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On December 13th, 1947, session musician, flugelhorn player, trumpeter, trombonist, and late-night television show band member-Chuck Findley (Charles B. Findley) was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Findley is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, and got his professional start with Jimmy Dorsey’s Big Band. In the early 70s, he started his session work career playing brass for: B.B. King, Richard Holmes, Freddie Hubbard, Steely Dan, Toto, Al Jarreau, Wynton & Ellis Marsalis, Lyle Lovett, Jackson Browne, Tom Waits, The Rolling Stones, Sarah Vaughn, Jaco Pastorius, Buddy Rich,
Tina Turner, Joni Mitchell, George Benson, Lee Ritenour, Miles Davis, John Mayer, Tom Scott, Christopher Cross, Stanley Turrentine, and Rob Pronk to name a few. He’s featured on over 35 LPs from 1971 to 2007, by over 25 different acts. He also has played in several late-night TV show bands: The Tonight Show with Doc Seversin as bandleader and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno from 1994 to 2001. Findley’s brass session work goes well beyond the average studio musician’s resume. He was used heavily by Jazz, Pop, Soul and Rock artists, further showcasing his versatility and musical talents. He’s 71 today.
On December 13th, 1948, songwriter, guitarist, producer, pedal-steel guitarist, blue-eyed soul artist, and military advisor-Skunk Baxter (Jeffrey Allen Baxter) was born in Washington, D.C. Baxter got his start playing in King Thunder and The Lightning Bolts while he was in high school. When he graduated, he moved to the Boston area and continued to gig with local bands (late 60s) while attending journalism school. Baxter learned the ins and outs of the guitar, becoming a repairman at Manny’s Music Shop in Manhattan. While there, he met Jimi Hendrix (1966) before he took off to the UK, and was the bassist for Jimi’s band called Jimmy James & the Blue Flames.
Jimi went to Europe shortly after and Baxter joined the psychedelic outfit-Ultimate Spinach (1968). He played guitar on their third and final LP-III (1969). After they disbanded, he joined The Holy Modal Rounders; and was commonly referred to as Skunk-origins unknown. He linked up with Steely Dan in the early 70s, and is featured on their first three LPs: Can’t Buy A Thrill-1972, Countdown To Ecstasy-1973 & Pretzel Logic-1974. These contain hits like: Do It Again, Reelin’ In The Years, and Rikki Don’t Lose That Number. Soon after Pretzel Logic dropped in 1974, Skunk joined The Doobie Brothers (1974). He’s featured on the 1975 LP-Stampede. He stayed with them until he joined Spirit in the 80s. He’s 70 today.
On December 13th, 1957, singer, drummer, keyboardist, actor, composer, arranger, producer, and heavy collaborator with Jimmy Jam-Terry Lewis & Prince: Morris (E.) Day was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Morris is the lead singer of The Time, a group that originally was called Flyte Tyme and led by vocalists Alexander O’Neal & Cynthia Johnson. When O’Neal and Prince had a disagreement, Prince added Day as the lead. Morris has a unique voice, style, and persona. He & sideman Jerome were standouts in Purple Rain, mostly for their witty humor and one-liners. Day also commanded attention in Graffiti Bridge, saying to NPG dancer Cat who was talking loudly to him: "you better put some treble on that tone!"
Songs like Cool, 777-9311, Get It Up, Ice Cream Castles, The Walk, Jungle Love, Oak Tree, and The Bird summarize the Funky-but fun style of music Morris Day & The Time created. He did some solo LPs with Time musicians; but they weren’t as successful as the music he made with the original lineup. Prince penned most of the music for the group under his aliases-The Kidd, The Starr Company & Jamie Starr. Along with Day, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Prince shared collaborative efforts in how the songs would be arranged. Morris appeared in numerous films, TV sitcoms, and music videos. He’s well known by most from his acting in Purple Rain and the music he made with The Time. He continues to act, perform and record. He’s 61 today.
On December 13th, 1967, comedian, singer, songwriter, actor, producer, and former sitcom star-Jamie Foxx (Eric Marlon Bishop) was born in Terrell, Texas. He got his start playing piano in the church when he was five. His grandmother influenced his early upbringing. By the time he was in third grade, he was seasoned at telling jokes to his classmates. His budding music and comedy career continued throughout his high school years. However, he was a good athlete in football & basketball and had aspirations of going pro. Origins of the name: Bishop took on the name Foxx paying homage to his inspiration-Redd Foxx. The Jamie came from it being androgynous and the comedy club open mic he was going to perform at usually called female comedians first. It stuck.
By 1991, he was appearing regularly as a permanent member of the of cast on In Living Colour. He played characters like Wanda, JoJo of Jodeci, Ace & Main Man, and Carl "The Tooth" Williams. Jamie also showed his singing skills on the show. However, unlike Eddie Murphy, he actually made it as a singer. He’s managed to secure dramatic roles and pulled them off well. He played Ray Charles to the teeth, cocky football player-Willie Beamen (Any Given Sunday), Drew Bundini Brown in Ali, Curtis Taylor Jr in Dreamgirls, Nathaniel Ayers in The Soloist, Django, Electro, and Max in Collateral to name a few. He had the successful The Jamie Foxx Show from 1996 to 2001, has won Image-MTV-American Music-Grammy-Soul Train-MOBO and Vibe Awards; and has appeared in over 50 films and television shows. He’s 51 years-old today.
On December 13th, 1981, we lost a Great Grandfather of Hip Hop Emceeing, a seminal comedian that didn’t seek to crossover, actor, singer, dancer and recording artist-(Dewey or David) "Pigmeat" Markham. Markham recorded the seminal Hip Hop influenced Breakbeat Here Comes The Judge on Chess Records in 1968. The intro of the song features Markham rhythmically boasting to a bare drum beat. He’d been recording his comedy sets for the imprint since his 1961 debut-The Trial, releasing 13 LPs up to that point (1961-1968). Markham, a Durham, NC native, got his start in touring with variety and burlesque shows.
He would host, and do bits of comedy, singing, dancing, skits or a mixture of all of them between sets. He worked with Bessie Smith in the 20s and 30s, started appearing in films in the 40s, honed his stage skills as a featured comedian during the 50s, and started recording his comedy shows in the 60s. The Black Community knew about Pigmeat, and his partner Skillet for a while; but the Chess recordings brought him a more diverse audience and he started appearing on nationally syndicated TV shows. He continued to perform and record throughout the 70s, as similar acts like Moms Mabley and Rudy Ray Moore took off. His career spanned nearly six decades. He was 77 when he passed away.
Honorable Mention: On December 13th, 1966, Rolling Stones Magazine’s Greatest Rock Guitarist-Jimi Hendrix made his television debut on the UK TV network ITV. The show was called Ready Steady Go!; and featured the Rock icon with his backing band-The Experience. They performed Foxy Lady. Marc Bolan was on the show as well. Interesting fact: Foxy Lady is actually spelled Foxey on most US releases. However, the original song title is Foxy as it was originally released in the UK.
On December 13th, in 1974, singer, songwriter, bandleader, youngest member of The Beatles, and former guitarist for the band-George Harrison was at the White House having lunch with then President Gerald Ford. Ford was attempting to hear the complaints of the youth following Watergate, and the failed Vietnam War. Later than same day, Ford met with rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer-Peter Frampton. These are two people that wouldn’t have been invited to clean the toilets at the White House during the Nixon administration.
On December 13th, in 1975, singer, songwriter, activist, Punk Rock innovator, clarinet player, poet, author, graphic artist, and feminist-Patti Smith (Patricia Lee Smith) released her debut LP-Horses. This LP is considered one of the greatest albums of all time, having influenced bands that came after it like: R.E.M., Siouxsie & the Banshees, PJ Harvey & the Smiths. It’s a reflection of the Punk Rock Movement that was brewing in NYC at CBGBs. Smith is one of the few artists that lives up to her rebellious lyrics by getting involved in grassroots activism.
On December 13th, in 2008, UK Emcee, producer and Drum & Bass DJ-Dizzee Rascal (Dylan Kwabena Mills) was detained by the Bobbies in South-East London. The police were responding to a complaint about a man approaching another with a baseball bat over a fit of road rage. When they approached Dizzee, he did indeed have a baseball bat. They held him at the station under the charge: "suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon." Rascal is well-known on the UK Hip Hop scene and hasn't had any reason to seek fame overseas. I can respect that.
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!