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POP & SOUL (Rock ‘n’ Roll): On November 28th, 1929, triple-threat producer (Music, Film, TV), songwriter, and the man credited with creating the Motown Records imprint-Berry Gordy (III, Jr.) was born in Detroit, Michigan. Gordy’s family participated in the Great Migration of southern Blacks moving to the North for industrial jobs (1920s-1940s). Detroit was known for the automotive industry. His Grandfather was of mixed race. His father was a plantation owner. Berry's grandfather had a step-brother named James that was the grandfather of President Jimmy Carter. Gordy the II, Berry’s father, moved the family to Detroit in the early 20s. Gordy III was born 8 years later. While in Detroit, post high school, Berry started penning songs for artists. Jackie Wilson recorded his first Gordy penned song in 1957 "Reet Petite."
It did well, so much so that Wilson would use six other songs that Gordy had written, most notably-Lonely Teardrops. The royalties he made from these songs during the late 50s, plus a loan he’d gotten from his parents at the urging of his sister Gwen (also a songwriter), allowed him to start the Motown label. The same year Reet Petite was released, Gordy would discover the Matadors-a singing group led by Smokey Robinson. The two worked together over the next 2 years, building a roster of young talent they’d discovered around the city. In January of 1959, he officially launched his label Tamla Records, with Marv Johnson recording the first single "Come to Me." He signed his most notable acts during the 60s: Diana Ross & the Supremes, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5 to name a few. He’s 89 today.
On November 28th, in 1940, a member of one of the first multi-ethnic Soul singing groups and lead signer for the Foundations-Clem Curtis (Curtis Clements) was born in Trinidad, West Indies. His mother, a former singer in Trinidad, gave him his inspiration for singing. The family moved to England when he was 15. He then became a interior decorator and successful boxer while continuing to dabble in signing. In his early 20s (mid-60s), he joined his first singing group-The Ramong Sound. Raymond Morrison was the original lead of the group with Curtis singing backup. When When Morrison left, Arthur Brown became the lead, but he and Curtis sang duets and shared the role of lead singer.
By 1967, Curtis would be the lead and the band’s name changed to the Foundations. They had a few hits that charted: Back on My Feet Again, Baby Now that I’ve Found You, Any Old Time and Build Me Up Buttercup. With the success of these singles, advice of good friend Sammy Davis Jr., and yearning to see the states, Curtis decided to go solo. He did pretty well appearing with acts like Wilson Pickett and The Cowsills, but work was sparse and he returned to the UK. He rejoined the Foundations in the early 70s, and recorded a few hits for the local label Pye. By the 80s, he was singing with The Corporation. He passed in 2017 when he was 76.
ROCK: On November 28th, in 1962, songwriter, mellotron player, vocalist, guitarists, keyboardist and the primary drummer for Skin Yard, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam-Matt Cameron (Matthew David Cameron) was born in San Diego, California. He got his start in his teens, playing drums for a cover band called KISS. Word got back to the original artists and their management sent Matt’s band a letter urging them to cease and desist or face legal action. They quit performing under the name. He moved to Seattle in his early 20s (1983) and played with a band named Bam Bam (Tommy Martin & Tina Bell).
He joined FeeDBack after that (instrumental outfit) and then some of the members from FeeDBack formed Skin Yard. He recorded a couple songs with this band, staying with them until 1986 (pre-Grunge era). By 1986, Cameron was well-known around the local circuit and replaced Scott Sundquist in Soundgarden. They released their first EP with Cameron in 1987 on Sub Pop Records-Screaming Life. He stayed with Soundgarden for 10 years (1986-1997, height of Grunge). In 1998, when Grunge was losing ground-experiencing the musical growing pains of sub-genre spawns, Cameron joined Pearl Jam. He remains a member of the band today, as well as returning to Pearl Jam in 2010. He’s 56 today.
(NEO) SOUL: On November 1968, vocalist, model, songwriter, actress, and co-founding member of EnVogue & Lucy Pearl-Dawn (Sherrese) Robinson (above-2nd l) was born in New London, Connecticut. She sang in the choir during her childhood and teens years. After she graduated from high school, and at the direction of Stephanie Mills’ people, Dawn’s mother sent her to California to embark on a singing career (late 80s). While there, she auditioned for a female singing group in 1989. By August of that year, the 4 women would call themselves EnVogue (Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones, Terry Ellis). They remained in the studio working on their debut LP until it was finished in December. In 1990, they hit the airwaves with their debut single-Hold On, it did well and shortly after they released the LP-Born to Sing.
It went platinum. For the next 10 years, Dawn stayed with EnVogue and they blazed the charts with LPs and singles from their 2 LPs, worked on a third and did plenty of features on songs with other artists like Salt-N-Pepa & "Don’t Let Go" from the "Set it Off" soundtrack (Dawn sang lead). Her fame from Don’t Let Go led her to go solo first, working with the Firm (Nas, AZ, Nature & Foxy Brown-Dr. Dre producer). In 1999, she co-founded Lucy Pearl with Tony Toni Tone’s Raphael Saadiq and A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad. In my opinion, her best work is with this group, and they got little recognition for their prolific skills in delivering top-rated funky and soulful songs to the general public. They disbanded in 2001, but Robinson continues to sing, act, record and tour. She’s 50 today.
HIP HOP: On November 28th, in 1974, emcee, author, activist and entrepreneur-Styles P (David Styles) was born in Corona, Queens, NYC, NY. He’s a Yonkers representative that rhymed with Jadakiss and Sheek Louch-The Lox. These 3 emcees got a strong local following during their teens from crushing crews in freestyle battles, their stage performances and songs on underground tapes. Mary J. Blige got a hold of their demo and played it for Puffy. He liked it and in 1994, he signed them to Bad Boy.
Before they got their own LP, they were featured emcees on songs with Biggie, Mary J., Mariah Carey and Mase. After Big got murdered, The Lox got a crack at their own LP-Money, Power & Respect in 1998. They left Bad Boy, saying the label was too polished-like a Motown of Rap, and then went to Ruff Ryders which was more their speed (a Stax for rap). They stayed with the label until 2007. Styles went on to do the Green Ghost Projects with DJ Green Latern and other mixtapes. He became a vegan, and owns several juice bars in NYC with Jadakiss. The Lox had a reunion in 2016 and continue to make music together. He’s 44 today.
Honorable Mention: On November 28th, in 1928, Soul and Pop vocalist-R.B. Greaves (Ronald Betram Aloysius Greaves III) was born in Georgetown, Guyana, South America. He grew up on a Seminole reservation. He’s also Sam Cooke’s nephew. He moved to the UK in his 20s, pursuing a career there under the name Sonny Childe. His biggest hit was Take a Letter Maria, recorded on Atlantic Records. He sold over 2 million copies, making it a Gold single. He died in 2012 when he was 68.
On November 28th, in 1961, running back, and all-around athlete-Ernest Davis became the first Black to win the coveted Heisman Trophy. The Syracuse graduate (Jim Brown country), became the first pick in the 1962 NFL draft when he signed with the Washington Redskins. However, Davis would never see a professional game because he passed away in May of 1963 from leukemia. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979. He was 23 when he died.
On November 28th, in 1993, musician, songwriter, drummer, percussionist and member of Steppenwolf-Jerry Edmonton (Gerald McCrohan) passed away in Santa Barbara, California. Edmonton was involved in a fatal car crash near his home. The Canadian native performed professionally for nearly 30 years (from 1964-1993). His first recording was made with Jack London & the Sparrows in 1965 (Capitol Records). He joined Steppenwolf (Born to Be Wild) in the late 60s and appeared on their debut self-titled LP in 1968 (Dunhill Records). He was 47 when he died.
Kanye & Pamela: On November 28th, in 2006, just 4-months after they’d gotten married, actress and model Pamela Anderson filed for divorce from Kid Rock. She was 39 years-old at the time. A year later, she’d make a cameo appearance in Kanye West’s controversial video Touch the Sky. Kanye was in legal hot water for his new alias Evel Kanyevel which was a play off the stuntman Evel Knievel’s name. They settled the dispute over Evel’s 'stolen' and 'tarnished imagery' that Kanye had used in the video when he dressed up like the Evel and tried to jump a canyon on a motorcycle.
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!