Thursday, October 6, 2011

Isaac Hayes ''shaft of funk''

Born in Tennessee in 1942, Issac Hayes was a musician and actor. His hit song "Soul Man" and his score for the 1971 film Shaft are legendary contributions to modern music. The "Theme from Shaft" received the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1972, making him one of the first African Americans to win an Oscar. He also voiced the character "Chef" for the TV series South Park.

Early Life

Singer, songwriter. Isaac Lee Hayes, Jr. was born August 20, 1942, in a tin shack in Covington, Tennessee, about 40 miles north of Memphis. After his mother died and his father left, he was raised by his maternal grandparents. The family moved to Memphis when he was 6.

He never forgot his humble beginnings with his sharecropper family. At the height of his fame, Hayes bought an estate in East Memphis overlooking the same cotton fields where he grew up.

Hayes began singing in church at age five and in high school caught the attention of a guidance counselor who persuaded him to enter a talent show. He won it singing Nat King Cole's "Looking Back."

"When I finished, the house was on its feet, man, and I was a hit ... So I started pursuing music big time," Hayes said on his official website.

Early Career

Hayes played saxophone and piano in high school and performed in "doo-wop" and jazz bands. After graduating in 1962, he turned down seven college scholarships for music, and instead landed a job playing piano with saxophonist Floyd Newman's band in West Arkansas.

Newman was a staff musician at Memphis's Stax Records recording studio and Hayes eventually found work there playing keyboards. He worked with some of Rhythm and Blues biggest names at the time, including Otis Redding, Booker T & the MGs, The Bary-Kays and Rufus Thomas, playing a key role in creating what became known as the Memphis Sound.

Hayes also wrote some 200 songs with David Porter, including "Soul Man" for Sam and Dave. The song was inspired television coverage of the 12 Street Detroit Riot, which indicated that African-American owned and operated institutions were marked with the word "soul" so that rioters would not destroy them.

Commercial Breakthrough

His career took off in 1969 with the landmark Hot Buttered Soul album, which included rap-vocals and longer songs, including an 18-minute version of Jimmy Webb's "By The Time I Get to Phoenix." The album topped the Billboard R&B chart for 10 weeks and forced the music industry to conceive of soul music as an album art form.

At the time of emerging Black Power and with the death of Martin LutherKing as a conscience building experience, Hayes transformed his image into a revolutionary statement, dressing in black leather, draping his bare chest in rows of gold chains and shaving his head completely.

Next came his career-defining soundtrack for the 1971 movie Shaft, for which Hayes picked up an Oscar, three Grammy awards and a Golden Globe award. Hayes began acting in scores of movies and television series.

Success as an Actor

His guest star appearances included TV shows The Rockford Files, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Miami Vice. He also appeared in more than three dozen feature films, including I'm Gonna 'Git You, Sucka (1988),Guilty as Charged (1991), Escape from New York (1996) and Hustle & Flow (2005).

He returned to the music charts in 1986 with a new record deal with Columbia and a new album, U-Turn.

In 1997 Hayes found a second career in with Comedy Central's animated cable series South Park. He was the voice of Chef, the cafeteria cook and self-professed ladies man who became a mentor to the students ofSouth Park.

The character was "the perfect alter ego for Hayes," said his Web site. However, he angrily quit in 2006 after an episode mocked Scientology, a religion he followed since the mid 1990s.


In 2002, Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his influence on disco, urban-contemporary music and rap. He also moved back home to Memphis where he pursed business interests, including two restaurants, a best-selling cookbook and barbecue sauces.

He also wrote a self-help book, The Way to Happiness, and summarized his life experience in an interview: "At the end of the day, we are responsible for our own lives."

Hayes was married four times and fathered 12 children. He died of a stroke August 10, 2008, after his wife, son and his wife's cousin found him unconscious at his home in Memphis, Tennessee. He is survived by his fourth wife, Adjowa, whom he married in 2005 and with whom he had a son.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Gil Scott-Heron

Gilbert "Gil" Scott-Heron (April 1, 1949 – May 27, 2011) was an American soul and jazz poet musician, and author known primarily for his work as a spoken word performer in the 1970s and '80s, and for his collaborative works with musician Brian Jackson. His collaborative efforts with Jackson featured a musical fusion of jazz, blues, and soul, as well as lyrical content concerning social and political issues of the time, delivered in both rapping and melismatic vocal styles by Scott-Heron. His own term for himself was "bluesologist", which he defined as "a scientist who is concerned with the origin of the blues". The music of his albums, most notably Pieces of a Man and Winter in America in the early 1970s, influenced and helped engender later African-American music genres such as hip hop and neo soul.

Scott-Heron's recording work has received much critical acclaim, especially for one of his best-known compositions "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". His poetic style has been influential upon every generation of hip hop since his popularity began. In addition to being widely considered an influence in today's music, Scott-Heron remained active until his death, and in 2010 released his first new album in 16 years, entitled I'm New Here.

Booker T & The MGs

The Memphis-based quartet Booker T. & the MG's is one of the most important studio bands in the history of American popular music. On their own, the MG's are best known for their 1962 instrumental hit "Green Onions" (Number Three, Pop, Number One, R&B), but the group is remembered more today for its work as the house band at Stax Records, where they played behind a string of hits by heavyweight soul acts including Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and the Staple Singers.
The band formed by accident one day in 1962, when seventeen-year-old keyboard player Booker T. Jones was in a Memphis studio waiting for rockabilly singer Billy Lee Riley to arrive to a recording session. He and drummer Al Jackson, bassist Lewie Steinberg and guitarist Steve Cropper began jamming on the melody that would become "Green Onions." Stax Records president Jim Stewart liked the tune so much he decided to record it and put it out as a single. The band needed a name, so Jackson suggested the MG's, for the popular early-sixties sports car. Eventually, MG's came to stand for Memphis Group. The style of the song — a bouncy, organ-driven R&B melody with blasts of trebly, country-rock guitar over a swinging, laid-back bass-and-drums groove — became the signature musical foundation for Southern soul.
Jones had been working as a session man for Stax since 1960. Cropper was a one-time member of the Mar-Keys, a band known for its proto-MG's instrumental hit "Last Night." Jackson was a veteran of the Memphis jazz scene. After two albums with the MG's — 1962's Green Onions and 1965's Soul Dressing — Steinberg was replaced by another former Mar-Keys member, bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn. The MG's were prolific throughout Sixties, recording their own albums in addition to their work as the Stax house band. Their string of hits include "Boot-leg" (Number Ten R&B, Number 58 pop, 1965), "Groovin'" (Number Ten R&B, Number 21, Pop, 1967), "Hip Hug-Her" (Number Six R&B, Number 37, Pop, 1967), "Soul Limbo" (Number 17 Pop, 1968), Hang 'Em High" (Number Nine Pop, Number 35 R&B, 1969) and "Time is Tight" (Number Six Pop, Number Seven R&B, 1969). Although mostly known for their hip singles, the MG's stretched out on the ambitious McLemore Avenue (#19 R&B, 1970), the band's funky, instrumental version of the Beatles' Abbey Road in its entirety.
As important as their music, Booker T. & the MG's — two black members and two white members — became a symbol of racial integration in the South during the civil rights years. As the individual members began getting session work in other cities, they had less and less time for their work as the MG's, and the group called it quits in 1971. Their final album, released that year, was the aptly named Melting Pot. In 1975, the band had begun work on a reunion album when Al Jackson was shot and killed by a burglar at his home in Memphis. Three years later, Cropper and Dunn backed the Blues Brothers — Saturday Night Live's John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd's semi-serious send-up of an R&B band — for the Number One album Briefcase Full of Blues, which included a cover of the Sam & Dave hit "Soul Man" that reached Number 14 on the Pop chart. The project was so popular that Cropper and Dunn worked with Belushi and Aykroyd on a 1980 film of the same name.
The two also continued their work as session musicians. Cropper worked with artists ranging from Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton to southern power pop pioneers Big Star and The Band's drummer Levon Helm. Dunn recorded with Helm, Peter Frampton, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and others. Jones released four solo albums and played on sessions with the likes of Dylan, Willie Nelson, Rodney Crowell, Carlos Santana and John Lee Hooker.
In 1986, Atlantic Records co-owner Jerry Wexler asked the MG's to reform for the company's fortieth anniversary. Jones was unable to attend because he fell ill, but the show, with a replacement keyboardist, went on. It inspired with group to reform, along with Jones, for other dates including a 1992 concert commemorating Bob Dylan's thirtieth anniversary in the music business. For that show, the group backed a string of artists ranging from Dylan, Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder to Eddie Vedder.
That same year, Booker T. & the MG's were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When the Hall opened its doors in Cleveland three years later, the MG's backed featured attendees Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Sam Moore of Sam & Dave and Creedence Clearwater Revival's John Fogerty. In 1994, the group — with drummers Steve Jordan and James Gadson filling Jackson's shoes — followed all the recent activity with an album of new material, That's the Way It Should Be, on Columbia Records. Since then, the members have continued to work as session players. In 1998, Cropper and Dunn reprised their roles in the movie Blues Brothers 2000. In 2007, Booker T. & the MG's received the Grammys' Lifetime Achievement Award.

by Rolling Stone

Saturday, July 16, 2011

herbie hancock

Herbert Jeffrey "Herbie" Hancock (b. April 12, 1940) is an American pianist, bandleader and composer. As part of Miles Davis's "second great quintet", Hancock helped redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section, and was one of the primary architects of the "post-bop" sound. He was one of the first jazz musicians to embrace synthesizers and funk. Hancock's music is often melodic and accessible; he has had many songs "cross over" and achieved success among pop audiences. His music embraces elements of funk and soul while adopting freer stylistic elements from jazz. In his jazz improvisation, he possesses a unique creative blend of jazz, blues, and modern classical music, with harmonic stylings much like the styles of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.

sonny sharrock - a pioneer of free jazz

Warren Harding "Sonny" Sharrock (August 27, 1940 – May 26, 1994) was an American  jazz guitarist. He was once married to singer Linda Sharrock , with whom he sometimes recorded and performed.
Sonny Sharrock, a pioneer of free jazz guitar, lived in Ossining New York as a youth before moving to New York City and later touring the world as one of his genre's most brilliant and innovative minds. His career spanned more than two decades and nearly 50 albums, earning him domestic and international acclaim for his "blistering speed and raw noise that created music that had both the openness and of jazz and the power of rock." (New York Times, 1994).



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

jim kelly as Black Belt Jones

James M. "Jim Kelly'' (born May 5, 1946) is an American athlete, actor, and martial artist who came to prominence in the early 1970s. He is best known from his performance as Williams in the 1973 Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon.


Early life

Kelly was born in Paris, Kentucky. He began his athletic career in high school, competing successfully in basketball, football, and track and field. He attended the University of Louisville where he played football, but left during his freshman year to begin studying Shorin-ry karate.Additionally, he trained in Okinawa-te karate under the direction of Shihan Gordon Doversola. Kelly won the Huntington Beach Classic and credits Doversola with making him a world class fighter. During this time other notables as Joe Lewis would also train in the same dojo (martial arts school). After winning the middleweight title at the 1971 International Middleweight Karate Championship in Long Beach, he opened his own dojo. He taught karate to actor Calvin Lockhart for a role in a thriller feature film Melinda he ended up playing a martial arts instructor in the movie.

Acting career

As an actor, Kelly is best known for co-starring alongside Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon. This appearance led to starring roles in a string of martial arts-themed blaxploitation films, among them Melinda and Black Belt Jones. Most of Kelly's film roles played up the novelty of an African-American martial arts master.
After his appearance in 1982's One Down, Two to Go, Kelly appeared in movies only rarely. The role in Enter the Dragon was originally supposed to go to actor Rockne Tarkington, who unexpectedly dropped out days before shooting in Hong Kong. Producer Fred Weintraub heard about Jim Kelly's karate studio in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles, and went there to see him and was immediately impressed. Kelly's role as Williams, an inner-city karate instructor who is harassed by white police officers, made a good impression upon directors and African-American males with his cool-cat demeanor and large afro.
He earned a three picture contract with Warner Brothers and made Three the Hard Way with Jim Brown and Fred Williamson, and Hot Potato, a movie in which he rescues a diplomat's daughter from the jungles of Thailand. After his contract ended with Warner Brothers, he starred in low-budget films Black Samurai, Death Dimension, and Tattoo Connection.
A deleted scene from the film, on the extras of the DVD for "Undercover Brother" shows him in a cameo appearance with Eddie Griffin.

Most recent activities

He was a professional tennis player on the USTA Senior Men's Circuit.
In 2004, he appeared with NBA star LeBron James in the Nike commercial "Chamber of Fear", a spoof of the Bruce Lee film Game of Death.

Kelly resides in Southern California and works as a professional tennis coach. He is still a popular draw at conventions such as the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International.

From Wikipedia

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Bobby Womack , soul man

Bobby Womack is a stalwart soul and gospel figurehead whose resume includes significant contributions across the decades as a singer, songwriter and guitarist.
One of the most enigmatic and talented Soul men of all time, Bobby Womack has been a sort of Soul Forrest Gump, serving as a link from 50s Gospel to 60s Soul to 70s Rock and to some of the greatest musicians in each genre. Born in an extremely devout religious family, he was singing Gospel with his brothers Cecil, Friendly, Harry and Curtis as the Womack Brothers while he was still a child. The talented group was discovered by Gospel/Soul legend Sam Cooke, who redubbed them the Valentinos and transformed them into a teenage secular vocal group. By the early 60s they were touring with James Brown and scoring on the R&B charts with their first hit, "Lookin' For A Love." Cooke's death in 1964 sent the group on a spiral from which it would never recover. Also, Womack encountered some public fallout when married Cooke's widow less than a year later (even more ironic was that brother Cecil ultimately married Cooke's daughter, Linda, who became his partner in the popular writing/singing group Womack & Womack).    

Diana Ross , soul female

Diana Ross- Diana Earle - (born 1944), once the lead singer for the Motown supergroup the Supremes, was the most successful female singer of the Rock 'n' Roll era. In the next few decades, she continued to enjoy success with a solo career and numerous television and film appearances.

Diana Ross was raised in the low-income Brewster-Douglass housing project in Detroit, where she had to share one bed with two sisters and three brothers. Despite the obvious hardship, Ross recalls her childhood as a happy one. "We always had a good life," she told Woman's Day in 1990. "It wasn't like we had gobs of money. But we always had what we needed somehow. Later on, I found out that our neighborhood is called the ghetto. But, basically, it was a warm, loving family environment. There was always something exciting going on."

Singing in the choir at the local Olivet Baptist church led to her meeting Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard, and the threesome later sang together at social functions. They joined up with Betty Anderson in 1959 to become The Primettes as a sister group to The Primes formed by Eddie Kendricks, which would later become The Temptations. Anderson was later replaced by Barbara Martin—who dropped out in 1962—which solidified the group as a trio. Still in high school, the Primettes took in about $15 a week as performers. They also made some recordings for the small Lupine label, which weren't released until after the girls achieved stardom as the Supremes.

When the new Motown Records company was started in Detroit, Ross and her fellow singers began hanging around the building in hopes of being discovered. Ross gives a lot of credit to her mother in supporting her quest to become a singer. As she told Woman's Day, "She [her mother] said, 'Is this what you want to do? Do you think you can do this well?' And I said 'Yes.' And she said, 'I want you to finish high school and we'll do that.'" Berry Gordy, Jr., the creator of Motown, brought the Primettes and Primes on board in 1961. The Primettes were so young that their parents had to be in attendance when the contracts were signed. Gordy renamed the group The Supremes and used them primarily as backup singers for established Motown artists such as Marvin Gaye and Mary Wells.

During the next few years, Ross spent a good deal of time on the road gaining singing experience but not building her reputation to any degree. Although the group cut its first Motown single in 1961, they lacked the distinctive sound that was necessary to click with listening audiences. It wasn't until Gordy assigned Holland, Dozier, and Holland to create songs for them that the group struck a chord. The first of these songs, with Ross on lead, was the two-million seller "Where Did Our Love Go?" released in 1964. Within a year, the group recorded six number-one hits including "Baby Love," "Come See About Me," "Stop! In the Name of Love," "Back in My Arms Again," and "I Hear a Symphony."

Gloria Jones , northern soul legend

Gloria Richetta Jones (October 19, 1945, Cincinnati, Ohio) is an American singer and songwriter from Los Angeleles, California. She recorded the 1964 northern soul song, "Tainted Love", later a hit for the British synth-pop duo, Soft Cell. She was the girlfriend of glam rock artist Marc Bolan of the band T. Rex until his death in 1977.

Stevie Wonder 1972

Stevie Wonder is a much-beloved American icon and an indisputable genius not only of R&B but popular music in general.Along with Marvin Gaye and Isaac Hayes, Wonder brought R&B into the album age, crafting his LPs as cohesive, consistent statements with compositions that often took time to make their point. All of this made Wonder perhaps R&B's greatest individual auteur, rivaled only by Gaye or, in later days, Prince. Originally, Wonder was a child prodigy who started out in the general Motown mold, but he took control of his vision in the '70s, spinning off a series of incredible albums that were as popular as they were acclaimed; most of his reputation rests on these works, which most prominently include Talking Book, Innervisions, and Songs in the Key of Life. His output since then has been inconsistent, marred by excesses of sentimentality and less of the progressive imagination of his best work, but it's hardly lessened the reverence in which he's long been held.