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…‘You gotta get ya groove on’ (Martin outtakes)…On December 3rd, in 1968, singer, songwriter, gospel artist and the 2nd R&B vocal act to sign to Def Jam Records-Montell Jordan (Montell Du’Sean Barnett) was born in Los Angeles, California. Montell was a trend-setter that gets little credit for his innovations in Urban music. He was one of the few successful male vocalist that was able to use Hip Hop beats, not the original sample that was used by a Hip Hop producer, but the actual Hip Hop track. Mary J. Blige made this style famous, and other female vocalists followed suit. However, most male vocalists and vocal groups weren’t doing it at the time, and if they were, it was usually a take on the original song that was sampled.
Montell graduated from Pepperdine University with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications (1991). He became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity in 1989. After college, he sang in showcases and various shows as an independent while working at Williams Television Time. He invited his co-workers to one of his events, and while there Janet Jackson & Shanice Wilson heard him singing. They were impressed. Word quickly got to Russell Simmons, who signed him to Def Jam in 1995. Later that year, he released his first single: This is How We Do It (sampled Children’s Story by label mate Slick Rick). He rode the wave of momentum of that single until things dried up around the mid-2000s. In 2010 he became a born-again Christian.
On December 3, in 1978 we lost a seminal composer, arranger, musician, Jazz innovator, classical music writer, opera composer and violinist-William Grant Still AKA The Dean of Black Classical Composers. The Mississippi native was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. He started playing violin and other instruments in his teens. He graduated from 3 American universities, earning two music degrees and one in science. He’s also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. Wilberforce University in Ohio is where The Dean started his musical career, composing songs for the marching band (HBCU). He served in the US Navy during World War I and returned stateside to NYC.
While there, he became the primary composer for Jazz artist W.C. Handy. He was considered a member of the Harlem Renaissance due to his close association with Langston Hughes & Alain Locke, and because he was pioneering the classical music scene for Blacks in America, which was typically considered a Whites only genre. He’s also the first Black Man in America to conduct a major symphony orchestra and write operas (8 in all). His first opera-Troubled Island (1939) sold out the first three nights and got 22 curtain calls. He moved to LA and started arranging music for films. Ironically, his own opera-A Bayou Legend aired on PBS in 1981, making it the first opera by a Black man to appear on TV. He was 83 when he passed.
On December 3rd, in 2000, we lost a man responsible for the theme music associated with a lot of the TV animation series post-baby boomers grew up on-Hoyt Curtin. He was the long-time composer, producer and musical director for Hanna-Barbera Animation. Hoyt worked as a TV commercial music composer. He met Hanna-Barbera when he was working on a Schlitz Beer commercial. They asked him to write a song for a line they had. They liked it and hired him to write all of their themes. Some of the cartoon songs he’s responsible for are:
Top Cat’s Theme, Huckleberry Hound, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, The Superfriends, Scooby-Doo, Josie & the Pussycats and the Smurfs. If you’re not familiar with any of those cartoons, maybe you will be with some of his obscure Sci-Fi films that he did music for. He also did the music for Battle of the Planet of the Apes, Jail Bait (1954), C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979), Mesa of Lost Women (1953), and Timber Tramps (1975). He preferred to use the same musicians for the themes because they were skilled at playing and reading (if it ain’t broke don't fix it-philosophy). He was 83 years-old when he passed.
On December 3rd in 2008, we lost a seminal session musician, Jazz trombonist, TV music producer, keyboardist, composer and arranger-Derek Wadsworth. The Englishman was a versatile musician that worked with Jazz artists, Pop vocalists, Rock performers, and R&B/Soul singers. He played trombone, keys and arranged music for the following: Diana Ross, Nina Simone, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, The Rolling Stones, Cat Stevens, Dionne Warwick, David Essex, Manfred Mann, Rod Stewart, George Harrison, Randy Crawford, Maynard Ferguson, Bill Tarmey, Mike Oldfield, Charles Aznavour, The Echoes,
Shirley Bassey, Simply Red, Alex Harvey, Judy Garland, Kate Bush, Alan Price, Small Faces and Georgie Fame to name a few. He released 3 LPs with Graham Collier from 1970 to 1975: Songs for My Father (Fontana, 1970), Darius (Mosiac, 1974) and Midnight Blue (Mosiac, 1975). He has the primary writing credits for the Original London Cast Recording of the musical Hair (1968). He also arranged, composed and produced music for television from 1971 to 1987. Some of his more notable compositions can be found in the movie Space: 1999 and The Day After Tomorrow (both 1975), Britannian Hospital (1982) and Christa: Swedish Fly Girls (1971). He was 69 when he passed.
On December 3rd, in 2015, we lost a Ska innovator, Rocksteady beat creator, vocalist, keyboardist, session musician, pianist, solo artist and bandleader-Gladstone ‘Gladdy’ Anderson (above-1st seated l). The Jamaican born musician learned the keys from his uncle Aubrey Adams. By his 20s, he secured a steady job as a session pianist in working directly with Duke Reid (Treasure Isle Studio). When Jackie Mittoo wasn’t available, Gladdy would replace him on tracks. He’s credited with coming up with the sound and terminology for Rocksteady. As the story goes, he said rocksteady after hearing the playback of Take it Easy by Hopeton Lewis. He worked closely with Coxsone Dodd & Leslie Kong who were two of the best producers on the Island.
Glady also founded a band called Glady’s All Stars: Winston Grennan (drums), Jackie Jackson (bass), Winston Wright (keys) & Hux Brown (guitar). The band performed under many aliases, depending on the producer of studio they were working with: Rupie’s All Stars, The Aggrovators, The Dynamites, The Crystallites & the Upsetters. They played for others and had some solo sides. Their biggest hit was 1969’s The Liquidator (UK & US top 100). It’s safe to say that Glady himself, or his sound appears on just about every song that comes from the Island of Jamaica since his professional start in the late 50s. He helped create and shape Island music. He was 81 years-old when he passed.
Honorable Mention: On December 3rd, in 1970, the first Black Miss World was crowned-Jennifer Josephine Hosten. The Grenada native represented her country lovely! She was only 22 years-old when she won the title. The event was held in London amidst protests from Women’s Liberation activists. They threw flour and heckled the host Bob Hope. Ethnic activists also had their fair share of protesting due to the lack of ‘color’ in the contestants.
On December 3rd ,in 1976, some rudeboys tried to snuff out reggae’s most known singer-Bob Marley (Robert Nesta Marley). There were seven men in all, strapped…they busted into Marley’s home in Kingston and opened fire. They hit Marley in the arm, I believe Rita got hurt-but not by gun shots, and Bob’s Manager Don Taylor took a shot as well. This was all related to money and political alliances between the JLP (Jamaican Labour Party) and the PNP (People’s National Party). Bob wouldn’t choose sides or shun either group, nor would he be extorted.
On December 3rd, in 1978 Trina, female rapper, producer and actress Trina (Katrina Laverne Taylor) was born in Miami, Florida. Her father was from the DR and her mother was from the Bahamas. She grew up in Liberty City and would write raps in her spare time as a hobby of sorts. Trick Daddy got wind of her skills and put her on his Nann Nigga single (1998). The masses liked her style, and Trick Daddy had her signed to Slip-N-Slide Records. She released her debut LP in 2000 (Da Baddest Bitch). She’s 44 today.
On December 3rd, in 1999, Sean Carter AKA Jay-Z got roped by the folks for an alleged assault with a deadly weapon. As the story goes, music executive Lance "Un" Rivera and Jay-Z had a disagreement of sorts. Jay-Z, allegedly, stabbed Rivera…pause…the cops took him into custody and charged him with first-degree assault. I can’t see Jay-Z stabbing nobody, not even fighting nobody, not that I’m saying he’s ‘soft’, but you gotta be hella mad to stab someone…it’s a crime of ‘passion’…
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!