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On March 21st, in 1945, singer, session musician, keyboardist, songwriter, the platinum wig donning sister of Sly Stone, member and co-lead vocalist for Sly & the Family Stone-Rose Stewart (Rosemary Stewart, Rose Stone) AKA Sister Rose was born in Dallas, Texas. She got her start singing with her brothers and sisters in a gospel group when they were young. Sly was identified as a musical prodigy, and he lead the band while Rose learned piano. She was an original member of Sly & the Family Stone (founded 1966). They were unique in that it was a very diverse band, being coed with multi-ethnic members. Many confuse Rose with being a member of the vocal splinter group Sly produced that also sang back up on a lot of the Family Stone’s songs-Little Sister.
Sly’s other sister-Vet Stewart is the family member in this band, not Rose. She was very identifiable in photos and on stage, wearing her usual wore a platinum wig. Her voice was very strong and soulful as well. She remained a member of the Family Stone for the duration of the band’s recording career (1966 to 1975). She got married to the band’s former manager-Bubba Banks shortly after. In 1976, she signed to Motown and released her self-titled debut-Rose. She also did a lot of session work for artists like: Michael Jackson, Elton John, Ringo Starr, Sandra Crouch and Phish. Rose is one of the few musicians from the band that continues to record, tour and appear in films. She’s 74 today.
On March 21st, in 1951, soul music innovator, singer, songwriter and co-founding member of the Stylistics-Russell (Allen) Thompkins Jr. (above-l, inset-seated r) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Thompkins is one of the lead singers for the vocal group the Stylistics. His vocal range is in the high register being a tenor, countertenor and falsetto. He got into music early on, being a native from one of the doo wop hotbeds in America-Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In his early teens, he started singing in a vocal group called the Monarchs. They won a battle against some soon to be members of the Stylistics while they were in high school called the Percussions. After high school, the bands dissolved and three remaining members from the Monarchs (Thompkins, Airrion Love and James Smith) and two from the Percussions (Herbie Murrell and James Dunn), came together to form the Stylistics (1968).
They signed to Sebring Records and released a hit single-You’re a Big Girl Now in 1970 (peaked at #7 on the US R&B Chart). Their popularity took off when they signed to the bigger label-Avco Records in 1971. As a result, they got to work with seminal producer Thom Bell who penned many hits for the group. Most of his arrangements centered around Thompkins’ (above-2nd l, inset-r) voice. Some of these hits include: Break Up to Make Up, Stop Look Listen (to Your Heart), Betcha By Golly Wow and You Make Me Feel Brand New. The band disbanded 2000 due to internal strife. However, Thompkins revamped the New Stylistics in 2004. He’s 67 today.
On March 21st, in 2004, we lost a seminal soul musician, singer, session musician, songwriter, producer and recording artist-Johnny Bristol (John Williams Bristol). TOV covered the artist's birthday on the February 3rd post. Please refer to it for more information. The Morganton, North Carolina native produced several hits for the Motown label during their stay in Detroit (late 60s to early 70s). His musical career started nearly a decade prior to his tenure at Motown. In 1959, he was performing professionally with Jackey Beavers under the name Johnny and Jackey. They signed with Harvey Fuqua on Tri-Phi Records. Motown bought the label out and kept Bristol and Fuqua on their roster.
The pair produced songs like: Ain't No Mountain High Enough, 25 Miles, Someday We'll be Together and Your Precious Love. Bristol also released a couple nice solo LPs on MGM during the mid to late 70s. His debut is probably one of his best albums: Hang on in There Baby (1974). In the 80s, he continued his recording career overseas in Europe. They appreciated his older LPs, making them rare groove and northern soul classics. He also worked with others, producing and songwriting for Marlena Shaw, Boz Scaggs and Johnny Mathis. The hit making producer was 65 when he passed.
HONORABLE MENTION: '...if the woman's half his age, plus 7'... this quote comes from the film X by Spike Lee during a scene where the actor in this post is playing Elijah Muhammad. He's giving Malcolm the rules on picking a wife. On March 21st, in 1934, Al Freeman (Albert Cornelius Freeman Jr) was born in San Antonio, Texas. He's been acting since 1958 and appeared on the Cosby Show, Law & Order, One Life to Live and The Edge of Night. He’s acted as a director and educator for young film enthusiasts. He was 78 when he died.
On March 21st, in 1940, singer, songwriter, Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame musician, guitarist, soul music pioneer, pastor and film scorer-Solomon Burke (James Solomon McDonald) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. TOV covered his death day on the October 10th post. Please refer to it for more information. Burke’s musical influences are 4 main genres that he meshed together to create his own soul sound: jazz, gospel, blues and country. He started performing professionally in the mid 50s, and continued his career up to his death in 2010. He’s sold over 15 million records over a 55 year span. He was 70 when he died.
On March 21st, in 1973, social activist, television personality, model, Teen Summit TV show host and former MTV veejay-Ananda Lewis was born in Los Angeles, California. Always one to go against the grain as stated by her mother and grandmother, Ananda got into social change at an early age. In her teens she became the host of Teen Summit on BET. It was a show that spoke to social issues faced by the youth, and their take on the solutions to them. In the 2000s, she got into mainstream journalism, but stayed true to her social activism by asking controversial questions and raising uncomfortable discussion points. She’s 48 today.
On March 21st, in 2011, seminal bluesman, singer, pianist, composer, guitarist, arranger, songwriter and piano blues innovator-Pinetop Perkins (Joe Willie Perkins) passed away in Austin, TX. The Belzoni, MS native got his start playing guitar very young. However, after a gig in Helena, AR, he got into a knife fight that permanently damaged the tendons in his left arm. Being unable to play guitar, he switched to piano. He played on radio shows and with Sonny Boy Williamson during the early days of his career. In the 50s, he linked up with Earl Hooker and recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis, TN. His style of music is boogie woogie and Chicago blues. He was 97 when he died.
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