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Stax Music: The following two artists belong to the infamous Stax Record family which is responsible for transforming the sound of Soul, as well as being one of the initial innovators of the Funk movement. First, On November 21st, in 1941, a prolific songwriter, singer, producer, arranger and Stax in house co-writing partner with Isaac Hayes(below-2nd l)-David Porter (l-both) was born in Memphis, TN. He & Isaac were similar to the Holland-Dozier-Holland production for Motown & TSOP, at the Stax imprint. However, their sound was more gritty, filled with Psychedelic Soul and Funk. They weren’t polished like the Motown sound of the time.
Porter is the 3rd youngest of nine siblings. He started singing with Earth Wind & Fire bandleader and songwriter-Maurice White. The pair would sing in church, local competitions and perform at small venues around town while in high school. Satellite Records was near his after-school job. He inquired about working for the label, and they hired Porter (inset-r) who became the first in-house songwriter for the label. While honing his songwriting skills, he added on the responsibility of A&R (talent scout, Artist & Repetoire), recruiting The Emotions, William Bell, The Soul Children, Booker T. Jones (MGs), Johnny Taylor, Carla Thomas, Mable John, Wendy Renee and The Sweet Inspirations to the newly renamed subsidiary of Atlantic Records-Stax Records.
Porter (inset-standing, above-l) is responsible for bringing Isaac Hayes (inset-seated) to the label in the early 60s to be his co-writing partner. Atlantic treated Stax as an ‘artist developmental label’…they’d send their less popular acts to Memphis and Porter along with Isaac Hayes, would make them hits. Atlantic would then take them back: Sam & Dave…or Stax would discover awesome artists, have Porter & Hayes build them up and then Atlantic would take them (Otis Redding). After the duo penned over 200 songs for at least a dozen acts on the label, Hayes & Porter pursued solo careers.
More focus was given to Isaac, as his selling power was bigger, especially after the Shaft Soundtrack, but Porter’s 4 Solo LPs are extremely tight. The majority of samples used on Wu-Tang’s whole camp, including their side projects, come from Porter’s productions. He is ranked as one of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of all time by Rolling Stones Magazine, He’s a Songwriter’s Hall of Fame member, owns several Grammys and has amassed over 1500 songwriting credits. Interesting fact about Porter: he has co-writing credits for Getting Jiggy With It by Will Smith & Dreamlover by Mariah Carey. He’s 77 today.
Now this Stax woodwind artist is lesser-known, but has laid many funky runs with his musical brethren in the seminal Funk band the Memphis Horns. On November 21st, in 1941, the saxophonist heard on those mid to late 60s Otis Redding & Sam & Dave cuts, and co-founder of the Memphis Horns-Andrew Love (l) was born in Memphis, TN. Love got his start playing for the church choir at his father’s church (pastor). He played in high school and majored in music at the HBCU Langston University in Oklahoma. He returned to Memphis in the mid 60s and started working as a sessions sax player at Stax. This is where he met trumpeter Wayne Jackson (r), and the two formed the Memphis Horns.
Their combined playing on song intros like Otis Redding’s I’ve Been Loving You Too Long, evoke an emotional response from the listener, something with feeling, Soul. Love (above-l) with Jackson (above-2nd r) recorded with several artists on the imprint and some that weren’t: The Staple Singer, Isaac Hayes, Albert King, Dr. John, Leon Haywood, The Temprees, O.V. Wright, The Soul Children, Eric Mercury, The Sweet Inspirations, The Emotions, Al Green, The Doobie Brothers, Elvis Presley, Cold Blood with Lydia Pense, Lou Bond and Aretha Franklin. Love & Jackson (the Memphis Horns) released 6 LPs from 1970 to 1979. Their top 2 being 1970’s self-titled debut on Cotillion and 1972’s Horns For Everything on Million Records Inc. He put a lot of Soul into the music from the 60s through the 80s. He passed away in 2012 (70).
...‘All my friends know the low-rider…the low-rider is a little higher’…On November 21st, in 1948, singer, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, guitarist, percussionist and original co-founding member of the band War-Lonnie Jordan (Leroy Lonnie Jordan-seated 2nd r) was born in San Diego, California. I’m not going to focus on the multi-instrumentalist’s musical origins, like I typically do when reviewing musicians. Instead, I’m going to focus on his versatility and longevity in the music game. Jordan was a jack of all trades when it came to the band. Members would come and go during the 70s-80s, he’d fill-in for them on recordings and at shows.
His preliminary position in the Creators and Nightshift (pre-War bands with members from War), was mostly songwriter, singer, keys and some guitar. These are the same roles he'd play once War formed in 1969, and throughout the band’s run. Jordan’s (r) songwriting skills and unique vocals, allows the listener to immediately know who he is. Although he doesn’t think of his vocals as his best asset, most admirers of his music do. The range of topics that Jordan covered with War, as a collaborator with others (Tanya Tucker, T. Rex, Los Lobos, Bobby Womack), and as a solo artist, showcase his ability to depict the real life paradigms of love and hate, wealth and poverty, socializing and solitude, happiness and sorrow, beauty and ugliness, etc. Jordan is 70 today.
…‘I was in the right place, but it must’ve been the wrong time’…as the sole writer for Today on Vinyl, I’d like to extend a sincere apology to the readers and the artist himself-Dr. John AKA Malcolm John Rebennack. I forgot to mention him on the previous day’s post when it was his birthday, happy belated (November 20th, 1941). He couldn’t have said it better in his song quote, I was in the right place (Today, on Vinyl), but it must’ve been the wrong time (November 20th).
Enough on that though, let’s build on Dr. John. The New Orleans native got his start in his teens, finding his style on piano by way of the teachings of Professor Longhair. The music of King Oliver and Louis Armstrong heavily influenced him. His direct contacts with artists like Little Richard and Guitar Slim also added to his musical foundation. He learned quickly, practiced hard and became a producer and session musician for Ace Records (1950s).
He was also playing in local clubs with established acts and those passing through on tour. Late night jam sessions were a regular thing. He was still attending Jesuit High School, and his fathers gave him an ultimatum: either stop playing in clubs or leave the school. He left the school to pursue music full-time, and this event inspired him to write his hit song: Right Place, Wrong Time. He’s worked with everyone from the NOLA music scene like The Meters & Beginning of the End to Allen Toussaint. He’s 77.
On November 21st in 1904, Jazz saxophonist, composer, producer, arranger, songwriter and clarinet player Coleman Hawkins (Coleman Randolph Hawkins) was born in Saint Joseph, Missouri. His family moved to Chicago when he was still a child. He started playing piano and cello very young. By 9, he was on tenor sax, and by 14, when they moved to Topeka, Kansas, he’d be playing gigs around the area. Hawkins was a very prolific musician, maybe even an undeclared ‘prodigy’. For example, aside from knowing the piano and woodwinds, he managed to attend Topeka High and take two years worth of composition classes at Washburn College at the same time. By the early 20s, he was playing Vaudeville stages with the infamous Mamie Smith’s Jazz Hounds.
From the mid 20s to the early 30s, he played bass sax and clarinet in Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra where he created with fellow band member-Louis Armstrong. Armstrong, was probably the largest single influence on Hawkins’ playing style. His Vaudeville performances sound nothing like his work post 1924/25 with Armstrong. In the 30s, Hawkins ripped up the New York scene, toured Europe with Benny Carter, Django Reinhardt, and Lester Young. The Father of BeBop returned stateside and got a Quintet together: Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Max Roach and Oscar Pettiford. He’s credited with making one of the first BeBop recordings with Roach, Dizzy & Pettiford. He was 64 years-old when he passed away.
Honorable Mention: On November 21st, in 1950, guitarist, singer, producer, songwriter and seminal session musician for acts like: Earth Wind & Fire, The Temptations, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Nicks, Michael Jackson (Thriller LP), the Jacksons, Julian Lennon, Aretha Franklin, Kenny Loggins, George Benson, Rod Stewart, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, Michael McDonald, Johnny Mathis, Madonna, The Pointer Sisters, The Crusaders, The Four Tops, Lionel Richie, Paul McCartney, Boz Scaggs and many others-David Williams was born in Newport News, Virginia. He passed away when he was 58 years-old (2009).
On November 21st, in 1974, Mr. Wilson ‘Wicked’ Pickett mistakenly gave the NYPD an alternate reason to call him ‘Wicked’. Pickett was in the Big Apple on tour, doing shows and entertaining his entourage around town. At some point, he got into a dispute with another man and pulled a gun on him. The man told the cops or an on-looker did, someone told the cops and they arrested the artist for possession of a deadly weapon.
On November 21st, in 1983, 21 days after Halloween, the King of Pop aired his 14 minute mini-film music video that transformed video making from that point on-Thriller. The video had a media frenzy surrounding it, with behind the scenes videos and footage. It was shown for the first time at the Palace Theater in Los Angeles, California. Interesting facts about the video directed by John Landis: Ola Ray was a former Playboy centerfold that played the lead female. The house scene was shot at 1345 Carroll Ave in the Angeleno Heights area, and the zombie dance scene was in East L.A. (South Calzona St & Union Pacific Ave intersection). Vincent Price, the horror film guru, is the voice and laugh.
On November 21st, in 1984, basketball lost a great STAR and soon to be SUN of the NCCA & NBA-Benji Wilson (Benjamin Wilson Jr.). He was shot and killed in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois. The teen star was coming off an All-American junior year at Chicago Simeon. He was just gearing up to play his senior year when he was murdered by another teen that felt Benji was punking him after he pulled his weapon. Wilson was prospected to possibly be able to go to the NBA draft directly after his senior year in high school. He was 17 when he was killed.
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!