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On October 6th, in 1949, singer, producer, songwriter, guitarist and co-founder of the Commodores-Thomas McClary (2nd left) was born in Eustis, Florida. McClary was one of the first Black students to integrate Florida school pre-Brown vs Board of Education. After graduating from high school, he met band mate Lionel Richie in the registration line at the HBCU (Historical Black College University) Tuskegee University in Alabama. By the late 60s, they were working on putting together their band called the Mystics.
It was mostly an instrumental outift, with sparse lyrics, similar to L.T.D. & the Nite Liters. However, as the 70s rolled in, and they got signed to Motown, the band changed the name and began to write songs, with McClary (above: r) & Ritchie penning the majority of their music. They had hits in the 70s with Easy, Three Times A Lady, Brick House, Too Hot ta Trot and in the 80s, Nightshift. McClary did solo work others too, working with Kenny Rodgers, Melissa Manchester and Diana Ross. Interesting fact about McClary: He can play electric and acoustic guitar, and the ukulele. He’s 69 today.
How David Bowie made Simple Minds come to fruition: On October 6th, in 1972, Ziggy Stardust, AKA David Bowie was recording at RCA studios in NYC, NY. He was laying the vocals for his well-known track-The Jean Genie which is featured on his 1973 LP-Aladdin Sane. The track remained on the UK charts for 13 weeks (a little over 3 months-or a quarter of a year-basically a season). The track was his first release off the LP and it in no way failed the singer.
He penned a line in the song that helped form the band name for Simple Minds, who are also from the UK: ‘He’s so simple minded, he can’t drive his module’. ‘Simple minded’ would be shortened to Simple Minds, and the band played on…The Jean Genie was Bowie’s biggest hit to date. He’d later deliver the Let’s Dance LP, co-produced by Nile Rogers of Chic, which would have several hits for him that made The Jean Genie seem like a distant memory.
…‘Imma make it do what it do baby!’…On October 6th, in 1991, pianist, songwriter, arranger, composer, producer, singer, and the innovator of Soul Music during the 50s to the current date-Ray Charles Robinson, AKA Ray Charles, the North Florida Native and man that was once banned for life from performing in Georgia for refusing to play segregated shows, had a celebration of his life and music on Fox TV during the 50 Years in Music show. The show featured Ray Charles doing on-stage duets and collaborations with:
Michael Bolton (Georgia on My Mind), Willie Nelson (Busted), Randy Travis (Your Cheating Heart), James Ingram (I Can’t Stop Loving You), Michael McDonald (I Got a Woman), and his blind counterpart Stevie Wonder (Living for the City). Charles was unique in that he played for all the genres, starting with an all-White Country band from his home state. He was close associates and mentor to the younger Quincy Jones. He played Jazz, Soul, Gospel, and some of his music like Mess Around is considered early foundations for Rock ‘n’ Roll. His musical career spanned beyond 5 decades. Over half a century.
On the same day, same year, The King of Pop gave away one of his best friends hand in marriage-Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor was marrying Larry Fortensky, a construction worker. The festivities went down at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. This was Taylor’s 7th wedding, but the first where Michael gave her away. In true short-term Hollywood marriage fashion, Taylor divorced Fortensky in 1997, six short years later.
‘98, ‘99, 2000!...UK Awards-White House Honors: On October 6th, in 1998, the London based Magazine-Time Out, published the results of a poll that asked the public who the top stars in music were over the past 30 years (1968-1998). Results showed that David Bowie took 1st place, The Beatles 2nd, Bob Marley was 3rd, The Godfather of Funk James Brown was 4th, and Marvin Gaye was 5th. I was shocked that Bowie edged out the Beatles in their own backyard. Also, UK listeners seem to have a better ear than the US.
In 1999, The UK based Mobo Awards held their annual awards show. They gave TLC best video of the year for No Scrubs. Kele Le Roc won best newcomer, as well as best single. Lauryn Hill won best International Act, and Shanks & Bigfoot took home best Dance Act. Tina Turner got the Lifetime Achievement Award. She deserved it after enduring all of that: Annie Mae! Annie Mae!
In 2000, the homey Bill Clinton was still in office. His first lady at the time, Hillary Rodham Clinton invited Pop Staples to the White House to formally honor the Gospel pioneer. He was given the National Heritage Fellowship Honor. From Hillary’s hand to his, Pops Staples and the Staple Singers made Gospel funky, soulful and insightful. No matter your faith, their music covered the true moral foundation that all humankind should aspire to.
This next cat has written more hit songs from the 70s and 80s, than one can fathom. On October 6th, in 2016, Rodney Lynn Temperton AKA Rod Temperton (kneeling c) passed away in London, England. Temperton was an original member of the UK Disco & Funk outfit-Heatwave. He penned the songs, Always & Forever, Star of the Story, Ain’t No Half Steppin’, The Groove Line, Boogie Nights and the list goes on. He was keyboardist, songwriter and producer. He wrote Rock With You for his band Heatwave, but they didn’t feel it, so Quincy Jones used it for Michael Jackson.
Jones discovered Temperton had some prolific songwriting skills and asked him for songs for Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Temperton and Jones painstakingly went through a couple hundred songs and picked Thriller, Lady in My Life and Baby Be Mine. Temperton penned Baby Come to Me, Gimme the Night and Off the Wall as well. He worked with Jones on the Color Purple soundtrack, scored the Movie Running Scared and wrote for Mica Paris, Herbie Hancock and numerous others. He was 66 when he passed away.
Honorable Mention: On October 6th, in 1917, Civil Rights Activist-Fannie Lou Hamer (Fannie Lou Townsend) was born in Montgomery County, Mississippi. She’s most noted for her quote in regard to American Racism and Jim Crow: All my life I’ve been sick and tired. Now I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. She brought massive awareness to the plight an unjust treatment of Black, Brown, Red & Yellow people in the US. She co-founded the Freedom Democratic Party, helped organize the Mississippi Summer of Freedom, and ran for the Mississippi Senate. She passed away in 1977. She was 59.
Most people don’t know this, but the Super Soaker water gun series was invented by a Black man-Lonnie Johnson. He was born today, October 6th, in 1949, in Mobile, Alabama. He’s an engineer, inventor and author. From the 70s through the 80s, he was a Weapons engineer and expert for the US Air Force. In the 90s, he went ‘rogue’ and started his own business-Johnson Research & Development Co., Inc. He is 69 today.
On October 6th, in 1967, The left-handed guitar God-Jimi Hendrix was making a radio appearance in the UK. He recorded a session for Top Gear, which was a BBC radio show. Guess who else was appearing on the same show, Stevie Wonder…He and Hendrix jammed for a bit. That’s a lucky cat for real. He not only got to jam with Jimi, but Bob too?! I know they’ve had a significant effect on his music, you can hear it in his songs.
On October 6th, in 2006, Jazz aficionado, Negro League 1st Baseman for the Memphis Red Sox & 1st Baseman and Manager for the Kansas City Monarchs-Buck O’Neil (John Jordan Buck O’Neil) passed away in Kansas City, Missouri. O’Neil can be seen in Ken Burns Jazz series, he had a strong bond with musicians like Billie Holiday, Pres, Art Tatum, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and others. He was the first Black coach in the Major Leagues. He did a lot for Negro League Baseball as well, too much to mention. I will say without him, there would be no Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. He was 94 years-old.
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!