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On November 1st, in 1926, one of the funkiest Jazz alto Saxophonist to ever play-Lou Donaldson was born in Badin, North Carolina. Donaldson is still alive (as of 10-29-18). He attended the HBCU-North Carolina A&T University in the early 40s, and then enlisted in the Navy for WWII. He got introduced to Jazz (Bop) while receiving his training at the Great Lakes bases around the Chicago, Illinois area. Post-WWII, he returned to North Carolina and started a band called the Rhythm Vets (1947-mostly A&T vets). That same year, his band scored the soundtrack for Pitch a Boogie Woogie (restored in 1985 by American Film Institute).
Lou was featured on his first Jazz recording in 1950 with Charlie Singleton, then with Milt Jackson & Monk in 1952. He also got up with Blakey, Horace Silver and Blue Mitchell. By the end of the 50s, he’d jammed, recorded, or played with everyone in the Bop scene from Bird to Philly Joe Jones. Once the 60s hit, Donaldson had comprised his own band and was recording Fusion Funk Soul Jazz Classics for the Blue Note imprint. Some of the personnel included on these seminal recordings are: Grant Green, Johnnie Smith, Melvin Sparks, Charles Earland, Ben Dixon, Jimmy Ponder, John Patton, Leon Spencer, and Idris Muhammad. He was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2012. He’s 92 today.
On November 1st, in 1951, saxophonist, composer, producer, singer, arranger, songwriter, and original founding member of Kool & the Gang-Ronald Bell (2nd r-Ronald Nathan Bell) AKA Khalis Bayyan AKA Ronald Khalis Bell was born in Youngstown, Ohio. Bell was the son of a boxer-Robert Bobby Bell that had some prominence in the 50s-60s on the Chitlin Circuit. Khalis got introduced to Jazz through his father's return trips home where he’d roomed with the likes of Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Adderley and Trane. He taught himself how to play sax by copying the solos and melodies from these artists’ LPs.
Around the early 60s, the family relocated to Jersey City, New Jersey. By the mid 60s, Ronald, along with his older brother Robert ‘Kool’ Bell (2nd l), Ricky Westfield, George Brown, Spike Mickens, Dennis Thomas and Charles Smith formed their own band called the Jazziacs. They merged Soul, Funk, Jazz and R&B into one unique sound. They changed names of the band a few more times (Soul Town Band, New Dimensions, Kool & the Flames) before coming up with their permanent moniker-Kool & the Gang.The band’s first LP hit in 1970 (self-titled on De-Lite Records). All of their music on that imprint is banging. Ronald is 67 years-old today.
On November 1st, in 1962, singer, guitarist, emcee, songwriter, producer, actor and one of the original founders of the band Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP)-Anthony Kiedis AKA Antoine the Swan AKA Tony Flow AKA Cole Dammett was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was a prolific writer, creative performer, and imaginative lyricist. He spent most of his professional career battling drug addiction, becoming sober in the early 2000s. He introduced Flea to the Punk Rock scene in LA after his family migrated there in the late 70s. Kiedis worked closely with Flea in precursor bands to RHCP during the early 80s. From about 1983 to 1997, RHCP put out several LPs, some self-produced, others with George Clinton writing and running the boards (P-Funk fame).
They cranked out hits in the 90s like Under the Bridge, but before that, during the 80s, they were more of a true Punk Rock band, with less Billboard hits. By the time the late 90s had passed, and going into the 2000s, Kiedis and former band-mates were heavily addicted to Heroin and cocaine. Kiedis cleaned up, and hasn’t relapsed since the winter of 2000. His was the son of an addict which made it extremely hard for him to step away from the drugs. He continues to tour and record with the band. He’s 56 years-old today.
On November 1st, in 1966, multi-instrumentalist (bass, guitar, keyboards), songwriter, singer, producer and member of Stereolab-Mary (Therese) Hansen, was born in Maryborough, Queensland, Australia. She made substance-based, original and experimental music with Stereolab. Her father was a parliament member, and her mother was an opera singer. She has 7 siblings. In the late 80s, Hansen moved to London and started singing backup with the Wolfhounds. Tim Gane from McCarthy, liked Hansen’s style and they added on Laetitia Sadier forming Stereolab (1990).
If you’ve never heard Stereolab, it’s extremely hard to categorize or describe their music. It uses everything, every genre. One thing’s for sure, it’s dope. I recommend Dots & Loops and Mars Audiac Quintet. Hansen also produced the UK group Chicano, and provided vocals for The High Llamas, Mouse on Mars, Brokeback and Moonshake. She also worked with Hovercraft out of Seattle (a futuristic space rock band). Even though she worked on several side projects, she was a Sterolab ‘lifer’. Taken too young, Hansen was killed when she was hit by a truck in London (2002). She was 36 years-old.
On November 1st, in 2008, we lost a great Blues, Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Prog Rock and just about any other Funky Rock sub-genre you can think of drummer-Jimmy Carl Black passed away in Siegsdorf, Germany. The El Paso native provided the backing beats for: Mothers of Invention, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, The Muffin Men, The Soul Giants, Them 3 Guys, The Jack & Jim Show, The Farrell & Black Band, The Squires, The Grandmothers, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Turtles, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Joe Cocker and Jimmy Clark & The Mannish Boys.
He could sing, songwriter, arrange, compose, produce, and play percussions well too. He was featured on over 70 LPs from 1959 to 2008 (as a member of a band and solo work). He was also a member of over 20 bands during the same time span. To say this man hasn’t left his mark on music would be a fallacy. He’s featured in the autobiography about himself-The Jimmy Carl Black Story (2007). Even though he doesn’t have any ‘awards’ on the commercial level, he’s recognized by many as a dope drummer. Steely Dan even asked that he be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. He died of lung cancer at age 70.
Honorable Mention: On November 1st, in 1946, bassists, cello-viola and violin player, Rock musician-Rick Grech (Richard Roman Grechko) was born in Bordeaux, France. He got a lot of notoriety playing bass with The Family (Prog Rock-early 60s). However, he’s played for many: Blind Faith, Ginger Baker's Air Force (Cream & Fela Kuti drummer), The Crickets, Rod Stewart, Gram Parsons, Traffic, Vivian Stanshall, KGB, Ronnie Lane, Muddy Waters and more. He died in 1990 from complications with alcoholism. He was 43 years-old.
On November 1st, in 1949, super producer, songwriter, keyboardist, composer, arranger, music mogul, executive and Canadian Icon-David Walter Foster was born in Victoria, British Columbia. He started out playing keys for Skylark in the early 70s. After that, he got into doing session work and production for: Earth Wind & Fire, George Harrison, The Tubes, Kenny Loggins, Chicago, Richard Marx, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Dolly Parton and many more. He’s 69 today.
On November 1st, in 2004, lead singer Terry Knight (3rd r-c), of Terry Knight & the Pack, got snuffed out at his house in Killeen, Texas. He was sticking up for his seed when her boyfriend stabbed him (Donald Alan Fair). Knight didn’t do much with his band the Pack, but he was a very good manager for Grand Funk Railroad. Most people recognize him for this occupation in music rather than being a lead singer.
On November 1st, in 2008, Oaktown native, talent scout, A&R and record executive-Shakir Stewart took his own life at his Atlanta home (shot himself). He worked with many companies and artists: L.A. Reid-LaFace Records, Beyonce, Hitco Music Publishing, Jay-Z, LL Cool J, Ciara, Rick Ross, all the new styled more mainstream ‘urban’ stuff. He was the vice-president of Def Jam Music Group when he died (34 years-old).
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