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On April 10th, in 1970, pioneering hip hop figure, DJ, producer, rapper, actor, member of the Native Tongues and co-founding member of A Tribe Called Quest (ATCQ): Q-Tip (Johnathan William Davis, Kamaal Ibn Fareed) AKA Kamaal the Abstract was born in Harlem, New York City, New York. ‘Tip’ as he’s commonly called by Golden era fans (pre-T.I.) is most known for his lyrics and production for ATCQ. He and his partner in Rhyme-Phife Dawg met in church when they were very young. Phife, the Sugarhill Gang’s song Rapper’s Delight and his father’s record collection influenced Tip to become a hip hop musician. He started making mixtapes and DJ’ing when he was 12. Tip’s rap name at the time was MC Love Child and J Nice. When he got to high school, he linked up with Mike Gee and Afrika Baby Bam of the Jungle Brothers (Native Tongues co-founders). He also met Ali Shaheed Muhammad (ATCQ DJ/producer).
Ali and Tip formed a DJ/MC duo and recorded a few tracks. Phife and Jarobi (White) added on shortly after and Quest was born. In the late 80s, Afrika Baby Bam gave Q-Tip his new MC name and the group’s name (ATCQ). Q-Tip co-produced and rhymed on-Black is Black and The Promo off the Jungle Brothers’-Straight out the Jungle LP (1988). A year later in 1989, De La Soul added on-thus forming the Native Tongues (De La Soul, ATCQ, the Jungle Brothers). They added on other artists in later years like Monie Love, Queen Latifah, Mos Def and Common. ATCQ released their debut LP in 1990-People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. Tip did most of the production, rhymes and mixing on the LP. A lot of people assumed Ali was the beat maker, but for the most pat, it was Q-Tip. He acted as producer on most of their LPs after 1990 as well. He’s 49 today.
On April 10th, in 1950, a psychedelic soul innovator, hard rock guitarist, songwriter, Funkadelic co-founder and P-Funk member-Eddie Hazel (Edward Earl Hazel) was born in Brooklyn, New York City, New York. Hazel is most known for his near 10-minute guitar solo on Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain song (LP under the same title, Westbound, 1971). Interesting fact: When George Clinton mixed the song, he took all the instruemnts out except Hazel's guitar. Hazel's also member of the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame (inducted with Parliament-Funkadelic, 1997). Eddie started playing guitar when he was very young. It was a Christmas gift from his older brother. In the early 60s, he linked up with Billy Bass Nelson and Harvey McGhee (drummer). They started playing professionally as a power trio when Hazel was 12.
In 1967, He was referred to George Clinton by Billy Bass Nelson as a suitable guitarist for his much-needed backing band for the Parliaments. Hazel’s mother reluctantly agreed to let her 17 year-old son go on the road with them. By this time, Tiki Fulwood (drums) replaced Harvey McGhee, and a new power trio was established (Nelson, Hazel, Fulwood). Shortly after that, Bernie Worrell (keyboardist) and Tawl Ross (rhythm guitarist) joined, making them a quintet Clinton called Funkadelic. In 1970, they released their self-titled debut LP on Westbound Records. Hazel plays lead guitar on all of Funkadelic’s releases from 1970 to 1975. He also has several co-writing credits throughout the band's discography and Parliament's. He released his debut solo LP-Games, Dames & Guitar Thangs in 1977 (Warner Brothers Records). His style of playing is soulful, heartfelt, melodic, loud and powerful. He was 42 when he passed (1992).
On April 10th, in 1947, innovative reggae musician, drummer, songwriter, singer, percussionist and co-founding member of the Wailing Wailers-Bunny Wailer (Neville O’Riley Livingston) AKA Bunny Livingston AKA Jah B was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Bunny is most known for his participation in the Wailers before Peter Tosh went solo, and Bob Marley took over the group as lead in the mid 70s. Interesting fact: Bob Marley & Bunny grew up together, even lived together when Bunny’s father stayed with Bob’s mother. They had a child together named Pearl, making her Bunny’s & Bob’s half-sister. Also, Peter Tosh had a baby named Andrew by Bunny’s sister Shirley, making him uncle to Tosh’s son. The family ties run deep…In 1963, Bunny and Bob were living together. Bunny formed the Wailing Wailers with Bob and Peter that same year and they recorded a few sides at Beverly Records and Studio One.
Bunny’s major influences were Curtis Mayfield and gospel. He wrote several songs and had a softer voice and less brash persona than Peter and Bob. He was definitely a soldier, but was the 'mellow' one out of the group. He sang lead on a few of their early songs, but not as much as Bob and Peter for the aforementioned reasons. The band saw a major rise in their popularity in the early 70s and Bunny capitalized on this by going solo in 1976 with his debut LP on Island Records/Tuff Gong (Bob Marley's imprint)-Blackheart Man. It uses a lot of the same musicians Bob and Peter used in their backing bands. Thus, the sound is similar to the funky, soulful and socially conscious reggae of the mid and late 70s. Since then, he’s released over 30 LPs on several imprints. The Jamaican icon is 72 today!
HONORABLE MENTION: On April 10th, in 1936, singer, dancer, songwriter, co-founding member and lead singer of the Spinners AKA the Detroit Spinners-Bobbie Smith (Bobby Smith, Robert Smith) was born in Detroit, MI. Smith co-founded the Spinner while in high school (mid 50s). They secured a recording contract with Harvey Fuqua’s Tri Phi Records in 1961. Smith was the lead singer on their first single-What Girls Are Made For. He sang lead on their Motown releases after Tri Phi folded. He also sang lead on their Atlantic recordings. He was often miscredited on songs, listing Phillippe Wynne as lead when he wasn’t. Smith was 76 when he passed.
On April 10th, in 1958, we lost a major rock ’n' roll pioneer, longtime friend of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, soul music innovator, singer, songwriter, and the man that had Dick Clark and his TV show-American Bandstand dedicate an hour to his music-Chuck Willis (Harold Willis). Willis was known as The King of the Stroll for doing the dance during his performances. The stroll is a 50's slow rock ‘n’ roll dance that's similar to the jerk. He had chart topping hits like What Am I Living For & C.C. Rider. He set himself apart from others by popularizing a dance and creating a unique image. He wore a signature turban for live appearances that was suggested to him by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. Willis was 32 when he passed.
On April 10th, in 1968, stand-up comedian, product spokesperson, voice artists, television, stage and film actor-Orlando Jones was born in Toulminville, AL. Hes most recently known for his role on the Starz series-American Gods (he’s Anansi the spider-West African/Island Folklore). His previous work includes being the spokesperson for Sprite from 1999 to 2002. Before that he was on MadTV (1995-1997). Jones also had a reoccurring role in Father of the Pride (2004-2005), Black Dynamite (2012-2015) and Sleepy Hollow (2013-2015). He’s appeared in over 25 films since 1997, and continues to act and do stand-up. He’s 51 today.
On April 10th, in 2007, we lost a seminal songwriter, soul, jazz and pop singer-Dakota Staton. Staton started singing when she was a variety of genres when she was a child. After high school, she enrolled at the Fillion School of Music in Pittsburgh, PA. While there she started performing in the Hill District (center of the infamous Pittsburgh jazz scene). She joined the Joey Westray Orchestra and continued to tour the nightclub circuit for several years. She saw her biggest success in the 50s when she released several hits. She also got married, converted to Islam and changed her name to Aliyah Rabia. She moved to Europe in the 60s and returned to the states in the 70s. She was 76 when she passed.
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