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On March 28th, 1966, pioneering female rapper, songwriter, former significant other to Hurby Luv Bug, gospel artist, and original member of Salt-N-Pepa-Salt (Cheryl Renee James) was born in Brooklyn, New York. Salt grew up in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn. Cheryl was into fashion and music as a child, but didn’t have aspirations to become a hip hop artist. She and Sandra Denton (Pepa) met at Queensborough Community College, where both were nursing students. Hurby Luv Bug was dating Salt, and encouraged her and Sandra to start a female rap group. Their original name was Super Nature, and included LaToya Hanson as their DJ, and featured Hurby doing most of the production and writing for the group. Next Plateau Records signed them, and released their debut LP Hot, Cool & Vicious in 1986.
The album made history, as the first hip hop LP by a female group to go gold. Songs like Push It, I’ll Take Your Man, Tramp, My Mic Sounds Nice, and The Show Stoppa (an answer to Doug E. Fresh & Slick Rick’s The Show) are notables off the LP. A year later, they replaced LaToya with DJ Spinderella (Deidra Roper), and in 1988, they released their second LP-A Salt With A Deadly Pepa. This album was also produced by Hurby Luv Bug; but was more commercial than the first LP. Songs like Twist & Shout, I Like It Like That, and Shake Your Thang (with E.U.) were built on pop music and early rock ‘n’ roll samples. Hip Hop groups like Run DMC set a trend that Next Plateau and Azor were definitely trying to duplicate. Salt started writing more of her own material on their 1990 LP Black’s Magic. She went on to work with Kirk Franklin, and started performing gospel music. She’s 53 today.
On March 28th, 1923, jazz musician, sideman, older brother of John Coltrane’s drummer Elvin Jones, younger brother of jazz pianist Hank Jones, trumpeter, composer, arranger, bandleader, and WWII veteran Thad Jones (Thaddeus Joseph Jones) was born in Pontiac, Michigan. Jones is most known for his solos; although his compositions are also worthy of praise. Music critics claim he’s one of the greatest jazz trumpet soloists of all-time. He grew up in a large musical family, with nine siblings. He taught himself the trumpet, and jammed with his brothers Hank and Elvin during his early teens. He started playing professionally around 1930, and toured The Midwest until he was drafted for WWII in 1943. He served as a member of the Army band from 1943-1946.
Upon returning to The States, he started touring between Oklahoma City and Des Moines, Iowa. In 1954, he ran into Count Basie and joined his orchestra. He stayed with Basie for nine years (1954-1963), while working as a sideman and bandleader. His recording debut came that same year, on Debut Records, with The Fabulous Thad Jones (1954). He released two more LPs on Blue Note in 1956. In 1959 he played on Thelonious Monk’s 5 by Monk by 5, and released seven more LPs as a bandleader. One very notable LP during the two-year span of 1957-1959 is Keepin’ Up With The Joneses (MetroJazz Records, 1958), which features his brothers (Hank Jones and Elvin Jones). Thad collaborated heavily with Mel Lewis, with whom he formed The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra in 1965. Jones was 63 when he passed away in 1986.
On March 28th, 2013, we lost multi-genre session musician, guitarist, harmonica player, and mandolin player-Hugh McCracken. McCracken played guitar on several songs that were recorded as early as the 1960's. He’s played with jazz musicians like Roland Kirk, Hank Crawford, Lou Donaldson, & Idris Muhammad. He also appears on the LPs of soul artist, such as Aretha Franklin and Roberta Flack. Several pop and rock artists have hired McCracken for guitar, as well harmonica, (Billy Joel, Hall & Oates, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, John Lennon, James Taylor, The Four Seasons, Graham Parker, etc). He appeared on so many Steely Dan recordings, that he can be considered a member of the band by default.
Dr. John used him for guitar on his City Lights LP. He also played with notable blues musicians like B.B. King and Jimmy Rushing. He made his professional start in the early 1960's, with a cover band called The Funatics. In the late 60's, he joined The White Elephant Orchestra-led by Mike Mainieri. Steve Gadd and David Spinozza were also members (they were a prog rock outfit of more than 15 members). Some of the work McCracken did in the early 70's is extremely sought after by ‘Beat Heads’. He’s done recordings with Robert Palmer, Bernard Perdie (James Brown's drummer), and Elvin Jones (John Coltrane's drummer). His guitar and harmonica playing can be heard on 100's of recordings from the 1960's thru the 1980's. McCracken had a unique style that complimented the songs he played on. He was 70 when he passed away.
HONORABLE MENTION: On March 28th, 1999, we lost one the best hype men in hip hop-rapper and member of The Lost Boyz (Mr. Cheeks, Pretty Lou, DJ Spigg Nice)-Freaky Tah (Tahliq Raymond Rogers). Tah was known for his energy and voice, as he reiterated what Cheeks was saying in his rhymes. Both of The Lost Boyz LPs that they released-featuring Tah-went gold. After his death, their 1999 album LB IV Life didn’t see the same sales numbers. Tah was shot, in a case of mistaken identity, after he left Mr. Cheeks birthday party. He was 27 when he passed away.
On March 28th, 1995, one of the most recognizable members from The Wu-Tang Clan-rapper, actor and hip hop icon-Ol' Dirty Bastard released his solo debut Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version on Elektra Records. The LP cover was classic, in and of itself, being that Russell Jones aka Ol' Dirty Bastard used his food stamp card. The album features appearances from Clan Members: The GZA, Raekwon, Masta Killa, Method Man, The RZA (also on production), Ghostface Killah, and Wu-Tang Affiliates-The Brooklyn Zoo. The Dirty Version went gold, peaked at #2 on The R&B Charts (#7 on the pop chart), and sold nearly 100,000 copies in its first week. The whole album is banging!
On March 28th, 1987, the multi-ethnic band The Doobie Brothers were set to perform in Phoenix, AZ, for an upcoming show on their tour. The band decided that they were not going to make their planned date, and moved the show to Las Vegas. They formally announced their reasoning behind the Phoenix cancellation was because then-AZ governor Evan Mecham had refused to observe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national holiday. The Doobie Brothers weren’t the only band to call the state out on this policy. Public Enemy did as well, with the 1991 song By The Time I Get To Arizona. Musicians can, and should, use their voice to fight against immoral and unjust policies.
On March 28th, 1958, we lost one of the most important figures in American popular music-The Father Of Jazz-composer, arranger, bandleader, trumpeter, educator, and jazz band innovator-W. C. Handy (William Christopher Handy). The Florence, AL, native (near Muscle Shoals) was raised in a highly religious family-where instruments were forbidden. His father let him learn guitar and organ, however, and Handy took to the coronet and got in composing music in his early teens. He taught a lot of people how to read and write music, and put together several quartets and big bands. He’s credited with creating jazz music, through his work in the 1890's. This award-winning Father Of Jazz was 84 at the time of his passing.
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