HONORING THE DON

RIP, Don Cornelius.

Read.

Listen.

Watch.

ETTA JAMES: AN APPRECIATION

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Etta James was a singer who I always enjoyed on the periphery…in other words, I never made a concerted effort to really get that deep into her catalog but I understand, on a very basic level, that this was a Very Important Artist and not just because she sang one of the very best ballads ever sung in the history of people singing ballads. 1

So for this appreciation, I’m not going to try to pull off some “Etta James’s most important songs” post because I simply can’t claim to know this. […]

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ETTA JAMES: A GOLDEN VOICE GOES SILENT

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It seems apropos (morbid too, perhaps) but days after the man who discovered her passed away – that’d be Johnny Otis – Etta James died today. NPR has a remembrance.

Again, sorry that the site looks like a death roll right now but as I’ve said before, this is going to happen more and more amongst our soul heros.

Rest in peace, Etta.

THE JOHNNY OTIS SHOW ENDS ITS RUN

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One of the most important figures in L.A. music has passed; Johnny Otis, dead at 90.

If you ever wanted to understand just what made him so remarkable, here’s as good a place to start.

Once I come up for air from all this work, I’ll try to say more.

(In better news, just recorded Sidebar #21 w/ Syl Johnson. At least some of our legends are still with us).

JIMMY CASTOR: RIP

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I’m going to try to get a better post up soon but I did want to say that one of the things I liked about Castor is that he was one of the young Black musicians from uptown who go fascinated with Latin boogaloo and ended up recording a few of them on his debut album in 1967, including this cover of Joe Cuba’s “Bang Bang”:

RALPH MACDONALD: UNIVERSAL RHYTHMS (RIP)

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Ralph MacDonald just passed away. He wasn’t always as well known as a solo artist since the most prolific part of his career came as a percussionist for hire, but in that regard, he was world-class and one of the most important percussionists for countless 1970s and early ’80s jazz and R&B artists. He was also a highly undersung songwriter, having penned several absolutely classics alongside his writing partner William Salter.

I wanted to whip together a personal list of favorites that MacDonald helped craft. If you’re like me, you might very […]

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HOWARD TATE, RIP

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Funky16Corners reports that Howard Tate has passed away.

In honor of the late Mr. Tate, here’s one of my favorite A/B-sides from him:

Howard Tate: Stop b/w Shoot ‘Em All Down
From 7″ (Verve, 1967)

I’m too brain-dead tonight to properly articulate what makes this single so damn good but even though I typically hate saying, “the music speaks for itself,” in this case, I think the sides do the job better than I can right now.

PEACEFUL JOURNEY, HEAVY D

I mourn the way way way too early loss of Heavy D but he gave us all a gift a few weeks back with this performance.

Also, this is the first Heavy D song I ever heard. I was always amazed at his sense of movement and dance skill despite his heft.

…and of course, this song seems apropos. Originally written for Heavy D’s dancer, Trouble T Roy.

STEVE JOBS CHANGED MY LIFE

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My parents were PC folks (still are) so I spent most of the 1980s, staring at a profoundly ugly, tan IBM computer and jealous of my cousin who had an Apple IIe. When I went off to college in 1990 though, I broke out and got my first Mac, one of the compact series with its 20MB of hard drive memory 1

In the time since, I’ve owned somewhere around…8 other Macs, to say nothing of iPhones and iPads. And in thinking about how the creations of Jobs and Woz have intersected with […]

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THE SIDEBAR 17: DAN CHARNAS AND THE MANY LIVES OF SYLVIA ROBINSON

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Given the recent passing of Sylvia Robinson, singer/writer/producer extraordinaire, I got on the horn with Dan Charnas, who profiled the late legend in The Big Payback.

Sylvia was best known as the producer behind “Rapper’s Delight” but her career spanned far more than just a hit song in 1979. Our chat covered her early career as Little Sylvia Vanterpool, into her first hits as half of Mickey and Sylvia and then into her rise as one of the most important music figures out of New Jersey, not the least of which was […]

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