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On February 22nd, 1987, pop art icon, filmmaker, writer, America’s High Priest of Pop, musician's manager, purveyor of all things ‘cool’ in the 60s, good friend of Jean-Michel Basquiat, print-maker, photographer and seminal graphic artist-Andy Warhol (Andrew Warhola) passed away in New York City, New York. TOV covered the artist’s birthday on the August 6th post. Please refer to it for more information. Warhol’s path to becoming a pop culture icon was an unusual one in that he got his start while he was bed ridden as a child with a debilitating disease called Sydenham’s Chorea (AKA St. Vitus’ Dance). The disease affects the nervous system and epidermis.
It’s characteristic of involuntary muscle movements and blotchy skin. Hence why Warhol was so pale and could often be seen with red blotches on his body. While stuck in his bed, he crafted his future style by writing, cutting out pictures of celebrities and listening to music. In his teens, he won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award at his then high school-Schenley in Pittsburgh, PA (mid 40s). He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (1949). He moved to NYC and started working for Glamour Magazine and other periodicals. He went on to design LP covers for the Rolling Stones and Velvet Underground (the latter he also managed). He was 58 when he passed.
On February 22nd, in 1976, singer, dancer, session vocalist and former member of the Supremes-Florence (Glenda) Ballard (Florence Chapman) passed away in Detroit, Michigan. She came from a huge family of 15 siblings. She lived with her family in the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects in Detroit. During her childhood, she got the nickname Flo and Blondie from her family and friends. It stuck with her to adulthood. She is actually one of the first to become a Supreme, with the earlier version of the vocal trio being called the Primettes (formed in 1958 when she was 15). She auditioned for the group that was managed by Melvin Jenkins. After she got her spot, she recruited her friend Mary Wilson.
Wilson, in turn, recruited Diana Ross (Diane Betty McGlown) and the Primettes were officially a group. They auditioned for Motown in 1960 but were told, by Berry Gordy, to graduate high school first and then return. Ballard dropped out, while Wilson & Ross got their diplomas. That same year, tragedy struck the singer, who was, up to that point, considered the leader and most head strong of the group. She was raped by Reggie Harding after a sock hop. She stopped trusting people and became cynical/pessimistic. Many music historians believe this is the major reason behind her self-destructive behavior later. The Primettes got signed to Lu Pine Records in 1960, and Motown in 1961. She also was the singer that chose their new name on the Motown imprint-The Supremes. She was 32 when she passed.
On February 22nd, in 1933, singer, radio DJ, the man known as Mister M-Nauga-Ma-Hyde in the 80s and The Emperor of the Universe in the 90s: Ernie K-Doe (Ernest Kador Jr) was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. His stage name comes from a short version of his first name, and a slight alteration in pronunciation of his last name (Kador = K-Doe). He started singing professionally in the mid 50s with Allen Toussaint as producer, and backed by the early version of the Meters. Most of his music was considered ‘raunchy’, pre-2 Live Crew & Too-Short style. This is how he got the self-proclaimed alias of Mister M-Nauga-Ma-Hyde. Naugahyde was a PVC pipe coating that made it slippery and easy to insert into other fittings...
K-Doe claimed to lay plenty of pipe. The company responsible for manufacturing Naugahyde ordered him to cease and desist use of the alias. He changed it, adding the letter ‘M’ and ‘Ma’ to make it ‘legal like’. He had a couple of hits in the 60s: Te-Ta-Te-Ta-Ta in 1961 (#21 R&B) and Later for Tomorrow in 1967 (#37 R&B). In the 70s, he toured in small venues locally mostly, but also nationally. In the 80s, he became a radio DJ for WWOZ & WTUL in New Orleans. He was very energetic on the airwaves and coined his own catch phrases: Burn K-Doe Burn!-You just good, that’s all!-and I’m a charity hospital baby! In the 90s, he recorded and performed under the name-The Emperor of the Universe. He’d don a cape, crown and other outlandish gear on stage. He was 68 when he passed (2001).
HONORABLE MENTION: On February 22nd, 2008 The Mississippi State Legislature was debating on whether or not to honor singer, songwriter, Rock ‘n’ Roll pioneer, former husband of Tina Turner, producer, guitarist, pianist, father and controversial figure-Ike Turner. Ike had only been deceased for a little over two months. The elements of his life in question were his drug use, prison time, and domestic abuse. As they saw it, they didn’t want to honor the negative parts of his life. Instead, they passed a resolution that honored his musical achievements exclusively-with nothing from his personal life.
On February 22nd, 2002, drummer, percussionist, sideman, session musician, former member of The Ted Heath Orchestra, The Syd Lawrence Orchestra, and the person responsible for the drumming behind The Muppet’s Show puppet Animal, Ronnie (Thomas) Verrell passed away in Kingston-upon-Thames, England. His major influence was Buddy Rich, who he had a drum off with when Rich appeared on The Muppet Show. Animal/Verrell won the battle, and added an exclamation to it by smashing his snare drum over Rich’s head.
On February 22nd, 2000, The First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, California was hosting a tribute to the dearly departed singer, songwriter, activist, producer, record executive, soul music innovator, bandleader, co-founder of The Impressions, composer, arranger, and producer-Curtis Mayfield. Curtis had passed away a couple months prior on December 26th, of 1999. The tribute featured Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, and an impromptu performance by Lauryn Hill rounded out some of the more notable musicians at the event.
On February 22nd, 1922, jazz musician, sideman, trumpeter, bandleader, composer, arranger, and flugelhornist- Joe Wilder (Joseph Benjamin Wilder) was born in Colwyn, Pennsylvania. He was a WWII US Marine Corp veteran. While in the Marines, he also acted as assistant bandmaster. He originally wanted to be a classical artist, but found that opportunities for Black classical musicians were few and far between; so instead, he turned to jazz. Wilder went on to work as a sideman with Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie. He also worked on ABC television and Broadway musicals. The NEA Jazz Master was 92 when he died in 2014.
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