Rhythm & Blues (The Original)
This category is dedicated to the true R&B artists of my time, OR new artists that has decided to keep it simple and old school. Examples are Aretha Franklin, Etta James, & Marvin Gaye. Also new artists such as Curtis Harding & Jonny P.
Today I’d like to talk about the late legendary Bobby Womack; who is arguably one of the hardest working men in show-business. I say arguably because I think originally the late James Brown earned that phrase. In fact, the music industry used that phrase so much that it literally became James Brown’s slogan. You didn’t even have to mention Mr. Brown’s name, people already knew who they meant. Now, depending on who you talk to, Womack may not have worked as hard as James (comparatively speaking), however, Womack has certainly paid his dues to the industry.
Mr. Womack Was A Secret History Maker!
Womack was one of those secret history makers. The average Womack fan has no idea how much he helped to change history. For instance, did you know Womack wrote and performed a song called “It’s All Over Now (1964)” with his group called The Valentinos; which eventually became The Rolling Stones first number one hit in the UK? Not impressed? Well how about this tidbit… Did you know who originally discovered Bobby Womack and his family? It was the late Sam Cooke! Yup! After Sam saw what the Womack family can do musically, Sam damn near signed Bobby’s entire family to his record label, which was called SAR back then.
Wow, I never realized till today just how much Bobby resembled Lou Rawls. Bobby’s life’s work payed off in a huge way, as he was inducted in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. Throughout Bobby’s career, he has worked with some huge names in the business. Many include Sly & The Family Stone, Janis Japlin, and George Benson to name a few. After reading some of the things Bobby has gone through, including the murder of one of his brothers (in Bobby’s home) by a jealous girl friend, noway would I have thought that after all that trauma, he would have had the frame of mind to still be musically creative. This man went through a slot of sh*t. But then again, he had the support that most artists didn’t in his era.
One of my most favorite songs from Womack I can remember, was a cover he did of The Mamas & The Papas’s song “California Dreamin’” in 1969. I actually love both versions. I was blown away Bobby reinterpreted the song inside out. The bass and the rhythm made me feel I was listening to a blaxploitation movie soundtrack. Another favorite of mine is a popular hit called “Across 110th Street (1972),” a story of street life in the ghetto. Also, check out a song called “Lookin’ For A Love (1974).”For some reason, every time I hear him sing “Lookin’ For A Love,” I almost always think of Wilson Pickett.
The late Eunice Kathleen Waymon, or better known by her stage name, the legendary Nina Simone! Nina wasn’t considered to be a woman of classic beautify (especially as she got older). In fact, when I skimmed through her teenage photos and compared them to photos when she was in her 50s, it seemed as though she morphed in to an entirely different person. At one point, it appeared as though she exuded a lot of strong male energy. Years ago, I remember watching an interview she did, and she explained that prominent people in the music business told her that she would never make it as a performer. Why? They flat out said she was too ugly. I never forgot about that interview. It has to be on YouTube somewhere.
One Thing That Was True About Nina, She Stayed True To Her Blackness
Now, imagine hearing something like that, at a time when Black folk experience all manor of oppression. I can’t imagine how she must have felt. Today, I’m not sure if young people could understand this. Back in the day, calling someone ugly was worse than calling someone fat. And as a performer, the thought of whether or not people would actually pay to see her, had to have crossed her mind plenty of times.
Despite being told on a daily basis that she was too ugly for a contract deal, Nina stayed true to her Blackness, and stayed connected to her African culture. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit, if these same negative attitudes by White producers then, were responsible for her need to become a civil rights activist. It was interesting watching her make that physical transformation. From pleasing the executives by straightening her hair, putting on makeup, etc. To defying industry norms by wearing her hair natural, and fully embracing her African heritage by wearing African clothing. Just imagine how empowering that was.
Nina’s name is not on the lips of today’s music lovers. She mostly sang Jazz and some R&B. But let me tell you, she was a talented woman, with a very unique and brassy voice. In fact, some of her music has been remixed by some of the hottest DJs you can imagine. First Let me share with you some of my Nina Simone favorites. “Feeling Good (1965)” is a nice one I recommend; I also loved her version of “Screaming Jay” Hawkins’s “I Put A Spell On You (1965).” I also love her original “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (1964),” and despite what many people believe, this song was specifically written for Nina. Therefore, this song was NOT The Animals‘s original song.
Some of my favorite remixes include a song called “Baltimore,” I think it was remixed by Creed Taylor. It has a sick reggae beat, I love it. Another remix you must hear is a song called “I Can’t See Nobody,” remixed by Daniel Yaghoubi. “Turn Me On” is a cute remix done by Tony Humphies. Whenever you get a chance, I really think you should look her up on google, her story is fascinating. Nina died at the age of 70, in 2003. Her daughter followed in her footsteps. Lisa Simone Waymon Stroud, also known as simply Simone, is the splitting image of her mother. Watch her tear up her late mother’s song “Feel Good,” on YouTube.Save up to 94% off cover price on your favorite magazines
Have you guys ever heard of the late LaVern Baker? Woooweee! I love her vocals! In a way, she reminds me a lot of Etta James, in that she was feisty when she sang. Or perhaps if she was a gospel singer, she would sound closer to someone like Shirley Caesar. Most definitely, LaVern was not scared of the microphone. When the mic was in her possession, she meant business.
LaVern was born in 1929. The moment she opened her mouth as a child, “that’s all she wrote,” as my elders used to say. Long story short, she eventually signed on to Atlantic Records, and then history was born. She was one of the many artists responsible for showcasing the original R&B music. I’m dumbfounded to find out that she only had one top ten hit in her career. That was a song called “I cried A Tear (1959).” But unfortunately, I have to tell ya, this wasn’t my favorite. My favorite is actually a song called “Love Me Right (1960).” It looks like the song didn’t even make the charts at all. But you know, I thought to myself, maybe this makes sense, as technically this song was very raunchy for those days 😂. I recommend that you try to research her music.
OK everybody! Let’s put our hands together for the legendary Regina Belle! You know, I’m not sure if I’m using the word “phenomenal” too much or not. But, sometimes I just can’t think of any other word to describe these very talented artists! I’m also not sure if I can truly say we’ve forgotten about Regina, but certainly, we are not playing her music anymore. Throughout Regina’s career, she didn’t have that many number ones. However, her music is iconic enough to where it’s definitely worth listening to! Especially if you love or are in the mood for mellow/romantic music.
She’s The Queen Of Smooth Jazz
She’s the queen of smooth jazz! Well, this isn’t her official title. However, much of my most favorite music from her has been within that genre. Regina started her career in the mid 80s, and her success landed her the opportunity to perform for former President George W. Bush. After Regina’s scary ordeal with having brain cancer; her loyal fans have never forgotten her, despite not having a #1 hit in decades. I’m going to make the assumption she’s cancer free, since my research alludes she’s still performing.
By the way, I’m pretty concerned with all these celebrities I’m hearing getting all sorts of cancer. This is some scary shit. Anyway, I think the moment I fell in love with Regina’s music, was when I heard her iconic song “Make It Like It Was (1989),” which hit #1 on the R&B Chart, and #5 on the Top 100 Chart. Another favorite is “Baby Come To Me (1989),” which was also number one on the R&B Chart. However, I think the song that really put Regina on the map, was a song called “A Whole New World (Theme From Aladdin) (1992),” a duet with the legendary Peabo Bryson. This song reached #1 in the Adult Contemporary category. From the same album, check out “Quiet Time,” a duet with Barry White. Oh my goodness. Barry had a way of making any song sound sexy as hell.20% Off 3-Pack. Use Code: TRIO20
Nope! Not the car Rose Royce! Today, I’m writing about the legendary R&B group called Rose Royce! As popular as this group was back in the day, I sincerely doubt that any young person under the age of 25 knows who they were! Talk about forgotten history! This saddens me, because it’s not like it was over a century ago since they rocked the charts! It was in my lifetime! That is a disgraceful shame, a damn shame! This is precisely why most people have no clue about good music, or music diversity for that matter.
Best Known For Their Iconic Soundtrack!
Out of all the albums this band has recorded, they’re best remembered for their first masterpiece album, “Car Wash (1976).” Not only was this album a masterpiece, the album was also a soundtrack to the movie with the same name, “Car Wash (1976),” starring the late Richard Prior, the legendary Antonio Vargas, the late comedian George Carlin, and many others! A great cult classic! This first album not only literally catapulted their career in to stardom, but immortalized them, at least in terms of Black music history.
All their most memorable hits were literally on this one album. Including of course, “Car Wash,” “I Wanna Get Next To You,” “You’re On My Mind,” and “I’m Going Down.” Now, there were other hits outside of this album that ranked pretty high on the R&B charts, such as “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” which by the way, was covered by Madonna in 1984. Another song that scored high was “Ooh Boy.”
Ralfi Pagán was truly a phenomenal musician. Has any of my readers heard about him? As we walk through music history and our heritage, the late Ralfi Pagán is one musician that is worthy of remembering. Pagán was a bilingual salsa performer, born in Bronx, NY of Cuban and Puerto Rican Parents. Not only was Ralfi an amazing artist, he was one of the very few artists I heard growing up, who was fluent in both languages on all his albums.
He Was Signed To Fania Records
Unfortunately, Ralfi died very early in his career; we never got a chance to witness his full potential. Although they say he performed traditional salsa music; I heard a lot more Cuban influence in his albums. Perhaps Cuban mixed in with in with blues rhythms. That I’m aware of, he only completed a total of 4 albums. Out of those 4 albums, only one song actually made the charts.
The one song that registered @ #32 on The Billboard Charts was “Make It With You (1971).” This song was a beautiful cover of Bread’s 1970 original, written by David Gates. Oh my goodness, listening to Ralfi sing this song, was like listening to a very mellow Little Anthony. Honestly, the only two vocal versions of Bread’s song I really loved, were from the late Nancy Wilson and from the late Ralfi Pagán.
Even though Ralfi never had a hit #1 record, the fact that he made it on the charts was a huge accomplishment. Here are some songs I recommend that you check out. “Up On The Roof,” which by the way, is another cover from a group called “The Drifters.” “Don’t Stop Now” is another smooth romantic song. He sang a cover of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles’ “Ooh Baby, Baby.” Also check out a song I know was popular enough I actually remember hearing it. It’s called “Pelao.”Free Shipping on all orders over $9.99 at Sam Ash Direct
Wow!! Look who I dug up! Does any of my readers remember the legendary Jeffrey Osborne? Yes, I’ve called him legendary because, although he never had any Billboard Top Ten Hits, Osborne hit the charts hard enough that most 80s kids like me still remember him. His song “On The Wings Of Love,” was released in 1982. It only peaked at #29, but it remains one of my most favorites from Jeffrey. Interesting to note that, what I didn’t know was that Jeffrey’s version was actually a cover song 😱 !! Yup. The original song was recorded by Regine Velasquez. But, sorry Regine, I love Osborne’s version better. Turns out that Velasquez released quite a few albums; but her music is not my cup of tea. All her music sound like demo tapes! Anyway, it doesn’t stop there; the song became a cover once more; done by an artist named Kyla as part of a soundtrack to a romantic/comedy TV show. What Show? You’ve guessed it! “On The Wings Of Love (2015).”
Not having a top ten hit didn’t stop Osborne from landing a Miller Beer ad contract. I remember this ad being all over Jet and Ebony magazine. You know, it’s funny, I always laugh when I see this particular ad. Because it reminds me of his song, “Stay With Me Tonight (1984),” which hit #30 on the Top 100 Charts. I laugh because if the ad was actually a TV commercial, this song would fit right in, in a bar, and he’s with the woman he’s interested in. Don’t ask me why, it’s just one of those crazy thoughts that come in to your head. That would have been a cool commercial tho. 😄
He Still Is So Very Talented
To be honest, I’ve only listened to his old popular hits from back in the day. However, I acknowledge that Jeffrey is a very talented brotha. The dude can sing, and he still got soul! In fact, I don’t know if my readers realized it yet, but, Jeffrey just released an album last year in 2018! The album is called “Worth It All.” It has some pretty good tracks in there! I love it when veteran performers continue to make themselves musically relevant. One song I really like from the album is a song called “Just Can’t Stand It.” The song has a nice modern funk sound to it. His voice is still on point. Another song I think you should check out from his album is called, “That Man.”
Wow! Talk about a famous and popular group! When it comes to favorite groups from the soul & doo-wop combo era, The Drifters are high on my list of groups! Very high!! The drifters were formed some time in the early 50s. They were originally supposed to be a backup group for well known artist named Clyde McPhatter. Some of you may remember Clyde for a cover song he made popular called “Little Bitty Pretty One” released in 1962. The song was originally recorded by Bobby Day.
The Drifters has gone through 2 dozen members (literally). I gasped when I realized that many people didn’t know/remember that the late Ben E. King was once a member of The Drifters. Mostly because King sang what I think probably the biggest, and memorable song in the Drifters’ career, “Save The Last Dance For Me.”
The Late Ben E. King Was A Member
You know, just a side note, it’s interesting how different Kings music became after he left the group. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ben E. King’s music too. I just couldn’t help but noticed that much of his music had a Caribbean flair to it. Ok. back to The Drifters 😄 It’s difficult for me to narrow down my favorites, as there are also favorites of mine that did not make the charts. But for the purpose of my blog, I will share some of the most famous ones. They include, Under The Boardwalk,” “This Magic Moment,” “Without Love – There’s Nothing, (many singers including the legendary Tom Jones covered this song)” “Bip Bam,” and “Some Kind Of Wonderful.” So many more.. Browse more of their music when you get a chance.