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On November 25th, in 1968, emcee, producer, keyboardist and ½ of the Golden Era Hip Hop crew EPMD-Erick Sermon was born in Brentwood, New York. The E Double of the PMD started emceeing and making beats when he was in high school in the mid-80s. His partner in rhyme was Parrish Smith. EPMD stands for Erick & Parrish Making Dollars. Originally, the group was called EEPMD (Easy Erick and Parrish the Mic Doctor). However, it was easier for people to say EPMD, so they changed the group name to EPMD & Erick Sermon dropped the Easy off his name, but hence why he refers to himself as the E-Double.
They had their debut LP released in 1988 on Fresh Records (Strictly Business). This LP, and the production of Sermon overall, used samples that are heavily Funk related, but not from the James Brown camp, more so from the P-Funk vibe that was largely associated with the west coast sound. Sermon stayed with EPMD until 1993. He split with Parrish Smith due to a dispute over money. Erick introduced the world to Redman, Jamal and Keith Murray, all three of which are members of the EPMD splinter crew-Def Squad. He’s had success producing for those artists, others. He even put Wendy Williams on the map. Sermon is 50 years-old today.
On November 25th, in 1970, we lost a very important and influential musician-Albert Ayler. He was an alto-soprano & tenor saxophonist, composer, bandleader innovator of Free & Avant-Garde Jazz. The Cleveland, Ohio native was taught the sax by his Pops-Edward Ayler-a session and part-time professional Jazz saxophonist. Both would listen to Jazz and play together at church. This connection between music (sax) and spirituality (church), would provide the foundation for his movement into Free Jazz, which is based on a connection between melodies and spirituality. In the early 50s, Ayler played R&B style music with Little Walter. He built his style and knowledge of BeBop during his teens and earned the nickname: Little Bird, after infamous BeBop innovator and one of the creators, Charlie Parker.
In the late 50s, he graduated high school and enrolled in the US Army. While stationed in Europe, he had jam sessions with other Jazz artists that had been drafted and were in Europe at the same time like: Stanley Turrentine and Harold Budd. Around the early-60s, he started performing in Cecil Taylor’s band. Taylor was a very original composer that helped innovate the Free Jazz sound. Ayler had his solo recording debut in 1962-Something Different!!!!! (First Recordings Vol. 1 & 2) on Bird Notes. Between 1962-1970, he released over 20 LPs on over 5 labels. He was found dead in the Hudson River in 1970, at age 34.
On November 25th, in 1966, singer, songwriter, mother of two, 80s R&B mogul, wife, contemporary gospel singer and long-time duet partner with Johnny Gill-Stacy Lattisaw was born in Chocolate City, AKA Washington, D.C. Lattisaw got her start singing at an early age in the church. She was discovered by seminal Disco producer Van McCoy, who helped producer her first release in 1979 on Cotillion Records-Young & In Love. The LP didn’t chart, but her voice was heard by former Mahavishnu Orchestra drummer and producer-Narada Michael Walden. He produced her second LP and worked as primary producer for Lattisaw from 1980-1986.
Lattisaw’s 1980 release-Let Me Be Your Angel and her 1981 LP-With You, both charted in the top 10 on the R&B chart and just missed the top 40 on the Pop charts (44th & 46th). This earned her a position as the opening act for the Jacksons Triumph Tour in 1981 when they came to D.C. From 1980 to 1984, Lattisaw put out 5 LPs that all charted and were produced by Walden. 1984’s Perfect Combination with Johnny Gill is probably one of her best know LPs and songs. However, by 1985, Lattisaw’s Walden produced-I’m not the Same Girl, didn’t chart at all and Lattisaw moved to Motown. From 1986 to 1989, she released 3 LPs, all of which charted in the top 40 R&B chart. Her musical career was highlighted on Unsung. Lattisaw continues to sing, perform and record gospel in Maryland. She’s 52 today.
On November 25th, in 1950, singer, Deep House Queen vocalist, session singer, songwriter, EDM inspiration, pianist, producer, dance-house-jazz-disco-R&B-gospel-acid jazz-funk-nu jazz and pop vocalist-Jocelyn Lorette Brown, was born in Kinston, North Carolina. Daughter of vocalist Barbara Roy with Ecstasy-Passion & Pain, niece, cousin and granddaughter of talented female singers, Brown was introduced to the mic and piano at an early age. The family relocated to Brooklyn, NYC, NY when she was very young. Between BK and Washington, D.C. she sang at many churches, building a reputation as a prolific vocalist.
In the mid 70s, she ventured into the secular world singing with New York Funk bands like Machine (There But For the Grace of God) and Kleeer (Intimate Connections). In the late 70s, Jocelyn did a lot of vocals for Cerrone, Change, Inner Life, the SalSoul Orchestra and Chic, all of which were foundation bands for House and later EDM overall. In the early and mid-80s, she released solo singles and her Somebody’s Else’s Guy 12” is revered currently as a Deep House Classic. In the mid-90s, a lot of the House producers and DJs that had sampled and spun Brown’s music, had her singing on their own tracks. She continues to sing, record and perform. She’s 68 today.
On November 25th, in 1998, we lost a seminal actor, comedian, TV show host, stand-up artist and breaker of ‘color barriers’ in modern American Art-Flip Wilson (Cleron Wilson Jr.). He passed away, in Pepperdine country-Malibu, California. The Jersey City native came form a big family, being 1 of 10 siblings. He grew up hard-knock style, his mother died when he was young and his pops couldn’t take care of all the children. As a result, Wilson wound up in foster care until he was 16, when he enlisted in the US Air Force. He got the name Flip from his fellow USAF servicemen. He used to always tell them he was ‘flipped out’ by this or that etc., they shortened it to Flip. Wilson had an upbeat personality, plenty of stories and he was genuinely funny.
This caught the attention of superior officers that had him travel to other bases to boost soldier morale. Honing his act in the USAF, when he was discharged in the mid-50’s, he returned to San Francisco and hit the ground running. He appeared in several nightclubs in the area, quickly building a rep. By the late 50s, he was touring the chitlin circuit and returned east in the early 60s, performing at the Apollo regularly. He even got props from Redd Foxx: in the mid-60s Foxx was asked on the Tonight Show-who’s the funniest comic in the world. Foxx replied Flip Wilson. Wilson was named America’s 1st Black Television Star by Time Magazine, had his own TV variety show (Flip Wilson Show 1970-1974), won Emmys & a Golden Globe, and coerced all who saw his act to laugh. He was 64 years-old when he passed.
Honorable Mention: On November 25th, in 1940, singer, songwriter and Soul music icon-Percy (Tyrone) Sledge was born in Lieghton, Alabama. Sledge got his start in the southeast with the Esquires. He wound up securing a deal through Quin Ivy and his first recording under contract was the classic Soul Ballad: When a Man Loves a Woman. Sledge wrote the song after he got laid off and his girlfriend left him. However, he gave songwriting credits to the musicians that helped flush out the melody and arrange the lyrics. He passed away in 2015 (74 years-old).
On November 25th, in 1949, infamous tap dancer, actor and inspiration for Sammy Davis Jr.’s song-Bill Bojangles Robinson (Luther Robinson) passed away in NYC, NY. He got his start in Minstrel Shows and Vaudeville. He was deemed an Uncle Tom, still is by many, however, much like Stepin Fetchit, Bojangles gave back to the community, taught the youth the art of comedy, acting and the history of tap dancing. He was widely known, and didn’t wear blackface in minstrel or Vaudeville shows (a first to do that). He also got the largest wages for his art. He was 71 years-old when he passed.
On November 25th, in 1985, New Edition’s original lead, well, he was supposed to be the original lead but Ralph beat him out, Whitney Houston’s husband and controversial R&B figure-Bobby Brown made it public news that he was going solo. He dropped his debut solo LP-King of Stage in 1986 (MCA Records-he was 16). It was alright…not as dope as Don’t Be Cruel (1988)...it peaked in the Pop Top 100 (88) and Top 20 on the R&B chart (12).
On November 25th, in 2011, we lost a guy that was very important behind the scenes of music, and co-founder of the band The Sabres-Don DeVito. He was a producer and Columbia Records exec responsible for Dylan’s Desire & Blood on the Tracks LPs. Other people he worked with include: Aerosmith, Billy Joel, Al Kooper, Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash. Interesting fact: DeVito met Cash while he was on the road and Cash introduced him to Dylan. He was 72 years-old when he passed away.
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!