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Lennon was 40 when he was murdered.
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On December 8th, in 1939, singer, songwriter, producer, drummer, saxophonist, bassist, guitarist, political figure, activist, original member of the Northern Jubilee Singers, The Roosters and co-founder of the Impressions-Jerry Butler Jr. was born in Sunflower, Mississippi. Butler is the hub for a lot of Soul & Gospel musicians that would become big names later. For example, the gospel group he was in-The Northern Jubilee Singers was inspired by Sam Cooke’s gospel group The Soul Stirrers. He also was inspired by Cooke’s move to being a secular solo singer. To continue, Curtis Mayfield was a songwriter and guitarist (with Butler) for the Northern Jubilee Singers, The Roosters, and The Impressions. Butler’s little brother Billy was the guitarist for his backing band.
Butler also co-wrote "I’ve Been Loving You Too Long" with Otis Redding. He produced acts like Betty Everett and collaborated heavily with Gene Chandler, Patti Austin, Jean Carn, Johnny Bristol and the Sylvers. Jerry is also one of the few musicians like Prince, Stevie Wonder and John Coltrane-that can play all of his music himself if he chose to do so. He was raised in The Cabrini-Green housing projects on the south side of Chicago (location for Good Times & Candy Man). He has been sampled by many; is a Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee, was the Chairman for the Rhythm & Blues Foundation, was Cook County (Chicago) Board Commissioner, had four number one R&B hits from 1960-1969, and has hosted several music-related programs on PBS. He’s 79 today.
On December 8th, in 1943, the Lizard King, songwriter, actor, Mr. Mojo Risin’, poet, Rock icon, director, filmmaker and lead singer for the Doors-Jim Morrison (James Douglas Morrison) was born in Melbourne, Florida. Morrison’s parents were living when got famous, but he said they died, actually he said all of his family died in an interview. and on the band's press kit. Most musical historians believe that he did this due to the mental abuses from his father with Jim’s choice to be a poet-his pops was an Admiral in the US Navy. Poetry was not a 'manly' or 'honorable' profession. During the post-WWII era, the birth of the Middle-class, most families were like "Leave it to Beaver" or "Father Knows Best." There was a submissive matriarch and dominant patriarch.
Morrison’s parents, younger sister, and little brother upheld this image. His parents actually didn’t learn about his fame until they saw him performing live on TV. Jim drew his songwriting inspiration from his childhood experiences, real life universal events from observations, his internal imagination and infamous poets that struck a chord in him. He was influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean Cocteau, Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti to name a few. Morrison met band mate Ray Manzarek (keys) in film school at UCLA during the mid-60s. He wrote "Hello-I Love You" during this time. They added Robby Krieger on guitar and John Densmore on drums. They were an official band by 1965, and released their debut self-titled LP in 1967. The music and imagery they created helped shape the psyche of the larger world. He was 27 when he died.
On December 8th, in 1950, songwriter, composer, solo artist, producer, arranger and guitarist with infamous Funk Brothers (Motown backing band)-Wah Wah Watson (Melvin Ragin) was born in Richmond, Virginia. He got the name Wah Wah from the guitar pedal he was very skilled at using. Ragin moved from VA to Detroit and joined the Funk Brothers. His guitar is on The Temptations "Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone." This track showcases his ill Wah Wah pedal skills. He also played his guitar for Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The Jackson 5, The Four Tops, The Supremes, Spyder Turner, Lalo Schifrin, Pharoah Sanders, Rose Royce, D.J. Rogers, The Undisputed Truth, Silk, Jean Terrell, Lenny Williams,
The Pointer Sisters, Harvey Mason, Alton McClain & Destiny, Jon Lucien, Quincy Jones, Cheryl Lynn, Eloise Laws, Willie Hutch, Aquarian Dream, Herbie Hancock, Lamont Dozier, Bohannon, Norman Connors and he’s featured on Michael Jackson’s "Off The Wall" LP. He also released a solo LP in 1976- "Elementary." S.O. to the GOD NOVA SUPREME for giving me that joint. Melvin played on so many dope jams that have been sampled by many. I put a few of his heaters below. He passed away this year, 2018, on October 24th. He was active as a musician for 50 years (1968-2018). His Wah Wah guitar style infused the Blaxploitation theme music era and the modern Funk music movement. He was 67 years-old when he passed.
On December 8th, in 1955, cellist, double bassist, songwriter, vocalist, magician, bassist, session musician, composer, arranger and producer-Nathan (Harrell) East was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. East is a lot like Wah Wah Watson & Jerry Butler in relation to the amount of music he’s made with notable performers in the industry. He’s got co-writing credits for songs with Michael Jackson, George Harrison, Kenny Loggins, Eric Clapton, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Daft Punk, Toto, Phil Collins, Babyface, Anita Baker, The Love Unlimited Orchestra, Sting, Barry White, B.B. King, Peter Gabriel, Quincy Jones, Philip Bailey, Savage Garden, Al Jarreau, Brian Ferry and Elton John to name a few.
He's credited as one of the most recorded bassists in music history with over 2000 songs in his discography. He came from a big family (five boys and three girls). They moved to San Diego when he was young and he started playing cello in middle school. He turned to the bass in high school, playing in the orchestra. His first band was called Power. He was a member while still in high school. East graduated from UC San Diego with a degree in music, and co-founded the Jazz quartet-Fourplay. Interesting fact: East is a skilled magician. He belongs to the Academy of Magical Arts & the The Magic Castle. He’s 63 today.
On December 8th, in 1980, we lost a seminal songwriter, guitarist, activist and former Beatle-John (Winston) Lennon. Lennon was shot five times by Mark Chapman when he was outside of his apartment building. John & Yoko lived there together, the Dakota in NYC. Chapman had been lurking around the building waiting on Lennon. He had asked the guitarist for an autograph earlier in the day. When asked why he shot Lennon, Chapman roughly states that he wanted to be infamous like Lennon, (or take his shine so to say). He goes further to state that the end result was him being viewed worse publicly than he originally was before he shot Lennon. Chapman had planned on murdering several musicians that he felt weren’t really living up to the messages in their music.
His initial murder plot went into effect three months prior to Lennon’s assassination. Blood loss was determined as the final cause of death. Lennon was pronounced dead at 11:30pm. The day would be commemorated by fans from all over the world. In 2000, the residents of Liverpool, John’s hometown, placed a Plaque outside his childhood home to mark the 20th anniversary of his death. In 2016, John’s widow Yoko Ono can be quoted as saying the following about John’s death and gun control in the US: "Dear Friends, every day, 91 Americans are killed with guns. We are turning this beautiful country into a War Zone. Together, let's bring back America, the green land of Peace. The death of a loved one is a hollowing experience. After 36 years, our son Sean and I still miss him." (Facebook post, Dec 8th, 2016).
Lennon was 40 when he was murdered.
Honorable Mention: On December 8th, in 1925, dancer, choreographer, actor, comedian, TV personality, singer and original member of the Rat Pack-Sammy Davis Jr. (Samuel George Davis Jr.) was born in Harlem, NYC, NY. He grew in an entertainment family. His mother and father both danced. His father and uncle Will Mastin taught Davis most of his moves. He used that foundation to have a career that spanned more than 60 years (1928-1990). Sammy could do it all, crack jokes, sing, dance, act, and command attention. He was 64 years-old when he died.
On December 8th, in 1928, Jazz musician, bandleader, pianist, organist, composer, arranger and producer-Jimmy Smith (James Oscar Smith, Stanley Turrentine on sax) was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Jimmy Smith has a large catalog of recordings, releasing nearly 100 LPs. At first, he was a pianist, playing boogie-woogie as a child and honing his chops in the US Navy (30s-40s). He switched to organ in the early 50s after he returned from the war. Wild Bill Nelson was one of his biggest inspirations on the organ. He released LPs from 1957-1993, and performed live since the mid 30s. He passed in 2005 when he was 79. He was inducted into DownBeat’s Jazz Hall of Fame in 2006.
On December 8th, in 2004, guitarist for the Heavy Metal band Pantera-Dimebag Darrell was murdered on stage. He was performing at the Alrosa Villa Club in Columbus, Ohio. One of their many stops on the Damageplan tour. A cat named Nathan Gale charged the stage with his gun out, started firing, hit several people, killed five (one of which was Dimebag), and then got shot and killed by police. Shameful stuff, all over some music? Gale and Chapman, maybe they share cells…
On December 8th, in 2016, the lead singer for the Rolling Stones-Mick Jagger had a baby with his woman who was 29 years-old. Mick was 73 and already a great grandfather (2014). So…his son is going to be his great grandkid's, who is 2 years older than Mick’s son, his grandfather…ponder that…so when his ‘great great grandson’ is 18, graduating high school, his ‘grandfather’ will still be in high school, a sophomore…wow…add in that Mick’s oldest kid is nearly 20 years older than his current woman…double wow…I ain’t mad at you Mick.
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!