| || || |
| || || |
| || || |
| || || |
| || || |
| || || |
On February 2nd, in 1972, rapper, Morris Brown College alumni, and founding-member of Goodie Mob: T-Mo (Robert Barnett) was born in Fairburn, Georgia. He got into Hip Hop at a young age. In high school he and Khujo formed the Lumberjacks. However, they added Big Gip & CeeLo Green, making the duo a quartet called Goodie Mob. They were part of the Dungeon Family that infamously produced Outkast & Society of Soul. During the early 90s, Barnett would collaborate with Outkast and Goodie Mob members. In the mid 90s, Outkast was officially on the map as their 1994 release was quickly climbing the charts. In 1995, Goodie Mob came out with their seminal LP-Soul Food (LaFace Records).
It’s considered a classic with Organized Noize (Dungeon Family) productions and featured appearances by Big Boi & Andre of Outkast, Witchdoctor, Joi (Big Gip’s wife and daughter of TSU & Pittsburgh Steeler QB Joe Gilliam), Sleepy Brown, Roni and Cool Breeze. The title cut was a banger, but their best cut was Cell Therapy. Goodie Mob members were a bit older than Outkast, which reflected in their lyrical content that was more socially conscious than Dre & Big Boi’s debut-Southerplayalisticcadillacmuzik. Soul Food went gold the following year (1996) and they released their second LP in 1998 (Still Standing). Inshallah (God willing) is a notable but slept on track on this LP. They released 2 more LPs in 1999 and 2004 before T-Mo and Khujo released their 2005 LP as the Lumberjacks-Livin’ Life as Lumberjacks. He’s 47 today.
On February 2nd, in 1951, bassist, composer, double bassist, arranger, sideman, bandleader, producer, Fusion jazz innovator, music educator and one of the pioneers of the Chapman Stick-Alphonso Johnson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He got his start on upright bass during his elementary years. Once he got to high school, he switched to electric bass and started jamming with local musicians. He quickly developed a reputation as a good player and started dabbling in Fusion Jazz. He made his recording debut with Eddie Henderson on his Blue Note fusion LP-Sunburst. He then was asked to replace Miroslav Vitous-the bassist for Weather Report in 1973. Johnson remained with the band from 1973-1976. He’s the featured bassist on 1974’s-Mysterious Traveller, 1975’s-Tale Spinnin’ and 1976’s Black Market LPs.
The Tale Spinnin’ album featured Carlos Santana on guitar, and seminal drummer Leon Ndugu Chancler, both of whom were musicians that Johnson would work with later during his solo career. In 1976, he left Weather Report and started working with drummer Billy Cobham. He also released 3 Solo LPs on Epic Records between 1976 and 1977: Moonshadows (’76), Yesterday’s Dream (’76) and Spellbound (’77). Johnson rounded out the 70s by working with Dee Dee Bridgewater and Chet Baker. In the 80s, he worked with Phil Collins. Santana and Bob Weir from the Grateful Dead. Johnson uses the Chapman Stick which is a 10-12 string instrument like the guitar, and invented by Emmett Chapman. Johnson is 68 today.
On February 2nd, in 1948, guitarist, session musician, bandleader, songwriter, composer, arranger, producer and former member of Earth Wind & Fire (EWF)-Al Mckay (Albert Philip McKay) was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Al got his start on guitar during his primary school years. He got his professional start playing with Ike & Tina Turner when he was in his late teens (late 60s). In the early 70s, he started working as a session musician, composer and producer (Al McKay Productions, United Soul Association). In 1973, he joined EWF on their Head to the Sky LP, and although he didn’t receive any songwriting or production credits, he managed to play at least one instrument on every song (sitar, guitar, percussion). In 1974, on EWF’s Open Our Eyes LP, McKay added vocals along with guitar and percussion.
From 1975 to 1997, he was featured on their 11 LPs as a musician and backing vocalist. He also toured with them. In the 80s, he stepped back into the production world and worked on the Temptations album-Truly for You (Motown, 1984). He also produced two LPs in 1982: Finis Henderson-Finis (Motown) and Taste of Honey-Ladies of the Eighties (Capitol). McKay wanted to pass his guitar skills on to aspiring artists so he made instructional videos for Star Licks Productions in the mid 80s, that were later reissued in the 90s. He started his own band with some EWF members in the 2000s-Al McKay’s L.A. All Stars. He currently tours, records and backs other bands. McKay was a member of EWF when they made history by selling out Madison Square Gardens. He also won 6 Grammys with the group. He’s 71 today.
On February 2nd, in 1927, jazz musician, sideman, bandleader, multi-instrumentalist and saxophonist-Stan Getz (Stanley Gayetski) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He became interested in playing music early on. He played several instruments before settling on the saxophone that his father bought him when he was 13. By this time, the Great Depression was over, and the family had relocated to NYC. Getz was a bit obsessed with the sax and played it for 8 hours or more a day. If you add in his 8 hour school day, it's easy to see that he spent most of his time awake, away from school, practicing the sax. His dedication paid off when he reached high school and joined the All City High School Orchestra of NYC (early 40s). While there, he was taught by Simon Kovar-the bassoonist for the NYC Philharmonic. He got his professional start in 1943 (age 16) when he joined Jack Teagarden’s Big Band.
In the mid 40s, he played with Stan Kenton, Nat King Cole, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton and Jimmy Dorsey. In 1947, he became a front man and major soloist for Woody Herman’s band-The Second Herd featuring the 4 Brothers (on sax): Getz, Zoot Sims, Serge Chaloff & Herbie Steward. Getz left Herman and the Brothers in 1950. He started recording for Prestige as a bandleader. However, these recordings were not released until 1955. His first official release came about in 1954 on Norgan Records-Interpretations by the Stan Getz Quintet. He released over 10 LPs from 1954 to 1955, from sessions he recorded between 1949-1955, two of which were with Dizzy Gillespie and Lionel Hampton-Diz & Getz (Norgan, 1954) & Hamp & Getz (Norgan, 1955). From 1956 to 1982 he released over 40 LPs. The 5 time Grammy Award winning saxophonist was 64 when he died (1991).
On February 2nd, in 1994, we lost a seminal vocalist, gospel innovator, singer, songwriter, composer and arranger-Willie Mae Ford Smith. She predates Mahalia being born in 1906 (Rolling Fork, MS-Mahalia was born in 1911). Her family relocated to Memphis, TN where she lived until age 12. They moved again to St. Louis, and she left school with an 8th grade education and started working to help supplement the family’s income. In her teens, she started a vocal gospel group called the Ford Sisters-Mary, Geneva, Lucille and Emma Ford. Willie Mae sang lead. They had their first professional performance at the National Baptist Convention in 1922. After the crowd heard her sing, she quickly developed a high demand and stout following. Her sisters married and reared children, quitting the group one by one until by the mid 20s, Willie Mae was singing solo. She invented a style that many gospel, soul, hip hop and rock artists use today-the song and sermonette.
Essentially, this is a ‘rap’ or talk with the audience before, during or after singing. Most times it’s an introduction that speaks about the premise of the song or tells a story to draw the listener in. Other times, it’s during a break in the middle of the song where the performer quiets the music to emphasize a point or address the crowd. Isaac Hayes made this style infamous on his early Stax recordings. Rappers would use it later with less singing, if any (hooks). Willie Mae’s career took off in the late 20s, to the extent of her being able to co-found the National Convention of Gospel Choirs & Choruses with Sallie Martin (her lifetime rival) & Thomas Dorsey. She became the main singing teacher in 1936, and even taught Mahalia Jackson at one time. Although she didn’t record as much as her admirers would’ve liked, her legacy lives on through her pupils. She was 89 when she died (1994).
On February 2nd, in 2007, we lost an important musician in pop culture, vocalist, songwriter and original founding member of the Spinners-Billy Henderson (William Henderson). His family moved to the Detroit when he was a child. Once there, he got immersed in the jazz and doo wop scene. He started his own group while he was in high school-The Domingos (1954). They renamed themselves the Spinners and signed to Harvey Fuqua’s Tri Phi Records (early 60s). In 1961, they released their first single-That’s What Girls are Made For. It was a top 10 hit on the R&B chart (#5) and made the top 40 on the pop chart (#27). Fuqua had left the Moonglows, and the song was one of his firsts as a solo artist. It's credited as Harvey and the Spinners.
He sang lead on a few of the sides that the Spinners released after their debut. They didn’t have another hit until they left Tri Phi for Motown and released their Hitsville debut-I’ll Always Love You. It was #8 on the R&B chart and #35 on the pop chart. The hits kept coming after that-It’s a Shame (1970), I’ll Be Around & Could it Be I’m Falling in Love (1972), One of a Kind (Love Affair-1973) and Mighty Love (1974). They rounded out the 70s well with Working My Way Back to You in 1979. They didn’t release any music as The Spinners from 1981 to 1994. Although Henderson was a backing vocalist for the group, his input, solidarity (one of the lasting members) and musical versatility all helped make the Spinners’ sound. Without Henderson, they would’ve been good, but not the Spinners. He was 67 when he passed.
HONORABLE MENTION: On February 2nd, in 1975, singer, songwriter, pianist, drummer, composer, producer, arranger and bassist-Stevie Wonder had his first child: Aisha. Her mother is Yolanda Simmons, Stevie's former secretary for Black Bull Publishing. Wonder can be quoted as saying Aisha: was the one thing that I needed in my life and in my music for a long time. She can be heard crying on his song-Isn’t She Lovely which is dedicated to her. She sings and tours with her father. Aisha is 44 today.
On February 2nd, in 1979, bassist and punk rock innovator-Sid Vicious died from a heroine overdose in NYC. Vicious was having a party to celebrate being out on bail for the murder charge he was facing. In October of the previous year, he was accused of killing his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. His people posted $50K to get him out until trial. However, that night, he was found dead with a syringe, heroine residue and a spoon. He never faced the courts for her murder, but most believe he was guilty. Sid was 21 when he passed.
On February 2nd, in 2007, pianist, composer, arranger, songwriter, session musician and member of the Funk Brothers-Joe Hunter passed away in Detroit, Michigan. Two of his most known tunes with Motown’s in-house band are Martha & the Vandellas-Heat Wave and the Miracles’-Shop Around. He played piano on both. He also worked heavily with the Contours, The Hesitations and Dennis Edwards (former lead singer of the Temptations following David Ruffin’s departure). Hunter was a big influence on Stevie Wonder’s playing as well. He was 79 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 myriad of information, covering several topics exists on this site going back to 2013 when it was created. PEACE