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On January 14th, 1938, sideman, session musician, pianist, composer, arranger, producer, singer, songwriter, bandleader, and New Orleans Funk innovator-Allen Toussaint was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. TOV covered the musician’s death in the Nov 10th post. Please refer to it for more information. Allen started playing piano at the age of five. He was inspired by Professor Longhair’s second line style, and taught by Ernest Pinn. He got his first gig in Prichard, AL, in 1955, as he sat in for Huey Piano Smith. Two years later he made his first recording, playing piano on Fats Domino’s I Want You To Know single. In 1958 he released his first solo instrumental LP, The Wild Sound Of New Orleans, on RCA Records. Toussaint originally recorded under the name Al Tousan.
In the early 1960s, he needed a funky backing band for his productions. He recruited The Meters (Art Neville & The Sounds); and they combined to help shape the sound of NOLA funk and soul. He also co-wrote and produced several tracks for other musicians-while continuing to release records as a solo artist. He’s credited as the primary songwriter for: Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky, Java, Working In A Coal Mine, Get Out My Life Woman, Yes We Can Can, Southern Nights, Ride Your Pony, and Here Come The Girls. He produced LaBelle’s Lady Marmalade (he produced the entire Nightbirds LP), and Dr. John’s Right Place Wrong Time-which are both RIAA Certified Platinum singles. Toussaint continued to produce, perform, and record up to his death. He was 77 years old, when he passed away on Nov 10th, 2015.
On December 14th-exactly 1 month ago, TOV forgot to mention soul singer-Linda Jones. She was born in 1944, in Newark, New Jersey. She got her start singing in the church with her family’s gospel group-The Jones Singers at age six. She continued to sing with them until she reached her teens, before turning to secular music. Her early influences are relatively unknown; but she did enjoy Jazz, Blues, Soul, and Pop music. She made her first recording singing a cover of the song Lonely Teardrops, when she was 18 (Club Records, 1963); and was discovered by producer George Kerr in 1964 while singing in a nightclub. He got her a deal with the Atlantic Records’ subsidiary-ATCO. She recorded a few sides, but didn’t make much noise. A year later, she returned to record with Blue Cat Records; but was again unsuccessful.
Jones & Kerr were undeterred and moved on to Warner Brothers' R&B su.bsidiary-Loma Records. There she released the biggest hit of her career-Hypnotized (1967). It was a Top 40 Pop Single (#21), and a Top 10 R&B Single (#4). Her follow up single, What’ve I Done (To Make You Mad) also charted (Pop #74, R&B #8). Loma closed their doors in 1968, and Jones went to Warner Brothers, recorded some sides that didn’t chart, and then went to Neptune Records (founded by Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff). She released a couple sides on Neptune, with Kerr as producer, before she wound up at All-Platinum (Turbo Records, New Jersey) in 1971. After releasing three LPs on the imprint, her career was tragically cut short. She died in her sleep, from a diabetic coma between sets at The Apollo on March 14, 1972. She was on 27 years old.
On January 14th, 1948, professional football player, TV, stage and film actor-Carl Weathers was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Weathers was a true athlete as a child. He became a local football phenom at an early age, and earned a scholarship to the prestigious private high school-Augustine High (NOLA). He boxed, played football, played soccer, participated in The Judo Club, wrestled, and did gymnastics while he was there. In 1966, he graduated and enrolled at Long Beach City College-and then on to play linebacker at San Diego State. He left SDSU in 1969, and was signed (as an undrafted free agent) by The Oakland Raiders in 1970. He played seven games in 1970, and one in 1971, before being dropped and going to The Canadian Football League in 1971. He played linebacker with the British Columbia Lions from 1971 until 1973. In the off seasons, he took acting classes at San Francisco State University, before graduating with a BA in 1974 & retiring from football to pursue his acting career.
He got his first credited role in the 1975 Blaxploitation classic Friday Foster, starring Pam Grier (he played the role of Yarbro). He followed this up with an appearance as Hambone in Bucktown, starring Fred Williamson, Thalmus Rasulala, and Pam Grier in 1975. The following year, he won the Apollo Creed role we all know him for in Rocky. His role was a mix between Muhammad Ali’s wit, speed, and humor-with Jack Johnson’s power, intimidation, and unapologetic demeanor. This garnered more mainstream notoriety for Weathers, and more film roles, including starring as Dreamer Tatum in 1977’s Semi-Tough and Sgt. Weaver in Force 10 From Navarone. Weathers made TV appearances as well (Good Times, Kung Fu, The Six Million Dollar Man, & Starsky & Hutch). Rocky II dropped in 1979, then Rocky III in 1982, and Rocky IV in 1985 (Creed was killed by Ivan Drago early in the film). Carl Weathers has appeared in more than 40 films since 1975. Interesting Fact: Weathers was the narrator in the season recap videos, for NFL Films, from 1991 until 2001. Carl is 71 today.
On January 14th, 1967, The Human Be-In official music festival event took place on The Polo Fields in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The precursor to 'The Summer of Love' included performances by: Big Brother & Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Blue Cheer, and Quicksilver Messenger Service. This was the original Woodstock, two years before Woodstock. Music historians claim that upwards of 30,000 people attended the event. The Human Be-In movement was a conglomerate of liberal and ‘conscious’ individuals from all walks of life (i.e. Jazz Musicians, Beat Poets, liberal students at SFSU, Cal Berkeley, and City College). Each of these group demographics shared a disdain for the status quo middle class belief systems-as well as a belief in communal living, personal empowerment, environmental awareness, political/cultural freedom, and higher consciousness (achieved more readily with the use of psychedelics).
The San Francisco Oracle billed the event as 'A Gathering Of The Tribes' for a Human Be-In. Timothy Leary kicked off the event with his infamous comment "Turn on, tune in, and drop out." Allen Ginsberg recited poems and mantras, Dick Gregory spoke, The Hells Angels made an appearance, chemist Owsley Stanley gave out free hits of White Lightning LSD, and a community activist organization called The Diggers gave out over 70 20lb turkeys. After seeing the success of the event, and the official birth of the hippie movement, the popularity of events using the term ‘In’ within its name grew rapidly. This was even the source from which the popular TV show Laugh In took its cue. The Human Be-In movement took the term ‘In’ from the Sit-Ins, that were breaking up the Jim Crow Laws in the south. They saw themselves as breaking up the middle class status quo.
On January 14th, 1968, rapper, producer, TV host, author, comedian, and television/film actor-LL Cool J (James Todd Smith) was born in Bay Shore, Long Island, NY. Ladies Love Cool James experienced an unbelievable tragedy, at the age of four years old, when his father shot his grandfather and mother. LL found them both critically wounded and covered in blood. Fortunately they both survived. Young James Todd Smith got into Hip Hop, and started rapping when he was nine. By this time, Flash, Bam, Herc and each of The Five Burroughs were having park jams regularly. Hip Hop was everywhere! LL’s major influence to rhyme, ironically enough, was The Treacherous Three (featuring Kool Moe Dee-also Special K & LA Sunshine). Kool Moe Dee would become one of his major rivals in the mid 80s. His grandfather had also bought him some equipment: two turntables, a mixer, and a microphone.
LL started making demos and sending them to record companies in NYC, before getting picked up by Def Jam in 1983 when he was just 15. He released his first single I Need a Beat in 1984, which sold over 100K copies. This helped establish the indie imprint Def Jam as an official label (along with the Beastie’s single Rock Hard). In 1985, he released his Rick Rubin-produced debut LP Radio. It went gold (500K copies sold) within five months of its release, making LL only the second solo emcee to achieve mainstream success (Kurtis Blow was first). He was the first rapper to appear with so-called ‘legitimate’ acts like Diana Ross in 1987, and he even performed on American Bandstand the year before. His sophomore effort, Bigger And Deffer (B.A.D.), put LL on the map worldwide. Interesting Fact: DJ Pooh (West Coast Sound Provider for Ice Cube, WC, Snoop, and more-as well as writer/actor for Friday) produced Bigger And Deffer. LL turns 51 years old today.
HONORABLE MENTION: On January 14th, 1940, jazz musician, flugelhornist, sideman, trumpeter, Bandleader, and cornetist-Billy Butterfield (Charles William Butterfield) was born in Middletown, Ohio. He had a love for music as a child. His original plans were to study medicine; but after he started playing in bands during college, he decided to drop out and study the cornet with Frank Simon-while gigging on the side. From the late 1930s, and throughout the 1940s, he played with Benny Goodman, Bob Crosby, Les Brown, Tommy Dorsey, and Artie Shaw. He was 71 when he died in 1988.
On January 14th, 1936, singer, guitarist, songwriter, and producer-Clarence (George) Carter was born blind in Montgomery, AL. He attended The School For The Blind in Talladega, and Alabama State College in Montgomery. He earned a degree in music in 1960, and started singing professionally in 1962 on the Calvin & Clarence single I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How) on Fairlane Records. He also recorded with the Fame label, out of Muscle Shoals in the late 60s-70s. Clarence Carter is most known for his songs Patches (1970), and Strokin’ (1985). He’s 83 today.
On January 14th, two things (in two different years) happened with David Bowie. In 1966, the singer formerly known as Davie Jones (& the Lower Third), was no more. He changed his name to David Bowie for The Lower Third single Can’t Help Thinking About Me, so that he wouldn’t be confused with Davy Jones of The Monkees. The surname 'Bowie' was taken from the Bowie Knife. In 1977, he released his 11th LP-Low. It was an electronic prototype album, that was mostly instrumental and co-produced by Brian Eno.
On January 14, 1972, NBC, Quincy Jones, & Redd Foxx debuted the Sanford & Son sitcom. It was a groundbreaking show in many ways, featuring a predominantly Black cast of comedians and cameos from popular celebrities of the time. It ran for six seasons (1972-1977), which was much longer than it was projected to. It was the second most watched TV show for three years in a row, received several award nominations and victories-and helped launch the careers of many, as well as maintain the careers of others. Quincy Jones produced the the theme song, and did most of the music for the sit-com.
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!