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Showing posts with label Soul. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Soul. Show all posts

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band

Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band is a pioneering American soul and funk band. Formed in the early 1960s, they had the most visibility from 1967 to 1973 when the band had 9 singles reach Billboard's pop and/or rhythm and blues Hot 100 lists, such as "Do Your Thing" (#11 Pop, #12 R&B), "Till You Get Enough" (#12 R&B, #67 Pop), and "Love Land" (R&B #23, Pop #16). They are best known for their biggest hit on Warner Bros. Records, 1970's "Express Yourself" (#3 R&B, #12 Pop) that is often sampled by rappers, such as N.W.A.

Charles Wright was born in 1940 in Clarksdale, Mississippi, before moving to Los Angeles in the early 1950s, playing guitar and singing in several doo-wop groups including the Turks, the Twilighters, the Shields and the Gallahads. He also briefly worked as an [[A&R]] for In 1962, he formed his own band Charles Wright & the Wright Sounds . Over the course of the next six years, Wright would add more players to his group and these were the players who would eventually become known as the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, at least by 1968.

Band members:

* Charles Wright - guitar, piano
* Al McKay - guitar
* Benorce Blackmon - guitar (replaced Al McKay)
* Gabe Flemings - piano, trumpet
* Melvin Dunlap - bass
* James Gadson - drums
* Big John Rayford - saxophone
* Bill Cannon - saxophone
* Ray Jackson - trombone


(As The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band)

* Hot Heat & Sweet Groove. Warner Bros. Records 1741 (1967)
* Together. Warner Bros. Records 1761 (1968)
* In The Jungle, Babe. Warner Bros. Records 1801

(As Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band)

* Express Yourself. Warner Bros. Records 1864 (1970)
* You’re So Beautiful. Warner Bros. Records 1904 (1971

(As Charles Wright)

* Rhythm & Poetry. Warner Bros. Records BS-2620 (1972)
* Doin What Comes Naturally. ABC/Dunhill DSD-50162 (1973)

* Ninety Day Cycle People. ABC/Dunhill DSD-50187 (1974)

* Lil' Encouragement. ABC/Dunhill (1975)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bernard "Pretty" Purdie

Bernard Lee "Pretty" Purdie (born June 11, 1939) is an American session drummer, and is considered an influential and innovative exponent of funk. He is known for his strict musical time keeping and "The Purdie Shuffle".
Purdie recorded Soul Drums (1968) as a band leader and although he went on to record Alexander's Ragtime Band, the album remained unreleased until Soul Drums was reissued on CD in 2009 with the Alexander's Ragtime Band sessions. Other solo albums include Purdie Good (1971),Soul Is...Pretty Purdie (1972) and the soundtrack for the Blaxploitation film Lialeh (1973).

Purdie was credited on the sound track album for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978) and more recently he was the drummer for the 2009 Broadway revival of Hair and appeared on the associated Broadway cast recording. In 2010, he had his portrait painted by Jane Moorhouse, an artist based in London.

At an early age Purdie began hitting cans with sticks and learned the elements of drumming techniques from overhearing lessons being given by Leonard Heywood. He later took lessons from Heywood and played in Heywood's big band. Purdie's other influences at that time were Papa Jo Jones, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Joe Marshall and Art Blakey.

In 1961 he moved from his home town of Elkton, Maryland, to New York. There he played sessions with Mickey and Sylvia and regularly visited the Turf Club on 50th and Broadway, where musicians, agents, and promoters met and touted for business. It was during this period that he played for the saxophonist Buddy Lucas, who nicknamed him 'Mississippi Bigfoot'. Eventually Barney Richmond contracted him to play session work. In the same year original Beatles drummer Pete Best and guitarist Tony Sheridan recorded tracks in Hamburg with the Beatles. Later Bernard Purdie added drum overdubs to tracks from these sessions, including "Ain't She Sweet", "Take Out Some Insurance on Me Baby" and "Sweet Georgia Brown". The main reason for this was to give them a punchier sound for the US market. These tracks were eventually released on January 31, 1964 by Polydor. Ringo Starr's physical approach to drumming was probably influenced by Purdie's Motown style.

Purdie was contracted by arranger Sammy Lowe to play a session with James Brown in 1965 and recording session records also show that Purdie played on "Ain't That A Groove" at the same session. This was one of several sessions he played with Brown and the track "Kansas City" from Brown's album Cold Sweat (1967), displays one of the most sophisticated and driving shuffles recorded for Brown's catalogue. Purdie is also credited on the albums Say It Loud-I'm Black and I'm Proud (1969) and Get on the Good Foot (1972) on which "Ain't That A Groove" appeared.

Purdie started working with Aretha Franklin as musical director in 1970 and held that position for five years, as well as drumming for Franklin's opening act, King Curtis and The King Pins. In 1970 he performed with both bands at the Fillmore West; the resulting live recordings were released as Aretha Live at the Fillmore West (1971) and King Curtis's Live at Fillmore West (1971). His best known track with Franklin was "Rock Steady", on which he played what he described as "a funky and low down beat". Of his time with Franklin he once commented that "backing her was like floating in seventh heaven".

In 1973 Purdie founded Encounter Records and released five albums

EN 3000: Seldon Powell - Messin' With
EN 3001: Sands of Time - Profile (with Jimmy Owens, Garnett Brown)
EN 3002: East Coast - East Coast (with Larry Blackmon, Gwen Guthrie)
EN 3003: Frank Owens - Brown N Serve (with Hugh McCracken)
EN 3004: Harold Vick as "Sir Edward" - The Power of Feeling


  • Soul Drums -Direction (1968)
  • Stand By Me-Mega (1971)
  • Purdie Good -Prestige (1971)
  • Soul Is ... Pretty Purdie" -Flying Dutchman (1972)
  • Lialeh - Bryan (1973)
  • Shaft - Prestige (1974)
  • Delights of the Garden- Celluloid (1975)
  • Purdie As a Picture - Kilarnock (1993)
  • Tokyo Jazz Groove Sessions - Lexington (1993)
  • Coolin' 'n' Groovin' - Lexington/West 47th 1993 (1993)
  • After Hours with The 3B's - 3B's (1993)
  • The Hudson River Rats - 3B's (1994)
  • Kick N Jazz Drum Beat- Blocks (1996)
  • Soul to Jazz I -Act(1997)
  • In the Pocket- P Vine (1997)
  • Soul to Jazz II- Act (1998)
  • Get It While You Can- 3B's (1999)
  • Purdie Good Cookin' Own Label (2003)
  • The Godfathers of Groove(2008)
  • The Godfathers of Groove _vol 3 (2010)  


  • Gabor Szabo - Jazz Raga (1966)
  • James Brown - Cold Sweat (1967)
  • King Curtis and his Kingpins - Instant Soul (1967)
  • The Soul Finders - Sweet Soul Music (1968)
  • Albert Ayler - New Grass (1968)
  • James Brown - Say It Loud-I'm Black & I'm Proud (1969)
  • Al Kooper - You Never Know Who Your Friends Are (1969)
  • Gary Burton - Good Vibes (Atlantic, 1969)
  • Dizzy Gillespie - Cornucopia (Solid State, 1969)
  • Aretha Franklin - Young, Gifted and Black (1972)
  • James Brown - Get On the Good Foot (1972)
  • Larry Coryell - Coryell (1969)
  • BB King - Completely Well (1970)
  • Robert Palmer's Insect Trust - Hoboken Saturday Night (1970)
  • Eddie Palmieri - Harlem River Drive (1970)
  • Aretha Franklin - Aretha Live at Fillmore West (1971)
  • King Curtis - Live at Fillmore West (1971)
  • Larry Coryell - Fairyland (1971)
  • Herbie Mann - Push, Push (1971)
  • Dizzy Gillespie - Real Thing (1971)
  • Hubert Laws - Wild Flower (Atlantic, 1972)
  • Aretha Franklin - Amazing Grace (1972)
  • Esther Phillips - Alone Again Naturally (1972)
  • Miles Davis - Get Up with It (1972)
  • Ronnie Foster - Sweet Revival (1972)
  • BB King - Guess Who (1973)
  • Cat Stevens - Foreigner (1973)
  • Hall & Oates - Abandoned Luncheonette (1973)
  • Jimmy McGriff - Come Together (1974)
  • Joe Cocker - I Can Stand a Little Rain (1974)
  • Bama The Village Poet - Ghettos Of The Mind (1974)
  • Cornell Dupree - Teasin' (1975)
  • Todd Rundgren - Initiation (1975)
  • Jorge Dalto - Chevere (1976)
  • Hummingbird - We Can't Go On Meeting Like This (1976)
  • Steely Dan - The Royal Scam (1976)
  • Steely Dan - Aja (1977)
  • Hummingbird - Diamond Nights (1977)
  • Pee Wee Ellis - Home in the Country (1977)
  • Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson - You Can't Make Love Alone (1977)
  • Joe Cocker - Luxury You Can Afford (1978)
  • Dizzy Gillespie - Digital at Montreux, 1980 (Pablo, 1980)
  • Steely Dan - Gaucho (1980)
  • Jimmy McGriff - Blue to the Bone (1988)
  • Elliott Randall - Still Reelin (2006)
  • Hair - Broadway Cast Recording (2009)

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Dramatics

Originally formed in 1962, the Dramatics (at various times) consisted of:

Ronald Dean Banks (b. 10th May 1951, Redford, Michigan, U.S.A. d. 4th March 2010, Sinai Hospital, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.) 1962 to 2010

Larry Reed (lead singer) 1962 to 1968

Roderick Davis 1962 to 1968

Elbert Wilkins (d. 13th December 1992, from a massive heart attack - formerly of the Theatrics) 1962 to 1973

William 'Weegee' Howard (b. William Franklin Howard II, 13th July 1950, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A., d. 22nd February 2000, Bronxville, New York, U.S.A.) 1968 to 1973 then 1986 to 1989

Willie Ford (b. 10th July 1950, LaGrange, Georgia, U.S.A. - formerly of the Capitols) 1968 - today

Robert Ellington 1964

Craig Jones 1981 to 1982

Larry 'Squirrel' Demps (b. 23rd February 1949, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.) 1962 to 1981

Leonard Cornell Mayes (b. 5th April 1951, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. d. 7th November 2004, Southfield, Michigan, U.S.A.) 1973 to 2004

James Mack Brown (d. 28th November 2008)

L. J. Reynolds (b. Larry James Reynolds, 27th January 1952, Saginaw, Michigan, U.S.A.) 1973 to 1981 then 1986 to today

Winzell Kelly (b. 16th January 1953, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. - ex: the Capitols, Five Special, TFO Band, and the Floaters) 1994 to today

Steve Barnett-Boyd 1989 to 1994

Bo Henderson 1981


Michael Brock 2006 to today

The Dramatics were formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1962. The Dramatics initially released two singles on the Wingate imprint (including 'Somewhere' b/w 'Bingo', a 45 that was misprinted as being recorded by the Dynamics, a fault later corrected on further pressings) and 'Inky Dinky Wang Dang Do' b/w 'Baby I Need You' both released in 1966. Robert Ellington left the band at an early stage in the Sixties. The group were mistakenly named the Dynamics, back in 1962, however, as the Dramatics they achieved major success with their songs, 'In the Rain' and 'What You See Is What You Get'. In 1967, the Dramatics achieved a small hit with the Ivy Joe Hunter produced song 'All Because Of You' b/w 'If You Haven't Got Love' by the Dramatics, released on the small Detroit label, Sport Records (Sport 101). During that year, The Dramatics were staying at the Algiers Motel, following a performance at Detroit's Fox Theatre, during an alleged murder by members of the Detroit Police Department. This became one of the incidents which sparked the Detroit Riots of 1967.

It wasn't until 1971 when the Detroit producers Don Davis and Tony Hestor signed the Dramatics to the Memphis-based Stax Records in 1971, where the group saw greater success with their song 'Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get'. The song reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 9 back at the time. The group were awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. later that year. At this stage, The Dramatics comprised of Ron Banks, William 'Wee Gee' Howard (ex. The Sir Primes, who died of a heart attack on the 22nd of February 2000 at the age of 49), Elbert Wilkins (who died of a heart attack on the 13th of December 1992 at the age of 45), Willie Ford, Larry Demps and keyboardist James Mack Brown (who died on the 28th of November 2008 at the age of 58).

Following the release of the group's first album, William Howard and Elbert Wilkins left the group. They were replaced by L.J. Reynolds (previously of Chocolate Syrup) and Leonard 'Lenny' Mayes. In 1973, the group released the song 'Hey You! Get Off My Mountain' (taken from the 'A Dramatic Experience' album), which became an R&B number 5 and pop Top 50 that year. During the Seventies, the Dramatics released several further popular sides, including the haunting ballad 'In The Rain'. In 1974, the Dramatics left Stax Records, and the following year began an association with Los Angeles-based ABC imprint, while still recording in Detroit with Davis and Hestor.

U.S. hits at ABC included the ballad 'Me And Mrs. Jones' (R&B number 4 and pop Top 50, 1975, a song made popular by Philadelphia International star Billy Paul), 'Be My Girl' (R&B number 3, 1976) and 'Shake It Well' (R&B number 4, 1977). The Dramatics appeared on Soul Train and also released the songs 'Toast to the Fool', 'Me and Mrs. Jones', 'I'm Going By The Stars In Your Eyes' and 'Be My Girl'. In the meantime, William Howard and Elbert Wilkins formed their own version of the Dramatics. They released the song 'No Rebate on Love', and called the group 'Ron Banks and The Dramatics'. Relocating to the MCA imprint in 1979, the group achieved their last Top 10 hit with 'Welcome Back Home' (R&B number 9, 1980). The same year, the group released the album 'The Dramatic Way', which contained the popular rare groove dancer 'Get It'.

Shortly afterwards L.J. Reynolds left to establish a solo career, and in 1981 Craig Jones was recruited in his place, but they disbanded in 1982 after Ron Banks left to start a solo career, releasing 'Truly Bad' for CBS in 1983 (featuring 'This Love Is For Real'). William Howard later rejoined the original group for the albums 'Somewhere in Time: A Dramatic Reunion' in 1986, and 'Positive State Of Mind' in 1989. He then left the group again. The Dramatics were reunited in the late 80's and released 'Look Inside' for the NCI label in 2002. The Dramatics have worked with many diverse R&B acts, including Snoop Dog, and continue to tour.

The current line-up consisted of Ron Banks, L.J. Reynolds, Willie Ford, Winzell Kelly and Michael Brock, (who replaced Lenny Mayes, who died of lung cancer on the 8th of November 2004 at the age 53). Ron Banks sadly passed away in 2010 at the age of 58. He was at home with his family when he abruptly passed out, according to fellow Dramatics singer L.J. Reynolds, who had spoken to Ron just minutes earlier. Ron passed away at the Sinai Hospital in Detroit. His last hometown gig with the Dramatics was a November 2009 concert at Motorcity Casino’s Sound Board venue. Ron Banks is survived by his wife, Sandy Banks, four daughters and two sons.


as the Dramatics:

Solo: L.J. Reynolds:

with Ron Banks:
  • 2 Of A Kind (Lifesong Records 1994)
  • Love Is About To Start (Volt Records 2000)
  • Through The Storm (Da Pit Bull Kat Records 2007)
  • The Message (Crystal Rose Records 2007)

Solo: Ron Banks:

Info is credited to SoulWalking.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Soul Children

  • Shelbra Bennett (later Shelbra Deane) (born Memphis, Tennessee)
  • John Colbert aka J. Blackfoot (born November 20, 1946, Greenville, Mississippi, US; died November 30, 2011)
  • Anita Louis (born November 24, 1949, Memphis, Tennessee)
  • Norman Richard West, Jr. (born October 30, 1939, Monroe, Louisiana)

The Soul Children was an American vocal group who recorded soul music for Stax Records in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They had three top ten hits on the Billboard R&B chart – "The Sweeter He Is" (1969), "Hearsay" (1972), and "I'll Be The Other Woman" (1973) – all of which crossed over to the Hot 100.

The group was formed in 1968 by Isaac Hayes and David Porter of Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee, after one of the label's top acts, Sam & Dave, left Stax to join the Atlantic label. As leading songwriters and producers for the label, Hayes and Porter put together a vocal group with two male and two female singers, all of whom sang lead on some of the group's recordings. The original members were Norman West, John Colbert (aka J. Blackfoot), Anita Louis, and Shelbra Bennett. Colbert – who had been known from childhood as Blackfoot for his habit of walking barefoot on the tarred sidewalks of Memphis during the hot summers – had recorded solo singles before joining The Bar-Kays as lead singer, after four original band members were killed with Otis Redding in a plane crash. Anita Louis was a backing singer on some of the records produced by Hayes and Porter. Shelbra Bennett had recently joined the label as a singer. Norman West, Jr., the last to join the group, grew up in Louisiana, and sang in church with his brothers Joe, James, and Robert. He replaced William Bell as a member of The Del-Rios in 1962, later recorded several unsuccessful solo singles in Memphis, and sang with a rock band, Colors Incorporated, which had been formed by members of Jerry Lee Lewis' band.

The group's first record, "Give 'Em Love", produced by Hayes and Porter and released in late 1968, was a Bilboard R&B chart hit, as were two follow-ups. Their fourth single, "The Sweeter He Is", became one of their biggest hits, reaching no. 7 on the R&B chart in late 1969 and no. 52 on the Hot 100. The group also released their first album, Soul Children, in 1969. Musicians used on the recordings included Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn and Al Jackson, Jr., of Booker T. & the M.G.'s, as well as Hayes. However, after the group had a minor hit with a slowed-down version of "Hold On, I'm Coming" in early 1970, Hayes left the project to develop his solo career. The group recorded a second album, Best of Two Worlds, at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, but their next few singles failed to make the charts. In 1972, they recorded another album, Genesis, arranged by Dale Warren and produced by Jim Stewart and Al Jackson, which produced another hit single, "Hearsay". Written by West and Colbert, it reached no. 5 on the R&B chart and no. 44 on the US pop chart. They appeared at the Wattstax concert in August 1972, and followed up with several smaller hit singles. In 1973, they recorded the ballad "I'll Be the Other Woman", written and produced by Homer Banks and Carl Hampton, and with lead vocals by Shelbra Bennett, which became their biggest hit, reaching no. 3 on the R&B chart and no. 36 on the pop chart. They also recorded a final album for Stax with Banks and Hampton, Friction.

The Soul Children left Stax in 1975, and Bennett left for a solo career. The trio of West, Colbert and Louis signed to Epic Records in 1976, releasing an album, Finders Keepers and several moderately successful singles. Their second album for Epic, Where Is Your Woman Tonight (1977), reunited the group with producer David Porter. Porter then signed the group to a reactivated Stax label established by Fantasy Records, and co-produced another album for the group, Open Door Policy (1978). However, it was less successful than their earlier recordings, and the group decided to split up in 1979.

After the group split up, Anita Louis left the music business and later worked for Federal Express, Time-Warner, and as a professional business trainer. Norman West continued working in night clubs and as a gospel singer and musician. J. Blackfoot became a successful solo singer; his biggest hit was "Taxi" in early 1984, which reached no. 4 on the R&B chart. Shelbra Bennett recorded several singles as Shelbra Deane in the late 1970s and early 1980s; her biggest solo success was "Don't Touch Me" (no. 50 R&B, 1977).

In 2007, West and Blackfoot decided to reform the Soul Children, adding two new singers, Ann Hines and Cassandra Graham. They recorded an album, Still Standing for JEA Right Now Records. West released a single in 2008 called "Long Ride Home."

  • 1968 - Soul Children
  • 1971 - Best of Two Worlds
  • 1972 - Genesis
  • 1974 - Friction
  • 1976 - Finders Keepers
  • 1977 - Where Is Your Woman Tonight?
  • 1978 - Open Door Policy
  • 2008 - Still Standing

  • 1979 - Chronicle (Greatest Hits)
  • 1997 - Hold On, I'm Coming

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lamont Dozier

Lamont Dozier is the #1 songwriter in America. And for every #1 song that Lamont has written, Lamont has also produced it!

If you only know the legendary Lamont Dozier as one third of the songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland, you only know a portion of his incredible story. The internationally acclaimed, Grammy-award winning music master has spent more time before and after those heady years as a recording artist in his own right, as well as a solo and collaborative songwriter and top producer. He has indelibly impacted pop music for five decades.

Lamont Dozier is one of BMI’s most honored songwriters with over fifty-four #1 hits for such legendary artists as the Supremes, the Four Tops, Marvin Gaye and many others. As part of the legendary songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland, Lamont penned such legendary songs as “Baby I Need Your Loving” (9 million performances), “Baby Love” 4 million performances), “How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved by You)” (7 million), “I Hear a Symphony” (4 million), “It’s the Same Old Song” (4 million), “Reach Out I’ll Be There” (5 million), “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)” (5 million), “Where Did Our Love Go” (5 million), “You Can’t Hurry Love” (8 million) and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” (5 million).

The Detroit-born Dozier grew up listening to his father’s record collection of pop/jazz singers, sang in the Baptist gospel choir and absorbed the classical music his aunt played on the family piano. He signed to Berry Gordy’s hometown Motown label, the Sound of Young America, in 1962 as a triple threat, Artist, Producer and Songwriter. It was there he hooked up with Brian Holland and later on, his brother Eddie, setting the standard of ‘60s R&B and soul, fulfilling Lamont’s dream of a music that could cross over to pop radio, where it dominated the era, until the trio’s departure in 1968 to set up their own Invictus and Hot Wax labels.

Since 1972, Lamont has pursued his own solo career, starting with a regional hit with the single, “Why Can’t We Be Lovers,” leading to a deal with ABC Dunhill for his solo albums, Out Here on My Own and Black Bach, scoring success with the singles, “Trying to Hold on to My Woman” and “Fish Ain’t Bitin’,” earning him a nod as Best New Artist from Billboard.

After stints on Warner Bros. (the hit single, “Going Back to My Roots”) and Columbia, Dozier relocated to Europe, where he hooked up with British producer Pete Waterman of the team of Stock, Aitken & Waterman, working with the likes of Alison Moyet, Simply Red, Boy George and Eric Clapton. He collaborated with Phil Collins on the soundtrack of the Genesis star’s movie Buster in 1988, by writting and producing the #1 hit single "Two Hearts" and also earning them a Grammy, a Brit Award, a Golden Globe, Britain’s distinguished Ivor Novello honor and an Oscar nomination.

In 2002 solo album, Lamont Dozier…An American Original, garnered him a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Album. The year 2003 brought forth the prestigious BMI Icon Award to Lamont Dozier, while 2004 crowned these accomplishments with the British Special International Ivor Novello Award given to Lamont Dozier.

Lamont Dozier’s ‘70s solo albums have been sampled over and over again making his catalogue one of the most sampled music catalogues to date by everyone from rappers Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur to Lil Wayne, to Dr. Dre to The Alchemist to Common, Lupe Fiasco, Three 6 Mafia to soul icons Mary J. Blige and Nas to Usher and alternative rockers Linkin Park.

Lamont is currently serving in his second term as Trustee for NARAS, the organization known for The Grammy Awards. Previously he had served two terms as Governor. Lamont spends much of his time at Grammy Board meetings, speaking on songwriter panels for both Grammy Camp, and Career Day in Schools on behalf of the Grammys, wishing to give back the knowledge that he has learned throughout his many years in the Music Industry. This is extremely fulfilling to Lamont, as he loves to educate young aspiring talent about the do’s and don’t’s in the business he knows so well. He is also the Chairman for the Advocacy Committee at NARAS. As Chair, he walks Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. for artists' rights, lending his name and influence to help the creators of copyright content to continue to be able to own and protect their works.

An inductee to both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriter's Hall of Fame and, in 2009 the recipient of the Songwriter's Hall of Fame's most coveted award, The Johnny Mercer Award for lifetime achievement, Dozier continues to push the envelope. He has plans for his own Broadway Bound Musical Angel Quest, as well as a rare one-time only reunion with his former writing partners Brian and Eddie Holland who together are creating a new score for a musical based upon the film The First Wives Club which conducted its first workshop in July 2009 at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California, and is now preparing to make its Broadway debut in Spring 2011.

Lamont Dozier continues to work with the best of the latest generation of artists, including Kanye West, Joss Stone, Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, members of the Black-Eyes Peas, Solange Knowles and popular Grammy Award winning producer, Mark Ronson. Lamont's most recent hit single is an instrumental titled “Living In High Definition” which is on the newest George Benson album, Songs and Stories. He is currently working in the studio with many new and exciting artists who are getting ready to debut this year.

One of Lamont’s proudest accomplishments is having been awarded the 2007 Thornton Legacy Award through the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music. USC/Thornton also created a Lamont Dozier Scholarship in perpetuity for their students. Lamont is presently serving as an Artist In Residence Professor at USC/Thornton where is he actively involved in the new Popular Music Major which is the first program of its kind in the country.


Leroy Hutson

b. 4th June 1945, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.

LeRoy Hutson is an African American instrumentalist, composer, arranger, producer and multi-talented performer. He never achieved a level of success that his talent deserved. Leroy first formed a vocal group in his native New Jersey, but emerged as a soul music talent while attending Howard University in 1970, studying dentistry. There with his room-mate Donny Hathaway, he collaborated on 'The Ghetto', a hit for Donny in early 1970.

Born in Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A., LeRoy and Donny also sang in the Mayfield Singers, who released one single for Curtis Mayfield in 1967 called 'Don't Start None' on the Mayfield imprint. As a teenager, LeRoy was a member of The Nu-Tones, a vocal group based in New Jersey. The Nu-Tones comprised of Ronald King, Bernard Ransom, Ed Davis, Irving Jenkins and LeRoy Hutson. Later he teamed up with Deborah Rollins to form Sugar And Spice, recording several singles including 'In Love Forever', 'Ah Ha Yeah' and 'Dreams' in 1968. In 1971, LeRoy replaced Curtis in the Impressions and recorded two albums with the group. LeRoy began his solo career on Curtom in 1973 and through 1992 established himself with a successful recording career, recording eight albums and charting with some 13 singles in the U.S.A. On most of his work, he wrote, produced, arranged and played multiple instruments.

His most successful charting singles were 'All Because Of You' (in 1975), 'Feel The Spirit' (in 1976), 'I Do, I Do' (in 1976), 'Where Did Love Go' (in 1978), and 'Right Or Wrong' (in 1979). When Curtom went out of business in 1980, LeRoy's career was essentially on hold and he soon disappeared from the music world, re-appearing briefly for 'Paradise' (containg 'Nice & Easy') in 1982. He later worked for the U.K. based Expansion Label releasing the 'Shades Of Love' EP (including 'Share Your Love') in 1992. In 2009, LeRoy released the album 'Soothe You, Groove You', which retails from his own website, and was released on his own Triumph imprint. LeRoy is the father of producer JR Hutson. As a writer and producer, LeRoy has worked with Roberta Flack ('Tryin' Times', 'Gone Away'), The Natural Four ('You Bring Out The Best In Me', 'Can This Be Real'), Linda Clifford, Voices of East Harlem ('Cashing In'), Arnold Blair ('Trying To get Next To You'), and Next Movement ('Let's Work It Out').


Friday, December 2, 2011

Legendary Jackie Moore


One of the relatively few artists who emerged in the early '70s to enjoy a run of success with a Southern soul-based sound, this Florida singer recorded her best material for Atlantic in Miami with noted session players like the Memphis Horns and the Dixie Flyers. Putting her earthy pop-soul to ballads and mid-tempo material, much of it written and crafted by producer Dave Crawford, Moore had a half-dozen R&B hits for the label; the biggest, "Precious, Precious" (1970) and "Sweet Charlie Babe" (1973), were also small pop hits. In 1972 and 1973, she cut some tunes in Philadelphia's Sigma Sound Studios with a slicker feel, with generally successful results. There was nothing especially earth-shaking about Moore's style or material, but it was solid stuff with a grittier feel than much of the soul music in vogue at the time. After leaving Atlantic, she had one more sizable R&B hit, "Make Me Feel Like a Woman" (1975).


1973 - Sweet Charlie Babe
1976 - Make Me Feel Like A Woman
1979 - I'm On My Way
1980 - With Your Love

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.


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


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

Friday, September 16, 2011

Legendary Lyn Collins


Nicknamed the "Female Preacher," Lyn Collins was discovered in the early '70s along with her relatives Bootsy and Catfish Collins by James Brown, who was making the transition to the hardest funk phase of his career. Lyn Collins was born June 12, 1948, in Abilene, TX, where she grew up; she began singing in her teens, waxing a tune called "Unlucky in Love" at age 14, and married a man who served both as her manager and as the local promoter for the James Brown Revue. Collins sent Brown a demo tape and he responded by essentially putting her on standby in 1970, when Marva Whitney left the Revue. Former vocalist Vicki Anderson elected to rejoin, however, so Brown instead invited Collins to come to Georgia for a recording session in early 1971, which produced the single "Wheel of Life." By the end of that year, Anderson was ready to leave again, and Collins officially joined the James Brown Revue. In 1972, Brown's People Records label released Collins' self-penned single "Think (About It)"; produced by Brown, it became her first and biggest hit, made her the most commercially successful female singer in Brown's camp, and was later sampled for the main vocal hook in the party rap classic "It Takes Two" by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock. Collins' first full-length album, also titled Think (About It), was released later in the year. Collins continued to record singles for Brown through 1973, also fulfilling her heavy touring commitments as a member of the Revue. Collins' second album, Check It Out if You Don't Know Me by Now, was released in 1975. She eventually became a backup session vocalist, also appearing on the soundtracks of the film Dr. Detroit and the TV series Fame. Around the late '80s/early '90s, Collins attempted a comeback as a dance-club diva, recording the house single "Shout" for Belgium's ARS label, and a self-penned track called "Break Your Heart" for an Italian label. In 1993, Collins' profile was given a boost by female dancehall reggae singer Patra, who invited Collins to perform on her hit remake of "Think (About It)"; partly due to the resulting interest, her two official albums were reissued in England and Holland. In addition, Collins' work has appeared on Polydor compilations like James Brown's Funky People and James Brown's Original Funky Divas, as well as the bootleg singles comp Female Preacher; she continued to tour and perform, most notably at the European Jazz/Funk Festival (in both 1998 and 1999) and the Montreux Jazz Festival. Shortly after returning from a European tour in February of 2005, Lyn Collins passed away on March 13 at the age of 56.

1972 - Think (About It)
1973 - Female Preacher
1975 - Check Me Out If You Don't Know Me By Now
2005 - Mama Feelgood

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Legendary Al Wilson


Best remembered for the soul classic "Show and Tell," singer Al Wilson was born June 19, 1939 in Meridian, Mississippi. From childhood forward he was singing professionally, and by the age of 12 was leading his own spiritual quartet and singing in the church choir, even performing covers of country and western hits as circumstances dictated. While he was in high school, Wilson and his family relocated to San Bernadino, California, where he worked odd jobs as a mail carrier, a janitor, and an office clerk, in addition to teaching himself to play drums; after graduation he spent four years touring with Johnny Harris and the Statesmen before joining the U.S. Navy and singing with an enlisted men's chorus. After a two-year military stint, Wilson settled in Los Angeles, touring the local nightclub circuit before joining the R&B vocal group the Jewels; from there he landed with the Rollers, followed by a stint with the instrumental combo the Souls. In 1966, Wilson signed with manager Marc Gordon, who quickly scored his client an a cappella audition for Johnny Rivers -- the "Secret Agent Man" singer not only signed Wilson to his Soul City imprint, but also agreed to produce the sessions that yielded the 1968 R&B smash "The Snake." The minor hit "Do What You Gotta Do" appeared that same year, but Wilson then largely disappeared from sight until 1973, when he issued the platinum-selling Weighing In -- the album's success was spurred by the shimmering "Show and Tell," a Johnny Mathis castoff that sold well over a million copies. 1974's "The La La Peace Song" proved another major hit, and two years later, "I've Got a Feeling We'll Be Seeing Each Other Again" cracked the R&B Top Three. With 1979's "Count the Days" Wilson scored his final chart hit, however, and he spent the next two decades touring clubs and lounges; in 2001 he re-recorded his classic hits for the album Spice of Life. Kidney failure took his life on April 21, 2008.

1969 - Searching For The Dolphins
1973 - Show And Tell
1973 - Weighing In
1974 - La La Peace Song
1976 - I've Got The Feeling
1979 - Count The Days

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Legendary Betty Davis


A wildly flamboyant funk diva with few equals even three decades after her debut, Betty Davis combined the gritty emotional realism of Tina Turner, the futurist fashion sense of David Bowie, and the trendsetting flair of Miles Davis, her husband for a year. It's easy to imagine the snickers when a 23-year-old model married a famous musician twice her age, but Davis was no gold digger; she turned Miles on to Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone (providing the spark that led to his musical reinvention on In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew), then proved her own talents with a trio of sizzling mid-'70s solo LPs.

Born Betty Mabry in North Carolina, Davis grew up in Pittsburgh and had decamped to New York by the early '60s, where she gained entrance into hipster musical circles courtesy of the clubs she frequented -- and one she worked at, the Cellar. She first recorded around that time, and also put out a 1964 single for Don Costa's DCP imprint. Her first major writing credit, "Uptown" by the Chambers Brothers, came in 1967, before she'd turned 20. One year later, she met Miles Davis in New York, and they were married by the end of summer 1968. Though their marriage didn't survive the end of the decade, Betty Davis was tremendously influential to Miles, introducing him to psychedelic rock and even influencing his wardrobe. Miles' 1968 LP Filles de Kilimanjaro featured her on the cover, and he wrote the final track ("Mademoiselle Mabry") for her.

Miles divorced her in 1969, explaining later in his autobiography that she was "too young and wild" for him. (He also suspected her of an affair with Jimi Hendrix, an allegation she denies.) By the beginning of the '70s, Betty Davis began work on a set of songs and tapped a host of great musicians to bring them to fruition: Greg Errico and Larry Graham from Sly Stone's band, Michael Carabello from Santana, the Pointer Sisters, and members of the Tower of Power horn section. Her self-titled debut album finally appeared in 1973, and though it made no commercial impact at all, it was an innovative collection with plenty of blistering songs. Even more so than a soul shouter like Tina Turner, Davis was a singer for the feminist era, a take-no-prisoners sexual predator who screamed, yelled, grunted, purred, and cooed her way through extroverted material like "Anti Love Song," "Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him," and "He Was a Big Freak." Religious groups protested many of her concert appearances (several were canceled), and radio outlets understandably refused to play her extreme work.

Davis hardly let up with her second and third albums, 1974's They Say I'm Different and 1975's Nasty Gal, but they too made little impact. Though she would have made an excellent disco diva, Betty Davis largely disappeared from the music scene afterward. An aborted 1979 session has been released on multiple occasions, once as Crashin' from Passion and also as Hangin' Out in Hollywood. Early in the 21st century, Light in the Attic Records reissued Davis' three released studio albums, and also issued for the first time her 1976 unreleased recording, Crashin' from Passion, as Is It Love or Desire?


  • 1973 Betty Davis
  • 1974 They Say I'm Different
  • 1975 Nasty Gal
  • 1976 - Is It Love Or Desire
  • 1995 Hangin' Out in Hollywood
  • 1996 Crashin' from Passion
  • 2003 - This Is It (Compillation)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Legendary Leon Ware

Songwriter, singer, and producer Leon Ware is one of the less-recognized products of the Motown Records music factory of the 1960s and '70s, primarily because he has tended to work behind the scenes despite recording a series of albums under his own name. His signature style is a highly romantic approach to soul music that has resulted in many hit records, notably "I Wanna Be Where You Are," recorded by Michael Jackson, and "I Want You," recorded by Marvin Gaye, both of which he co-wrote.

Growing up as an aspiring musical artist in Detroit, Ware naturally became part of Motown Records, which was founded in the city as he approached manhood. In the spring of 1967, the Isley Brothers' recording of "Got to Have You Back," which he wrote with Ivy Hunter and Steve Bowden, placed in both the R&B and pop singles charts after its release on the Motown imprint Tamla Records. But his first major hit as a writer came with the Four Tops' "Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)," co-written with Pam Sawyer and released as a single on Motown, which reached the Top Ten of the R&B charts and the Top 40 of the pop charts in early 1971. He was not working exclusively for Motown, either. During 1971, he collaborated with Ike & Tina Turner, co-writing six songs on their album 'Nuff Said, released that fall on United Artists Records. The album reached the Top 40 of the R&B charts and also appeared in the pop charts. Ware himself was contracted to United Artists, and his self-titled debut album appeared on the label in 1972.

Back at Motown, Ware began collaborating with Arthur "T-Boy" Ross, younger brother of Motown star Diana Ross, and they came up with "I Wanna Be Where You Are," which Michael Jackson recorded for Motown on his early-1972 album Got to Be There. Released as a single in the spring, it peaked at number two on the R&B charts and reached the Top 20 of the pop charts. Over time, it became one of Ware's most-covered songs, earning recordings by José Feliciano, Marvin Gaye, SWV, and others. In 1973, Ware had songwriting credits on albums by the Average White Band, Donny Hathaway, and the Jackson 5. "Give Me Just Another Day," which he wrote for the Miracles, was released as a single on Tamla that fall and reached the R&B charts. His next R&B singles chart entry came with "If You Were My Woman," an answer record to the Gladys Knight & the Pips hit "If You Were My Man," recorded by Latimore on Glades Records, in the spring of 1974. That same season saw the release of a more important project for him, Quincy Jones' LP Body Heat on A&M Records. Ware was both a writer and performer on the disc, which topped the R&B charts and reached the pop Top Ten, going gold. "If I Ever Lose This Heaven," which he wrote with Pam Sawyer and sang on the album with Minnie Riperton and Al Jarreau, was an R&B singles chart entry in September. Nearly a year later, it gained even greater renown when it was covered by the Average White Band on Atlantic for a single that reached the Top 40 of both the pop and R&B charts. It went on to become another major copyright for Ware, covered by such artists as Jonathan Butler, Sergio Mendes, and Nancy Wilson. Meanwhile, the title track from Body Heat, co-written by Ware, also became an R&B singles chart entry in the spring of 1975. "Rolling Down a Mountainside," which he wrote with Jacqueline Hilliard, also became an R&B hit, this one for the Main Ingredient on RCA Victor Records that spring, peaking in the Top Ten and also getting into the pop chart before serving as the title track on the group's next album. Ware collaborated with Minnie Riperton and Richard Rudolph on "Inside My Love," which was featured on her Epic Records album Adventures in Paradise, also released in the spring of 1975. Issued as a single that summer, the song became a Top 40 R&B hit and reached the pop charts.

Ware had two projects in progress at Motown during this period. He was producing songs for T-Boy Ross, and he was recording his own solo album. But when label president Berry Gordy heard one of the proposed Ross tracks, "I Want You," he decided that Marvin Gaye should cut it instead. And when Gaye heard the material Ware had done for his album, it was turned into a Gaye LP instead. Ware produced what now became Gaye's I Want You album, released on Tamla in March 1976, having co-written all the songs on it. The title tune (co-written with Ross) topped the R&B charts and made the Top 20 of the pop charts. It went on to become a standard, covered by Herb Alpert, Gato Barbieri, Madonna, and Michael McDonald among many others. Robert Palmer's medley of it with "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)," another Gaye hit, reached the pop Top 20 in 1991. The I Want You album went to number one on the R&B charts and the Top Ten of the pop charts. It spun off a second single, "After the Dance," co-written by Ware, Ross, and Gaye, that made the R&B Top 20 and was a pop chart entry.

Having given away the material for his album, Ware began again on a solo effort for Motown and produced Musical Massage, released on Motown's Gordy Records subsidiary in September 1976. He has suggested that Motown wanted him to give this album's songs to Gaye, too, and that when he refused, the label released the LP but gave it no promotion, resulting in its commercial failure. So, he went back to being a songwriter for others. During the late '70s, he placed songs on albums by Minnie Riperton, Marlena Shaw, Melissa Manchester, and Bobby Womack. He issued his third solo album, Inside Is Love, on Fabulous Records in 1979. It reached the R&B charts in December, along with its single, "What's Your Name," establishing him as a recording artist for the first time. He was represented on Melissa Manchester's 1980 album For the Working Girl on Arista by "Lovers After All," which he and Manchester wrote and which Manchester sang with Peabo Bryson. Released as a single in early 1981, it reached the Top 40 of the R&B charts and was a pop chart entry as well. Meanwhile, Ware had signed with Elektra Records as a recording artist, and he released his fourth solo album, Rockin' You Eternally, which spawned two R&B singles chart entries, "Baby Don't Stop Me" and the title song, but did not itself reach the charts. Nevertheless, Elektra financed a follow-up, and Ware's second album to be called simply Leon Ware was released in 1982. But the label dropped him when the disc failed to sell.

Nevertheless, Ware still had his songwriting to fall back on, and in the early and mid-'80s he had cuts on albums by Jeffrey Osborne, Loose Ends, Teena Marie, and James Ingram. In 1987, he pacted with Slingshot Records and released his sixth solo album, Undercover. In the late '80s and 1990s, while he continued to work on various sessions as a musician, arranger, and producer, he placed fewer new songs with other artists, though he did have cuts on albums by the Isley Brothers, John Martyn, Fred Wesley, and Chico DeBarge, among others. The chief exception to this relative drought was "Independence," which was recorded by Lulu and became a hit in England in 1993, just missing the Top Ten. But Ware's career benefited in two respects in the 1990s. First, his work was discovered as the source of sampling by rappers and hip-hop artists. Montell Jordan's 1999 R&B chart entry "When You Get Home," for example, sampled "I Want You," as did tracks by EPMD ("It's Going Down"), Ice Cube ("What Can I Do"), and Prince ("Mr. Happy"), among others. A Tribe Called Quest's "Lyrics to Go" sampled "Inside My Love," as did 2Pac's "Me Against the World" and Aaliyah's "Heartbroken," and 2Pac also sampled "Body Heat" on the number one pop and R&B hit "How Do U Want It." Such success didn't increase Ware's exposure as an artist, but it did increase his publishing income substantially. At the same time, he was being discovered as a soul music progenitor, particularly in England, where the Expansion label began reissuing his solo albums. He helped his cause by putting out his seventh album, Taste the Love, on his own Kitchen Records label in 1995. In 2001, Candlelight, a jazz album he recorded with Don Grusin, came out on Kitchen in the U.S. and Expansion in the U.K. Love's Drippin', a more characteristic collection of soul music, followed in 2003.


1972 - Leon Ware
1976 - Musical Massage
1979 - Inside Is Love / lossless

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))

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