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On November 13th, in 2004, Wu-Tang Clan veteran Emcee and all around Hip Hop Standout-Ol’ Dirty Bastard (Russell Tyrone Jones) passed away in NYC, NY from an alleged drug overdose. The Brooklyn Zoo native got his start with his cousins: Gray Grice (GZA) & Robert Diggs (RZA), ,during the pre-golden era of Hip Hop. They formed a Hip Hop trio called Force of the Imperial Master, changing the name later to All in Together Now. They released an independent underground single with the same title. By 1993, they’d added on 6 other members (U-God, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon & Masta Killa), changed their nine-man Hip Hop collective name to Wu-Tang Clan, and released their debut LP Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).
Their sound transformed music at the time, bringing a new energy through beats and rhyme styles to the forefront of the culture. Not to mention that they were the first Hip Hop crew able to host so many prolific emcees that could stand on their own as solo artists, into one group. Speaking of which, Ol’ Dirty released his solo debut: Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version on Elektra Records in 1995. This LP sold well, and was received by fans with such fervor, that he got nominated for a Grammy in ’96 (Best Rap Album). Dirty was the second one out the Clan to have his solo joint released (following behind Method Man’s Tical). He appeared in movies, had one of the most honest personas out the Clan, he's the inventor of stage bombing Awards shows (Wu-Tang for the Kids), and he had an original style-with no predecessor (Father). He was 35 year sold when he passed.
On November 13th, in 2004, the man that is largely responsible for creating Dub Music, making it a sub-genre of Reggae-Errol Thompson AKA ET passed away in Kingston, Jamaica. He was a protege of Joe Gibbs, the main audio engineer and producer at Studio One. He worked closely with Gibbs, at one of Jamaica’s best-known recording studios during the early to mid-60s. In the late 60s, he started doing audio engineering, production and mixing for another one of Jamaica’s pioneers of their music industry-Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee. By 1970, he had broken ground on the Jamaican recording scene by doing all the engineering for the Island’s first instrumental Reggae LP: The Undertaker-Derrick Harriott & the Crystallites. He and the infamous Niney (The Observer-Winston Holness) worked together as audio engineers, honing their Dub crafting skills at Randy’s Studio 17 in Kingston.
By the mid-70s, he linked up with Gibbs again, and they decided to create a formal production team called The Mighty Two. This combo produced music by Eek-A-Mouse, Dennis Brown, Junior Byles, Prince Far I, Althea & Donna and Gregory Isaacs. Thompson’s fame and experience gained from working with Gibbs and Niney, allotted him the opportunity to work with others like: Augustus Pablo, I-Roy, Big Youth, Burning Spear, Barrington Levy, The Abyssinians, Bob Marley and Freddie McGregor. He left music after releasing the Hard Times Riddim LP which was co-produced with Stephen Gibson (Joe Gibbs son). He passed away at age 56 from problems related to his heart.
On November 13th, in 2016, singer, songwriter, producer, arranger, composer, and pianist-Leon Russell (Claude Russell Bridges) passed away in Music City USA (Nashville, Tennessee). The Lawton, Oklahoma native got his start playing piano when he was 4 years-old. During his teens in the late 50s, he & David Gates (Bread) recorded a few singles as the Fencemen. He got the name Leon from the fake ID he used to be able to perform at bars and nightclubs. In 1958, Russell moved to LA and started working as a session musician, playing piano on most recordings. He gained experience throughout the 60s, and soon he was composing and arranging songs for others as well.
In 1965, he released his debut solo recording-Everybody’s Talking ‘Bout the Young on Dot Records. He also started a band with Marc Benno called the Asylum Choir. They released an LP called Look Inside the Asylum Choir in 1968 on Smash Records. Russell & Denny Cordell started their own label in 1969 called Shelter Records. The company maintained up until 1981. In 1969, Joe Cocker would make Russell infamous when he sang-Delta Lady, a song that Russell had penned on Cocker’s self-titled debut. He also wrote This Masquerade, the song made infamous by George Benson. Not to mention, over 100 artists have covered the ballad: A Song For You, most notably, Donny Hathaway. Russell has penned over 430 songs and released over 30 LPs. A truly soulful cat, his writing and production skills are greatly missed. He was 74 when passed away.
On November 13th, a couple of things happened in regard to the singer, songwriter, harmonica player, producer and performer-Rod Stewart (Sir Roderick David Stewart). The 13th proved to be a significant day for Stewart, regardless of the year. In 1976, his song Tonight’s the Night off his A Night on the Town (Warner Brothers) started a two-month run at the number one slot on the US Pop chart. It was his second number one song in the US. The problem the powers that be (the status quo) had with the song is that it talks about a young lady losing her virginity. It also has his girlfriend’s voice (actress Britt Ekland) featured on the song, whispering in the background.
Fourteen years later to the date, in 1990, Rod Stewart would be a controversial figure for another reason associated with love-making…The star was having a lawsuit filed against him by Patricia Boughton. See, what had happened was: Stewart was giving a concert at Pine Knob Music Theatre, and kicked a football (a sport he’s loved since childhood) into the audience. It hit the thumb of Boughton, who said it tore a tendon in her middle finger. This torn tendon made having sex with her husband problematic…pause…why the F are you using your middle finger on a man? What do you need your middle finger for if you’re a woman having sex with a man? Anyways…somebody please let me know…on second thought...don't, ignorance is bliss...
On November 13th, in 1968, composer, arranger, and orchestra leader-Hugo (Mario) Montenegro had a number one hit on the UK singles chart. The song for the soundtrack of the Clint Eastwood spaghetti Western film-The Good the Bad & the Ugly, was the first instrumental track to go number in the UK since 1963. Montenegro was an infamous TV and film soundtrack scorer from the early 60s through the mid 70s. The NYC native served for the US Navy, acting as the Newport Naval Base (Newport, Rhode Island) band arranger during the mid to late 40s.
By the mid 50s, he was working as the arranger for the Dragon and Caprice Record companies (Eliot Glen & Irving Spice). Then he worked in the early 60s for Time Records as a musical director. After leaving Time, he went to RCA Victor. This is where he began working as a producer and composer for soundtracks and television themes. He did the music for the Clint Eastwood movie the Man With No Name, and both volumes of music for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. He secured a contract with Columbia Pictures in the late 60s and scored several of their movies: The Ambushers (1967), Lady in Cement (1968) and the Wrecking Crew (1968) to name a few. He passed away in 1981, he was 56 years-old.
Honorable Mention: On November 13th, in 1949, the man that turned down the lead singer role for the band Led Zeppelin-Terry Reid was born in Huntingdon, England. Reid is a prolific songwriter that penned songs as young as 14 years-old (Without Expression recorded by the Hollies in 1968). He was also a member of Peter Jay’s Jaywalkers. Reid turned the job down mainly because he had committed to tour with Rolling Stones & Cream the same year he was asked. He’s 69 today.
On November 13th, in 1956, the highest court in the land took a moral stance on Jim Crow policies in the southern region of the US, specifically, Alabama. The Supreme Court justices at the time declared Alabama’s state law that required segregated bus seating to be Federally illegal. This ruling put an end to the Montgomery Bus Boycott that was politicized by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & kicked off by the bravery of Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat to a White rider. On the same day, exactly 50 years later in 2006, the groundbreaking ceremony for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial took place in Washington, D.C.
On November 13th, in 1964, the infamous Blues songwriter that worked closely with the Chess acts like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf & Little Walter-Willie Dixon made the British invasion of his music official. As most music historians know, the UK was infatuated with the Blues and based their psychedelic Rock movement on it. Decca Records released the Willie Dixon song-The Red Rooster (performed originally by Howlin’ Wolf), as The Rolling Stones’ Little Red Rooster. Sam Cooke has also covered this song. It’s the only Blues song to reach number 1 on the UK Pop Chart.
On November 13th, in 1996, the infamous King Records artist, (Cincinnati, Ohio-James Brown & the Famous Flames, Bootsy & Catfish Phelps), Jazz-Soul-Blues & pre-Rock innovating pianist, composer, bandleader and arranger-Bill Doggett passed away in NYC from complications of the heart. The Philly native, Honky Tonk R&B organist has released over 50 singles, and played with everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Edwin Starr. He was 80 years-old when he returned home.
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!