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…‘and as always, we wish you love, peace and soul!’…On September 27th, in 1936: Don Cornelius (Donald Cortez ‘Don’ Cornelius) was born on Chicago’s South Side in the state of Illinois-Bronzeville Represent! Cornelius joined the Marine core in the mid 50s after he graduated from DuSable High School. He fought in the Korean War and came back to the states. He worked a few odd jobs: mechanic, tire dealer, even joined the Chicago Police force for a stint. However, he had a strong conviction to pursue his passions in radio/television broadcasting, and quit those jobs, with a wife and two sons, to take a six month course in broadcasting.
After he got out of school, he landed a job at Chicago’s WVON radio station. He honed his mic skills here, toastin’ and rhyming like that era of DJs, Pimps, and athletes like Muhammad Ali (it was common place to rhyme and have catchphrases and punchlines). This is around 1966. A year later, he moved to television and hosted the show: A Black’s View of the News on WCIU-TV. Three years later, he’d start Soul Train on the same network.
Cornelius eventually moved the seminal show that hosted Black History segments and went along with the social stance that Black is Beautiful. While in Cali, he teamed up with Richard ‘Dick’ Griffey to start Soul Train Records in 1975. These are the LPs you see with Soul Train on the front and a host of artists that performed on the show. 2 years later, he and Griffey started Solar Records. Don was like the Stretch & Bobbito for Black Music from the 70s through 2006. He’s a pioneer that passed away in 2012. He took his own life, shooting himself. He was 75.
On September 27th, in 1953, half of the Reggae production and musician duo called Sly (Dunbar) & Robbie (Shakespeare-rt), bassist, singer, and producer-Robbie Shakespeare was born in Kingston, Jamaica. He got his start (undocumented) around the late 60s, recording on LPs and singles released by Studio One, and other independent island imprints. In 1975, he worked with Jimmy Cliff and had became good friends with Sly Dunbar (Drummer). They went on to play together with several well known acts from the island:
Peter Tosh, Toot & the Maytals, Lee Scratch Perry, Bob Marley, U-Roy, Black Uhuru, Sugar Minott, Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, Augustus Pablo, Yellow Man, the list goes on…He never left his island root, but he did get much notoriety for his musicianship and production skills. Grace Jones, Bob Dylan, Robert Palmer, Serge Gainsbourg, Mick Jagger, Joe Cocker, Yoko Ono, Jackson Browne, Madonna, No Doubt, & even Brittney Spears have used the production and basslines that Robbie (rt) put down. Google ‘Sly & Robbie’ for proof. He continues to produce, perform and record. He’s 65 years-old today. Big Up Robbie!
…‘I come from a land down under, where beer does flow and men chunder, can’t you hear can’t you hear the thunder, you better run, you better take cover’…On September 27th, in 1953, multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, Men At Work band member and actor-Gregory Norman Ham AKA Greg Ham was born in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Ham was very talented and played saxophone, synthesizer, guitar, flute, keyboard and harmonica for the Australian outfit. They had a number one hit in 1983 with Down Under in both the UK & US.
Men At Work were one of those New Wave bands that utilized the sounds of Reggae and Dub in their Rock based music (very similar to the sound of the Police). The band formed in 1979. After they disbanded in the late 80s, Ham went on to work with R&B act Relax with Max. He also worked with James Brown, Bo Diddley, Kylie Minogue and played keys and sax for various Jazz outfits. A strong supporter of Australian musicians, Ham later become a music instructor and assessor of musical students. He passed away in 2012 from unknown causes. Some say it was his longtime battle with heroin. He was 58 years-old.
… ‘I came up hard baby, but now I’m cool…I didn’t make it Sugar, playing by the rules…I came up hard baby, but now I’m fine, I’m checking trouble Sugar, moving down the line…I come up hard baby, but that’s ok, ‘cause trouble man, don’t get in my way’…After that quote, Marvin breaks into an early Emcee rendition of a few bars. If you don’t know the movie ‘baby, that’s ok’, but if you don’t know the song, that’s a damn shame (Trouble Man Motion Picture Soundtrack-Marvin Gaye). On September 27th, in 1987-the late great Marvin Gaye was given a posthumous star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Marvin was a singer, pianist, keyboardist, drummer, songwriter, producer and trend setter that tackled all the major genres with ease.
During his life and after his death in 1984 (killed by his own Pops Marvin Gaye Sr.), he had hits in all of the major genres excluding Rock-although he was well-known by a lot of Rock musicians that would frequently cover his songs, mostly off his seminal What’s Going On LP. He had singles that made the: Jazz charts, Pop charts, (Psychedelic) Soul charts, R&B charts, Funk, and Hip Hop (Erick Sermon-Music). Marvin is an American born Icon. He recorded for several labels, but got his big start at Hitsville USA AKA Motown-The Sound of Young America. He’s another one of those vocalist that when you hear him sing, you immediately know it’s Marvin. Congrats for the star, it was long overdue.
On September 27th in 2012-another notable Motown songwriter and producer-Frank (Edward) Wilson passed away in Duarte, California. Wilson got his start at MoWest, the Motown imprint that expanded westward and released music out of the California region. This was 1965, a lot of the acts were beginning to move to the sunny Westcoast after they’d achieved some success. Diana Ross & the Jackson would settle in Cali, calling it home. Ironically, Wilson never penned or produced anything for either of them.
However, he did write and produce songs for the Four Tops, The Temptations, Eddie Kendricks, Marvin Gaye, Brenda Hollaway, The Supremes, Lenny Williams (LP went Gold-former Tower of Power lead singer most known for: ‘Cause I Love You’), The New Birth, Alton-McClain & Destiny, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr (formerly of the 5th Dimension), and others. He became highly important for the survival of Motown in the mid 70s when Holland-Dozier-Holland left for TSOP. He was an astute businessman all-around, owning his own music publishing companies. He was 71 years-old when died.
Honorable Mentions: On September 27th, in 1827-The first documented Black Senator in the USA-Hiram Rhode Revels was born a ‘free’ man in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He moved from NC to Ohio and even voted as a ‘free’ man pre-Civil War. During the Civil War, he was responsible for mobilizing Black Troops. He was voted into office and served as a US Congressman for Mississippi in 1870 & 1871. He was a graduate of the Historically Black College University Alcorn State. Revels was minister for the African Methodist Episcopal Church early in his life, and he later returned to the ‘cloth’. He died in 1901. He was 73.
On September 27th, in 1905-the first official Blues Record was published and ready for retail: Memphis Blues by W.C. Handy (William Christopher Handy). Although the song was released locally, it became widely known by historians from the Library of Congress to Blues lovers nationwide. Another irony surrounding the song is the fact that when we think of Blues in contemporary aspects, we think of Guitarists. However, Handy was a Jazz musician at heart and played the trumpet, not the guitar. He has several festivals and memorials named after him. Thus, his music, legacy and name lives on.
Note: I don’t feel this cat’s music at all, but his record-breaking achievement is worthy of note. On September 27th, in 1982, Dwayne Michael Carter Jr (Lil Wayne) was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was a member of the Hot Boys & Cash Money Records. He has his own label too, Young Money. On his B-day in 2012, he became the new King of the Billboard Hot 100 when he beat out Elvis Presley who’d held the record of having 108 entries for 45 years. Wayne would hit 109 on this day, six years ago. Nobody’s beaten him yet.
…‘Legalize it, and don’t criticize it…legalize it yeah, yeah, and I will advertise it’…On September 27th, in 1990, one of the Ramones was busted for having I Man Herb on his person. Dee Dee Ramone (bassist, guitarist, singer) got hemmed up in Greenwich Village, New York City, New York. Shameful how the police tend to police a certain type, not everyone equally. But I digress…Dee Dee knew it was illegal and got caught by the fuzz. ‘That’s all that is’ (Payroll the Pimp-American Pimp)…
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 Plethora of information, covering several topics exists on this site going back to 2013 when it was created. PEACE!