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On October 4th, in 1957, Def Jam Records co-founder, producer, promoter, Def Comedy Jam-Def Poetry creator, movie maker, Phat Farm owner, older brother of Run from RUN DMC, Hip Hop Culture spokesperson, ex-husband of Kimora Lee & current #MeToo mogul-Russell (Wendell) Simmons was born in Queens, New York. Without rehashing the whole plot to Krush Groove, which largely depicts Russell’s come up process, I’m going to assume most readers have seen the movie and concentrate on other things. He and Rick Rubin started Def Jam and signed mad artists:
RUN DMC, L.L. Cool J, Public Enemy, Slick Rick, Beastie Boys, EPMD, Onyx, Nikki D, 3rd Bass, Redman, Method Man, and others (he’d stopped in the direct recruiting of artists at Def Jam around the mid-90s). He co-produced the Nutty Professor film with Eddie Murphy in 1996. It was a hit. We all know about Def Comedy Jam & Def Poetry too, or we should. HBO ran the show and Martin Lawrence hosted it. The Poetry show had acts like Yasin Bey (Mos Def), Talib Kweli, DMX, Common, and numerous others. Russ sold his Phat Farm & Baby Phat (Kimora Lee’s line) around 2004 for $140 million.
He is said to practice yoga, Jivamukti (form of yoga that focuses on vegetarian eating practices, social awareness and activism). He also considers himself to be a Christian Yogi (respect for all religions-no one faith is better or the ‘right way’). He recently got swept up in the #MeToo case with an underaged model at the time. I can recall in 'The Show’ where Russell says he loves being around models, that’s how he met Kimora…Hollywood’s casting couch is still going on, trust that… He’s 61 today.
On October 4th, in 1969, the ‘Paul is Dead’ trend related to the Beatles fanbase was reinforced by the Beatles themselves when Abbey Road took the number one slot on the UK chart. The LP cover depicts the group crossing Abbey Road, all of them are dressed differently, which is said to signify some specific things: John Lennon is in all white and is supposed to be the priest; Ringo is in a black suit, and is considered to be the undertaker; Paul is barefoot, acting as the dead body;
and George is in a jean suit, thus he’s the gravedigger. The license plate on the car also has meaning. It says LMW 281F. The LMW is supposed to mean Linda McCartney Weeps. The 28 is how old Paul would be if he was alive. I’m not sure what the 1F is ‘supposed’ to stand for, if anything. It’s interesting how all of those things were ‘created’ largely by admirers of their music. On second thought, I’m not sure which came first, the Beatles starting the Paul is Dead campaign, or their fanbase. Either way, it’s still interesting.
On October 4th, in 1970, singer, songwriter, and former vocalist for Big Brother & the Holding Company-Janis (Lyn) Joplin was found dead in her hotel room at the Landmark in Hollywood, California. She had overdosed on heroin. Most people got wind of Janis when she appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival in the late 60s. She was regarded as one of the Queens of Psychedelic Soul while she was alive, and even more so after her death (how it always happens-she is a top selling artists with over 15 million records sold).
A lot of her closest friends called her Pearl. Janis came out during the height of the Hippie counterculture and exploded on the Psychedelic Rock scene by belting out lesser known, but very good Blues covers. A lot of the true Blues musicians consider Rock ‘n’ Roll to be the Blues sped up. Janis electrified it, and dropped hits to it, pun intended. Janis was a Port Arthur, Texas native that dismissed the status-quo values and did her own thing. She was 27 when she died.
I know I put a lot of information up about Jimi Hendrix. It’s necessary in my opinion, to keep his artistry alive in mind. However, I’m mentioning this one to illustrate how scandalous, greedy and just plain immoral people can be. On October 4th, in 1999, Jimi’s step-sister Pamela was about to get that dough, the beyond the grave way. Allegedly, she wanted to exhume his body and make a mausoleum/museum where people could pay to view the body and gaze at Jimi’s memorabilia…it gets much better…not only did she want to dig him up, move his gravesite, and let people see him for a nominal fee, absorb that first…I’ll wait…
Ok, she also wanted to have people pay to have grave plots next to the Guitar God…TF?! Ok, I can’t. Is she crazy?! Why would you want to make money off your brother like that? She can get bread off Jimi’s legacy in mad ways, reflecting her own stuff…Like, start a clothing line, or something similar using the Hendrix name and imagery, but digging him up, for bucks? I bet she’d be like: ‘And yo, for this much dough, you can rest next to my brother random Julie or Joe’…Sickening, just plain sickening…
On October 4th, in 1999, one of the most underrated Jazz trumpeters left the planet-Art Farmer. I mention Art in Looking for the Perfect Beat Vol. 5. He’s an Iowa native that made a worldwide name for himself. He started on the Bass Tuba, influenced heavily by the cadence and lexicon of his Grandfather who was a Preacher. He converted this lyrical style to his playing, especially after he acquired the trumpet in high school. He’s a prolific flugelhorn player as well. Farmer, in my opinion was extremely intelligent, he seized the time.
During his teen years, he used the epidemic in the Jazz musician market to his advantage. At the time, a majority of the seasoned Jazz musicians were overseas in the Armed Forces during World War II. It was easy for him to get gigs that normally would’ve been taken by a vet. He also notes that he was able to jam a lot more and create for hours because the gig money and his other hustles were affording him the space to do so. Without this time period, I believe Farmer would’ve passed away as just another trumpet player. He’s sharp, you can tell in his composing, bandleading, solos, and arrangements.
Farmer also played with a lot of the greats: Oliver Nelson, Quincy Jones, Charles Mingus, Benny Carter and Gerald Wilson. He released over 50 solo LPs, on over a dozen labels, spanning 40 years (1957-1998). That’s an LP + a track or two every year. This doesn’t account for touring with his band and others, his session work on other people’s LPs, or his own productions. He had a strong work ethic and love for his craft. It shines through in his playing and the musical legacy he left us. He was 71 when he died.
Honorable Mention: On October 4th, in 1942, the woman who brought us the vocal group Sweet Honey in the Rock-Bernice Johnson Reagon was born in Dougherty County, Georgia. She is an ‘a capella’ singer and songwriter. She founded the six member all-female vocal band in 1973. They used their vocals as the instruments exclusively (some shekere and tambourine). She was raised in the church and sang gospel. She also is a scholar, with numerous degrees and a strong advocate of Black Feminism. She’s 76 today.
…‘I don’t see nothing wrong’…On October 4th, in 2006, the world couldn’t leave the ‘Pee on Me Man’ alone-R. Kelly. This time it was a former mentor, the Older God put me on…Henry Vaughn claimed that he mentored Kelly when he was still the unknown, Chi-Town singer Robert Kelly (even before the Public Announcement). He said it was a continuous mentorship that lasted past his unknown to well-known status. Why this then: Vaughn filed a lawsuit against Kelly claiming that Kelly and his goons beat him up, locked him up against his will in a dank basement, and defrauded his songwriting royalties…shameful...
Do you remember Phil Spector? The Rock ‘n’ Roll record purveyor, inventor of the Wall of Sound theory? The guy that owned a label, wrote, sang, played guitar and super produced? Well, on October 4th, in 2007, he got a retrial date for his alleged murder of the actress Lana Clarkson. He claims that she was an accidental suicide. She died slumped in a chair with a single gunshot wound to the mouth, teeth broken and scattered about on the carpet in front of her…this MF said it happened when she kissed the gun…He lost 10-2 in the Jury the first go ‘round…his second trial would be held on the 23rd of October. We’ll see what happens…
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!