All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Blaxploitationpride.org makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

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.

************************************************************************************

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

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Legend : Donald Byrd




b. 9th December 1932, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A

Donald Byrd captured the tenor of his times as did Clifford Brown and Freddie Hubbard. He studied music at Wayne State University, from which he received his bachelor's degree in 1954. He went on to receive a master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music in the mid-'50's. At the same time, he recorded for the Prestige, Riverside, and Blue Note, and Savoy labels (among others), both as a leader and as a sideman.

Following stints with the likes of Max Roach, Art Blakey, and Sonny Rollins, Byrd co-led a band with the baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams from 1958-61. Byrd studied composition in Europe from 1962-63, then returned to the U.S., where he established himself as an academic, teaching at Rutgers, Howard University, and the Hampton Institute. Byrd received his law degree in 1976; he subsequently taught at North Carolina Central University. In 1982, he received his doctorate from Columbia Teachers College. Byrd continued to perform and record, releasing a number of fine straight-ahead Blue Note albums throughout the '60's.

In the '70's, his music took a decidedly commercial turn. During the early Seventies, Byrd put together a group of his students, forming a band whose title became based around his surname. The Blackbyrds. They recorded a string of successful chart singles which included the song 'Walking In Rhythm', an enormous pop hit both sides of the Atlantic. Byrd recorded a number of heavily produced, pop-oriented albums on which his horn was subjugated by disco-fied vocals and string sections.

Byrd worked alongside producers 'The Mizell Brothers' throughout this period with 'Places & Spaces' being considered his finest work at this time. In the '80's and '90's Byrd returned to his jazz roots, recording with peers such as Joe Henderson and Bobby Hutcherson, and with younger musicians like Kenny Garrett and Mulgrew Miller.

In 2001, Donald Byrd had become unwell.

*************************************************************************
Discography
*************************************************************************

*******************
Leader
*******************

1955
  • Donald Byrd - Byrd Jazz (Transition TRLP 5)
  • Donald Byrd - Byrd's Word (Savoy MG 12032)
  • Donald Byrd Quartet And Quintet (Eros ERP 50067)
  • Donald Byrd - Byrd's Eye View (Transition TRLP 4) (MP3/FLAC)

1956
1957
1958
  • Donald Byrd - Byrd In Paris, Vol. 1 (Brunswick (F) 87 903)
  • Donald Byrd – Parisian Thoroughfare (Brunswick (F) 87 904) / FLAC
  • Donald Byrd Plays Au Chat - 0:15 (Jazz O.P. (F) OMS 7001/02)
  • Donald Byrd - Off To The Races (Blue Note BLP 4007) /FLAC/

1959

1960

1961

1962

1963

1964

1966

1967

1969

1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976

1978

1979

1981


1982

1987

1989
  • Donald Byrd - Getting Down To Business (Landmark LLP 1523)
  • Donald Byrd - Getting Down To Business (Landmark LCD 1523-2)

1991



******************************************************
Sideman
******************************************************

1947
  • Robert Barnes Sextet (Fortune 113)

1955

1956

1957

1958

1959

1960
  • Earl Zindars/Armando Peraza - The Soul Of Jazz Percussion (Warwick W 5003ST) [also released as Donald Byrd\Booker Little - The Third World]
  • Bunky Green - My Babe (Exodus EXS 6001)

1961

1962

1963

1964

1965

1967

1977

****************************************************************************
Resources


Thanks to: Avaxhome, Call It Anything, Cheeba, Simon666, Myfavoritesound, San Pasquale, My Jazz World, Forrealheadz, Blue Crate Breaks, Green, Vel Kam, Fresh Sly, Seventeen Green Buicks, que parte no entendiste, the roadhouse viander, genushaha, Hot Beat Jazz

Visit Blaxpploitation Pride for information on your favorite blaxploitation movies and soundtracks.