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On March 23rd, 1953, seminal Soul/R&B vocalist, The Queen Of Funk, drummer, singer, songwriter, Prince collaborator, sister of recording artists Taka Boom and Mark Stevens (Aurra), former Black Panther, former lead singer of Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan, and award winning solo artist-Chaka Khan (Yvette Marie Stevens) was born in Chicago, Illinois. The Hyde Park native is my favorite vocalist of all-time. I like her more than Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Betty Davis, and Erykah Badu (my personal Top 5). She’s also a favorite of my Father (who introduced me to her music), and my Uncle June. Chaka grew up in an eclectic household. Her grandmother introduced her to jazz music, and by the time she was 11, she had formed her own group called The Crystalettes (Taka was a member). In her early teens, Chaka’s father married a Civil Rights activist, who then introduced her to The Black Panther Party.
Around that same time, she got her name (Chaka Adunne Aduffe Hodarhi Karifi) from a Yoruba Baba. She joined The Panthers, and even dated Fred Hampton briefly in 1967. Chaka left the organization in 1969, and dropped out of high school to pursue music full-time. In 1970 she married Hassan Khan, hence the Khan in her name. She sang with the Chicago-based band Lyfe, and was offered Baby Huey’s spot in The Babysitters following his death. And in 1972, two members of Rufus recruited Chaka to join them. The band signed to ABC (Blue Thumb) Records, and released their self-titled debut in 1973. They did a funky cover of Stevie Wonder’s Maybe Your Baby , but the LP failed to take off. In 1974, Stevie co-produced their hit single Tell Me Something Good for their second LP Rags To Rufus. At this point, Chaka’s career as a vocalist took off. Many have tried to sound like her, and even come close on some tunes, but none-and I mean none compare to her vocals. She’s 66 today.
On March 23rd, 1971, legendary session musician, drummer and vocalist-Abe Laboriel Jr was born in Los Angeles, California. Laboriel is a drummer many have heard, but may have been unaware of. He’s played with Paul McCartney, B.B. King, Seal, Sting, Steve Winwood, LeAnn Rimes, Shakira, Eric Clapton, Mylene Farmer, Les Paul, Lady Gaga, Crystal Lewis and a host of jazz, pop, and christian music artists. His father is jazz bassist Abraham Laboriel. His uncle Johnny Laboriel is a Chicano rock singer, and his brother Mateo is a producer, does film scores, and is a songwriter. Abe got his start on drums as a child from his father’s associates-Chester Thompson, Bill Maxwell, Jeff Porcaro, and Alex Acuna.
They taught him the ins and outs of percussion and drums, before he received formal training at The Dick Grove School Of Music-under Peter Donald. Abe left Grove during his junior year, transferred to Hamilton High in L.A., joined the marching band, and started a jazz trio with Mike Elizondo (bass, guitar) and Vernell Brown (pianist). When he was 18, DownBeat Magazine gave him The National Foundation for Advancement In The Arts Award. In 1989 he attended Berklee’s College of Music, and started doing session work with others. He graduated in 1993, and has been doing music full-time ever since. His sound is jazz based. It's very similar to Clyde Stubblefield (drummer for James Brown), Mike Clark (Headhunters & Herbie Hancock), and Mitch Mitchell (of The Jimi Hendrix Experience). It’s funky and hard, with a variety of patterns. He’s 48 today.
On March 23rd, 1980, we lost reggae musician, songwriter, singer, Bob Marley collaborator, Rasta, and the second lead singer for Inner Circle-Jacob Miller. One of my favorite songs by Jacob is False Rasta. It predates battle raps in that it depicts the characteristics of people claiming to be Rastafarians that aren’t, and the consequences of their actions…just like rappers claiming emcee, but aren’t, and the consequences…The Mandeville, Jamaica native had his recording debut at the famed Studio One with Coxsone Dodd, and recorded three sides with Augustus Pablo (Horace Swaby) and his brother Garth Swaby. Augustus liked Jacob’s vocals, and helped get in with the right industry people.
In the early 1970s Augustus & Garth started their own label, and re-issued Jacob’s Studio One single Love Is A Message-under the name Keep On Knocking. They also had Miller record five sides for them-one of which was False Rasta. King Tubby did the B-side dubs, which led to the classics Who Say Jah No Dread, Baby I Love You So, Each One Teach One, and A Girl Named Pat. His popularity exploded, which resulted in Inner Circle approaching him to become their new lead singer. He came out the gate smoking-releasing the hits-Tired Fi Lick Weed In A Bush and Tenement Yard. He also continued his solo career, and released a few sides under his own name. King Tubby mixed most of his music during this time. If you see any Jacob Miller solo 45s or LPs in the store, from 1972-1980, BUY THEM!!! He was 27 when he died in car accident.
HONORABLE MENTION: On March 23rd, 2007, classically trained musician, vocal performer, and founder of The Boys Choir Of Harlem-Walter Turnbull was born in Greenville, MS. Turnbull graduated from Tougaloo College, and studied music at The Manhattan School of Music. While in NYC, he taught at a church in Harlem-which is where he started The Boys Choir of Harlem. He also sang tenor with The New York Philharmonic. Turnbull received a National Medal Of Arts (1997), and a Heinz Award for Arts & Humanities (1999). Walter Turnbull was 62 at the time of his death.
On March 23rd, 1969, Rock ‘n’ Roll was was still recovering from the Miami event where Jim Morrison was arrested for showing the crowd his manhood. As a show of solidarity for all things wholesome, a group of more than 30,000 gathered to demonstrate against Morrison’s act-and anything similar that was going on in Rock ‘n’ Roll. It was billed The Rally For Decency, and went down at the same Miami location where Jim had done his ‘outlandish brandish’. Celebrities with so-called conservative values showed up including: Jackie Gleason, Kate Smith, and Anita Bryant.
On March 23rd, 1956, Rock ‘n’ Roll was just gaining ground, and the youth were going crazy over it…or so the elder status quo’s psychologist thought. Famed rock ‘n’ roll DJ Alan Freed was putting on a concert called The Rock & Roll Stage Show. Acts included Frankie Lymon-with Fats Domino as the headliner. Eleven teens were arrested, by some police who were enraged by the joy they were having watching the performances. Renowned psychologist Francis Braceland claimed that Rock ‘n’ Roll is "a communicable disease with music appealing to adolescent insecurity, and driving teenagers to do outlandish things. It is cannibalistic and tribalistic." Needless to say, it had musicians showing their private parts 13 years later (Jim Morrison).
On March 23rd, 1949, seminal rock star, singer, guitarist, producer, songwriter, keyboardist, composer, arranger, and lead singer of The Cars-Ric Ocasek was born in Baltimore, MD. He started playing piano and guitar early on. His family moved to Cleveland in his teens, and he dropped out to pursue a music career. He played the college circuit in various folk-based bands in the Midwest and Northeast. He played in a few bands in the early 1970s, before founding The Cars in 1976. He was co-lead singer and songwriter (with Benjamin Orr) on the majority of their music between 1978 & 1988. His original stage antics, fun lyrics, and quirky singing voice make him a standout artist. He’s 70 today.
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