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Hip Hop: On November 14th, in 1966, former Kurtis Blow Dee Jay, emcee, actor, spokesperson for Hip Hop Culture, reverend (Pentecostal), member of RUN DMC, and younger brother of the co-founder of Def Jam (Russell Simmons)-Run (Joseph Ward Simmons) was born in Queens, NYC, NY. Run got his start Dee Jaying for Kurtis Blow when his brother Russell was managing the emcee (DJ Run-Kurtis Blow’s son). Run also belonged to a Hip Hop group pre-RUN DMC called The Force (late 70s, early 80s). His friend Darryl McDaniels used to hang with him around the Hollis Queens park jams, mostly spun by DJ Jazzy Jase (Jam Master Jay).Run & McDaniels started doing rhyme routines together.
After his older brother Russell got some street cred for managing Kurtis Blow, he assisted Run in recording his first single: Street Kid. It didn’t make much noise, but Run had officially been bitten by the Hip Hop bug. He graduated high school and convinced Russell to record him & Darryl as a duo, with their official DJ-Jam Master Jay. At first they were gonna call their group the Dynamic Two or Treacherous Two. However, Russell changed their name to Run-DMC, DMC for Darryl McDaniels’ initials. They signed to Profile & put out the single It’s Like That b/w Sucker MCs in 1983. Their debut self-titled LP dropped in 1984. It essentially transformed the sound of Hip Hop to drum machine big beats, sparse or no instrumentation, scratches and fierce rhymes. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee is 54 today.
Some Soul we Slipped on 10 days ago: On November 4th, in 1944, singer, songwriter, former member of the Glass House and the Supremes and Freda Payne’s little sister-Scherrie (Ann) Payne (above-c, inset-seated front) was born in Detroit, Michigan. She got her start singing with the vocal quartet called the Glass House. It was produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland (Eddie, Lamont, Brian). The group was Ty Hunter (sang with the Originals), Larry Mitchell & Pearl Jones. They are the first Invictus Records act to record the Want Ads. Scherrie sang lead on the song, but Honey Cone would make it a hit. Scherrie also sang lead on another song that did chart for the group: Crumbs off the Table (1969).
It made the top 10 on the Billboard singles chart. She (above-r) was featured on both Glass House LPs, 9 of their singles, and a solo single-V.I.P., between 1969 and 1972. She joined the Supremes: Mary Wilson (above-c), Cindy Birdsong (inset-l) and later Susaye Green (above-l). She stayed with the trio from 1973 to 1977, being featured on the following LPs: The Supremes (1975), Mary, Scherrie & Susaye and High Energy (both 1976). Motown disbanded the group, and in 1979 Scherrie & Susaye released an LP called Partners. She went solo in the early 80s and then in ’86, she hooked up with Cindy Birdsong & Jean Terrell to make the ‘Former Ladies of the Supremes (FLOS)’. She continues to tour and record (74 years-old).
The Blues: Two original Bluesmen entered the world on November 14th, 31 years apart. First, slide Blues guitarist, singer, songwriter and Folk musician-John Henry Barbee (William George Tucker) was born in Henning, Tennessee. He states he got his name ‘John Henry’ from his favorite folk song-The Ballad of John Henry. He got his professional start in the early 30s, playing at clubs around Northern Mississippi & Memphis, Tennessee. He also played slide guitar alongside Big Joe Williams, Sonny Boy Williamson and Sunnyland Slim. In 1939, Barbee got a deal with Vocalion Records (subsidiary of Decca), recording the single: Six Weeks Old Blues b/w God I Knows I Can’t Help It.
They sold well, and Vocalion wanted to record more of his music, but were unable to locate him…when they finally did, he was in Arkansas hiding out from the law…Blues heads know the Robert Johnson ‘story’: he allegedly got murdered by a jealous man (Johnson slept with his lady). Ironically, Barbee did the reverse of Johnson’s act, but both acts led to the same fate-the end of their careers. Barbee was hiding out from the law in Arkansas because he thought he had a murdered a man that was messing with his woman. Come to find out, he only injured him, but it was enough of a threat of being caught that he had to go underground and stop playing music. He passed 11 days before his birthday on November 3rd, in 1964 (58 years-old).
On November 14th, 31 years later, in 1936, infamous Chicago Blues harp player (harmonica), singer, songwriter and bassist-Carey Bell (Harrington) was born in Macon, Mississippi. He was heavily influenced by Louis Jordan as a child, but since his family couldn’t afford a saxophone, they improvised and bought him the Mississippi saxophone instead-a harmonica. He then gravitated to the Blues Harmonica purists like Little Walter, DeFord Bailey, Sonny Boy Williamson and Big Walter Horton. By 8 years old, Bell was good, by 13, he was playing in his Godfather’s band Lovie Lee. He traveled to Chicago in 1956 with Lee and met Little Walter who gave him some pointers on the harp. However, his main mentor on the instrument would be Big Walter Horton, who he also met on the same trip.
He started singing, and Hound Dog Taylor taught him the bass, making him a well-rounded musician. Blues Harp was dying down at the time, and by the late 60s, Bell would be playing with Eddie Taylor & Royal Johnson. He also went overseas for the American Folk Blues Festival in Europe (1969). The same year when he returned, Delmark Records released his debut LP: Carey Bell’s Blues Harp. He also recorded for and played with Muddy Waters (early 70s), Willie Dixon and Big Walter Horton (Alligator Records). Throughout the 70s and up to the early 2000s, Bell continued to tour and record. He released a few more LPs. His 1995 Deep Down and 2004 Finland recorded release: Second Nature, features his son Lurrie Bell on guitar. He passed in 2007 (70).
New Wave: On November 14th, in 1987, Wham was no more...their lead singer George Michael released his debut seminal LP called Faith on Columbia & Epic Records, just over two-weeks prior (October 30th, 1987-15 days). Faith reached the number one record slot on the UK chart. Michael’s debut LP was the first record to have 4 singles that reached the number one spot on the UK chart. He’s the only British male artist to do so. The number 1 UK chart hits were: Faith, Monkey, Father Figure & One More Try. The LP had 6 top 5 Billboard Hot 100 hits as well (I Want Your Sex, Hard Day).
The album went number one in the US, Spain, Canada and the Netherlands. It also won several awards: Japan Gold Disc (1988-Best International Pop Solo LP), MTV Video Music Awards (1988 & 1989), Grammy (1989 Album of the Year), Brit Awards (1988-Best Male Artist), American Music Awards (1989-Favorite Soul/R&B Album, Artist and Pop/Rock Male Artist) and Ivor Novello Awards (1989-International hit of the Year). The LP is certified Diamond by the RIAA in the US (over 10 million copies sold) & in Canada (1 million copies sold). It has sold over 20 million copies worldwide.
Honorable Mention: On November 14th, in 1915, the first Black woman inducted into the US Figure Skating Hall of Fame-Mabel Fairbanks was born in the Florida Everglades. Her father was Black and her mother was Seminole Native American. After her mother passed (age 8), she became an orphan and moved to NYC. She got interested in ice skating, got a pair of skates 2 sizes too big and started hitting the ice at the Central Park Ice skating rink. She was good enough to go to the Olympics during the 30s, but ethnic tensions wouldn’t allow her the chance. She later coached singles and pairs, some being: Scott Hamilton, Debi Thomas and Kristi Yamaguchi/Rudy Galindo. She passed away in 2001 (85).
On November 14th, in 1947, one of the Louisiana original musicians that brought the accordion and Zydeco music to the mainstream-Buckwheat Zydeco (Stanley Joseph Dural Jr.) was born in Lafayette, Louisiana. He came from a huge family of 13 kids. He got his nickname off the Little Rascals character. When he was a child, he would wear his hair braided like Buckwheat. He’s prolific organist, being mentored by zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier on accordion, and joining his band (Red Hot Louisiana Band). In 1978, Zydeco started his own band-Buckwheat Zydeco. He was 68 when he passed.
On November 14th, in 1951, drummer for Quiet Riot-Frankie Banali was born in Queens, NYC, NY. He got his start in the mid ‘70s, playing for Steppenwolf, Goldy McJohn and others around the LA area. In 1980, he linked up with Kevin DuBrow, and they brought together some musicians that would serve as the foundation for Quiet Riot that formed in 1982 (Metal Health-1982 Pasha Records). He remained with the band until they disbanded in the late 80s. He’s 67 today.
On November 14th, in 1970, singer, actress, songwriter and chef-Adina Howard was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She was the R&B version of Lil’ Kim, a solo TLC, embracing her sexuality openly, while demanding respect for her womanhood. She released her debut LP: Do You Wanna Ride? In 1995. It made the top 10 on the US R&B chart (number 7). It’s also a RIAA US certified Gold LP (over 500K albums sold). Her most popular certified platinum hit single: Freak Like Me, uses Bootsy’s I’d Rather Be With You, and Sly Stone’s Sing a Simple Song. She’s 45 today.
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