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On September 1st, in 1937: The star of Gordon Park’s Superfly-Ron O’Neal was born in Utica, New York (upstate). He not only had the lead role in this classic Blaxploitation film as the cocaine slanger Priest, he also directed, acted and wrote screenplays for other works as well. The Superfly soundtrack was scored by Curtis Mayfield. I recall my Pops saying how Curtis wanted to combat the hype and praise of Priest’s (Ron O’Neal’s character), by denouncing the fast life of the drug dealer through every song.
My personal favorite scene is when the lead cop that actually was the kingpin, the plug for millennial readers, was set up by Priest and he whooped his goons’ asses-then stabbed out with the loot and his girl. Great flick, great scene, nostalgia. O’Neal passed away in 2004, he was 66…‘I’m so glad I got my own, so glad that I can see, My life’s a NATURAL HIGH, THE MAN CAN’T PUT NO THING ON ME…’
...‘Let’s do the tighten up, tighten it up!’…On September 1st, in 1944, lead vocalist of Archie Bell & the Drells-Archie Bell was born in Henderson, Texas. Bell wrote and sang most of the material for the band, and also sang with the group-then went solo utilizing the Gamble & Huff TSOP Sound (The Sound of Philadelphia). Bell comes from a long line of talented siblings.
His brother is former USC & NFL player Ricky Bell (nope, not the dude in New Edition/B.B.D.), World Karate Champion and singer Jerry Bell, and his other brother Thom Bell produced music. Bell started his career singing in clubs at the young age of 10. Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke were his major influences. He sang a myriad of genres (Blues, Soul, Country, Funk, Disco). Bell turns 74 today!
‘Rapture’…On September 1st, in 1977, the band Blondie featuring guitarist Chris Stein and former Playboy Bunny Debra Harry, had their first record deal with a major label-Chrysalis. Blondie was loved by the international world long before they US took notice. CBGBs was a regular stage and hangout for the band, as well as the Disco Fever and South Bronx Hip Hop scene.
Blondie introduced the Punk Rock-New Wave world to Hip Hop when the lead vocalist Harry spit a verse on their timeless cut and video-Rapture. Fab 5 Freddy was the conduit and bridged the gap between the Punk Rock scene and Hip-Hop World. He and Jean-Michel Basquiat had guest appearances in the video. Big Up to the band Blondie for showing the other side of the tracks how to rap.
On September 1st, in 1983, Michael Geoffrey ‘Mick’ Jones, who was the co-founder of the Clash, was kicked out of the group by the other three members of the band. According to the other members, Jones had been lost on the true mission of the group for quite some time, so much so that he no longer fit the mold of a Clash member. He continued to make music with other groups, most notably the Gorillaz, after he was booted.
Jones was the lead guitarist, lead vocalist and songwriter for the Clash. It’s not clear if Jones was going astray from the group’s mission or if he just had outgrown the group. Regardless, he left the band and both the Clash without Jones and Jones himself continued on in their musical careers. Growing apart does not mean you have to stop growing internally.
On September 1st, in 2009, Dancehall, Dub & Reggae artist-Wycliffe ‘Steely-Steele’ Johnson died from diabetes and hypertension in East Patchogue, New York. He was born in Trenchtown, Jamaica, and got his start as a keyboardist for Sugar Minott. He & his producer partner Cleveland ‘Clevie’ Brown worked with the likes of Lee Scratch Perry at BLACK ARK Studios learning the foundations of Dub from one of the greats to innovate the sound.
Steely & Clevie went on to make numerous hot dub plates themselves, especially during the birth and Golden Era of Hip Hop, which provide nice sample material for the likes of Ultramagnetic Emcees’ Ced Gee, KRS-One, and similar producers that utilized a Reggae based Sound. He produced and worked with others like Bounty Killer, No Doubt, Gregory Peck and Elephant Man. His music career spanned over 20 years and his sound is timeless.
Honorable Mentions: On September 1st, in 1905, Sammy Davis Jr.’s mother-Elvera Sanchez Davis was born in New York City, New York. Her Afro-Cuban heritage was evident in her dancing styles, and she passed the talent off to her son. She returned home in 2000, she was 95 years old.
… ‘& I heard em say, nothing’s ever promised tomorrow today, from the Chi & like Tim it’s a Hardaway’…On September 1st, in 1966-The original Crossover-Ankle Breaker King-Chi Town’s Finest Point Guard (yep Derrick Rose needs new knees to compete-I said it)-Tim Hardaway was born. He was a seminal player in the NBA and one of the best point guards to ever do it, don’t get caught flat footed guarding him. He’s 52 today!
…‘We are Family!’… On September 1st, in 1971-The Major League Baseball team-Pittsburgh Pirates, started their first All-Black 9 player lineup. S.O. to Sith1Emcee@gmail.com, who’s no stranger to the world of Bats and Gloves. I’m calling him out to list the lineup in the comments. For those foreign to Baseball: Pitcher, Catcher, 1st base, 2nd base, Shortstop, 3rd base & right-center and left field…