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On December 27th, in 1939, film, stage and television actor-John (Allen) Amos (Jr) was born in Newark, New Jersey. Amos is most known for his role as James Evans Sr on the Sitcom Good Times. He’s also known for his role as the adult Kunta Kente in the television miniseries-Roots. However, his career embodies much more than pivotal roles. Amos was an aspiring athlete before he became an actor. He was a football standout at East Orange High School and moved to California in 1958 after he graduated. He transferred from Long Beach College to Colorado State and played on their football team before graduating with a degree in sociology. After college, instead of going straight into the social work profession, he decided to try his luck at boxing. He became a Golden Gloves champion. However, he suffered an injury to his hamstring during his college years, which came back to haunt him in 1964 when he was cut from the Denver Broncos on the second day of training camp.
He didn’t throw the towel in though. Instead, he joined the UFL (United Football League) and played with the Joliet Explorers and Cleveland Bulldogs. He then went to the CFL (Continental Football League) and played with the Norfolk Neptunes and Wheeling Iron. He’d play on two more teams in the ACFL (Atalntic Coastal), before returning to the AFL with the Kansas City Chiefs (1967). Their coach- Hank Stram cut Amos, and Amos wrote a poem to the team in response. It went over so well that coach Stram encouraged him to get into the arts. Consequently, Amos started dabbling in acting and secured a reoccurring role on the Mary Tyler Moore Show (Gordy Howard, 1970). In 1974, he was co-star on Good Times and appeared in films like Sweetback, Let’s Do It Again (Kansas City Mack), Coming To America (McDowell) and the Beast Master (Seth). Amos is 79 years-old, and continues to act (near 50 year career).
On December 27th, in 1964 model, film, stage, and television actress-Theresa E. Randle was born in Gary, Indiana. Randle is most known for her roles in ‘Urban’ films like Sugarhill, and Spike Lee movies-Malcolm X, and Girl 6. She started out as a dancer and comedian (childhood), earning herself a scholarship to the prestigious Beverly Hills High School’s Exceptionally Gifted & Talented Program (late 70s to early 80s). When she was 19, she made her first appearance on screen in George Clinton’s Last Dance video. Her film debut came in 1987, with a short role in Maid to Order (Doni). She played ‘Raye’, a love interest and fellow criminal in King of New York (1990). A year later, she was in Five Heartbeats with Robert Townsend (Brenda), Jungle Fever with Spike Lee (Inez) and Laura in Malcolm X (a young Malcolm’s love interest).
She played Melissa in Wesley Snipes’ Sugarhill (1994) and Theresa Burnett (Martin Lawrences’ wife) and in Bad Boys I & II (1993, 1995). She played in other films during this time (1987-1995), but she didn’t get her starring debut until 1996 in the obscure, avant-garde Spike Lee film-Girl 6 (Girl 6-Lovely or whatever you want to call her, pun not intended). The soundtrack for this film is exclusively Prince, which also adds to its obscurity. Plot: it’s about a phone sex operator that falls in love with one of her clients. Dope movie, a lot of people don’t like it though. She continued to have starring roles after Girl 6 (Natalie Cole-Livin’ For Love, 2000), and got a lot of notoriety from her role as Wanda Blake in 1997’s Spawn. She continues to act and is 54 today.
Last Day on Earth: TOV has covered the following artist’s birth on the September 3rd, post. Refer to it for more information. On December 27th, in 1976, one of the Legendary Three Kings of the Blues, guitarist, songwriter, singer, producer and Rock innovator-Freddie King (Fred King) was spending his last day on earth (passed away in Dallas, TX 12/28/1976). Sidebar: the other two kings of the Blues are B.B. King & Albert King. Freddie’s actual passing is tomorrow. However, I found it fitting to list him on today’s lineup. He was influenced by Chicago and Texas Bluesmen at a young age. His family moved to Chicago and he began frequenting the Blues clubs on the south side (late 40s-teens).
In the early 50s, he started working as a sideman and formed his own band-The Every Hour Blues Boys. He was constantly rejected by Chess Records for a recording deal because they said he sounded like B.B. King. He continued on, and in the mid 50s, he made his recording debut as a front man on El-Bee Records (Country Boy duet with Margaret Whitfield). In 1959, he got his big break, signing to King Record’s subsidiary-Federal Records. The recordings he released on Federal from 1960 to 1966 put him on the worldwide map, and he toured Europe in 1967. While there, at the height of the British Rock movement and resurgence in Blues, King was asked to play with Led Zeppelin, Leon Russell, Eric Clapton & Grand Funk Railroad. He continued to record and perform up to his death in 1976 (42).
THE IRONY IS THICK: The Tragic story of Walter Scott most likely ended on December 27th, in 1983. He was a singer and songwriter for the 60s Pop vocal group Bob Kuban & the In-Men. The St. Louis based band had one major hit in 1966-The Cheater. The song was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame’s catalog of One Hit Wonders. Scott went solo after the popularity of the song took off. He wound up singing for cover bands during the 70s, but never entirely quit music. Ironically enough, his death is attributed to a Cheater-the same song title that birthed his career. As the story goes: it’s believed Scott was killed the same day he went missing-December 27th, in 1983.
Over 4 years later, on April 10th, in 1987, his decomposed body washed up in St. Peters, Missouri. Police suspected foul play with his ex-wife Jo Ann Calceterra and her new husband James H. Williams Sr. After further investigation, they found that Calceterra hindered prosecution and was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Seems she’d help plot to murder her husband with her then boyfriend, and helped him cover it up after the fact by sending the cops on a missing person's search. They made it seem like he’d run off, reporting him as a 'missing'. With no body, they had to keep the case open (epic fail). The kicker is that not only did James Williams get convicted for killing Scott, he also was convicted for killing his previous wife-Sharon Williams. This dude’s a romance serial killer.
Krush Groovin’ Body Movin’…On December 27th, in 1985, two months and two days after the film Krush Groove had debuted in American Movie Theaters, artists featured in the film gave a concert-The Krush Groove Christmas Party in Madison Square Garden. Run DMC, LL Cool J and Whodini were some of the notables that performed. The concert was supposed to be a tie-in with the movie, bringing it more notoriety. It was also a peaceful response to the small number of fights and violence that broke out in a few theaters that showed the film, which brought it some bad press. At the time, the political, social and musical climate towards Hip Hop was just like the status quo felt about Rock ‘n’ Roll, Jazz, and Blues before it was a ‘solidified’ genre.
Fights and violence broke out at Rock & Blues events, but weren’t the major focus of the media. Teen angst, and the rebellious nature that drives it, is always the focal point for control exerted by the status quo. With that said, plans for peace backfired when fights broke out after the concert. The police arrested at least 14 people out of 1000s that attended…pause…you read that properly…thousands of people were there and only 14 people were detained (less than 1% by mathematical terminology). I think more people are arrested tailgating in a Wal-Mart parking lot before a college game, and that’s barely 100. The media played up the 14 arrests, another ploy to bad mouth Hip Hop.
Honorable Mention: 2 significant things happened to the vocal Trio we all know as the Supremes on December 27th exactly five years apart. In 1964, they made their first appearance on the nationally syndicated television show-The Ed Sullivan Show. They sang their number 1 hit-Come See About Me. They appeared on the show 21 times in all (14 with Diana) which is the most of any group in the show's history. In 1969, they were at the top of the US Pop charts with Someday We’ll Be Together (it went to #13 in the UK-Top 20). It was their 12th number 1 hit and became one of their signature tunes.
On December 27th, in 1971, following a run of a few trial episodes during the summer, pop singers Sonny & Cher aired their Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour variety show. CBS ran the show for 3 years (1971-1974). The couple featured their own skits and singing, of course, but also had a young Steve Martin and many special guests: George Burns, Farrah Fawcett, The Jackson 5, LaBelle, Chuck Berry, Ronald Reagan, The Supremes, Burt Reynolds and Dick Clark.
On December 27th, in 1975, Curtis Mayfield had a number one hit with the Staple Singers-Let’s Do It Again. The song was written for the film Let’s Do It Again starring Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier. The irony is that a gospel group had the number one song, but weren’t singing the gospel. Interesting fact: Mavis said Pops didn’t want to do the song, but he & Curtis had a talk about it and came to an agreement. It’s been sampled by many, most notably, Ice Cube on Today Was a Good Day (remix).
On December 27th, in 1999, J-Lo, Shine and Puffy were all kicking it at a club in Manhattan when shots rang out. It was said to have been Shine that fired the weapon. Puffy and J-Lo, who were dating at the time, left the club. Before they could get far, the cops pulled them over, searched the vehicle and found a weapon. They both were arrested for illegal possession of a firearm...and suspicion surrounding the shooting at the club. Neither wound up going to jail, but Shine did. They broke up shortly after this.
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