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On November 16th, in 1873, composer, bandleader, band instructor, arranger, author and The Father of the Blues-W.C. Handy (William Christopher Handy) was born in Florence, Alabama. The son of a strict pastor (Charles Bernard Handy), W.C. would have to sneak and buy a guitar as secular music and instruments were evil. When his father discovered he had a guitar, he was instructed to take it back. His pops did let him take organ lessons, but W.C. wasn’t too interested in the keys. Instead, he turned to cornet. He took the instrument with him to work and when the furnaces would become full, the workers having to wait for some of the ore to burn down, would jam, all of them, maybe a dozen or so at times, would practice their playing and singing.
These jam sessions were the foundation of the Blues. Men would sing songs over the musicians’ instrumentation that were spontaneous and some that were previously penned. He worked as a teacher in the 1892, but there wasn’t much pay in it so he performed at the World’s Fair in Chicago a year later with his band the Lauzetta Quartet (1893). He left the fair, disbanded the quartet and sang and played in minstrel shows, acting as band and choral director (jam sessions at work paying off). By 1900, he was back in northern Alabama, acting as band instructor for the Alabama A & M Band (HBCU). In 1902, he traveled the south, Mississippi mainly, to uncover and reinvent lost Black Music-Black Folk Music AKA the Blues. Without his diligent work and innovation, we’d not have it. He passed away in 1958 (84).
On November 16th, in 1971, songwriter, screen writer, guitarist, activist, producer, Prog Rock innovator, composer, arranger, and one of the many men in Rock known for the mustache-Frank Vincent Zappa appeared on the infamous UK music based television show called the Old Grey Whistle Test. The artist appeared live with his newly reassembled band: George Duke (keys), Jeff Simmons (rhythm guitar), Aynsley Dunbar (drums) and Ian Underwood (bass). This is the same band lineup that was used for the 1970 LP-Chunga’s Revenge and the soundtrack for Zappa’s film-200 Motels (double LP). The film and soundtrack also feature performances and appearances by:
The Mothers of Invention, Keith Moon, Ringo Starr, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Theodore Bikel. Zappa was a groundbreaking director, making the first feature film that was recorded using video tape and transferred to 35 millimeter film. He was a perfectionist, and tensions between the actors and crew were high. He wasn’t the ‘punch in’ type, musically or visually. If he didn’t like the lighting or the line delivery, he’d redo it until it was right. Even with demands that high, he finished the film in a week. It’s based on the life of a musician on the road, and was shot at Pinewood Studios near London. Zappa’s music is like Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express meets Pink Floyd. Check him out if you haven’t already.
On November 16th, in 1985, the keyboardist, singer, songwriter, percussionist, song sequencer and former lead singer of the New Wave Punk bad the Undertones-(Sean) Feargal Sharkey had an inventive plan following his number 1 UK hit song, the only number 1 Sharkey would have as a solo artist on the UK chart. The song: he sang a cover of Maria McKee's-A Good Heart. She had written the song originally about her relationship with the keyboardist for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers-Tom Tench.
Sharkey wanted to capitalize off the success of the single and in a twist of fate, he decided to remake a song that Tom Tench had written about his relationship with Maria McKee called-You Little Thief. Both songs are positive, despite the title of Tench’s. It eludes to the fact that McKee had stolen his heart without him noticing. The Ireland native was active as the lead for the Undertones during the birth, height and decline of the New Wave & Punk movement in the UK (1976-1986). In 1983, Sharkey went solo and the rest of the band changed their name to The Petrol Emotion. He’s an A&R and Music Executive now…funny how that works…
On November 16th, in 2000, emcee, hype-man and Rap Rock personality-Joe C (Joseph Calleja) passed away exactly one week after his 26th birthday (November 9th, 1974) in Taylor, Michigan. Most infamously known as Kid Rock’s hype man, Joe C. was featured doing the hooks, overdubs and spitting his own bars on a few LPs: Devil Without a Cause (1998), Early Morning Stoned Pimp (2000) and Cool Daddy Cool (2000). He also did a song for the South Park movie soundtrack in 1999-Kyle’s Mom is a Big Fat Bitch. Joe C, became a persona similar to Flavor Flav meets Mini-me, no diss, his style was tight. He was an original hype man that made a name for himself, allowing him to stand alone as an artist.
He appeared on TV shows with Kid Rock, WWF episodes and even did some lines for the Simpsons. He met Kid rock in the early 90s. Rock recalls seeing him at all of his shows in the front row, standing on tables at tomes and reciting all the lyrics. Rock asked him backstage, they rapped, he hired Joe C, and they began doing shows together. The essential component to having a good-hype man, is their ability to make sure that the crowd is feeling the music the main emcee spits, as much as the hype man does…they have to make the crowd feel like they’re lames if they’re not rocking hard to the bars being spit…Joe C. did this well for Kid Rock, they’re an irreplaceable pair.
On November 16th, in 2000, Bennie & the Jets songwriter, Rocket Man singer, Candle in the Wind arranger, pianist, composer and UK Rock mogul-Elton John was taking his manager to court over alleged thievery. In a hearing at the London High Court, John told the justice how his former manager had swindled him out of expenses associated with tours he’d had. The culprit-John Reid of John Reid Enterprises (a musician management company built off the fame of Elton John), had been Elton’s manager and lover for years. After their business partnership and romance ended (this may be the cause of the break up or something done after, I’m not sure), Elton told the High Court that John had been: caught with his hands in the till (UK version, ‘cookie jar’ in the US).
However, Elton wasn’t suing John Reid directly so to say, he was suing his employee, the managing director of John Reid Enterprises-Andrew Haydon. Haydon was in charge of Elton’s management company, that billed the artist for millions of dollars in international tour expenses…it’s all just messy af if you ask me, over-dramatic…I will say this though, if dude did over-bill Elton, then I can see why he’d would take him to court…but if Elton was trying to get back at dude sideways? I can’t co-sign that one. He should go at Reid not Haydon.
Honorable Mention: On November 16th, in 2001, the continent known as ‘The Cradle of Civilization’, the first place humans evolved, the land mass that we all can trace our DNA back to-Africa would have it’s first ever Miss World Pageant winner-Agbani Darego. She represented Nigeria lovely in the contest to showcase the best in ‘Worldly’ beauty. I am just happy they finally brought the crown back the ‘Motherland’, where it all started. S.O. to Darego for making that happen.
On November 16th, in 1995, a rising young STAR-Noah Gray-Cabey was born in the City of Broad Shoulders-Chicago, Illinois. Noah is a child prodigy classical pianist that performed live with orchestras since the age of 4. He performed in New England with their Symphonic Ensemble, and as far Sydney Opera House in Australia. He made his acting debut in 48 Hours in 2001 (age 6), and has continued to appear in films and on TV shows throughout the 2000s. He’s 23 today.
On November 16th, in 1987, a Punk Rock mogul was going to the bing. Topper Headon, the drummer for the Clash, got locked up on a 15-month bid for selling some bad smack. Allegedly, he sold some heroine to a man that either overdosed or was poisoned. Either way, the 16th was day one for the 15-month sentence at Maidstone Crown Court, England.
On November 16th, in 1915, Louisiana Cajun music innovator, singer, bandleader, songwriter and accordionist-Alphonse ‘Bois Sec’ Ardoin was born in Durale, Evangeline Parish, Louisiana. He started learning how to play music on the triangle as a child, then moved to accordion at age 12. He kept playing it until his death. His style of music is widely known as the foundation and pre-cursor to zydeco. He passed away in 2007 (91).
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!