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On October 12th, in 1932, comedian, Author, comedy LP artist, Civil Rights Activist, Pan-Africanist, Black Power Advocate, Public Speaker, Dietician, and world renowned grassroots political figure-Dick Gregory was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He was about 10 years-old when Red Foxx was getting his start in stand-up comedy (early 40s, see TOV 10-11-18). It’s ironic that Red was 22 years older than Gregory…As if he was destined to carry the torch after Red, which he did very well. Around that same age, Gregory grew up in track and went on to become a prolific runner in high school.
He was awarded a scholarship to Southern Illinois University (around the early 50s). In 1954 he had to leave school, he was drafted for the Korean War. He got his start as a comedian in the Army while he was stationed at Fort Hood (TX), Fort Lee (VA) & Fort Smith (AR). His commanding officers noticed his sense of humor and Gregory would do stand-up in talent contests on the bases. He won most of them. When he returned to SIU (late 50s), he decided to drop out citing that: They didn’t want me to study, they wanted me to run. Leaving school was a significant changing point for him, as he pursued comedy full-time from that point on.
He spoke openly, unapologetically and candidly about racism in his performances, which were largely geared towards a Black audience. He also appealed to liberal Whites, and had a strong Universal following. During the early 60s, Gregory got heavily involved in the Civil Rights struggle. Linking with like minded artists and organizations of the time ranging from Harlem Renaissance artists, authors and musicians, to religious and politically based organizations like SNCC, The BPP, NAACP, SCLC and more. He never relented on his demand for just treatment of all people. He passed away in DC (2017). He was 84 years-old.
On October 12th, in 1942, the Bass vocalist and founding member of the Temptations-Melvin Franklin (David Melvin English-standing r) was born in Montgomery, Alabama. He remained a Temptation for 24 years (1960-1994). He stopped performing with the band due to losing mobility in his legs (rheumatoid arthritis). Franklin was originally an English because his father (a Preacher) got his mother pregnant, which is rumored to have been non-consensual. His mother later married Willard Franklin and they moved to Detroit. Melvin moved when he was around 10. The Temptations came about when Otis Williams (c) asked Melvin to sing bass in his group-
Otis Williams and the Siberians (Otis always wanted to be lead). Then Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks and Elbridge Bryant added on. The vocal quintet was called the Elgins. They signed to Motown and the name given was The Temptations. Melvin’s (2nd l) bass vocal was used for adlibs and signature phrasings in songs. He also sang some lead verses on a couple cuts: The Prophet, I Truly Believe & Silent Night. He and Otis Williams were the only Temptations that never left the group. He passed away in 1995. He was 52.
On October 12th, in 1957, vocalists, pianist, songwriter, producer, bandleader, Jimi Hendrix employer, Pastor, good friend of James Brown, and the self-proclaimed King of Rock ‘n’ Roll-Little Richard heard the calling of the Lord. As the story goes, he was on tour overseas in Australia. When he was coming back stateside, flying out of Sydney, one of the engines on the plane caught on fire. He prayed like it was nobody’s business, threw about $8,000 worth of jewelry out the window-into the Hunter River in Sydney, and launched a Gospel career shortly after he landed. He made a public statement, re-telling the story above.
He also renounced Rock ‘n’ Roll and said something to the effect that he saw visions of his own damnation, and prayed to God to save him. Obviously, God saved him, or is it obvious? About five short years later, Little Richard would return to the ‘secular’ world of Rock ‘n’ Roll, with a little ‘spirituality’ added to it. Now you know that’s a shame that he dissed RNR to come back and have to eat that crow. Sideways looks must’ve been daily for a while. Throwing the jewels out though? Man, pawn them and give the money to the church…
The music scene in NYC in the mid-70s must’ve been something to behold. I wish I was able to witness it firsthand. Hip Hop was in its infancy-cats were building their own sound systems-Flowers & Pete Jones were mastering blending-Hollywood & Herc were Toastin’-all over nice tracks. Underground Deep House was gaining a lot of momentum too. Venues like The Gallery with Nicky Siano (started 1973) & The Loft with David Mancuso (above-started 1970) were spinning plenty of it. Both of these venues would go on to influence the concept and playlist for Studio 54 (Siano was a resident Dee Jay).
They also influenced the creation and sound for House Music and EDM overall. A lot of the Gallery & Loft Classics are sampled heavily. Last, the American Punk movement was just getting started. On October 12th, in 1974, the Punk band Blondie made their stage debut at the infamous CBGB’s in New York City. Debra Harry, the band’s lead singer, said that the band got the name because that’s what men would cat-call to her: …(whistles) ‘Hey blondie!’…Them New York cats ain’t shy on hollering at women, at least not any that I know.
On October 12th, in 2016, Forbes Magazine published their latest list of the top-earning deceased music celebrities. The King of Pop, Moonwalker, Man in the Mirror, and Smooth Criminal beat everyone out hands down, making the number one slot on the list, as he usually does (Michael Jackson had an estimated-income of $825 Million for October 2015 to October 2016). His Purple Highness, Jamie Starr, the Aritst-Prince was a new entry to the annual Forbes list. He had an estimated-income of $25 Million from October 2015 to October 2016.
He secured the number 5 spot on the posthumous list. Sidebar: Prince has a fairly new LP that was released of him on piano exclusively. It has the skeletons of some of his biggest hits from Purple Rain. David Bowie was also a new member to the deceased wealthy fam. He fell into the 11th spot with $10.5 Million as his net worth. I wonder who’s collecting this money, and paying taxes on it…and I’m pretty sure Prince didn’t want them joints released. He sure can’t say or do anything about it now though. His sister claimed she believes he’d be ok with it.
Honorable Mention: On October 12th, in 1929: the singer, songwriter and musician-Napoleon ‘Nappy’ Brown (Napoleon Brown Goodson Culp) was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is an inducted member of the Blues Hall of Fame. He’s most noted for his stutter type of singing style and vibrato vocals. He recorded Soul, R&B, Blues & Pop. He was 78 when he passed away (2008).
On October 12th, in 1955, The Chrysler Auto Corporation was breaking new ground in sound, literally. They became the first car company to install High-Fidelity Record Players in their vehicles. They were set to be released on the 1956 models. The record player was about four inches vertically and about a foot horizontally. It took 7” plates, but they weren’t 45s. more like 16 2/3 RPM. They discontinued the players in 1961.
…The Origins of: ‘Paul is Dead’…On October 12th, in 1969, Detroit radio Station-WKRN was taking calls during a regular show. One of the callers told the DJ that if he back spun Strawberry Fields Forever, then he’d hear John Lennon saying: Paul is Dead…this is how it all started folks. The global urban myth that Paul McCartney was dead all started from a bored fan back-spinning the LP…
On October 12th, in 1978, Sex Pistol Sid Vicious & his lady at the time-Nancy Spungen were staying at the Chelsea Hotel in NYC. Sid called the police, on himself…Peep, he called the cops and told them that someone had stabbed his lady. When the cops arrived on the scene, it was obvious Sid had stabbed her, so they arrested him, detaining him in a detox unit within the jail. He never stood trial for the charges because he died before his court date.
For more information on any musician or event reviewed in posts, or for additional information on the Wandering Eyes Blog overall, use the search bar and search the artist or event using keywords. It’s like a Google search for the site. A myriad of information, covering several topics exists on this site going back to 2013 when it was created. PEACE!