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On November 12th, in 1944, musician, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer, keyboardist, producer and legendary bandleader-Booker T. Jones (Booker Taliaferro Jones Jr.) was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Jones was named after his father, who was named after Booker T. Washington. He was a child prodigy, playing the oboe, bass, piano, trombone, saxophone and organ. He graduated from the same high school that educated: Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, Andrew Love, William Bell, David Porter and many other Stax artists. His first recording appearance is on the Carla & Rufus Thomas early 60s single-Cause I Love You (on Satellite Records soon to be Stax).
Seminal Memphis Soul & Blues producer Willie Mitchell hired Booker T to play sax in his band. This is how he met Al Jackson Jr (drummer). Booker T would take Jackson Jr to Stax with him. He added Lewie Steinberg on bass, Steve Cropper on guitar and their 4-man outfit was set. Later in 1961, Steinberg was replaced by Ronald Duck Dunn on bass and the official Booker T & the MGs was born. They had several hits throughout the 60s and 70s. Booker T would go solo and co-produce & write with others in the 80s. He’s the one largely responsible for the Stax sound. He’s 74 years-old today.
On November 12th, in 1948, singer, songwriter, lead singer and co-founder of the band Hot Chocolate-(Lester) Errol Brown was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Brown migrated from Kingston, to the UK when he was 12 years-old. He sang for years, as a child, and gained more access to music he’d never heard once in Britain. He & Tony Wilson (vocals & bass) co-founded the Hot Chocolate Band in 1968. They got their recording debut in 1969. Brown sang Give Peace a Chance, a Lennon-Beatles cover, but added his Island flavor to it (Reggae style). They had to get Lennon’s approval before the song could be released since he was the credited writer.
He approved their version for release, and in 1970 the band had their first charting single Emma b/w Love is Life on the Rak imprint (Canadian label owned by their producer Mickie Most). Interesting fact: Hot Chocolate had at least one song that charted every year from 1970 to 1984. The original line-up for the band was Brown on vocals, Wilson on bass & vocals, Jim King on drums, Franklyn De Allie on guitar, and Patrick Olive on percussion. The lineup where most of their hits charted was the 1975-1986 musicians: Tony Connor on drums (replaicing Jim King), and Brian Satterwhite on bass & vocals (replacing Wilson who went solo). The band’s early work, is some of their funkiest music to date. Brown went solo in 1986 and released several LPs. He passed away in 2015 (age 71).
On November 12th, in 2003, we lost one of the most heard, familiar, recorded and time keeping drummers from the 70s to the 90s, session drummer, former drummer for LaBelle, Ecstasy-Passion & Pain, Chic and Power Station: Tony Thompson (Anthony Terrence Tony Thompson). He passed away in Los Angeles, California from kidney cancer. His parent were first generation immigrants from Antiguan (Father) & Trinidad (Mother). His first professional gig was with LaBelle. After he left them (early to mid 70s), he became the drummer for Ecstasy-Passion & Pain, a Deep House/Dance Music outfit (Disco carries a negative stigma). After that, he linked up with Bernard Edwards (bass) and Nile Rodgers, joining the band Chic.
They had several hits in the late 70s and early 80s, but when Disco dissolved, so did the band. He left them and then went across the pond to join Robert Palmer’s seminal New Wave Funk-Rock band-Power Station. Don’t get me wrong, I love Thompson’s drumming for Chic, Ecstasy-Passion & Pain, and especially LaBelle…but when he went to Power Station, they let him ‘open-up’ and showcase his drum patterns, rhythmic skills and syncopation (the backbone of Funk-the accented ONE). Thompson is an awesome drummer, several producers have sampled his snare hits, rim shots, symbol crashes and bass drum. He was 48 when he died.
On November 12th, in 2002, the A-T-L paid proper homage to one of its own: Lisa Left-Eye Lopez (Lisa Nicole Lopes). The mayor of Atlanta (Shirley Franklin), declared November 12th a city-wide annual remembrance of the TLC member. Lisa was born in Philly, living there throughout her teens. She had 2 siblings that she formed a band with at a young age-The Lopes Kids. Around her late teens (post high school), she moved to Atlanta to audition for TLC (Tionne, Lisa, Crystal). The R&B trio’s original name was 2nd Nature, but Perri Pebbles changed it.
There’s several things people may ‘assume’ about Left-Eye, like she was wild, crazy, couldn’t sing as well as Chili or Tionne, was the ‘weak link’ of the band…and some of that, or all of that may be true…After Crytal (Jones) bounced, Pebble replaced her with a backup dancer she knew named Rozonda Thomas (Chili). TLC was born.Yes, Pebbles raped them, being manager, promoter, label owner and negotiator for the band. However, they were able to put out some dope music.
Most may not know that she has more co-writing credits for the TLC catalog than the other two artist, nearly combined. This adds the missing piece to the puzzle of why Left-Eye went so hard at T-Boz & Chili after they were accusing Left-Eye of being selfish, only about Left-Eye, etc. She responded to their media binge by challenging each member to release a solo album produced exclusively by Dallas Austin, and asked LaFace Records to pay the one with the most record sales $1.5 million…yea…She died in a car crash in 2002 (30 years-old).
On November 12th, in 2008, we lost a legendary Jazz, Psychedelic Rock & Blues drummer-Mitch Mitchell (John Graham Mitch Mitchell). He passed away in a hotel room in Portland, Oregon. Ironically enough, he had just completed the 18-city 2008 Experience Hendrix Tour with Billy Cox, Eric Gales, Buddy Guy and Cesar Rosas to name a few. Portland was the last stop on the tour…Mitchell got his start on drums during his school-aged years working in a music store. By his teens, he had formed his band, the Soul Messengers (late 50s).
By 1962, he’d built a rep as a good session drummer. He joined Pretty Things in 1965, and a year later Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames. Later that year (1966), he auditioned for Jimi Hendrix’s Experience and got the job. His rep grew with the Experience, and after they left and Jimi picked up Band of Gypsys (Billy Cox, Buddy Miles), Mitchell worked with the supergroup-The Dirty Mac Band (Lennon, Clapton, Richards, Ono). His roots are based in Jazz drumming, as he was heavily influenced by Elvin Jones (Coltrane) and Max Roach. That brought an entirely different sound to the Rock rhythms he created. He was 61 years-old when he died.
Honorable Mention: On November 12th, in 1874, the Father of the Broadway stage, actor, writer, activist (by default) and comedian-Bert Williams (Egbert Austin Williams) was born in Nassau, Bahamas. He’s the first Black man to have a lead role on the Broadway stage. This opened the doors for other actors, and those yet to come. He co-wrote musicals and plays with George Walker during the late 1800s. They wore the traiditonal Black face for most of their shows…(watch Bamboozled, Know your History)…
On November 12th, in 1965, a couple years before Warhol managed them, Velvet Underground had their first live show at the Summit High School in New Jersey. They made a whopping $75 dollars for the gig. The band formed in 1964 in NYC with members: Lou Reed (guitar, vocals), Angus MacLise (drums), John Cale (keys, guitar, bass) and Sterling Morrison (guitar). They had an avant-garde style that took the public a few decades to understand. They received little fame in the late 60s, but are now considered to have made groundbreaking music.
On November 12th, in 1966, the infamous Prog Rock band Pink Floyd put on a concert paying homage to marijuana. It wasn’t a legalize it concert, but their set selection reflected their sentiments about the intoxicant. The live show took place at the Corn Exchange in Bedford, England. They played: Let’s Roll Another One and Stoned Alone live… Interesting fact: Stoned Alone AKA I Get Stoned is one of the first songs Syd Barrett wrote for the band.
On November 12th, in 1990, guitarists, vocalist, producer, radio personality, painter, songwriter and member of the Rolling Stones-Ronnie Wood (Ronald David Wood) had a terrible accident that left him with two broken legs. He was run over by a car following an accident he’d had on the M4 Motorway in Marlborough, Wiltshire, England. While he was trying to direct cars to go around him, someone ran over both of his legs…
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!