| || || |
| || || |
| || || |
On March 24th, 1970, DJ, producer, rapper, Native Tongues member, Spitkicker producer/activist, and member of De La Soul-Maseo aka P.A. Mase aka Plug Three (Vincent Lamont Mason Jr.-above l) was born in Brooklyn, New York. The name MASE is really an acronym for Making A Soul Effort. Along with two of his high school friends, David Jolicoeur (Trugoy) and Kelvin Mercer (Posdnuos), the trio of De La Soul was formed in 1987. They were close associates with the youngest member of Stetsasonic-Prince Paul. Paul produced and helped them record their first demo-Plug Tunin. He got them a deal with Tommy Boy Records, acting as producer on their 1989 classic debut album 3 Feet High & Rising.
The LP was groundbreaking for it’s concepts, use of samples, and comedic skits. Mase’s role in the group was as the DJ at first; but he also did some production and vocals for De La and other members of The Native Tongues. Their followup LP, De La Soul Is Dead (1991) was one of the first albums to receive a '5 Mic' rating from then-reputable Source Magazine. It features more behind the boards work from Mase, and some vocals on tracks like Bitties In The BK Lounge. Mase joined The Spitkicker collective, which is an organization of like minded talented artists-that believe in producing substance based music, and being socially active. His son (Tre Mason) is a running back for The NFL's L.A. Rams, and his daughter Ebony Mase is an actress. The Plug Three of De La Soul is 49 years old today.
On March 24th, 1937, soul & blues singer, pianist, songwriter, drummer, composer, arranger, and producer Billy Stewart (William Larry Stewart II) was born in Washington, D.C. Stewart started off singing in the church in a vocal quartet with his brothers called The Four Stewart Brothers. He was the oldest member of the group, and sang every Sunday for five years on Washington D.C.’s WUST-AM radio. After graduating from high school, he moved into secular music and would fill in for missing members of The Rainbows (during the early to mid 1950s).
A couple of significant things happened to him, which helped catapult his professional career, while he was covering for acts in The Rainbows. He worked closely with the group's lead singer Don Covay, and also an up & coming singer named Marvin Gaye. He was then discovered by Bo Diddley, in 1955, while playing piano. Diddley hired him as a backing musician, and Chess Records signed him to a deal. His secular recording debut-Billy’s Blues features Diddley on guitar. His 1966 LP-Unbelievable peaked in The Top 10 on The R&B Chart. He stayed with Chess Records until his death in 1970. Although he never had any major success, as far as charting singles and record sales are concerned, his vocal and piano style influenced many in Rock ‘n’ Roll and R&B. His musical legacy lives on, and can be heard in the contemporary melodies of several genres. He was 32 when he passed away.
On March 24th, 2013, we lost 1960's record producer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, composer, member of The Clan (Motown Production team est. 1967), and member of The Corporation (Motown Production est. 1969) Deke Richards (Dennis Lussier). Dennis changed his name to Deke in his early 20s. When Berry Gordy heard his work at the Hollywood Palace in 1966, he signed him to Motown. Richards is most known for his work as part of Motown's 'The Corporation,' which was responsible for penning and composing a number of songs for The Jackson 5.
The Corporation produced the majority of their first four LPs on the label: Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5, ABC, Third Album, and Jackson 5 Christmas Album. Deke also did a lot of production and songwriting for The Supremes, Martha And The Vandellas, and Bobby Darin. Richards co-wrote the hit Love Child, for The Supremes, which many music historians claim to be a song about the inappropriate romance between Ross & Gordy. In the latter days of his career, he tried to form a group, similar to The 5th Dimension, called Celebration (featuring Sherlie Matthews). They released one LP on Motown’s Mowest imprint in the early 1970s. Richards is one of the many musicians responsible for shaping the sound of modern of soul. He was 68 when he passed away.
HONORABLE MENTION: On March 24th, 1948, soul-funk-blues musician, vocalist, songwriter, harmonica player, and former member of War-Lee Oskar (Levitin) was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. Oskar started on harmonica at the age of six. Ray Charles was one of his major musical influences as a child. He took the harmonica very serious and moved to NYC, when he was 18. There he met Eric Burdon, he joined War shortly after jamming with the members. He added a signature sound to War’s music, and also released a couple solo LPs that did moderately well. He played with War for 24 years. He’s 71 today.
On March 24th, 1956, Billboard Magazine released its first official weekly chart. The publication had been seeking a way to chart music on a weekly basis accurately. They used record sales, and radio spins as the determining factor. They had four major charts: Pop, Country, Soul/R&B and Jazz. Each of these had sub-charts for singles and albums. Harry Belafonte’s single Belafonte topped the pop charts in the first official week. At first it only had 15-30 slots, but by 1967, it had exploded to 200. The call for the expansion was that there were so many singles and albums that had nearly similar numbers of record sales and radio spins. It’s still the authority to this today.
On March 24th, 1973, the success of Soul Train was becoming all too noticeable to the major networks. As a result, Dick Clark Productions aired a new show called Soul Unlimited that was nearly identical to Soul Train. The first and last artists to appear on the show were Rufus Thomas and Gladys Knight & The Pips. They were the ‘first’ and ‘last’ because they were the only ones that performed, on the only show that aired. Complaints from prominent Black leaders caused Dick Clark to end production on the show. The legacy of Soul Train continued to blossom, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, before fizzling out (as a performance based show) in the 1990s.
On March 24th, 1997, we lost singer, songwriter, The Sound Of Philadelphia legend, and founding member of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes-Harold Melvin (seated-r). Harold made his professional start on American Bandstand, at the age of 13, in 1952. In 1954, he and four other vocalists (Franklin Peter, Roosevelt Brodie, Bernard Williams and Jesse Gills Jr.) formed The Charlemagnes. The Charlemagnes morphed into The Blue Notes, and recorded a few sides in the mid to late 1950's. They released a few minor hits in the 1960's, and made several lineup changes. In the early 1970's, Teddy Pendergrass became the lead singer-and success quickly followed. Harold Melvin was 57 when he died.
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