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On October 1st, in 1945, one of the best singers, songwriters, pianist, composers, arrangers and producers to ever do it-Donny Hathaway (Donny Edward Hathaway-Donny Pitts) was born in Chicago, Illinois. Donny was raised by his grandmother-Martha Pitts in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s not clear what his father did, or who he was. Also, his mother-Drusella Huntley, gave Donny up to her mother when he was a baby. He grew up in ‘The Ghetto’-Carr Square Housing Projects in St. Louis. Donny got his start as a professional Gospel singer at the age of 3 via his Grandmother’s church. He also started studying piano at 3. He stayed immersed in Gospel, Jazz, & the Blues in his younger years, which was very prevalent in St. Louis.
His years of practice, and subsequent acquired skills allotted him a scholarship to the Historically Black College & University-Howard University in Washington, D.C. (1963). In a strange twist of fate: Donny’s college roommate would be Chicago native LeRoy Hutson, who would go on to work with Donny at Curtom, and make some great soul music himself. Hathaway also met and befriended Roberta Flack while he was at Howard. He became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and he performed in a Jazz trio-with Ric Powell. Just before he completed his degree in 1967, Hathaway left school for employment offers in the industry. He married his college sweetheart- Eulaulah that same year. They had two children together-Lalah & Kenya. Kenya does session work and sings back up.
Lalah is considered a Jazz & Soul vocalist, as she’s had a successful singing and acting career (Will Smith-Ali, his second wife). Donny had a third daughter out of wedlock named Donnita. Around 1967, He began working in the Chicago on the Curtom imprint for Curtis Mayfield as a ‘house’ producer, artist, songwriter and session musician. He penned songs and/or did session work for: Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, The Staple Singers, Betty Everette, Jerry Butler, Margie Joseph, Young Holt Unlimited, The Impressions, and Little Milton Campbell to name a few. He left Curtom in the early 70s and started recording for Atco (Atlantic subsidiary) as a solo artist. He released 5 LPs as a solo artist from 1970 to 1973, one of which was a collaboration with Quincy Jones for a motion picture (Come Back Charleston Blue).
He also wrote for college buddy Roberta Flack. They released two LPs of duets which did very well. Their collaborations produced nice tunes of all kinds like the up-tempo Back Together Again, or the ballads The Closer I Get to You & Where is the Love? Donny had a bout with depression and paranoid schizophrenia, he was diagnosed with both conditions during the pinnacle of his career (mid-70s). He had to step away from music at times and would have psychotic episodes from the schizophrenia. He eventually took his own life by jumping out the window on the 15th floor of the Essex House Hotel in New York City, New York on January 13th, 1979. He was 33 years-old.
… ‘Melting Pot’…On October 1st, in 1975, the drummer for Booker T. & the M.G.’s-Al Jackson (Albert J. Jackson Jr), was shot 5 times and killed at his home in Memphis, Tennessee. He was 39 years-old when he was murdered. Now I believe this to be a case of the Kiss of a Black Widow. Allegedly, his wife claimed to the cops that some burglars had performed a home invasion robbery that went bad. According to his wife, Al had come home and the robbers were already inside, holding his wife hostage.
They forced her to open the door, and when she did, they threw Al to the ground, demanded money. They didn't get any so they started letting off, to the tune of five times, that's angry. The twist? Ok, so she shot Al before over a domestic dispute. Just one time, and she didn’t kill him, but she did shoot him in the chest. I say she did it. I mean, what robbers are gonna shoot the loot maker, but spare the others? Anyways, Jackson played for several musicians on the Stax imprint (Subsidiary of Atlantic).
Some notables include: Otis Redding, Mel & Tim, Sam & Dave, the Emotions, Rufus & Carla Thomas, Eddie Floyd, Al Green (I'm Still in Love With You LP), Albert King, Elvis Presley, Leon Russell, Ann Peebles, Eric Clapton, Bill Withers, Rod Stewart, Jerry Lee Lewis, and DONNY HATHAWAY. He’s made almost every breakbeat on Stax, aside from Isaac breaks that were created largely by the Bar-Kays. He’s greatly missed! By the way, they never found the ‘burglars’…shoot me once (in the chest)…shame on you…Shoot me 5 times when I get home, bury me…
Honorable Mention:…‘get ready, baby...tonight, darling…gonna make this a night to remember’…On October 1st, in 1955, singer and songwriter for the group Shalamar-Howard Hewett was born in Akron, Ohio. The Buckeye state native joined Shalamar late in the game. Jody Watley and Jeffry Daniel were already members. Hewett went on to have a successful solo career in the early 80s after he left Shalamar. Watley had the most success of them all. Daniel became a dance icon in Japan (original backslide-moonwalk creator).
…‘blue are the life-giving waters taken for granted, They quietly understand Once happy turquoise armies lay opposite ready...But wonder why the fight is on...But they're all bold as love, yeah, they're all bold as love...Yeah, they're all bold as love Just ask the axis’…On October 1st, in 1970, Jimi Hendrix was laid to rest at the Greenwood Cemetery in Seattle, Washington. The celebration of his life was held at the Dunlop Baptist Church. Notable artists that came to mourn the loss of the Guitar God included: Miles Davis, Johnny Winter & Eric Burdon.
…‘I shook up the world, Imma bad man!... if God ever calls me to a holy war, I want Joe Frazier to be on my side’…On October 1st, in 1975, then challenger Muhammad Ali, had his rematch with Smoking Joe Frazier. This would be the fight where Ali would regain his bragging rights against the determined Frazier. The entire fight was good, but Ali was better on this day, winning by TKO. Rumors of heat exhaustion and dehydration due to the tropical Manilla climate were rampant. There's always a 'reason' for a loss.
On October 1st, in 2004, Screaming Lord Sutch-the Horror Themed Musician turned Parliament Politician, the Mayor of Melbourne, renamed and opened a street in the city called AC/DC Lane. He was heavily inspired by the group. A well-known fan of their music. There were bagpipes and cheers all-around for the official opening. The bag-pipers were playing Long Way to the Top. Since the sign was deemed as a 'shrink item' by officials in the city of Melbourne, several extra signs were on deck in case the one they erected got stolen by fans.
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!