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On October 14th, in 1947, producer, guitarist, arranger, songwriter, session musician and founding member of MFSB-Norman Ray Harris was born in Danville, Virginia. Harris taught himself the guitar during his early teens. He hooked up with bassist Ronnie Baker & drummer Earl Young to become the house band at the Uptown Theatre in Philly (60s). They started a production trio (Baker-Harris-Young) and wrote a few songs for local acts. He got his professional start with seminal Northern Soul producers Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff. Norman was one of the major writers for the production team during the early 70s on Philadelphia International Records.
He helped form the backing band for Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Archie Bell & the Drells, The O’Jays and more from the TSOP sound. After members of MFSB got fed up with menial payments from Gamble & Huff (early to mid-70s), they left and went to play with Vince Montana’s SalSoul Orchestra. Harris continued to play, write, arrange and record for the SalSoul imprint (mid to late 70s). He also made his own production company in the mid-70s after MFSB dissolved, The Harris Machine. He put out a solo LP in 1980. He passed away from heart trouble in 1987. He was 40 years-old.
On October 14th, in 1948, vocalist, and one of the original members of the Detroit Emeralds-Ivory Tilmon was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is one of four brothers that belong to the group: Abrim, Raymond and Cleophus. In the early 60s, the group was in the south and called themselves the Emeralds. Raymond and Cleophus left the group some time during the 60s. When they left, James Mitchell and Marvin Willis joined the group and the 4 childhood friends moved to Detroit, changing their name to the Detroit Emeralds. They recorded for Westbound mostly, but Ric-Tic before that.
While on Westbound, they made the infamous De La sample cut for Pot Holes in My Lawn-Baby Let Me Take You. The song went to number 10 on the R&B chart when it was released, but like a lot of breaks, once it was sampled by De La, it became a collectibe LP and single. They have a few noteworthy cuts on the Westbound imprint, one of my favorites being Love Has Come to Me. It’s a funk ballad with plenty of groove changes and breaks. The vocal quartet released 5 LPs from 1971 to 1978. However, by ‘74, their musical cohesion was becoming frayed. Mitchell & Willis went to record with the Floaters in the late 70s. I’m not sure what happened to Ivory. I do know he sang on some funky tracks.
On October 14th, in 1958, singer, keyboardist, electronic music innovator, professor, and producer-Thomas Dolby (Thomas Morgan Robertson) was born in London, England. Dolby was one of many UK based New Wave 80s acts that cleaned up on record sales due directly to their exposure on MTV. A whole demographic that would’ve otherwise known nothing about being Blinded By Science, got a chance to hear Dolby’s staple track (1982). Dolby taught himself the guitar first, inspired by folk music-mostly Dylan. He then moved on to teaching himself piano when he got interested in Jazz.
Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Thelonious Monk & Dave Brubeck were some of his inspirations on the the keys. He got his stage name Dolby from his friends coining the term due to him always messing with tapes, recording and keyboards. He released 5 LPs and 3 EP between 1982 and 2011. Since then, he’s moved to higher education. He currently teaches in the Peabody Institute at John Hopkins University. Dolby’s use of synthesizers redefined how they could be used for basslines and melodies in New Wave music. He’s 60 today.
On October 14th, in 1969, Frank Sinatra had a warrant issued for his arrest by New Jersey Police. They believed the singer had ties to the Mafia. It’s allegded that in the 40s, Sinatra paid a doctor $40,000 to declare him psychologically unstable and physically unfit to serve in WWII. In the 60s, it’s alleged that he introduced Chicago Mob Boss Sam Giancana to then presidential candidate John F. Kennedy to secure union votes. To add, Sinatra was accused of asking Giancana on behalf of JFK, to assassinate Fidel Castro. Point is, Sintara had a bunch of ‘friends’ that were tied to, or members of the Italian mob.
Mob gangs in Detroit, Atlantic City, Vegas, Florida, Ohio, Chicago, Pennsylvania and several other cities and states all were good friends with Frankie. Sinatra did get arrested for adultery once-the infamous scarface mugshot, but the charges were dropped. His ability to stay out of WWII did some damage to his peaking career at the time. People felt he was unpatriotic and a draft dodger. He also was known for being volatile in recording sessions and at performances if things didn’t go his way. He was a member of the Rat Pack as well with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford & Joey Bishop. Many believed, and some ‘know’ they had ties with the mob too.
On October 14th, in 1996, BBC TV dropped the ball on being the first to air a historical treasure. The Rolling Stones’ Rock & Roll Circus concert that occrued in 1968 was released for the first time in 28 years. It took 28 long years for this seminal concert to come out. Not sure what all the wait was for, but it’s out now. The show was actually two concerts on a circus stage. Some of the acts that performed were: Taj Mahal, Sir Robert Fossett’s Circus & the Nurses, Jethro Tull, The Who, and Marianne Faithfull.
There was an all-star band that performed as well, that was comprised of members from Cream, The Beatles, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Yoko Ono’s Plastic Band and the Rolling Stones. John Lennon & Yoko Ono performed with Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell and Kieth Richards in the supergroup called the Mac Band. The Stones were pioneers for putting on this show. They also performed. The 66 minute film debuted at the Walter Reid Theatre (NYC) during the New York Film Festival. It was shot by Anothy Richmond and edited by Ruth Foster and Robin Klein.
Honorable Mention: On October 14th, in 1964, the Reverend, civil rights activist and innovator, peaceful protester, leader of the SCLC, school integrator, bus boycott participant, Selma protester, Vietnam War denouncer, sanitation worker’s wage advocate, and March on Washington organizer-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent stance on eliminating racial inequalities.
October 14th, proved to be a good day for the King of Pop in two different years. In 1968, he and his brothers-The Jacskon 5, made their national television debut on the ABC network. Diana Ross was hosting the show that was filmed at the Hollywood Palace Hotel. Two months later to the date, they’d debut on the Ed Sullivan Show (Dec. 14th, 1968). 4 short years later, Michael would get a number one solo single with the song ‘Ben’ (number 7 on the UK chart), which was from the motion picture soundtrack from the movie Ben.
October 14th also proved to be a good day for seminal Bluesman John Lee Hooker in two separate years. In 1990, he won 3 awards: Contemporary Blues Album of the Year for his LP the Healer; Blues Vocalist of the Year; and Best Contemporary Male Blues Artist of the Year. All the honors came from the National Blues Awards Show in Memphis, Tennessee. Two years later, in 1992, Hooker appeared on NBC’s Tonight Show, and performed! He was 75, still touring and making TV appearances. That’s what I’m talking about…
On October 14th, in 2004, legendary Rock guitarist and singer-Eric Clapton was driving his Porsche 911 Turbo too fast near Merceuil in the UK. The Bobbies pulled him over and confiscated his license for going 134MPH. He also received a $750 fine. In true player fashion: Clapton took pictures with fans and the police after he settled up his tab with the Fuzz. His secretary drove his Porsche off the lot, with him riding shotgun…now that’s pimpin’ (Payroll the Pimp voice).
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!