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On February 28th, in 1943, soul music innovator, singer, songwriter, cousin of jazz saxophonist Monk Higgins, New Zion Baptist Church choir soloist and Chess Records recording artist-Barbara (Jean) Acklin (Barbara Allen) was born in Oakland, California. TOV covered the artist’s death on the November 27th post. Please refer to it for more information. Acklin moved to Chicago when she was 5. She began singing in church choirs, and became a soloist when she was 11. She got into secular music in her early teens, and started signing in nightclubs around the city. After high school, she started working as a secretary for St. Lawrence Records.
She got her recording debut with their subsidiary label-Special Agent Records (under the name Barbara Allen). She was a session vocalist at Chess Records for Koko Taylor, Etta James, Fontella Bass and her cousin Monk Higgins. In 1966, when she was 23, she cut a demo at Brunswick Records which was heard by Carl Davis, who gave one of her songs to Jackie Wilson (Whispers-Gettin’ Louder). It became a top 20 R&B hit (#11). Eugene Record of the Chi-Lites, and Gene Chandler also benefited from her songwriting skills. She did solo work from the late 60s to the mid 70s on Brunswick and Capitol Records. Acklin was both a talented singer and songwriter. She was 55 when she died (1998).
On February 28th, in 1957, keyboardist, vocalist, pianist, sequencer/drum programmer, organist, songwriter, composer, arranger and member of Tears for Fears-Ian (Christopher) Stanley was born in High Wycombe, England. Ian became a member of Tears for Fears in 1980 when he offered them free recording time at his 8-track in-home studio. He acted as keyboardist, songwriter, arranger and audio engineer on their first demo. This got the band a deal with Phonogram Records in 1981. Their first two singles didn’t do so well-Pale Shelter and Suffer the Children. However, their third release proved to be a ‘charm’-Mad World.
It became a top 10 UK hit. Stanley (above-2nd l, inset-l) composed, arranged and played keys on their first LP-The Hurting, which was released in 1983. Their first LP yielded 4 hit singles which allowed them to tour and start recording their second LP-Songs from the Big Chair. In 1984, they released two singles off their second LP which wasn’t released at the time-Mother’s Talk b/w Shout. The latter made them international stars, opening the public’s ear to their unique sound. Stanley is largely responsible for the songwriting and composing on this LP, along with Roland Orzabal. He went on to score 80s film soundtracks like Karate Kid Pt II, and release B-sides from the Tears for Fears vaults. He’s 62 today.
On February 28th, in 1961, actress, model and daughter of the infamous pot smoker Tommy Chong-Rae Dawn Chong was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Rae got her start in acting when she was 13 on the Disney network show-Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color (Greta, 1974). She worked in television as an actress for over 40 years (1974-2019). The majority of her acting work in TV and films can be found during the 20 year span of 1980 to 2000. I first learned about her from her role as Tracy Carlson-the love interest for DJ Double KK in the 1984 film Beat Street. However, she’s been acting in films since the late 70s (Stony Island-Janetta).
I have the soundtrack to the film, which is about the R&B/jazz scene on Chicago’s south side, but I’ve never seen the movie. Her second major role came in 1981 when she was in the film about Neanderthals and the evolution of humankind to modern day society-Quest for Fire (1981). She had starring roles in 4 films that came out in 1984-Beat Street, Choose Me (Pearl Antoine), Fear City (Leila) and Cheech & Chong’s The Corsican Brothers (The Gypsy). 1985 was another 4 film year for Chong who starred in the Color Purple as Squeak, Soul Man as Sarah Walker, City Limits as Yogi and Commando as Cindy. Rae is a formidable force to behold on the tube and silver screen. She’s 57 today.
HONORABLE MENTION: On February 28th, in 1984, the King of Pop took over the Grammys. Michael Jackson’s seminal Quincy Jones produced 1983 LP-Thriller had been blazing the charts all year long. It was one of those albums you could put on, and let it play the whole way through. As a result, every song he released became a major hit. He won 7 Grammys that year (1984): Album of the Year, Best R&B performance (Billie Jean), Best Rock vocal (Beat It), Best Pop vocal (Billie Jean), Best R&B Song (Billie Jean), Best single (Beat It) and Best Recording for Children for E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.
…’once again it on!’…On February 28th, in 1997, a few months after Tupac was murdered while sitting in the front seat of Death Row Records owner-Suge Knight’s car, Suge Knight was sitting in the front seat of a Federal courtroom about to get murdered with a stiff sentence. He had violated his probation, going back to a 1995 assault (a year before Tupac was murdered). He got a 9-year bid, and was forced under federal law to stop running his label while incarcerated. I believe this to be a retributive move by law enforcement covering their tracks for creating a situation that led to the death of Tupac.
On February 28th, in 2006, Kanye West was performing live at the NEC in Birmingham, England. Mad folks wanted to get in, but it was sold out. This led a couple die-hard fans to try and enter without tickets. When they were refused entrance…they came back blasting! They shot one person who turned them away in the face. Leaving them in critical condition. The other person that got shot, wasn’t wounded critically, but still…I guess Kanye was a hot commodity. Cats trying to catch bodies to witness Yeezy rock…sad stuff.
…‘Fuck Babylon, Free Islam!’…On February 28th, in 2012, exactly 2 days after her 41st birthday, Erykah Badu received a belated ‘prank’ gift from the Malaysian government. She was scheduled to perform, but her show was cancelled due to her Arabic tattoos. One in particular spelled out ‘Allah’. Religious freedom, expression and personal rights were temporarily stolen from the artist because of her ‘perceived’ spiritual beliefs. I speculate that it was for the best. I mean, I’m pretty sure she didn’t want to perform where the government was going to try to do her like Fela Kuti…
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