| || || |
| || || |
| || || |
| || || |
| || || |
On November 17th, in 1967, singer, dancer, former member of New Edition and B.B.D.-Ronnie DeVoe (Ronald Boyd DeVoe Jr.) was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts. DeVoe (above-c, left-seated 2nd l) was the last of the original New Edition members to join the group via his uncle-Brooke Payne (New Edition’s choreographer). They all performed at a talent contest in Baltimore and won second place. Former R&B singer Maurice Starr, turned record producer for Streetwise, signed the vocal quintet to his label. Their debut LP-Candy Girl was produced by Starr & Arthur Baker and released on the imprint in 1983. After the money didn’t trickle back down to the group, they left Streetwise and signed with MCA.
They released 2 more LPs in 1984 and 1985 (New Edition & All for Love). Then they voted Bobby Brown out of the group. Blue Moon in 1986 would be their follow up, and the first LP without Bobby. The Heartbreak LP, produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, released in 1988 with the addition of Johnny Gill to the group, shot all of the members to stardom. DeVoe would leave with Ricky Bell and Michael Bivens to form B.B.D. They had a hit LP with Poison, the title track and Do Me (both top 10 singles). DeVoe never sang lead, but he was an integral part of each group (New Edition & B.B.D.). He’s 51 today.
On November 17th, in 1998 Florida Evans, mother of Michael, James Junior and Thelma, the wife of James Evans Sr. and the domestic for Maude-Esther Rolle passed away in Culver City, California. She’s a Florida native that got her professional film and stage debut around the mid-60s. She appeared in the play Day of Absence in 1965 and had an uncredited role in the film: Nothing But a Man (1964). She had a few small roles in both mediums throughout the 60s. By the 70s, she was on daytime TV, appearing on One Life to Live as Sadie Gray (190-971). Most people know her for her role as Florida Evans on the sitcom Maude. She was featured on 32 episodes from 1972-1974.
In 73, she starred in Melvin Van Peebles’ play and movie-Don’t Play Us Cheap. Her notoriety and stand-out ability allowed her the opportunity to have a spin-off show centered around her life away from Maude’s house-Good Times. The Show was protested by many Black activists at the time due to the stereotypical roles that were portrayed by the writers. However, it aired in 1974 and ran until 1979. She was on 109 episodes and got nominated for a Golden Globe (Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy). She appeared on several TV shows and films up until her death. She was 78 years-old.
On November 17th, in 2003, Atlantic records Soul singer, the man that asked us the soulful question: Do You Like Good Music, That Sweet Soul Music?...we reply: oh yeah, o o yeah…-Arthur Conley returned home by way of Ruurla, Netherlands. The ATL raised singer got his start in his teens performing as the lead singer for Arthur & the Corvets. They made a name for themselves around town and got signed by National Recording Company in the early 60s. The group released 3 singles for the imprint between 1963-1964. Later in 1964, Conley went solo and signed with RuJac Records out of Baltimore. He released I’m a Lonely Stranger and the song was heard by Otis Redding.
It left such an impression on him, that he signed Conley to his label Jotis Records and had him re-release the song. In 1967, they collaborated to arrange and rework Sam Cooke’s Sweet Soul Music and Yeah Man. It was recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals and released on Atco. It was an international top 10 hit and put Conley on the map. To date, it’s R.I.A.A. certified Gold and has sold over a million copies. He continued to record and release successful LPs and singles throughout the 60s and into the mid-70s. By 1975, he decided to relocate to the Netherlands (Amsterdam). He started a band called Lee Roberts and the Sweaters that saw some success from the late 70s through the late 80s. He passed away from cancer when he was 57 years-old.
On November 17th, in 2006 we lost another seminal singer, actress and songwriter of an important era-Ruth Brown (Ruth Alston Weston). Many people revere her as the Queen of R&B, others claim she was able to add a Pop sound to R&B. Everyone agrees that she had some pipes. Her pre-Rock ‘n’ Roll Atlantic singles like (Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean and So Long, show how Brown can convey a feeling, some Soul if you will to her music. She’s definitely not drab if you get my drift. She was largely responsible for the success of Atlantic Records-AKA the House that Ruth Built, which allowed them to sign acts like Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles.
After facing the harsh reality of a dying style and sound of music during the mid to late 60s (birth of Funk, Psychedelic Rock & less Pop-tinged music), and the fact that recording artists got little money for records sales, she decided to become an activist for artists’ rights in relation to their contracts and royalty payments. Throughout the 70s ad 80s, Ruth Brown fought legal battles and called for record companies to pay their artists a just royalty percentage. As a result, she founded the Rhythm & Blues Foundation which serves as a liaison between artists and record execs, assuring fair deals are cut. The Tony & Grammy Award winner for her performance and singing in the Broadway play Black & Blue passed away in Henderson, Nevada (78).
On November 17th, in 2014, singer and older brother of David Ruffin (Temptations)-Jimmy Ruffin passed away in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was the son of sharecroppers and began singing with David in the Dixie Nightingales as a child. The family was part of the great migration and moved to Detroit in the late 40s. He continued to sing with his brother and alone in Doo Wop groups around Detroit. In 1961, he was working for the Sound of Young America-Motown. He was scheduled to record a couple sides for their Miracle imprint, but got drafted. He did a tour in Vietnam and returned stateside in 64, picking up where he left off. Interesting fact: Jimmy was supposed to be the replacement for ex-Temptation Elbridge Bryant, but his younger brother David got the job instead.
Jimmy released a few singles on Motown’s Soul label, but they didn’t do well in sales. A couple years later in 1966, he heard a song that was going to be given to the Spinners: What Becomes of the Brokenhearted. He convinced the label to allow him to cut the song first, and he didn’t disappoint them. His version of the song made the top ten slot on the UK (#8), US Pop (#7) and US R&B charts (#6). He released a couple LPs in the late 60s. His 1969 Ruff ‘n’ Ready LP would be the last one to chart in the US. In the 70s, he turned to the British market to help sustain his career through the decade as Disco, the Northern Soul and pre-Acid Jazz movements were taking shape. He was 78 years-old when he passed.
Honorable Mention: On November 17th, in 1834, one of the first Black American women to become the image associated with a commercial product-:Nancy Green was born in Montgomery County, Kentucky. She was born into servitude...in 1890, the R.T. Davis Milling Company based in St. Joseph, Missouri were looking for someone to model as a ‘mammy’ type for their pancake mix product ‘Aunt Jemima’ (taken from the famous minstrel character). In 1983 at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, she was debuted to the public. She returned home in 1923 (89).
Someone I missed last month to the date…My bad: On November 17th, in 1950, the actor best known for his role as Detective Virgil Tibbs on the Heat of the Night TV show-Howard Elisworth Rollins Jr was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He’s a stage and movie actor, that had a career spanning nearly two decades (1978-1996). He's noted also for playing investigator Captain Davenport in A Soldier’s Story (1984). He was 46 years old when he passed from complications with cancer.
On November 17th, in 1979, bass guitarist, songwriter, vocalist, guitarists, and synth player-John Glascock passed away in London, England. He was the bassist for: The Juniors (1963-1964), The Gods (1965-1969: Genesis LP 1969), Toe Fat (1969-1970), Chicken Shack (1971-1972) and Jethro Tull (1976-1979). He was a heavy drinker and marijuana smoker. His death was related to complications with his heart. He was 28 when died.
On November 17th, in 2011, Bonnie Pointer of the Pointer Sisters got pulled over by a South Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy for a mechanical malfunction of her vehicle. Once she was pulled over, the cops found some crack in her car. The 61 year-old Pointer was arrested for possession of crack cocaine. Crack must be a powerful drug to have you smoking it at 61…just saying…
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!