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On December 23rd, 1992 we lost a Funk music pioneer, Psychedelic Rock innovator, guitarist, singer, songwriter, co-founding member of Funkadelic, and original member of the P-Funk crew: Eddie Hazel. The Brooklyn-Born legend moved to Plainfield in the early 1950s, when he was still a child. His older brother gave him a guitar, and Eddie taught himself how to play it. He sang in church, during his elementary school years; and in his early teens he linked up with Billy Bass Nelson and Harvey McGhee (drummer) to form a power trio. They performed in small venues and clubs around Plainfield; but were primarily a Garage Jam band. Hazel sharpened his guitar skills during this period (mid to late 60s).
By the time he met George Clinton, via Billy Bass’ referral in 1967, he was a well seasoned guitarist. Hazel was only 17 at the time, and his mother had to be convinced that Nelson & Clinton would take care of him on the road. At this time, there wasn’t any ‘psychedelia’ or ‘Afronaut’ tinged music. They were a Soul band-with grit-like a Stax or Atlantic Soul group. They added Tiki Fulwood on drums (via Hazel’s referral), Bernie Worrell (keyboards), and Tawl Ross (rhythm guitar) to round out the Funk quintet. They officially became known as Funkadelic-the backing band for The Parliaments, and released their first self-titled LP in 1970. They recorded several records, and went on to worldwide fame during the 70s and 80s. The Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall Of Fame guitarist passed away when he was 42 years-old.
On December 23, 1935, Jazz-Soul-Funk and Pop vocalist, songwriter, and four time top 20 R&B singer-Esther (Mae Jones) Phillips was born in Galveston, Texas. Esther got her start singing in church. Her parents divorced during her teens; so she shared time with her mother in Watts and her father in Houston. In 1949, she was urged by her sister to enter a talent contest at the local blues club Barrelhouse in Watts, (owned by Johnny Otis-Shuggie Otis’ father). When she won, she started touring with Otis and had her recording debut on Modern Records. She was coined Little Esther Phillips at age 14. In the early 1950s, Otis started recording Esther as the lead singer of his Johnny Otis Quintette. Most of her hits during this time were released on the Savoy imprint.
She stayed with Otis until the late 50s. In the early 60s, she went solo and signed with Federal Records. She released over 30 sides, but only one charted-Ring A Ding Doo. Phillips got strung out, was in and out of rehabs, and performing at small clubs in the south. She was given a second chance by Country singer Kenny Rodgers when he heard her at a club, and got his brother-the owner of Lenox Records to sign her. In 1962 she released a cover of the Country song Release Me. It went to Number 1 on the R&B Chart (#8 Pop), and she got picked up by Atlantic Records in the mid 60s. Her funkiest work can be found on her LPs during the 70s; and as such, she was nominated for four Grammys during this period (1970-1975). Her best LP is her Kudu Records debut in 1972-From A Whisper To A Scream. This album has several cuts that have been sampled by numerous Hip Hop producers. Phillips continued to perform and record up to her death in 1984. She was 48 when she passed away.
On December 23rd, 2013 we lost a Detroit Jazz innovator, saxophonist, flautist, pianist, vocalist, woodwind player, composer, bandleader, author, arranger, sideman, educator, activist, spokesman, and NEA Jazz Master-Yusef Lateef (William Emanuel Huddleston). Lateef's music has been sampled, and/or interpolated, by a lot of producers from several genres: Hip Hop, EDM, Acid Jazz, & Rock). He moved to Detroit with his family when he was five years old (1925). While there, he started playing sax and had interactions with several legendary Jazz musicians in Detroit: Milt Jackson, Elvin Jones, Paul Chambers, and Kenny Burrell. When he graduated high school in 1948, and started playing professionally with swing and big bands.
In 1949 he was able to tour with Dizzy Gillespie, convert to Islam, and start his music studies at Wayne State. From the early to mid 1950s, he recorded and performed-but mostly as a sideman. In 1957 he made his recording debut as a bandleader with Savoy records, and later released The Sounds Of Yusef on Prestige Records. He developed his sound (influenced by his love for Islam and Eastern music) into a type of Jazz that was very original; but not too far from the center of what Post-Bop Jazz sounded like. It has elements of Fusion, Be-Bop & Cool Jazz as well. By the early 1960s, he was well-known as a bandleader and prominent force in Jazz. He went on to record over 30 LPs, wrote a few books, composed several ethnocentric songs-depicting the Black Experience in America, and won a Grammy in 2012-right before he passed away. He was 93 years-old.
On December 23rd, 1940, singer, songwriter, dancer, and co-founder/former lead singer of The Chi-Lites: Eugene (Booker) Record was born in Chicago, Illinois. Eugene’s early musical influence was his older sister who was a pianist. He started singing and playing guitar. By the time he was in high school, he’d formed his first band with Robert Lester-The Hi-Lites. They added on two more members from a rival local band, started gigging around Chicago, and got signed to Brunswick in the late 1960s. Eugene didn’t limit himself to singing lead. He also penned hits for other artists on the Chicago imprint like Barbara Acklin. He wrote the hits for the now named Chi-Lites: Have You Seen Her, Oh Girl, and Give More Power To The People.
The latter is often confused with The Temptations, but it is not the Temps. It also served as a call to arms, and Black Panther Party rally song. Eugene Record also put out some solo sides and LPs. One of his best LPs during this era contains the De La & Ghostface sampled Here Comes The Sun. Record worked with Richard Evans too-a seminal Chicago Soul & Blues producer. His ability to write songs, about everything ranging from love to political empowerment, shows the insight with which Record approached writing. He spoke to the public based on experience and observation. He doesn’t write songs with a good ending…but songs with a real ending. He was 74 when he passed.
On the December 22nd TOV post, we covered JC AKA The Mad Dog Of Soul AKA Joe Cocker-an unsung Rock, Soul & Blues vocalist from the 60s through the early 80s. Today, TOV is covering a direct descendant of Cocker's vocal style and stage mannerisms-Eddie Vedder (lead singer for the seminal grunge band Pearl Jam). Vedder and Pearl Jam were largely overshadowed by Nirvana; but in my opinion were much better in many ways… They may not have been able to match Cobain’s songwriting skills, but they have them beat everywhere else. Vedder was born on December 23rd, in 1964 (Edward Louis Severson III was his legal name). In my opinion, his style isn’t exactly like Cocker’s-meaning he’s not a clone. But he has Cocker’s qualities: a distinct voice.
You know a Pearl Jam song when it comes on. Just like you know a song with Mad Dog on it. Vedder’s stage energy also is similar to Cocker's movements during performances. The audience knows that they're not faking it, they feel it. Both also sing from the gut, from inside, with a deeper vocal range and a lot of grit. They also both tend to fall under the radar when it comes to deserved notoriety for their talents and discography. They’d make a powerful team during either era of Rock music. Vedder was born in Suburban Chicago (Evanston), but grew up in San Diego, where he met and befriended Redd Hot Chili Peppers drummer John Irons. Irons gave him a demo of Seattle-based Pearl Jam, who were looking for a lead singer. Vedder wrote a few songs to it, they linked, he sang em, and the rest is history. He’s 54 today.
HONORABLE MENTION: On December 23, in 1867-the woman who made hair care products and accessories specifically for The Black Community-Madam C. J. Walker (Sarah Breedlove) was born in Delta, Louisiana. She founded The Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company, when she was 28 years old, in 1906. Her primary business endeavors were the manufacturing and retail of cosmetics and hair care products. A little over 10 years later, it was the largest Black-Owned business in America (1917). She's in The Guinness Book Of World Records for being the first Female Self-Made Millionaire.
On December 23rd, 1940, infamous finger-picking guitarist for Hot Tuna & Jefferson Airplane-Jorma (Ludwik) Kaukonen Jr. was born in Washington, D.C. He got into the guitar as a teen, and started his first band-The Triumphs with Jack Cassidy. He moved to San Francisco in the early 60s, and joined Jefferson Airplane in 1965. He stayed with them until 1969, when he and Jack Cassidy formed a spinoff jam band called Hot Tuna (like the Grateful Dead). He did some solo work in the late 70s, and still continues to perform. He’s 78 today.
On December 23rd, 1974, one of the many members of the Hip Hop collective called Arrested Development-Montsho Eshe was born. She was the primary vocalist and one of the dancers in the group. They were known for conscious raps on hits like Tennessee & Everyday People. They won two Grammy Awards, while Rolling Stones Magazine named them Band Of The Year all within the same year (1993). The industry labeled the group ‘alternative,’ but alternative to what? It’s all just music, no need for the sub-genre.
On December 23rd, in 2007, Canadian Music Hall Of Famer, Down Beat Jazz Hall of Famer, bandleader, composer, trumpeter, pianist, arranger, and The Maharaja Of The Keyboard (as he was ordained by Duke Ellington) Oscar Emmanuel Peterson passed away at the age of 82 years old. The Canada native is largely responsible for cultivating the Jazz scene in his country. He appeared on stages, radio stations, and recordings that all displayed his piano, trumpet, and composing skills. He won a Canadian national music contest when he was 14 years old. Peterson had a rich tone and somber sound that will be missed.
or 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!