| || || |
| || || |
| || || |
On March 8th, 1964, activist, writer, former street hustler turned inmate, public speaker, Black Power innovator, scholar, and Pan-Africanist: Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik El Shabazz) made an official announcement that he was leaving The Nation Of Islam. At this point in his life, Malcolm had discovered that his mentor and father figure Elijah Muhammad (leader of The N.O.I.) had fathered several children out of wedlock. He also discovered that being the National Spokesperson for The N.O.I. had cultivated jealousy among his fellow ministers. He also helped bring a lot of new faces to The Nation, that may not have joined otherwise.
Malcolm's stature with the press, comments about JFK’s assassination-and being silenced as punishment afterwards-also drove his decision to leave. Malcolm had discovered that The Nation wasn’t a good fit for his mission going forward. Many historians theorize that had he stayed, he would not have been murdered. Evidence shows that The F.B.I. and The N.O.I. were conspiring to uncover dirt on the activist and/or eliminate him from The Civil Rights Movement-By Any Means Necessary. Malcolm began to see things in a different light, and sought to unify like minds around the common cause of putting an end to colonization, White Supremacy, and the liberation of Black, Brown, Red, and Yellow People. Malcolm was marked for death after this announcement.
On March 8th, 1969, The Godfather Of Soul, the man that brought us 'The One,' singer, record executive, dancer, funk innovator, bandleader, composer, arranger, producer, and multi-instrumentalist (piano, drums, harmonica, guitar)-James Brown’s song-Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose reached the #1 spot on the US R&B Chart. The song was recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida on October 29th, 1968. They released it on Jan 7th, 1969, on King Records b/w I’ll Lose My Mind. The original version was written by Charles Bobbit, arranged by Pee Wee Ellis (l-Brown’s then bandleader), and produced by James Brown. It took exactly two months and one day for it to reach #1.
The 2 minute, 45 second song peaked at #15 on the Pop Chart. The personnel included: Alfred 'Pee Wee' Ellis on sax, Richard 'Kush' Griffith & Waymon Reed on trumpet, Nate Jones on drums, Alphonso 'Country' Kellum & Jimmy Nolen on guitar, Maceo Parker & St. Clair Pinckney on sax, Charles Sherrell on bass, Fred Wesley on trombone, and engineer Chuck Kirkpatrick. In 1970, Brown recorded a longer and different version of the song-featuring Bootsy Collins on bass, and his brother Catfish on guitar (The J.B.’s). The drum break, by the 'Funky Drummer' Clyde Stubblefield, was made infamous in 1973 when DJ Kool Herc played doubles of it off the Sex Machine LP (live double LP, King Records, 1970). Many have covered the song with success.
On March 8th, 1973, we lost 1960s rock icon, psychedelic musician, singer, pianist, songwriter, harmonica player, and member of The Grateful Dead-Ron 'Pigpen' McKernan (Ronald Charles McKernan). The San Bruno, CA native was raised by his father Phil McKernan, who was the first White DJ on KDIA (a Black-Owned radio station that played Blues & R&B). He also lived in the Black community. During his elementary and middle school years, McKernan taught himself how to play guitar, piano, and harmonica. He also took on a biker persona, and moved to Palo Alto in his early teens. He met Jerry Garcia when he was 14, and they often listened to his collection of Chess and Kent Blues 78s.
McKernan got a job at Dana Morgan’s Music Store with Garcia. When Jerry called him up on stage one night to play harmonica, he found Pigpen to be quite good-not only at harmonica, but also as a vocalist. They continued to jam and hone their chops-then added guitarist Bob Weir, drummer Bill Kreutzmann, and bassist Phil Lesh to the fold (1965-1966). In 1967, they added Tom Constanten on keyboards and drummer Mickey Hart. By 1968 the were in full swing, and had moved from an R&B/Blues cover band to a psychedelic rock band. McKernan didn’t play keys for the band until 1970. Three short years later he passed away, at the age of 27.
HONORABLE MENTION: On March 8th, 2011, we lost a singer, and founding member of the soul group called The Hues Corporation-(Bernard) St. Clair Lee (r). Lee got his start as the lead singer of the R&B vocal outfit Brothers and Sisters. They were a quartet of two male, and two female vocalists. After losing a member, they renamed the group The Children Of Howard Hughes-and later The Hues Corporation (1969). They were the featured vocal group on the Blacula soundtrack (1972), and had the #1 hit-Rock The Boat in 1974. St. Clair Lee was 66 at the time of his death.
On March 8th, 2009, we lost Bluesman, singer, composer, guitarist, arranger, and songwriter-Willie King. The MS native wasn’t one for being in the spotlight, although he made very good music. He was one of those artists that shunned fame and the public eye. Many labels execs and A&Rs tried to recruit him, but Willie was fine playing in local bars, to the people he knew, and for the love the music. There’s nothing but respect that can be given to a musician like that. He also wrote socially conscious songs that offended the status quo in many ways. He was 65 when he passed away.
On March 8th, 1993, we lost a seminal jazz vocalist, songwriter, balladeer, songwriter, trumpeter, composer, arranger, bandleader, and multi-label recording artist William Clarence “Billy” Eckstine. The Philly native made his professional start with Earl Hines’ Grand Terrace Orchestra, playing trumpet and singing. Eckstine went solo in 1944, and embarked on a singing career that produced several hits during the late 1940s through the early 1950s. Eckstine’s vocals were received well by the public, and music critics from Esquire to Down Beat. He continued to perform up thru the late 1980s. He was 65 when he died.
On March 8th, 1968, 60s rock promoter, Summer Of Love pioneer, record executive, and venue owner-Bill Graham opened the east coast version of his infamous Fillmore Ballroom-where several blues and rock acts performed. He named it The Fillmore East, which was located in The East Village sector of NYC. Graham was very instrumental in providing the hippie counterculture with a place to celebrate the music that served as its soundtrack. The first acts to perform at The Fillmore East were Albert King, Tim Buckley, and Big Brother & The Holding Company (featuring Janis Joplin).
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