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On October 27th, in 1923, poet, writer, civil rights activist, actress, playwright, journalist and screenwriter-Ruby Dee (Ruby Ann Wallace) was born in Cleveland, Ohio. I liked Ruby Dee in Do the Right Thing by Spike Lee. She played Mother Sister, the neighborhood wise sage. She was raised in Harlem, NYC and got her professional start shortly after graduating from Hunter College (where she became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority-1945).
In 1950, she got critical acclaim for her role in The Jackie Robinson Story. One of her most noted roles was in the movie and play: A Raisin in the Sun in (1961). From 1946 to 1976, she played in over 20 movies and 40 plays. She joined the American Negro Theater and worked with Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier & Hilda Simms in her first silverscreen debut: That Man of Mine (1946). She also is featured on over 40 albums from the same thirty-year span.
Some notable vinyl titles you can hear her voice on include: To Be a Slave, What if I am a Woman? To Make a Poet Black and Tough Poems for Tough People. From 1961 to 2008, she won over 15 awards including an Emmy for the 1991 film Decoration Day; a Screen Actors Guild Achievement Award for American Gangster (2008), and a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album (Ossie-Davis Husband) & Ruby: In This Life Together). She passed away in the Now Rule (New Rochelle) in 2014, she was 91 years-old.
On October 27th, in 1943, poet, composer, session musician, playwright, pianist, bandleader and organist-Weldon Johnathan Irvine Jr was born in Hampton, Virginia. He moved to NYC when he was 18 in 1965. While there, he got into the Fusion Jazz and Funk Movement of the time that was centered around the civil rights struggle. It was here that he collaborated with Nina Simone, and they wrote Young Gifted and Black. The song became known as the theme/anthem for the Civil Rights Movement in America during the 60s. Irvine also put out some tight solo LPs in the 70s. Liberated Brother, on Nodlew Records was his debut LP (1972).
Nodlew is a publishing company Weldon founded in 1968 to take his musical career into his own hands. It allowed him the freedom to release music that he felt, and not a cookie cut studio type of LP-but one from his soul and heart. Nodlew is Weldon spelled backwards. Two of my favorites are: Sinbad (1976) & Cosmic Vortex (Justice Divine-1974). From 1972 to 1999, he put out over 12 LPs on 5 different imprints. Staying true to his philosophy that champions Liberation and Justice for the African descendants living in America and abroad, Irvine composed The Amadou Project:
The Price of Freedom which was his last solo LP released in 1999 on his own Nodlew imprint. The album was a tribute to the police encounter Amadou Diallo faced when he was brutalized and sodomized by NYPD. He’s worked with Horace Silver, Lenny White, Donny Hathaway, Tom Browne, Richard Groove Holmes, Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine and Sylvia St. James to name a few. I like Irvine because he embraced Hip Hop Culture and even worked directly with Emcees and Producers on their music: Mos Def (Yaasin Bey), A Tribe Called Quest, Talib Kweli & Reflection Eternal with Hi-Tek. He acted as a mentor for a lot of prominent Emcees. He was 58 years-old when he died.
On October 27th, in 1951, actress, producer, writer, television personality, talkshow host, model, philanthropist, sportscaster and former Miss Ohio-Jayne Kennedy (birth name Jayne Harrison) was born in Washington, D.C. Kennedy grew up in the Ohio Valley area, attending high school in Wickliffe, Ohio. Before she graduated from high school she won Miss Ohio 1970, becoming the first Black woman to win the title. She also made it as far as the 15th Semi-finalist for the Miss USA Pageant the same year, which typically was an ‘all-White’ affair. She married Leon Isaac Kennedy (Penitentiary movie series) in 1971 and divorced him 1982. She married Bill Overton in 1985 and they’ve been together since. In 1978 she became one of the first female sportscasters to join The NFL Today team.
She’s been on several magazine covers: Essence, Ebony and Jet. She was sponsored by Coca-Cola, Tab, Revlon, Jovan, Bankers System, and Butterick Patterns. She made her own workout videos called Love Your Body. She also did the first in-flight exercise sky program for American Airlines. Jayne has four daughters and in the 90s she decided to step out of the limelight and focus more on her family. She broke several barriers for women of color and for women in general. She turns 67 years-old today.
On October 27th, in 1958, singer and songwriter for Duran Duran-Simon Le Bon (Simon John Charles Le Bon) was born in Bushey, Hertfordshire, England. When Le Bon returned from Israel to England during late 70s to early 80s, he planned to attend the University of Birmingham. This is when Duran Duran was created. Le Bon’s friends: John Taylor, Nick Rhodes and Stephen Duffy (who left before they blew up), made up the first line up. The band was able to successfully merge Rock with Pop, Danceable Soul and Electronic Music genres to come with a fresh and new sound-New Wave. Le Bon’s girlfriend Fiona Kemp helped him seal the deal with Duran Duran as the lead singer.
He was a poet that had written several pieces before the band started. Most of them became songs later. They released their first LP in 1981, and they quickly rose to the top of the New Romantic Movement-a late 70s, early 80s UK music movement rooted in Pop music and highly flambouyant fashion (like Ziggy Stardust meets Tom Jones). They released three more LPs: in 1982-Rio, 1983-Seven and the Ragged Tiger, and 1984 Arena-which is their live album. Le Bon stayed with the band the entire time. They recorded one of their most known LPs in 1986-Notorious. The LP was sampled by B.I.G. for his song Notorious. In 1988 they released Big Thing and by the 1990 release of Liberty, the world had moved away from the sounds of New Wave. Thus, Duran Duran called it quits for a bit. In 1993, The Wedding Album release made a good buzz, but Le Bon had a torn vocal cord so their tour was postponed. He’s 60 today.
On October 27th, in 2012, Jazz-Soul-Folk vocalist, songwriter, guitarist, singer, pianist, producer and computer programmer- Terry Callier (Terrence Orlando Callier) passed away in Chicago, Illinois. Callier was one of the backing writers, composers and singers for the Chicago Soul and Blues sounds that were coming out of The Windy City during the 60s and early 70s. He wrote songs for: Jerry Butler on the following LPs: Sagittarius Movement-You & Me-Sings Assorted Sounds with the Aid of Assorted Friends and Relatives-and Spice of Life. He also did a lot of work for the Dells: LPs Give Your Baby a Standing Ovation-We Got to Get Our Thing Together-and Freedom Means…
Callier didn’t stop there, some of his best work was with composer/producer Charles Stepney when they both were working with The New Rotary Connection featuring Minnie Riperton. He also managed to eek out some songs for Dee Dee Sharp Gamble (TSOP artist-wife of Kenneth Gamble). He put out 6 solo LPs from 1965-1979. The first being a Folk album-The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier (1965). Callier stayed in the game working with others like George Benson and Gil Scott-Heron all through the 70s. He remained in the game via UK DJs interest in his B-sides that he’d perform live on his breaks from working in the states. Acid Jazz enthusiasts, EDM and House producers all snatched up Callier for co-writing and singing spots on their tracks up until his death. He was 67 when he passed away.
HONORABLE MENTION: This one is too close to home not to mention…On October 27th, in 1969, one of my favorite Blues singers-Muddy Waters was involved in a car crash in my hometown of Champaign, Illinois. The Hoochie Coochie Man suffered some serious injuries, but was better off than the other three people involved, as they all were killed in the accident. I am pretty sure Muddy was in Champaign performing around the University of Illinois area. I’m just glad he was able to make it out alive.
On October 27th, in 1992, ‘Bo Knows’ his manager may have been dipping his hands too far into the cookie jar. The infamous Blues singer-Bo Diddley was suing his former manager for stealing $75K from him in unauthorized expenses of the personal kind. As the story goes, his manager was claiming money off the profits Diddley was making as expenses. Diddley caught the discrepancy, and opened a case against him. Be careful what you claim as personal expense because you never know who’s gonna check behind you on it to see if it’s a legit claim.
On October 27th, in 1980, Steve Took (Stephen Ross Porter or Steve Peregrin Took)-former T Rex guitarist, drummer, bassist and backing vocalist, passed away from the effects of magic mushrooms…He choked on a mandarin cherry pit from his adult beverage, after he injected morphine and topped it off with some shrooms…Technically he didn’t OD on drug, as it’s not the listed cause of death on his autopsy…However, clearly if he wouldn’t have been high, he wouldn’t have choked and died…maybe choked, but died? He was 31.
On October 27th, in 2005, 50 Cent’s movie-Get Rich or Die Tryin’ ran into some public advertising issues. The LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich contacted Paramount Pictures via letter and said that they had to take the original film promo poster down because it glorified gun violence. The rapper is pictured holding the mic in one hand and a gun in the other. Paramount agreed to take down some of the posters, mostly near child related areas like schools and nurseries, but they would not change the advertisement.
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!