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On November 18th, in 2016, soul singer, soul music innovator-ressurrector-and revivalist-Sharon (Lafaye) Jones passed away in Copperstown, New York. The Augusta, Georgia native (James Brown country), was heavily influenced by the Godfather of Soul, and when her family relocated to NYC, Jones, along with her siblings, would constantly sing and imitate Brown’s songs and dancing. She was a Do or Die Bed Stuy (Bedford Stuyvesant) graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School. She also went to Brooklyn College. Jones got her start singing in the church, like a lot of singers. In the 70s-early 80s, she did talent contests and sang backup vocals for several bands being credited as Lafaye Jones.
She continued to dabble in music, but worked as a C.O. at Rikers Island. She stayed in law enforcement, working for Wells Fargo as an armored truck guard. In 1996, she made a session appearance on some Lee Fields songs. Three singers were needed, Jones was the only one that showed up to the session, singing all three parts. Long story short, the recording exec asked ner to cut two singles with Antibalas and the Mighty Imperials as the backing band (Switchblade b/w The Landlord). Both bands would become the Dap Kings & Sharon their lead. She made several singles and LPs for Daptone Records and tuored worldwide. She’s a testament to the saying it’s never too late to start a new career, to make a change, to step out on your own for your own sake. She was 60 when she died.
On November 18th, in 1994, the music world lost one of the first innovators of emceeing, the man who’d keep the bandstand rocking, the ‘weed’ toker, Jazz composer, arranger, bandleader, songwriter, vocalist, and innovator of the Big Band sound-Cab Calloway (Cabell Calloway III) in Hockessin, Delaware. Calloway came from a well-to-do middle-class family, his pops was a Lincoln U grad and lawyer, while his mother was a Morgan State grad and teacher (church organist too). He grew up in the Sugar Hill area of West Baltimore and started taking private vocal lessons in his early teens. He was a prolific basketball player as well, playing for guard for his high school & the professional team in Baltimore (Athenians). Calloway was a busy teen with parents that didn’t approve of his musical tastes in Jazz, much like the Jazz parents that didn’t approve of Rock ‘n’ Roll, and the Rock ‘n’ Roll parents didn’t approve of Hip Hop & Punk Rock.
However, Calloway stayed with it, and performed at nightclubs in the area. He met notables like Johnny Jones and Chick Webb, Adelaide Hall, & Louis Armstrong who taught him to ‘scat’. In 1930, Calloway took over the then Missorurians and changed the band’s name to: Cab Calloway and His Orchestra. This is when he got worldwide notoriety, becoming co-house band Ellington for top bill at the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York. Calloway has done so much for music, and won so many awards, it’d take this whole post to get it all down. Just know he was a groundbreaking artist who’s influence reaches every popular genre of music. He was 86 when he passed.
On November 18th, in 1976, one of the innovating groups of the Punk Rock sound and fashion-Richard Hell and the Voidoids made their performance debut at the infamous NYC Punk Club-CBGB's & OMFUG (Country BlueGrass, Blues & Other Music for Uplifting Gomandizers). In the early 70s, Richard was a former member of the Neon Boys (with Tom Verlaine & Billy Ficca)-an early 70s prototype Punk band. He also was a member/co-founder of the 1973 ‘upgraded’ version of Neon Boys-Television (with Richard Lloyd, Tom Verlaine and Billy Ficca). This band was the first to rock the CBGB stage. Intersting fact about Richard Meyers & Tom Miller: both artists were influenced by poetry and wanted to be poets themselves.
Thus, Miller, inspired by the French poet Paul Verlaine, changed his last name to Verlaine after the poet. Meyers on the other hand, took the last name Hell as a depiction of the state he lived in, the world he lived in. Now Malcolm McLaren, who was managing the New York Dolls in the early 70s, saw Hell’s performance and fashion style at CBGBs. At the show, Hell wore his hair spiked, with safety pins in it and torn clothing. McClaren TOOK this look back to the Sex Pistols, and the New York Dolls have been sick since…S.O. to Richard Hell & the Voidoids for innovating, helping to create and cultivate the Punk Movement.
On November 18th, in 1959, drummer, musician, percussionist, bandleader and wife of Carlos Santana-Cindy Blackman Santana was born in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She came from a musical family, her father was deeply into Jazz, her uncle was a vibist, and both her mother and grandmother were classical musicians. She got started on drums around age 7. She was at friend’s party, saw a drum set in their house and hopped on it: Just looking at them struck something in my core…it’s like breathing for me…She then started playing drums in the school band.
When she was 11, the family relocated to Bristol, Connecticut and she attended music school. She was heavily influenced by Tony Williams who did a drum clinic when she was 16. After attending college under Tony Williams’ teacher Alan Dawson, she moved to NYC. Art Blakey was her influence there. She started gigging around town and encountered racial and gender biases. She got her break in 1987 when a Muse Records exec heard her composition on Wallace Roney’s LP Verse LP. She recorded her debut LP as a bandleader in 1988 (Arcane). She went on to work with others as well: Cassandra Wilson, Lenny Kravitz (Are you gonna go my way), Patrice Rushen, John McLaughlin, Doug Carn, Vernon Reid and of course Carlos Santana. She’s 59 today.
On November 18th, in 1952, West Indian Archie, the actor that played Many roles in Spike Lee movies-Delroy (George) Lindo was born in Lewisham, London, England, UK. His parents were Jamaican immigrants, and Lindo got into acting early as a child in school plays. When his mother moved to San Francisco when Lindo was a teen, he continued to act in high school. In his early 20s, he started studying acting at the American Conservatory Theater. He got a couple movie roles before he graduated (Find the Lady-UK 1976 & Seargeant). He graduated in 1979 and had a role in More American Graffiti.
He stopped doing movies for nearly a decade to focus on his stage skills. It paid off in 1988 when he won a Tony nomination for his role as Harold Loomis in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (August Wilson). He returned to the camera in 1989, for a role of Woody Carmichael in Spike’s Lee-Do the Right Thing. A year later he was 1990 alongside Rutger Hauer (Slaute of the Jugger, sci-fi). He started a long run with Spike, starring as West Indian Archie in Spike’s X (1992), in 1994 he played Woody Carmichael-a pianist and family man (Crooklyn), and in 1995 he was the neighborhood kingpin in Clockers. He also is featured in Get Shorty, Ransom & Soul of the Game-Satchel Paige (1995, both 1996). He’s a dope actor and is 66 today!
Honorable Mention: On November 18th, in 1956, seminal Candian Footbal League QB, Oilers QB, Vikings QB, Seattle Seahawks QB, Kansas City Chiefs QB, NFL Pro-Bowler and NFL Pro Football Hall of Famer-(Harold) Warren Moon was born in Los Angeles, California. He’s the only male child in the family with 6 sisters (Moon’s a middle-child). He played for several professional teams and made NFL MVP-Offensive Player of the Year, All-Pro and Player of the Year in 1990. He never won a Super Bowl, but he is the first Black undrafted QB to be inducted in the NFL Hall of Fame. He’s 62 years-old today.
On November 18th, in 1971, singer, songwriter, Blues musician and Blues harpist-Junior Parker (Herman Parker Jr.) passed away in Blue Island, Illinois (suburban Chicago). He was known for having a velvet smooth or honeyed voice. The Mississippi native and Memphis adopted son got his start in the church choir and on Beale Street when his family moved to West Memphis, Arkansas. His biggest harp influence, and bandmate was Sonny Boy Williamson. He also worked with B.B. King & Howlin’ Wolf. In 1951 he started his own band called the Blue Flames. A year later in 1952, Ike Turner signed and released his music on Modern Records. He was 39 when he died.
On November 18th, in 1977, the rapper Fabolous (John David Jackson) was born in Brooklyn, NYC, NY. He gre up in Bedford-Stuyvesant and started taking rapping seriously during his senior year in high school. DJ Clue asked him to rap live on Hot 97. Clue was so impressed thathe signed Fab to his label Desert Storm Rocords. Fab appeared on most of the late 90s/early 2000s Clue Mixtape LPs and Roc-A-Fella artists’ LPs as a feature. In 2001 he dropped his debut LP-Ghetto Fabolous. He’s 41 today.
On November 18th, in 2003, songwriter, session musician, composer, producer, arranger and orchestral conductor-Michael (Arnold) Kamen passed away in from heart complications in London, England, UK. He’s one of those producers that worked closely with a lot of Rock bands: Eurythmics, Tom Petty, Kate Bush, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Queen, Tom Petty, David Bowie, Roger Daltrey, Sting, Bryan Adams, Herbie Hancock, Metallica, Queensryche, The Cranberries, Jim Croce, and numerous others. He was 55 when he died.
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