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On October 10th, in 1917, the Jazz musician, composer, arranger, producer, bandleader, session musician and immortal pianist-Thelonious (Sphere) Monk was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina (sidebar: North Carolina is the birthplace of numerous Jazz musicians from John Coltrane to Max Roach). Thelonious is responsible for composing several Jazz Standards: ‘Round Midnight, Straight-No Chaser, Well You Needn’t & Blue Monk. Most Jazz musicians showcase their chops by playing these intricate compositions. Monk played the piano like a percussive instrument.
Seeing him live, you can see his feet constantly stomping and sliding on the floor to keep the beat, instead of relying on the drummer or using the piano foot pedals. He’s one of Jazz Music’s GIANTS, and for that matter, American music overall. Monk also helped birth Be-Bop & Cool Jazz, by being relentless in playing keys during the melody, main chorus and improvisations (Be-Bop). He later incorporated a lot of pauses, and what most untrained ears would consider-dead notes (Cool Jazz-when there’s no overt reason for certain notes to be played or omitted in compositions at certain times).
His composing style is so intricate that others have been unable to duplicate it. He was an afterhours ‘cutter’...Monk would make other pianists look silly and novice at the afterhours jam sessions (like Emcee battles, but with the piano). He’s the second most recorded and covered Jazz musician, behind Ellington that composed 1000s of songs (Monk composed 70-80 songs). Monk has over 50 LPs released on 9 different labels: Blue Note, Prestige, Riverside, Columbia, Far East, Black Lion and Milestones to name a few. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia…He passed away in Englewood, New Jersey in 1984. He was 64 years-old.
…‘I feel like a newborn King…’cause I just kissed my baby’…On October 10th, in 1948, vocalist, percussionist, and New Orleans Funk innovator-Cyril Neville was born in the NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana). He is the youngest brother of Ian, Aaron & Art Neville (the Neville Brothers). His major contributions to Funk music came about via his participation in the band his brother Art co-founded, The Meters. The Meters are probably third in all-time sampling, I’d say James Brown & George Clinton hold the number 1 & 2 slots.
If you’ve not heard a Meters song, then you’ve most likely heard a Meters sample and just didn’t know the origin. Their influence on the Funk music movement is very understated, but very prominent. They also worked with NOLA musicians like Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Fontella Bass, Chubby Checker, The Beginning of the End, and Betty Wright. Cyril is featured on over 50 LPs, in three major groups (The Meters, Neville Brothers and Galactic). He’s 70 today.
…‘I get up…and nothing gets me down…you got it tough…I’ve seen the toughest around’…On October 10th, in the lead singer for Van Halen, musician and songwriter-David Lee Roth AKA Diamond Dave was born in Bloomington, Indiana-home of the Indiana Hoosiers. He was the lead for Van Halen from 1974 to 1985. Then he was reinstated in 2006 and remains at the helm. The band’s first LP on a major label-self titled on Warner Brothers, went on to sell more than 12 million copies (recorded in Hollywood). Roth was a child of loot, his dad was an eye surgeon that’s been featured in Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous.
However, David was a rocker at heart, and would pursue his musical career with the help of his father (he was the band’s first manager). When MTV came out in the early 80s, Van Halen was a staple video act: songs like California Girls and Jump-which went to number 1 in the US (number 7 UK, in 1984) were on constant rotation. Aside from Roth’s over the top persona, and basically becoming the face for Van Halen in the late 70s through the mid-80s, he was another recognizable voice in the Rock genre. If you heard Roth’s voice once, then again, you’d know it was him. He’s 64 years-old today
Note Worthy: Two things happened, 18 years apart on October 9th that we missed the day before. First: In 1952, Sharon Osbourne (Sharon Rachel Levy) was born in Brixton, London, England. She went on to become the wife of Black Sabbath lead singer Ozzy Osbourne, mother of Jack, Amiee & Kelly, reality TV star (The Osbournes), Talk Show host, actress, author and promoter. Sharon is a down ‘a$$’ lady. She started dating Ozzy in the late 70s, after he’d been kicked out of Black Sabbath. If it wasn’t for her help and support with hiring the musicians for Blizzard of Ozz, he wouldn’t have had a successful solo career.
I can’t say she had anything to do with his success before he met her, but she certainly ‘cleaned him up’ and got his solo career jumpstarted. She’s 66 today. 18 years later, in 1970, Black Sabbath, with Ozzy Osbourne on lead vocals, had a number one LP in the UK-their second album Paranoid. This LP defined the Black Sabbath sound. It features their staple song, and one of their most recognizable cuts: Iron Man. It also has War Pigs on it. This LP helped define the Heavy Metal sound that would exploded in the late 70s through the mid-90s.
On October 10th, in 2010, we lost another great musician & spiritual leader-Pastor, singer, songwriter, producer, and guitarist-Solomon Burke (James Solomon McDonald or Solomon Vincent McDonald Burke) passed away from obesity and heart trouble. He died on his way to gig in Amsterdam at the Schiphol Airport just after the plane landed. From 1955-1986, Burke helped shape the sound of American Music, blending elements of Soul & Rock to become known as ‘The King of Rock ‘n’ Soul’. Most of his hits come from the early 60s, when Rock ‘n’ Roll was finding it’s footing to become a ‘legit’ genre. At first, Rock ‘n’ Roll was mainly danceable Soul music, made by Soul musicians, Burke was one of them.
He recorded for many Labels, with his best work being on Atlantic & MGM (60s-70s). He’s had several number R&B songs as well. Burke is the vocalist featured on the Cool Breeze Motion Picture Soundtrack (1972), starring Thalmus Rasulala. He left the secular music world in the early 70s, and while in the Southern California region (Inglewood), he started focusing on his episcopal duties. He established a church called the Prayer Assembly Church of God in Christ. Every 3rd Sunday of the month, he’d deliver heartfelt sermons from a crimson throne. Burke was very active in the Black community. He was 70 years-old when he died.
Honorable Mentions: On October 10th, in 1902, the infamous Gibson Mandolin Guitar Company was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan (Corn Flakes Country…you can literally smell cereal from 94 east that runs through it-home of the Kellog’s factory). Orville Gibson started the company 116 years ago. It’s now based in Music City USA (Nashville, Tennessee). The company put out their first verson of the electric guitar (ES-150) in 1936. In 1946 they introduced the P-90, which is a single coil pickup that was used on Les Paul’s first model in 1952.
On October 10th, in 1969, the seminal LP by the Rock band King Crimson was released-In the Court of the Crimson King (Island imprint in the UK & Atlantic in the states). This was their first LP, and their best by far. It stands second only to Pink Floyd’s Darker Side of the Moon as the best Progressive Rock album of all time (as deemed by Rolling Stones Magazine). Agree or disagree, it’s a dope LP. It uses Jazz, Blues, Rock and Soul in a sort of gumbo sound that makes the LP easy to listen to, both sides even.
On October 10th, in 1979, R&B singer songwriter, actress, dancer, fashion designer and producer Mya (Mya Marie Harrison) was born in Chocolate City (The Nation’s capital, Washington, DC). She hit the professional scene in 1998 with her self-titled debut. She’s managed to put out 7 other LPs over two decades. She’s been endorsed by everyone from Tommy Hilfiger to Cocoa-Cola, acted in several movies and TV shows, collaborated with several musicians (Lil Kim, Bennie Man), and she continues to do philanthropy work in the community. She’s 39 today.
On October 10th, in 2007, Blender Magazine published a hater’s survey results. The survey asked subscribers who they though the ‘worst lyricist ever’ was. Of all people, Sting got the number 1 spot. The major cause being his use of the Volvo sticker campaign’s wording for his song titled-If You Love Someone, Set Them Free. He also got flack for name dropping the Russian (Red Scare) Vladimir Nabokov in Don’t Stand So Close to Me. The drummer for Rush-Neil Peart got the number 2 slot, Creed’s lead Scott Stapp got number 3, and the guitarist for Oasis-Noel Gallagher got 4th.
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!