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On October 20th, in 1914-singer, actor, choreographer, seminal dancer-specializing in Jazz & Tap, one half of the Nicholas Brothers, mentor to Sammy Davis Jr-the Hines Brothers-Henry LeTang-Honi Coles & Savion Glover-Fayard Antonio Nicholas was born in Mobile, Alabama. Fayard and his brother Harold, got their start in the mid to late 20s, dancing on vaudeville stages for all types of audiences with their parents. Their father was a drummer-Ulysses Nicholas, and their mother was a pianist-Viola (Harden) Nicholas. Fayard was 7 years older than his brother. Both of them grew up witnessing the transformation from minstrel shows and vaudeville to the predominantly Black subculture of the Jazz era and Harlem Renaissance.
In 1932, they were a featured act at the infamous Cotton Club (they were 18 and 11). Fayard stopped dancing from 1943-1944 to serve his country, enlisting in the Army for WWII. He married Geraldine Pate, returned from the war, and then shortly after stopped dancing as the gigs started drying up. A paradigm shift had started in the Black music industry. Integration saw a lot of clubs close that were once the only places that Blacks could perform. The emergence of Be-Hard-Post Bop & Cool Jazz made the band the focal point, not the dancers or stage acts (like how they killed B-Boys in Hip Hop). He continued to mentor and lecture others about dance until his death in 2006, he was 91 years old.
On October 20th, in 1950, singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer, actor, and lead singer for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers-Tom Petty (Thomas Earl Petty) was born in Gainesville, Florida. Petty first got interested in making music when he met Elvis Presley in 1961. Henceforth and what not, the 10 year old would start trading his toys with his friends for Rock ‘n’ Roll 45s. Petty was influenced by the Beatles as well when he saw them on the Ed Sullivan Show in the mid 60s. He dropped out of high school at 17, picked up a bass, and joined a band. Interesting fact: once Petty switched to guitar, Don Felder of the Eagles was his first teacher. His first two bands were called:
The Epics (late 60s) & Mudcrutch (early 70s-it included members from the Epics). They released a single in ’75, but it didn’t chart (Depot Street-on Shelter Records), and they split up shortly after. Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, & Petty remained after the dust settled. They added on Ron Blair & Stan Lynch, thus forming the original Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers band. Their first big hit was Breakdown, released in 1977 off their self-titled LP on Shelter, distributed by ABC. The second LP did well-You’re Gonna Get It! However, their 3rd LP easily reached the Platinum status-Damn the Torpedoes. Petty is regarded as one of the Rock ‘n’ Roll greats of our time. He passed away in 2017. He was 66 years-old.
On October 20th, in 1953, actor William Goldwyn Nunn III AKA Bill Nunn AKA Radio Raheem was born in Steeler Nation-Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He ‘s the son of an NFL scout and writer for the Pittsburgh Courier-William G. Nunn Jr & Frances Nunn. Nunn was a ball boy for the Pittsburgh Steelers as youth. He graduated from Morehouse in 1976. It’s here where he met Spike Lee and starred in a number of Spike’s early films. 12 years later, they’d relive the Morehouse days in an updated late 80s format in the film School Daze. This is where Nunn got his ‘credited’ film debut playing the role of Grady (in 1981 he appeared in Sharky’s Machine).
Nunn got a small role, but it had a huge impact in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989). He played Radio Raheem, a Brooklyn Boom Box P.E. fanatic that went block to block dropping jewels on Love & Hate, challenging residents to loudest Box battles (20 D batteries, D MF’r D!). His presence was intimidating, as most Black men can be to the general public’s eye. In 1991, he was in New Jack City with Wesley Snipes. The duo also connected with Spike in Mo Betta Blues as Jazz musicians. He’s been in over 50 movies and TV shows from 1988-2015. He passed away from complications with Leukemia in 2016. He was 62 years-old.
…‘1, 2, 3 into the 4, Snoop Doggy Dogg & Dr. Dre is at ya Door’…On October 20th, in 1971, emcee, actor, producer, youth football coach, and spokesperson for the proliferation of Hip Hop Culture-Snoop Lion, Snoop Dogg, Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr was born in Long Beach, California. Snoop linked with Dre in 1992 for the Deep Cover Soundtrack and song of the same name. Then Dre featured Snoop & Tha Dogg Pound all over the Chronic LP. This was followed up by Snoop’s 1993 solo debut-Doggystyle. Snoop was directly involved in the Eastcoast Westcoast beef.
He removed himself from that scene and signed with Master P after Pac & Big got shot. Interesting facts about Snoop: He joined the Nation of Islam in 2009, attending Saviour’s Day & donating money. He later made a pilgrimage to Jamaica and embraced Rastafarianism in 2012 (not sure if it’s 12 Tribes or Nyabinghi). His name would change at this time from Snoop Dogg, to Snoop Lion by way of original Wailer-Bunny Wailer giving him the Lion moniker. He also cut a reggae LP called Reincarnated. Snoop gives out mad turkeys on Thanksgiving (thousands). Snoop loves sports. Some of his teams are the Lakers, Dodgers, Raiders, Steelers, & USC Trojans. He’s 47 today.
On October 20th, in 2011, we lost a great artist-centered photographer-Barry Feinstein. Barry’s life was intertwined with Hollywood stars and Musicians. He started as a photographer for Life magazine in 1955. His popularity grew and by the end of the 50s, he was snapping pics for Time, Newsweek & Esquire Magazine. Throughout the 50s, he began working closely with Hollywood stars & politicians like Steve McQueen, Judy Garland, JFK and Nixon. By the 60s, he was working with musical artist Bob Dylan. Some of his most notable photos come from Dylan’s tour of England.
He also has remarkable photos of the Rolling Stones and George Harrison of the Beatles. His ties to music didn’t stop there, in the early 60s he married Mary (Travers) from Peter, Paul & Mary and they had a child. In 1993 he had an accident that made him unable to use a camera. He published a couple books in 2008. They included pictures that he hadn’t shared, and some he had. Most of them are of Hollywood stars, musicians, some of Dylan’s writings, and politicians. He and Bob Dylan were close friends and worked together on Dylan’s 1974 tour with The Band. The photos from this tour were picked by Dylan and Feinstein. Feinstein is credited with shooting more than 500 LP covers. He passed away in 2011, he was 80 years-old.
Honorable Mentions: On October 20th, in 1901-singer, songwriter, actress, guitarist, dancer, Jazz vocalist and nightclub chanteuse-Adelaide (Louise) Hall was born in Brooklyn, New York. She had a career that spanned 7 decades (1921-1992). She traveled Europe & the US, performing for all types of audiences. She recorded with Duke Ellington, performed at the Cotton Club, Apollo Theater and the World Fair in Chicago. She passed away in 1993, she was 92 years-old.
On October 20th, in 1977, another slew of artists were lost in an airplane tragedy. This time, it’d be members of Lynard Skynyrd: Cassie Gaines, Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines; and their manager-Dean Kilpartick. They rented a plane, it ran out of fuel and crashed into some trees in the middle of a swamp near Gillsburg, Mississippi. The survivors were injured badly as well. They couldn’t make their performance that night at Louisiana University.
On October 20th, in 2006, The Tuskegee Airmen would become a regular part of the classroom curriculum for the US Air Force Officers Training School. The Red Tails were infamous in their successful battle records and their ability to show the ‘modern western world’ that ‘Brothers’ can fly planes pretty damn good. It’s a shame that most of the Airmen had passed on by 2006, and weren’t able to see their legacy get the recognition that was long overdue.
On October 20th, in 2007, Killing Joke (Punk Band) bassist-Paul Raven (2nd r), passed away from complications with his heart in Geneva, Switzerland. He was recording in Geneva. Raven stayed with Killing Joke up to the late 80s. He formed Murder Inc in 1987, not Ja Rule Murder Inc, the real Murder Inc. He also joined three other bands after: Prong, Mob Research & Ministry. He was 46 years-old when he died.
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 Plethora of information, covering several topics exists on this site going back to 2013 when it was created. PEACE!