| || || |
| || || |
| || || |
| || || |
On February 17th, 1936, pop culture icon, athlete, activist, actor, nine-time NFL Pro Bowler, NFL Rookie Of The Year, NFL Hall Of Fame running back, friend to Muhammad Ali, College All-American in lacrosse and football-Jim Brown (James Nathaniel Brown) was born on St. Simons Island, Georgia. Brown is most known for his athletic and acting skills. As a running back, he broke records in rushing yards and touchdowns scored for both Syracuse University and Cleveland Browns. He also graced the silver screen several times over, after he retired from football. He starred in films alongside Fred 'The Hammer' Williamson, Jim Kelly, Raquel Welch, and Ron O’Neil among many others.
With all that said, few may know about how Brown, Muhammad Ali, Sam Cooke, Bill Russell, and Malcolm X set the foundation for Black Power (Black Social and Economic Empowerment). They often met and discussed what it was to have ‘crossover’ or ‘mainstream’ appeal; and how to use that platform to disassemble systemic racism, while bolstering the overall image of Black people (in a positive way). They were the first group of men to collaborate on how to take stances against the establishment in thought, action, and appearance. They all donned natural hair styles (afros), refused to participate in events that were segregated against people of color, and worked directly within the community to help lift the self-esteem of the youth. Jim Brown turns 83 today.
On February 17th, 1942, activist, humanitarian, scholar, public-speaker, community organizer, Black Power icon and co-founder of The Black Panther Party-Huey P. Newton (Huey Percy Newton) was born in Monroe, Louisiana. TOV covered Newton’s death in the August 22nd post. Please refer to it for more information. Huey came from a large southern family with six siblings, and was named after Huey Long, former governor of Louisiana. His family moved to Oakland when he was three; so he pretty much lived his entire young adult life in The Bay Area. He got into some trouble with the law, during his teens, for vandalism and gun possession. He didn’t like school because it didn’t teach him much about himself, or his own life experience.
Newton claimed that the structure of public school made learning so boring and disengaging that he nearly lost his desire to learn. When he graduated high school in 1959, he was illiterate. He eventually taught himself to read, and enrolled in college. Like any good student of life, he began to question the social, economic, and political structure that was set up for his failure-and the success of Whites. Second-Class Citizenship did not sit well with Newton. While in college, he met a like-mind in Bobby Seale. The two formed The Black Panther Party For Self-Defense in 1966. The Party expanded and hosted free breakfast and lunch programs for kids, food banks, sickle cell anemia testing, and public rallies. Huey remained a soldier for the liberation of Black people until his death in 1989.
On February 17th, 1963, basketball phenom, NBA owner, Nike shoe icon, pop culture trend setter, six-time NBA champion, 1985 NBA Rookie Of The Year, five-time NBA MVP, 10x NBA scoring champ, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, actor (although a horrible one), SNL host, NCAA Champion, 1984 College Player Of The Year (Naismith & Wooden), 14 Time NBA All-Star, 1988 NBA Defensive Player Of The Year, two-time NBA Dunk Contest Champion, international mogul, Spike Lee collaborator, MLB White Sox minor league player, and three-time NBA leader in steals-Michael (Jeffrey) Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York. Jordan has been doing it athletically for a long time, and set the trends of baggy shorts and high scoring in The NBA.
It was his work with Spike Lee, during his Nike Air Jordan shoe campaigns of the late 80s and early 90s however, that set a trend that has yet to be matched. No other retired athlete continues to have a shoe in the game, that current players wear and are sponsored by. For instance no shoe company manufactures, and no current NBA athlete wears, Shaq's, Penny Hardaway's, Bird’s-Magic’s or Isiah’s (Converse), Patrick Ewing's, Barkley’s, nor Pippen’s. Point is, Jordan’s legacy runs further into the total world culture of fashion and basketball. He literally continues to transform the game from a distance. I wonder if he feels strange when his own NBA team, The Charlotte Hornets gets beaten by another team, when most of the players on the other team are wearing Jordan’s? That’s gotta be some type of win-lose thing. MJ turns 56 today.
On February 17th, in 1982, jazz icon, pianist, be bop legend, composer, arranger, producer, and cool jazz musician-Thelonious (Sphere) Monk passed away in Englewood, New Jersey. TOV covered the artist’s birthday in the October 10th post. Please refer to it for more information. Monk taught himself to play piano. He started playing at the age of six; and by his late teens, was playing organ & piano in jazz bands and churches. Thelonious was the house pianist at Minton’s Playhouse during the early and mid 1940s. It was at Minton's he developed a Harlem Stride style there, that was heavily influenced by Duke Ellington and James P. Johnson. He also worked with soon-to-be jazz superstars like Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Kenny Clarke.
They'd have late night jam sessions, where they developed the sound of be-bop and transformed jazz during the late 40s and early 50s. A lot of jazz historians credit Monk with having intricate compositions that had melodies based in improvisation and solos that allowed the musician to branch out. Sun Ra’s style is influenced by Monk’s work. Thelonious was featured on the cover of Time Magazine, making him one of only five jazz musicians to ever achieve that distinction. The Grammy Award Winning, DownBeat Jazz Hall Of Fame, and NEA Jazz Master pianist recorded a number of LPs for Columbia, Prestige, Blue Note and Riverside. He composed several standards like ‘Round Midnight, that are still played today. He was 64 at the time of his death.
HONORABLE MENTION-OLD SCHOOL ARTISTS: On February 17th, 2008, one of the originators of Rock n’ Roll, the self-proclaimed "KING Of Rock ‘n’ Roll," flamboyant personality, former preacher, singer, songwriter, pianist, and Rock ‘n Roll Hall Of Fame vocalist Little Richard received a standing ovation from a crowd of over 2,400 fans. He wasn’t the performer, however, and didn’t sing. Richard was at a concert at The Ryman Auditorium, in Nashville, TN, when The Temptations member Otis Williams called him out in the audience. The crowd paid homage to the musical great.
On February 17th, 2006, jazz musician, sideman, composer, drummer, arranger, percussionist, producer, conga player, and bandleader-Ray Barretto passed away in Hackensack, New Jersey. Barretto is most known for his percussion and conga playing on jazz recordings spanning the late 1940s, through the early 1980s. He helped infuse Afro-Cuban, Latin, Salsa and Pachanga rhythms into standard jazz compositions. Before his arrival, those types of musical influences were few and far between. He worked with the infamous Fania All-Stars, that appeared at The Zaire ’74 concert for the Ali vs Foreman Rumble In The Jungle. Barretto was 76 years old when he died.
On February 17th, 1966, The Godfather Of Soul, The Super Heavyweight Minister of Funk, singer, dancer, pop culture icon, songwriter, funk innovator, and the man known as "Soul Brother #1," James Brown was in the studio recording one of his greatest hits and most known songs from his discography-It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World. James repeated Man three times in the title based off the then-popular TV show called It’s a Mad Mad Mad World. The song eventually reached #1 on The U.S. R&B Chart and #13 on The UK Pop Chart.
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