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On April 8th, in 1964, Golden Era Hip Hop beat boxer, rapper, DJ, TV personality, producer, author, comedian, actor and member of the Juice Crew-Biz Markie (Marcel Theo Hall) was born in Harlem, New York City, New York. Most people know Biz for his song-Just a Friend which has been featured in commercials and other public forums. Others know him for being one of the first major hip hop artists that got sued for sampling records without clearance/permission. His interest and participation in hip hop culture started in the late 70s while he was in high school. Hip Hop was just gaining a foothold in the art, music and dance world. Biz started getting into beat boxing and rhyming after he graduated high school in 1982. By this time, several independent imprints that specialized in hip hop were around. Not to mention the variety of documentaries and films, dramatizing and accurately depicting the culture.
Biz was featured in one such documentary from 1986-Big Fun in the Big Town. Two years later, in 1988, He released his debut LP-Goin’ Off on Cold Chillin’ Records. It was produced by Marley Marl, and is full of classic hits like; Vapors, Make the Music With Your Mouth-Biz, Albee Square Mall, Biz is Goin’ Off, and Nobody Beats the Biz. A year later, he released his second LP that was produced by Paul C-The Biz Never Sleeps. The LP features his biggest hit to date-Just a Friend. It also displays Biz’ comedic side in an overt way. Biz’s 3rd LP-I Need a Haricut (1991) was taken off the shelves for a while until all the samples could be cleared. This marked the beginning of the ‘sample clearance’ era in music. Biz is 55 today.
On April 8th, in 1922, seminal jazz vocalist, pianist, composer, actress, songwriter, arranger, producer, recording artist, pop, soul and blues singer-Carmen (Mercedes) McRae was born in Harlem, New York City, New York. McRae’s recording career lasted well over 5 decades. Her music can be found on several imprints, most notably-Blue Note, Atlantic, Kapp, Decca and Columbia. She credits Billie Holiday as her major singing influence (she met her when she was 17), and Chicago, Illinois nightclubs as her training ground that produced her musical (piano) style. The first generation American got her start on piano when she was 8 (both of her parents were Jamaican immigrants). She learned all types of music on the piano, but her favorite genre to play was jazz. In her early teens, she played music around various clubs in NYC. In her late teens, she’d established a strong following and had a regular gig as pianist, singer and secretary at Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem.
She married bebop drummer Kenny Clarke in her early 20s and made her recording debut in 1944 with Mercer Ellington’s band. She signed to Decca Records in the late 40s and released over 10 LPs on the imprint. In 1948, she moved to Chicago and played piano at various nightclubs until 1952. This is when she developed her own style of playing. When she returned to NYC in the early 50s, she continued to perform, record and cut two LPs with Sammy Davis Jr (1957 and 1958). She released 8 LPs from 1957 to 1958. That’s one every 3 months. She’s recorded over 70 LPs in all, most of them during the 50s-60s. She appeared in several TV shows and films during the 70s and 80s like Jo Jo Dancer (Richard Pryor’s grandmother) and Roots-The Next Generation (Lila). She was 72 when she passed (1994).
On April 8th, in 2010, we lost a seminal business man, record producer, singer, band manager, fashion designer, boutique owner, songwriter, former wardrobe specialist for the New York Dolls, manager of the Sex Pistols and Bow Wow Wow-Malcolm (Robert Andrew) McLaren. McLaren is most known for his work as the Sex Pistols manager. He also ‘managed’ to help shape punk rock fashion and culture. He pushed the boundaries on the conventional ways of doing things, in the hopes of curtailing those things societies view as inappropriate. He used the mantra his grandmother had given him as child to reinforce this belief: to be bad is good, to be good is simply boring. Indeed! He left home in his teens to pursue fashion and music. He sold fetish clothing out of a boutique in London during the late 60s and early 70s. He also designed movie sets and costumes.
In 1973, he met the New York Dolls and started doing their wardrobe. In 1974, he renamed his boutique that sold fetish clothing in Westwood-SEX, which is where a lot of the punk fashion derives from. In 1975, he started working with the Sex Pistols. In 1979, he managed Adam and the Ants, which morphed into Bow Wow Wow. By this time, his trips back and forth to NYC had introduced him to a new rebellious urban culture called hip hop. He got involved in it, and produced his debut LP-Duck Rock featuring The World Famous Supreme Team. His song Buffalo Gals was a UK smash and did well in the states. McLaren released 8 studio albums in all from 1983 to 2009. He stands as an example of how creative people can bcan contribute to several sectors of the entertainment industry. He was 64 when he passed.
HONORABLE MENTION: On April 8th, in 1994, seminal grunge rocker, singer, songwriter, pop culture icon, former lead singer and co-founder of the grunge rock band Nirvana-Kurt Cobain was found dead at his home by an electrician named Gary Smith. The day before he was found, his then wife-Courtney Love had been detained by police. She also hired a private investigator a few days prior to his death. She was looking for Cobain, who’d been missing since April 3rd, 1994. He actually died on April 5th, but for 3 days he was deceased in his home. He left a note to his seeds before departing that stated he was tired of creating, writing and performing music. He was 27 when he died.
On April 8th, in 2000, SNL created another one of their many epic catch phrases: More Cowbell! The actor Christopher Walken (King of New York, Deer Hunter) was hosting the show. He was doing a skit as the producer/engineer for Blue Oyster Cult cutting an LP in the studio. The had Will Ferrell as the cowbell player in the band. If you’ve never seen this skit, please watch it. Ferrell was instructed by Walken to play More Cowbell! Eager to please Ferrell played the Cowbell like his life depended on it. It’s a classic episode that furthered both Walken’s and Ferrell’s careers in Hollywood. Not to mention, it’s one of the best skits they ever did on the show. More Cowbell Please!
On April 8th, in 2016, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame held their 31st annual induction ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NYC, NY. This class was unique in that it Steve Miller-who was being inducted, was strongly against award ceremonies like the Sex Pistols (who denounced their induction a few years prior). As the story goes, he went off on the whole function backstage stating the following: it’s ‘a private boys club’….the organizers are: ‘a bunch of jackasses and jerks and fucking gangsters and crooks.’ Indeed Steve, indeed! Other artists that were inducted include: N.W.A., Cheap Trick, Deep Purple and Chicago.
On April 8th, in 2017, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame held their 32nd annual induction ceremony at the same locale as their 2016 induction ceremony-Barclays Arena in Brooklyn, NYC, NY. This was the 3rd time they’d used the facility (also in 2015). This year’s class of inductees included: Tupac Shakur, the prog prock band-Yes, ELO (Electric Light Orchestra), the Latino folk singer-Joan Baez, the 80s rock giants-Journey, grunge rock pioneers-Pearl Jam and Niles Rodgers (for Musical Excellence Award). In the hip hop community, several debates got heated between those that felt that Biggie Smalls should’ve been inducted before Tupac. Most of Pac’s supporters pointed to his discography and acting career, both of which, Biggie couldn’t match.
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