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BLUES: On December 10th, in 1926, Rock innovator, dancer, guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, producer and New Orleans Blues musician-Guitar Slim (Eddie Jones) was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. His mother passed when he was 5 or 6 years-old. His grandmother raised him from that point on. When he came of age (teens), he worked in the cotton fields and frequented Juke Joints, performing as a singer and dancer. He got the nickname "Limber Leg" for his dancing skills. Nearing his 20s, with WWII on the horizon, Slim was drafted and shipped overseas. When he returned to New Orleans in the late 40s, he started gigging with local acts. He learned guitar from Willie D. Warren. His influences at the time were: T. Bone Walker and Clarence Gatemouth Brown.
One of the original Blues stars, with flamboyant garb like a true NOLA resident, Jones took the stage name Guitar Slim in the early 50s. He would have wild stage shows. His peacock like colorful outfits, with his hair dyed to match, and his energetic and original stage presence enabled him to build a strong following quick. Few artists were performing like he was at the time, the music may have been similar, but the visual was markedly different (Screaming Jay Hawkins also had elaborate shows). He released his first recording in 1952-Feeling Sad (Ray Charles covered the tune). It did alright on the charts but his biggest hit was 1954’s-The Things I Used to Do, co-written and produced by Ray Charles (Specialty Records,) remained atop the charts for several weeks. He passed at a young age (32) in 1959, but his music is timeless. He influenced acts like: Zappa, Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Guy and Steve Stills.
SOUL: On December 10th, in 1948, session vocalist, songwriter and original member of The Friends of Distinction-Jessica (Marguerite) Cleaves was born in Los Angeles, California. She came from a religious family-her grandfather was a Bishop at their church. She had a very unique music career being that she performed with several groups from three different genres: Soul, Funk & Disco. She sang Soul with The Friends of Distinction (mid 60s). They had a smash hit with Grazing in the Grass in 1969 (released 1968). The group was a straight-ahead co-ed Soul vocal band like The 5th Dimension. In the early 70s, she transitioned to session vocalist and occasional stage act with Earth Wind & Fire.
She left them, being replaced by vocalists Denice Williams and The Emotions. She got her real chance to shine when she worked with Raw Silk who were largely a disco outfit for lack of better terms (Deep House in my opinion, but that’s just me). She stayed with them from the late 70s to the early 80s. Shortly after the band disbanded, she moved to Detroit and started working with the P-Funk camp-George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. She’s featured on Computer Games, Dope Dogs and R&B Skeletons in the Closet. She passed away due to heart trouble in her hometown-Los Angeles (2014). She was 65 when she passed.
JAZZ: On December 10th, in 1957, Jazz Multi-Instrumentalist (keys, bass, drums, guitar, piano, sequencer/sampler user, radio personality, composer, producer, arranger, songwriter and founding member of The Jazzmasters & Kiss the Sky-Paul (Louis) Hardcastle was born in Kensington-London. Hardcastle took to music early on, learning all the instruments he could get his hands on. He got immersed in the European Jazz scene during the late 70s. In 1984, he released his first LP-Daybreak on Metronome Records (a subsidiary of London Records).
His initial sound wasn’t overly smoothed out, like Kenny G; it was more like a Jeff Lorber sound, but it was and is the type of Jazz that you’d hear on the radio. He has skills though, and gets really funky and soulful at times. He also produces and plays music from other genres like House, Ambient, Electronica and Breakstep. Hardcastle has sample material for those willing to sift through his extensive catalog. He’s recorded over 50 LPs from 1984 to the current date…with a discography like that, it’s kind of hard not to find something worth sampling. He’s a dedicated musician that has helped keep the European Jazz scene alive. He continues to record, tour and produce. Hardcastle is 60 years-old today.
HIP HOP: On December 10th, in 1995 we lost Buffy AKA The Human Beat Box from The Fat Boys (Darren Robinson). Buff didn’t really emcee much…his emceeing was mixed in with his beat boxing. However, he was probably the most noticeable, memorable and infamous of the trio. A Fat Boys show without Buff, even though he didn’t beat box on every song, would’ve been like seeing The Jackson 5 without Mike! Most of the larger world got introduced to Buffy & The Fat Boys in the 1985 film Krush Groove, starring Blair Underwood as Russell Simmons. For those of you that may go further back with the crew, you’ll note that they used the name The Disco 3 prior to the Fat Boys. Interesting fact: In Krush Groove they start off calling themselves The Disco 3, but then change it to Fat Boys to showcase the stature and clown themselves before the competition could.
That was an ingenious move, not to mention that the film pretty much depicted the real way they took on the new moniker. The crew had success with films and commercials in the 80s, but after Hip Hop started transforming to a more conscious base, the pop rap acts kind of fizzled out. At the time, it wasn’t cool to be liked by a lot of fans. Buff got into some legal trouble after the gigs, films and studio sessions started drying up. He passed away in Queens, NYC, NY at the young age of 28. The Fat Boys, and especially Buff, were one of the first groups to promote that being different in a way that society deems 'weird', is ok. S.O. to him & them for doing that, it helped spawn The Golden Era of Conscious Hip Hop. Cats felt like they could say anything on the mic and look however they wanted to.
THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE: Every year on December 10th, The Alfred Nobel Foundation AKA the Nobel Institute awards outstanding humans with the Nobel Peace Prize (est. 1901). Recipients receive the honor for their work in industry, physics, literature, medicine, inventions, chemistry, physiology, manufacturing and for people who do the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses. Several people have won the reputable prize over the years, but five are definitely worth mentioning. First, in 1950, Doctor Ralph J. Bunche became the first Black to get the award for his work with ending the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Detroit native paid his dues and opened doors for recipients of color that would come after him.
Second: Fourteen years later, in 1964, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the prize for his work in ending segregation in a non-violent way. He was one of the first to receive the award based on homeland political, social, and economic injustices. Third: Twenty years later, in 1984 Bishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu earned the prize for his non-violent work towards resolving the oppressive apartheid practices that were going on in South Africa. He wouldn’t be the only South African to win the award. Fourth: Nine short years later, in 1993 Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela got the honor of winning the award for his non-violent extermination of apartheid. He went on to be President of South Africa in 1994 (won overwhelmingly by popular vote). Last but not least, I may get some frowns here, but sixteen years later, in 2009, Barack Hussein Obama won the prize for helping to strengthen cooperation and diplomacy between international regions.
Honorable Mention: On December 10th, in 1967, singer, songwriter, Soul Music Icon, producer, record label owner and one of the most recognizable singers of all-time: Otis Redding was killed in a plane crash. The plane landed in Lake Monoma near Madison, Wisconsin. It was icy and extremely cold. Most of the original Bar-Kays were on the plane. They also died in the crash. The only person that survived was Ben Cauley (Bar-Kays). They'd just finished playing a TV show appearance for UpBeat the day before (Cleveland, Ohio). He was 26 years-old when he died.
On December 10th, in 1973, The Home of Country Bluegrass, Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers (CBGB & OMFUG) opened for business for the first time. They were hosting acts that weren’t in any of the genres listed in the title...they were more a part of the OMFUG in the name. Punk Rock would be cultivated here like no other place on the East Coast. Created and owned by Hilly Kristal, he booked mostly Punk & New Wave acts like Blondie, The Ramones, Patti Smith and others. They closed their doors 10-15-2006.
On December 10, in 2005 comedian, social commentator, actor, film maker, comedy LP artist and Hollywood mogul-Richard (Franklin Lennox Thomas) Pryor III passed away from complications with Multiple Sclerosis. The Peoria, Illinois native capitalized on the Redd Foxx trend of recording your comedy sets, pressing them on vinyl and selling them. It worked, for both comedians. S.O. to Foxx for originating that move. Pryor was able to have a funny conversation with audience, not so much a show, but an interaction. He made the audience relate to him and kept us laughing the whole time. He was 65 years-old when he died.
Casualties of War: On December 10th, in 2008, The Associated Press ran a story that discussed the warfare tactics US troops were using against their supposed enemies in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They blasted all types of songs 24 hours a day to: create fear, disorient and prolong capture shock…songs they played were Barney’s Intro Theme (I Love You), The Sesame Street Theme, Born In The USA, White America (Eminem) and Hell’s Bells (AC/DC)…I can’t imagine hearing Barney & Sesame Street loud all day and night.
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!