' Kelly Isley (b. 25th December 1937, Cincinnati, U.S.A., d. 31st March 1986)
  • Rudolph Isley (b. 1st April 1939, Cincinnati, U.S.A.)
  • and Ronald Isley (b. 21st May 1941, Cincinnati, U.S.A.)


The Isley Brothers began singing gospel in their hometown of Cincinnati, U.S.A. During the early 50's, the trio were accompanied by their brother Vernon, who died in a car crash during 1957. The group relocated to New York the following year and issued a few one-off singles before being signed by the RCA Records production team, Hugo And Luigi. One of their compositions 'Shout' built the group a reputation during live performances. The song sold well in the black market, and has since become an R & B standard and covered by several rock artists including the Beatles and Lulu.


The Isleys switched labels to Wand in 1962, where they enjoyed another sizeable hit with a cover version of the Top Notes' 'Twist And Shout', another song covered by the Beatles. The following years the group recorded for the labels, Wand and United Artists. A brief spell with Atlantic Records in 1964 saw the release of , 'Who's That Lady?', that did not do well at the time, but was to see a renaissance a decade later on.

The Isleys then formed their own company, T-Neck Records, in 1964, something not encouraged by a mainly white run music business at the time. The first release on the label, 'Testify', showcased their young lead guitarist, Jimi Hendrix. That record's experimental sound went largely unnoticed, and the Isleys, T-Neck and Hendrix went their separate ways.


The Isleys then signed a contract with Motown Records. At the Motown outset the group were teamed with the songwriting partnership of Holland / Dozier / Holland. By 1966, the song 'This Old Heart Of Mine' became a huge hit in America and a hit four years later in the U.K. 'Behind A Painted Smile' and 'I Guess I'll Always Love You' were reissued in the U.K. and became hits in the U.K. towards the end of the 60's.

The Isleys reactivated T-Neck in 1969 and took on a different look to refurbish their image. The group added two younger brothers: Ernie Isley (b. 7th March 1952; guitar) and Marvin Isley (bass) as well as a cousin, Chris Jasper (keyboards).


In America, 'It's Your Thing' and 'I Turned You On' scored at the end of the Sixties, whilst the U.K. were catching up with several earlier Motown releases. These records employed a funkier sound, inspired by the likes of James Brown And The JB's. Between 1969 and 1972 a live double set featured extended versions of their recent hits, and 'In The Beginning', a collection of their 1964 recordings with Jimi Hendrix.

In the early 70's, the Isleys incorporated into their repertoire a variety of rock material by composers such as Bob Dylan, Stephen Stills, Todd Rundgren and Carole King. By 1973, the album '3 + 3', became the first album issued via a distribution agreement with CBS Records. This albm set the course for several excellent outings throughout the Seventies and early Eighties. Ernie Isley's guitarwork (influenced by Jimi Hendrix) became central in the Isleys' sound, and was featured on the album's lead single, 'That Lady', a more successful version of their underrated 1964 single on Atlantic. '3 + 3' also contained soft soul interpretations of material by Seals And Croft, James Taylor and the Doobie Brothers.


'Highways Of My Life' demonstrated Ronald's own developing songwriting skills. 'The Heat Is On' in 1975 showcased the two sides of the groups' songwriting stylings. Side one would become the funkier, social commentary side of the groups writings. Side two would highlight their more romantic leanings, epitomised by the soul standard 'For The Love Of You'. It was this formula that stayed with the band for the following late Seventies and early Eighties offerings.

'Harvest For The World' (1976) proved to be one of the Isleys' most popular recordings. The song became a hit, in 1988, within the pop charts for the Christians. In the late 70's, the Isley's albums became popular within the Disco genre with Black & White audiences. 'The Pride', 'Take Me To The Next Phase', 'I Wanna Be With You' and 'Don't Say Goodnight' all topped the black music charts. 'It's A Disco Night', a U.K. hit in 1980, came from the double album 'Winner Takes All', which also included the excellent 'Let Me In Your Life'.

In the mid Eighties, Ernie and Marvin Isley and Chris Jasper left the group to form the successful Isley, Jasper, Isley combination. The rest of the group still recorded under the Isley Brothers banner, however, when O'Kelly Isley died from a heart attack on 31st March 1986, the group rested for a while. Ronald and Rudolph dedicated their next release, 'Smooth Sailin', to him. That album was produced by Angela Winbush with the title track highlighting.


Angela took over the artistic control of the group, and she wrote and produced their 1989 release 'Spend The Night', which was effectively a Ronald Isley solo album.The Isley Brothers legacy, has influenced several artists during the Nineties onwards, notably R Kelly on his 'For The Love Of You' sounding, 'Your Body's Calling'. Their 1996 release 'Mission To Please' attempted to move them into the same smooth urban soul territory as Keith Sweat and Babyface.

In 2001, the group returned to recording releasing 'Eternal', which featured vocal and production input from R Kelly, Raphael Saadiq, Avant, Jill Scott and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. An album entitled 'Body Kiss' was released in 2003 for the Dreamworks imprint. Their series of US hits from the 50's to the 90's is one of the major influences on Black American music.

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Albums
  • Shout (RGA Victor 1959)
  • Twist And Shout (Wand 1962)
  • Twisting And Shouting (Wand 1964)
  • In The Beginning (Isley Brothers & Jimi Hendrix) (1964)
  • This Old Heart Of Mine (Tamla 1966) 
  • Tamla Motown Presents: The Isley Brother (1967)
  • Soul On The Rocks (Tamla 1967)
  • Behind A Painted Smile [UK] (1969)
  • It's Our Thing (T-Neck 1969) 
  • The Brothers: Isley (T-Neck 1969)
  • Get Into Something (T-Neck 1970)
  • The Isley Brothers Way (1970)
  • Givin' It Back (T-Neck 1971)
  • Brother Brother Brother (T-Neck 1972)
  • The Isleys Live (T-Neck 1973)
  • 3 + 3 (T-Neck 1973)
  • The Isley Brothers (1974)
  • Live It Up (T-Neck 1974)
  • The Heat Is On (T-Neck 1975)
  • Harvest For The World (T-Neck 1976)
  • Go For Your Guns (T-Neck 1977)
  • Showdown (T-Neck 1978)
  • Winner Takes All (T-Neck 1979)
  • Go All The Way (T-Neck 1980)
  • Grand Slam (T-Neck 1981)
  • Inside You (T-Neck 1981)
  • The Real Deal (T-Neck 1982)
  • Between The Sheets (T-Neck 1983)
  • Masterpiece (Warners 1985)
  • Smooth Sailin' (Warners 1987)
  • Spend The Night (Warners 1989)
  • Tracks Of Life (Warners 1992)
  • Live (Elektra 1993)
  • Mission To Please (Island 1996)
  • Eternal (Dreamworks Records 2001)
  • Body Kiss (Dreamworks Records 2003)
  • Taken To The Next Phase (2004)
  • Baby Makin' Music (Def Soul 2006)
  • I'll Be Home for Christmas (Def Soul Classics 2007)

Isley, Jasper, Isley
  • Isley Jasper Isley - Broadway's Closer to Sunset Boulevard (1984)
  • Isley Jasper Isley - Caravan of Love (1985)
  • Isley Jasper Isley - Different Drummer (1987)

Solo albums

  • Chris Jasper - Superbad (1987)
  • Chris Jasper - Time Bomb (1989)
  • Chris Jasper - Amazing Love (2005) PW = Mr. Moo
  • Chris Jasper - Invincible (2007)
  • Chris Jasper - The Best Of Chris Jasper (2003)
  • Ernie Isley - High Wire (1990)
  • Ronald Isley - Here I Am (sings Burt Bacharach) (2003)
  • Ronald Isley - Mr.I (2010)

Live Bootlegs
  • with Brooklyn Bridge and Edwin Hawkins: Live At Yankee Stadium (T-Neck 1969)

Compilations

  • The Ultimate Isley Brothers (2000)
  • Take Some Time Out -The Famous Isley Brothers (United Artists 1964)
  • Doin' Their Thing (Tamla 1969)
  • Beautiful Ballads (1994)
  • 'Mellow' Isleys (1995)
  • The RCA Sessions (1996)
  • Brothers In Soul [The Early Years] (1993)
  • It's Your Thing (1999) [3Cd Boxset]
  • For The Love Of You (1993)
  • Greatest Hits Live (2005)
  • Summer Breeze: Greatest Hits (2005)
  • The Definitive Collection
  • Bedroom Classics Vol 3
  • The Essential Isley Brothers (2004)

Miscellaneous
  • Privilege - Privilege (1969) - produced by the Isleys on T-Neck
  • Baby Cortez - The Isley Way (1970) - T-Neck keyboardist, solo album covering Isley tracks.


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Resources
  • The Isley Brothers at Soulwalking
  • The Isley Brothers Discography at Rateyourmusic

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