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On November 24th, in 1941, songwriter, producer, actor, Stax session musician and bassist for Booker T. & the MGs-Donald Duck Dunn was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He got the nickname ‘Duck’ from his father when he was a young child watching Disney cartoons. He grew up with future Booker T. & the MGs guitarist Steve Cropper. The two were close childhood friends that got into the sound of Blues, Soul & Jazz in there pre-teen years. Dunn was part of Cropper’s first band-The Royal Spades, they all attended Messick High School.
It was Terry Johnson on drums, Ronnie Angel (Stoots) on vocals, Jerry Smoochy Smith on keys, Don Nix on baritone sax, Charles Packy Axton on tenor sax, and Wayne Jackson (1/2 of the Memphis Horns) on trumpet. Dunn learned to play bass by ear, no formal schooling. His style was unique, he would fill in spaces in basslines and melodies with notes that he thought would sound good, or that should be there. Dunn later joined the Mar-Keys and then Ben Branch’s Big Band before joining Booker T. & the MGs (founded by Cropper & Booker T. Jones in 1962). He acted as bassist for the band and session musician for the Stax roster of artists. Dunn continued to perform, tour, and record up until his death in 2012. He was 70 years-old.
On November 24th, in 1941, the same day that his soon to be band and label mate entered the world (Donald Duck Dunn-Stax), and three days after his Memphis Horn band mate was born (Andrew Love), trumpeter and co-founder of the Memphis Horns-Wayne (Lamar) Jackson was born in West Memphis, Arkansas. Jackson got his professional start with the Mar-Keys, playing trumpet for the band mostly, and doing some arrangements. He met Andrew Love in the early 60s once Satellite Records changed to Stax when Jim STewart & Estelle AXton (STAX-brother and sister) put together the Soul & Blues based label.
Jackson was part of the house band that recorded the backing tracks for artists like Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Calra Thomas and Eddie Floyd. Both Love & Jackson had a way of being more lyrical in their playing, rather than accentuating the vocalist, Jackson made his trumpet a vocalist. He often also would put vocal phrasing and voice-overs on early Mar-Keys tracks. Word spread quickly around the industry that Stax had one of the best Soul horn sections around. This was one of the major reasons why Jackson & Love created the Memphis Horns in the early 60s. The duo appear on nearly every song recorded on the Stax imprint. They released their self-titled debut in 1970, went on to put out 6 other LPs between 1970-1979 , and recorded for many others in the industry. He passed away in 2016 age 74.
…‘Don’t want no woman, tellin’ me how to live my life’…On November 24th, in 1945, keyboardist, singer, songwriter, producer, pianist, guitarist and sometimes session musician for Jimi Hendrix-Lee Michaels (Michael Olsen AKA Lee Eugene Michaels) was born in Los Angeles, California. The seminal Hammond organ player got his start playing keys, guitar, writing and singing for the early 60s Surf Rock band called the Sentinals. As Flower Power was taking over the youth scene and Rock ‘n’ Roll was transforming in sound to a Psychedelic Blues and Jazz tinged music genre, Michaels moved to San Francisco and joined the Family Tree-led by drummer Bob Segarini.
In 1967, Michaels signed with A&M records and released his debut-Carnival of Life. He was well known on the circuit for his organ playing, evening coined: the ultimate power organist. From 1967 to 1971-Michaels released 4 LPs, none of which charted with the public, but all of which kept him busy as a touring act and session musician (all the musicians loved his playing). It wasn’t until his 5th LP (title is 5th-released in 1971), that he took off. This LP gave him 2 top 40 hits: Do You Know What I Mean, and Can I get a Witness (Marvin Gaye cover). He put out a few more LPs during the 70s, signing to Columbia after 1971, but none seemed to chart in the top 100. He is 73 today.
On November 24th, in 1956 one half of the production team called Flyte Tyme, original member of the band called Flyte Tyme, seminal producer of early 80s to late 90s R&B hits, original band member with the newly updated Prince produced Time and the man that appeared in the movie Purple Rain but had no lines-Terry (Steven) Lewis was born. Lewis met Jimmy Jam through the Upward Bound Program at the University of Minnesota. Although both attended high school and lived in the Minneapolis area, it would take their meeting on the U of Minnesota campus for them to form the band Flyte Tyme. The band started in 1972 with members: Alexander O’Neal & Cynthia Johnson on vocals, Jimmy Jam (keys), Terry Lewis (bass), Tony Johnson (guitar), Monte Moir (keys), Jimmie Anderson (sax) and Garry Jellybean Johnson (drums).
At first, they called themselves the Wars of Armageddon (Funkadelic cut), and then Soul Vaccination (Tower of Power cut), before settling on Flyte Tyme (Donald Byrd cut). Lineup and personnel changed a lot during the 70s, but by 1981, they were in full swing, signed to Warner Brothers by Prince-who adding in lead singer Morris Day after Alexander left and Jesse Johnson on guitar-rounded out the seminal band know as the Time. Terry Lewis recorded on every Time LP except Ice Cream Castles. By 1983, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis left the time to start their own label and production company-Flyte Tyme. They brought the name back from their original band, and got work penning hits for Janet Jackson, New Edition, Freddie Jackson, and any other mid to late 80s R&B act that wasn’t doing New Jack Swing. Lewis is 62 today!
On Noevmeber 24th, in 1993, we lost a seminal Bluesman, guitarist, harmonica player songwriter, bandleader, singer and the man known as: The Master of the Telecaster-Albert Collins (Albert Gene Drewery). He was also known as The Ice Man. His style was more of a Blues Rock, Jump Blues format. The Leona, Texas native got his start in the early 50s, with his own band called the Rhythm Rockers. He was inspired heavily by John Lee Hooker, and learned guitar over a 12-year period while he drove trucks and did music part-time on his routes. This gave Collins exposure and experience that he would not have had with out the truck driving job.
He got a chance to perform for people that otherwise would not have heard of him since he had limited recordings. Also, the experience gained from performing at various venues, seeing others perform and the sheer repetition of playing live, allowed Collins to really hone his guitar skills, singing and songwriting skills for live shows. Collins recorded for Blue Thumb records in the late 60s with Ike & Tina Turner. He also won a Grammy in 1985 for the Showdown! LP with Robert Cray & Johnny Copeland. He appeared on David Letterman’s late night TV show in 1987, acted in Adventures in Babysitting and performed at the 1988 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. His cause of death was related to lung cancer. He was 61 years-old when he died.
Honorable Mention: On November 24th, in 1865, the state of Mississippi was groundbreaking in that their legal system laid the foundation for the prison industrial complex, the American police force (former overseers, slave catchers and field masters on plantations) as well as using a legal and systematic way to control former slaves and descendants of Blax (African descendants) in North America for centuries to come by introducing-the Black Codes. These were the precursor to Jim Crow and forbid Blacks from: jury service, testifying against Whites in trials, bearing arms and attending White schools.
On November 24th, in 1892, HBCUs were building in numbers all across the nation, predominantly in the former Confederate States. They sought to provide Blacks with professional degrees to help provide services to the Black community. On Thanksgiving in 1892, the 1st HBCU Football game was played between Livingstone College ) Salisbury, North Carolina) & Biddle University (Johnson C. Smith-Charlotte, NC). Both schools are about 40 miles from one another. That was pretty far back then.
On November 24th, in 1985, we lost a man that helped shape the sound of Rock ‘n’ Roll, the singer and songwriter-Big Joe Turner (Joseph Vernon Turner Jr.) passed away in Inglewood, California. The Kansas City, Missouri native sang standard & Jump Blues, R&B and Jazz. He performed as a musician over six decades (1920s-1980s), worked with Count Basie and recorded for several labels. He was 74 years-old when he passed.
On November 24th, in 1991, session drummer and drummer for KISS-Eric Carr (Paul Charles Caravello-The Fox) passed away in NYC, NY (41 years-old). He replaced the band’s original drummer Peter Criss in 1980. Carr continued to play with the band from then on, up until 1991 when his health deteriorated to a level that made him unable to perform. Criss had gotten injured badly in a car accident, he says he quit. Gene Simmons says he was fired. Either way, Carr took over the position.
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!