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On December 7th, in 1958, bassist, songwriter and co-founding member of The Psychedelic Furs-Tim Butler (Timothy George Butler-l) was born in Teddington, Middlesex, England. I don’t know much about Butler, other than the ‘small world’ irony the Furs had with the states, and some brief background on the band. Tim and his older brother Richard (c) started the Psychedelic Furs around the mid-70s. The original members were: Paul Wilson on drums, Tim Butler on bass, Roger Morris on guitar, Duncan Kilburn on sax and Richard Butler on lead vocals. Tim & Richard co-wrote and co-produced a lot of the music. They immersed themselves in the UK Punk movement during the late 70s.
They would perform under the names: The Europeans & the Psychedelic Furs. In 1980, they added a second guitarist-John Ashton, replaced drummer Wilson with Vince Ely and released their self-titled LP. It did well on the charts in the UK, Australia, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, but the states weren’t feeling them (US had an alternate version of the LP). Their 1981 LP-Talk Talk Talk did chart in the US. It has the original version of Pretty in Pink-the song that inspired the John Hughes movie of the same title-although Richard (r) & Tim (c) say the song had nothing to do with the movie. They released 7 LPs from 1980 to 1991. Tim is 60 today.
On December 7th, in 1963, songwriter and lead singer for the band Atlantic Starr-Barbara Weathers was born in Greensboro, North Carolina. She started singing when she was a kid, and by the time she was 13, she was performing with a local band called Covacus. They performed around the Carolinas and southeast area. Most of their notoriety came from the local scene. In 1984, she was recruited by Atlantic Starr to replace their lead at the time-Sharon Bryant. Bryant went solo and Weathers got her debut with the band on their 1985 LP "As the Band Turns." The title was a play on Sharon leaving and Weathers joining, as well as them being into the planetary theme (rooted in P-Funk Philosophy).
A lot of people, myself included, never knew that there were 2 different female leads for the band. They sound very similar. Weathers is the woman on "Secret Lovers" & "Always." She was more of a co-lead, singing a lot of duets and call-response songs. Her voice is undeniably great. After Always blew up on the charts in 1987, Weathers left Atlantic Starr to pursue her solo career, just like Bryant had done after 1981’s "When Love Calls," 1982’s "Circles" and 1983’s "Touch A Four Leaf Clover" blew up. She released a self-titled solo LP in 1990, and a Japan exclusive in 1995 (Seeing For The Very First Time), but neither LP brought the success she’d experienced with Atlantic Starr (Just like Sharon Bryant). She’s 55 today.
On December 7th, in 1965, activist, film producer, screenwriter, stage-TV & film actor-Jeffrey Wright was born in Chocolate City (Washington, D.C.). His father passed when he was very young. His mother raised him, allowing Wright to participate in the arts. He’s a graduate of Amherst College (Poli-Sci), and Attended NYU’s Law School for a couple months. However, he quit Law School, deciding to pursue acting full-time. He got his start in off-Broadway plays during the late 80s. In 1990, he got his film debut with a significant role as a legal counselor in "Presumed Innocent" starring Harrison Ford (Han Solo). One of my favorite movies from the 90s that he starred in was "Basquiat."
Wright plays the (graffiti) Writer Samo AKA Jean-Michel Basquiat, and based off old interviews, video footage and photographs of Jean-Michel, Wright does a great imitation of the original artist. That’s a skill Wright has, the ability to make the characters he portrays, as real people, believable characters. He does this again when he plays Colin Powell in 2008’s "W." Even more so when he plays Muddy Waters in "Cadillac Records" (2008). In 2005 he played Mr. Paul in "Lackawanna Blues," a notable film about the economic state of a small Black community pre and post-integration. Wright has appeared in more than 150 films, TV shows and plays since 1990, and has been nominated for over 20 awards since 2002. He’s 53 today.
On December 7, in 2006, we lost a Jazz figure that was largely responsible for introducing us to Charlie Parker-Jay McShann (James Columbus McShann). He was a pianist, singer, composer, arranger and producer, bringing audiences and radio listeners Jump Blues, Swing, Jazz and Blues. McShann came from Muskogee, Oklahoma. He was inspired by Earl Hines and taught himself the piano by listening to the Chicago's broadcast of Hines’ show at the Grand Terrace Café. He got good enough to feel he could perform publicly, and made his debut when he was 15 (1931). Most of his gigs were local, in Tulsa or Arkansas. He moved to Kansas City, Missouri in the mid 30s and started the Jay McShann Orchestra.
He had several all-star musicians in his band at one point or another, serving as the pre-cursor to the Jazz Messengers formula made famous by Art Blakey during the Cool Jazz & Bop era. Some notables are: Walter Brown, Jimmy Witherspoon, Ben Webster, Gus Johnson, Earl Coleman and Charlie Parker (1937-1942). Parker really got his sound and wings while he was under McShann. He didn’t mind having the young virtuoso solo for several choruses. McShann also was a WWII veteran, leaving the music scene from 1944-1945. When he returned, he scaled down the band’s size, going from an orchestra to a quintet, and he put vocalist Jimmy Witherspoon out front. In the early 60s, he started singing himself, but continued to add members to his band. He was 90 when he passed.
Jimi Related: There were two events that occurred on December 7th, exactly 48 years apart, that are roughly related to Jimi Hendrix. First, in 1968, leadsinger, songwriter, and co-founder of The Animals-Eric Burdon (last photo-r) made a public announcement that he was leaving the band after their scheduled concert on December 22nd. He went on to work with War on their Debut LP-Eric Burdon Declares War (1970-Spill the Wine). A member of the soon to be dissolved Animals, Chas Chandler (above), the band’s bassist, would soon become the first official manger for Jimi Hendrix. Jimi's debut "Are You Experienced" had come out the previous year and was gaining ground on the charts.
In 2016 we lost a seminal Rock singer, songwriter, producer, bassist, guitarist and founding member of King Crimson and ELP (Emerson, Lake & Palmer)-Greg Lake (Gregory Stuart Lake-above). The UK native is credited with being one of the founding fathers of the Prog Rock sound. They used a Rock base with hints of Jazz and Classical music. He had a 5 decade plus career, and performed, toured, produced and recorded up to his death (1964-2016). When ELP first started up, Jimi Hendrix was thinking of joining. They said if he joined, they were going to call themselves HELP (Hendrix, Emerson, Lake & Palmer). Lake was 69 when he passed.
Honorable Mention: I had to do this, the commercials?! Guts. On December 7th, in 1931 the man that brought us the Jheri Curl & the Pro-Line-Comb Through Relaxer, Comer (Joseph) Cottrell Jr. was born in Mobile, Alabama. His hair kits transformed styles everywhere. Everyone knew someone with a Jheri Curl or relaxer. To this day, some cats are still rocking them. Interesting fact: Cottrell used his earnings to become the first Black to own a major league team. He was part-owner of The Texas Rangers.
On December 7th, in 1967, Soul singer, songwriter and producer-Otis Redding was chilling on the Dock in Sausalito, California after the Monterey Pop Festival. Relishing in his stage victory and the tides rolling in…He went to the studio to record "Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay." The original song was gonna be called Dock of the Bay, but once he recorded the first rough take, the lyrics made Atlantic include (Sittin’ On) in the title. Interesting fact: Otis’ whistling was a filler for lyrics he’d put down later in the same type of cadence. However, the mistake became the best part of the song…and to think, the whole song was a ‘rough’ take of an idea…His biggest hit, ain’t that some ish…
On December 7th, in 1985, the New Wave band Mr. Mister was owning the Number 1 spot on the charts with "Broken Wings." They were scheduled to appear on TV to perform it, and another one of there songs that would be a hit, "Kyrie." Mr. Mister was the live act for SNL on NBC. Broken Wings is one of those songs that a lot of people know, not because it was Pop or played all of the time (both of which may be true), but because it was good music, a great song. It has changes, a funky bass line, breaks, bridges, all that.
On December 7th, in 1999 the people in the US that are bed with Billboard, the real payola-getters, the legal thieves, the ones that say your LP is Gold-Platinum-Diamond: The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) went crying to the courts to file a lawsuit against Napster. They claimed that the file sharing company had, get this, ‘defrauded’ them of thousands of dollars. I wasn’t a Napster fan, but the artists don’t get paid by the record companies anyways, maybe a penny on the dollar, so really who's 'defrauding' who?
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!