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On February 6th, 1945 singer, reggae icon, guitarist, bandleader, activist, and co-founding member of The Wailers-Bob Marley (Robert Nesta Marley) was born in Nine Mile, Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica. Bob started making music with his childhood friend Bunny Wailer (Neville Livingston) when he was 10 (mid 1950s). When he was 12 he moved to Trenchtown, Kingston, Jamaica, where Bob & Bunny became friends with Junior Braithwaite, Peter Tosh, and Beverley Kelso (1957). They hung around the house where the vocal duo of Higgs & Wilson would practice their harmonies. Higgs helped the quintet with their vocals and taught Bob some basics on guitar. He continued working on his guitar and singing skills throughout the late 1950s; and in 1962, he made his recording debut Judge Not with Leslie Kong as producer at Federal Studios. Peter, Bunny, Junior, Beverley, and new member Cherry Smith heard Bob’s songs, and the six combined to form The Teenagers in 1963.
They changed their name to the Wailing Rudeboys, then the Wailing Wailers, before settling on the Wailers late in ’63. Coxsone Dodd recorded and released their debut single-Simmer Down (Coxsone Records, 1963) which became a local hit. They released several sides and sang back up for others on the Studio One imprint. In 1966, Smith, Braithwaite and Kelso had left, leaving Bob, Bunny & Peter. He got married (Rita) and went to the states that same year. However, right before he left he started studying Rastafarianism. When he returned to Jamaica in the late 60s, he publicly embraced the Rasta culture and left Studio One, for Black Ark Studios (Lee Scratch Perry & the Upsetters). Bob and Perry also had a financial dispute, which landed him back at square one-Leslie Kong. They combined to release-The Best of the Wailers (1971). He signed to Island (CBS) Records in 1972 and released Catch a Fire. He was 36 when he passed (1981).
On February 6th, in 1950, singer, songwriter, actress, pianist, and daughter of Nat King Cole-Natalie (Marisa) Cole was born in Los Angeles, California. TOV covered the artist’s death day on the December 31st post. Please refer to it for more information. Natalie started singing around the DC area with her band Black Magic in the early 70s. She was discovered by Chuck Jackson & Marvin Yancey, who took her to Chicago to record a demo that got her signed to Capitol Records. It took her a while to finish the album, but she released her debut in 1975-Inseparable. The title track and This Will Be became R&B hits. A lot of people mistook Natalie for Aretha because their styles were very similar. Aretha claims that Natalie sang songs she had turned down while she was recording her 1975 LP-You (Atlantic).
She won 2 Grammys for the LP-Best New Artist & Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Since Cole was younger than Franklin, and she had the hit LP, the media started referring to Natalie as: The New Aretha Franklin. Natalie continued to produce hits throughout the 70s. She released Natalie in 1976 (Sophisticated Lady) and two in 1977-Unpredictable (I’ve Got Love on my Mind, I’m Catching Hell) & Thankful (Our Love). Both went Platinum, making her the first female artist to do so in the same year. In 1978, she appeared on TV shows and released Natalie Live! She released 2 LPs in 1979-I Love You So and We’re the Best of Friends (duet album with Peabo Bryson). Both LPs went gold. In the early 80s, she ran into problems with a faltering fan base and drug addiction. By 1983, she was in rehab. The 80s were a rebuilding period for Cole. She came back strong in the 90s with a new sound-Jazz vocalist. She was 65 when she died.
On February 6th, in 1962, singer, percussionist, songwriter, pianist, producer, guitarist, arranger and co-founding member of Guns N’ Roses-Axl Rose (William Bruce Rose Jr.) was born in Lafayette, Indiana. Axl got his start in the conservative Midwestern Pentecostal church. He sang in the choir at age 5, joined his siblings in a gospel group shortly after (the Bailey Trio), attended services several times a week and taught Sunday school. He had limited contact with the larger world and pop culture as child, and was raised in an environment where everything was viewed as ‘bad’ or ‘evil’. Rose started getting into secular music when he was in high school. He became a member of the choir, learned piano and started a band. His normal vocal tone was second baritone, but he would use different voices which led to him expanding his range.
He had a lot of run-ins with the law, and was arrested more than 20 times before he was 18. The local authorities gave him a choice: stay in town and go to jail or leave and be free. Axl moved to LA in 1982 and joined Rapidfire with Kevin Lawrence. He recorded a few sides with them in 1983, before leaving to start his own band-Hollywood Rose. They recorded a demo in 1984. In 1985, Rose joined the LA Guns with Tracii Guns. They joined their bands together and called them Guns N’ Roses. He changed his name to W. Axl Rose in the mid 80s and the band signed to Geffen Records in 1986. In 1987, they released their debut LP-Appetite for Destruction. It went gold and contained the hit single Sweet Child o’ Mine. He’s 56 today.
On February 6th, in 1927, jazz musician, trombonist, sideman, conductor, composer, arranger and producer-Tom McIntosh (Thomas S. McIntosh) was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He got started on trombone during his primary school years. In his teens, he studied music at the Peabody Conservatory at John Hopkins University. He enlisted in the US Army in the early 50s, and while stationed in West Germany post-WWII, he played 1st trombone in the Army band. In 1956, he returned to the the states (NYC) and played as a sideman with Roland Kirk, John Lewis, Lee Morgan, Art Farmer, James moody and Benny Golson from 1956 to 1959. In 1958, he graduated from Juilliard. In 1960, he became a Jehovah’s Witness. In the early 60s, McIntosh started composing songs for other musicians like Mel Lewis, Howard McGhee, Thad Jones and Dizzy Gillespie.
He also did the arrangements for Art Blakey, James Moody, Bobby Timmons, Illinois Jacquet and Milt Jackson. Yearning to expand on his composing and arranging skills, he left the jazz scene in 1969 and moved to Los Angeles. In the 70s, he started composing for various TV shows and films. Some of his notable film score work includes: A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But a Sandwich, The Learning Tree, Shaft’s Big Score, John Handy, Soul Soldier and Slither. These soundtrack work are thorough. Most of the compositions are moody with soul and blues elements. McIntosh took a classical approach to his music as well. He used large and small bands to produce the mood he wanted to convey to the listeners. He became a NEA Jazz Master in 2008, and passed in 2017. He was 89.
On February 6th, in 1989, seminal sound man, producer, DJ, audio engineer and innovator of Jamaican Dub-King Tubby (Osbourne Ruddock) was killed outside his home in Kingston, Jamaica. TOV covered the artist’s birthday on the January 28th post. Please refer to it for more information. Tubby put his knowledge of electrical devices to work as a repairman for the Sound System DJ in Kingston. He eventually built his own system in 1968-Tubby’s Hometown Hi-Fi. It was groundbreaking, and left his competition in the dust. It was outfitted with custom echo, delay and reverb effects, and he produced and distributed exclusive releases and remixes. In 1969, he started working as a producer for Treasure Isle Studios. They needed Tubby to make tracks from their original sides for the sound system DJs and Toasters (DJs rhyming to the crowd, hyping the crowd over the beat-the forefathers of rappers).
The other sound system DJs could now buy Tubby’s exclusive releases at the local store. His popularity as a producer, electrical technician and DJ exploded as a result. He designed, altered and manipulated devices to make new songs using the mixing board as his instrument-dub. He’d bring the vocals in and out, fade out the beat, echo the horns, put reverb on the bass, delay the guitar and selectively mute the organ. This style of mixing invented a new genre of music-Dub. In the early 70s, he started collaborating with others like Lee Scratch Perry, The Rockers, Bob Marley, the Maytals & Yabba You. He brought the Dub style and early foundations of Hip Hop culture to the world. He was 48 when he was murdered.
HONORABLE MENTION: On February 6th, in 2015, the island of Jamaica hosted a 70th anniversary celebration for the dearly departed Robert Nesta Marley (Bob Marley). It was a two-fold event. There was a free concert on the Kingston waterfront with performances by Jamaican musicians and International artists. They also held a jam session at Bob’s former home in Kingston. Marley was instrumental in bring social awareness to the plight of the youth in Jamaica, and expanding the popularity of Rastafarianism, dub and reggae music worldwide. He’s reggae’s most known figure.
On February 6th, in 1998, Hollywood was rehashing a classic 80s film-The Blues Brothers. For the ’98 version, they changed the title to the Blues Brothers 2000. It premiered in theaters nationwide to mixed reviews, but one consensus rang true-the musicians that made cameo appearances in the film were extremely talented. Some of these included: neo soul phenom Erykah Badu, Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, The Godfather of Soul & Minister of Funk-James Brown and the man that brought us Engine #9-Wicked Wilson Pickett. It was a nice attempt to bring that 80s Blues Brothers feeling back to the screen. However, somethings are better left alone.
On February 6th, in 1946, drummer, vocalist, songwriter,percussionist and original member of Little Feat-Richie Hayward was born in Des Moines, Iowa. He started with the Fraternity of Man in southern CA during the 60s. In 1969, he joined Little Feat and stayed with them until their split in 1979. He also played for Eric Clapton, Taj Mahal, Buddy Guy, Al Kooper, The Doobie Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, Warren Zevon, Bob Dylan, Nancy Sinatra, Robert Palmer, Ry Cooder, Stephen Stills and Peter Frampton. He was 64 when he died.
On February 6th, in 1898, a seminal poet that was portrayed in the 2007 film the Great Debaters-Melvin Beaunorus Tolson was born in Moberly, Missouri. Tolson was an educator, writer, poet and activist. He got his Bachelors from Lincoln University in 1923, and his Masters form Columbia University in 1940. He became a English and Speech professor at Wiley College in the mid 20s. While their, he was acting football coach, debate/speech team director, and play director. They had a 10-year winning streak and won a national championship. He was 68 when he passed.
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