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…"At the Crossroads! With a Key! Sissy!"… On March 17th, 2006, writer, activist, poet, rapper, and son of Sonny Carson: Professor X (Lumumba Carson) passed away in New York City, New York. His father was the infamous NYC gang member, involved with The Bishops, who later became a Pro-Black Activist for education upon his return from The Korean War. The book and film, The Education Of Sonny Carson, is related to his life. Professor X grew up to follow his father’s footprint of Black Empowerment.
He was born in Brooklyn, and got into hip hop during the mid to late 1970s (Professor X was in his early 20s-born in 1956). X helped found the political rap collective X-Clan in 1989. Professor X was the wiseman of the group-the eloquent narrator that summed up the sentiments of Brother J’s verses. The original members included 'Grand Verbalizer Funkin’ Lesson' Brother J, Sugar Shaft-The Rhythm Provider, and Paradise-The Architect. X Clan was an extension of the Pro-Black Hip Hop that came out in the late 80s and early 90s. They brought an African historical and political presence to the game. Their larger collective group was called The Black Watch Movement, which also included the female emcees Lin Que (Isis) & Queen Mother Rage. Professor X also he released two solo albums of his own, including Years Of The 9, On The Blackhand Side (1990) and Puss ‘n Boots-The Struggle Continues (1993). This Afrocentric teacher of Kemetian philosophy was 49 when he passed away.
On March 17th, 1972, former BK Decepticon, rapper, member of The Boot Camp Clik-and the hip hop duo Heltah Skeltah-Sean Price (aka Ruck, Jesus Price, Mic Tyson, Sean P, Kimbo Price, Tawl Sean, Imperius Rex, etc) was born in New York City, New York. Sean started off with his Brooklyn-based crew, turned gang, the The Decepticons back in the late 80s/early 90s. They were easily identifiable by the Transformers symbol ususally tattooed on their forearms. They were similar to The ‘Lo Lifers,’who would do mob robberies at stores and boutiques around the city (i.e. a group of them would target a locale, event or business-and rob everyone).
By the time the chaos settled, they’d be on to the next spot. Ruck & Rock hooked up on the lyrical tip in the mid 90s. Price also met Smif-N-Wessun around that same time. They were all Brooklyn dwellers creating hip hop-centered around Buck Shot from Black Moon & production from Da Beatminerz (brothers Evil Dee & Mr. Walt). The Original Gun Clappers (O.G.C.), The Representativz, and Dru Ha rounded out the members of The BCC. Sean was featured on songs from Smif-N-Wessun, and even more as part of The Fab 5 (Heltah Skeltah paired up with O.G.C.). In 1996 he and Rock released their classic debut LP Nocturnal on Duck Down Records-and later returned with Magnum Force. Nine years later, in 2005, he released his first solo project Monkey Barz. Sean P is one of the few rappers that didn’t switch up to skinny jeans, in the new millennium, and kept it street. He was 43 years old, when he passed on August 8th, 2015.
On March 17th, 1946, funk music innovator, drummer, songwriter, percussionist, violinist, and co-founding member of the band WAR-Harold Ray Brown was born in Long Beach, California. Brown started off on violin, while in elementary school, in the early 1950s. He moved to drums in middle school, and started a band called The Creators with Howard Scott in 1963. They played talent shows, car shows, and gigged at sock hops as well. He became so proficient at the drums, that by the time he had graduated high school, he’d earned a scholarship to Valparaiso University in 1964. He turned the scholarship down, to pursue music full-time; and in 1967 he and Scott renamed the band-The Night Shift. In 1969 Eric Burdon & Lee Oskar joined the group, after jamming with them at North Hollywood's The Rag Doll Night Club. Shortly after, they changed their name to WAR.
Brown stayed with the band from 1969 until 1983. In 1983 he returned to college, and majored in computer science and music. He graduated in 1986 and moved to New Orleans. He performed some from time to time, and also appeared for band reunions between 1986 & 2000. In 2001, Brown returned to college to pursue a degree/certificate in history and hospitality. He currently works as a professional tour guide in New Orleans. He also started a revamp of War, called The Lowrider Band, with three of the original members (Howard Scott, Morris 'BB' Dickerson & Lee Oskar). He also works with youth in the city-teaching drumming, morals, ethics, and citizenship. He’s 73 today.
HONORABLE MENTION: On March 17th, 1989, singer, songwriter, and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer-Bobby Mitchell passed away in New Orleans, Louisiana. Mitchell made his recording debut on Imperial Records in 1954, with a group called The Toppers, with the single Baby’s Gone b/w Sister Lucy. He released four singles with the group, between 1954 and 1955. In 1956 he went solo, and released Try Rock And Roll b/w No-No-No. In 1957 he released I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday b/w You Better Go Home. Fats Domino made the former a hit when he covered it. Mitchell also appeared on American Bandstand, and was a radio DJ in the 1980s. He was 53 years old when he passed away.
On March 17th, 1941, singer, guitarist, psychedelic rock legend, songwriter, banjo player, and original founding member of Jefferson Airplane-Paul Kantner was born in San Francisco, CA. As a teen he started off playing folk music, as a form of protest, and to pay homage to his major musical influence Pete Seeger. He and Marty Balin linked at a folk show in 1965, and the pair came together to form Jefferson Airplane. He's the only band member that appears on all the recordings of both Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship. Paul Kanter was 74 when he died in 2016.
On March 17th, 1938, singer, songwriter, second wife of Frankie Lymon and founding member of The Platters-Zola Taylor (Zoletta Lynn Taylor) was born in Los Angeles, California. For the record, L.A. stands as a major foundation of doo wop music-as well as the low rider culture, that goes hand and hand with it. Zola was born during the height of its popularity, joined The Platters in 1954, and stayed with them until 1962. She’s a member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame (with The Platters); and appeared in the first rock ‘n’ roll film-Rock Around The Clock (1990). She was 69, at the time of her death.
On March 17th, 1919, singer, pianist, songwriter, actor, producer, activist, TV show host, father of Natalie Cole, brother of Jazz Pianist Freddie Cole, composer, arranger, and producer-Nat King Cole (Nathaniel Adams Cole) was born in Chicago, Illinois. Two of my favorite songs by Cole are Straighten Up & Fly Right and Nature Boy. Cole’s legacy goes well beyond the jazz and pop vocal world. He’s one of the first Black Stars to have a TV Variety Show on a major network. He also pushed the ethnic boundaries of the time, in his lifestyle and contractual demands. It would be blasphemous to say that Cole wasn’t an activist…he was a revolutionary! This Hall Of Fame and Grammy Award-Winning Artist was just 45 when he died in 1965.
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