On this day 45 years ago, 28 February 1977. Soul legend Ray Charles was attacked on stage.
Ray Charles was performing at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles for a benefit concert for the community program Project Heavy when an audience member leapt onto the stage with a rope and attempted to strangle him.
Ray Charles fought the aggressor off until security aided him. Curiously, no complaint was ever filed and the authorities were not alerted. The attacker was a member of Project Heavy. The group decided they would handle the situation privately and his identity was not announced.
At that celebrity benefit concert , hundreds of people witnessed an attack on Ray Charles, the blind singer, by a man who jumped onstage and began choking him with a microphone cord. “Ray Charles will see and the Lord will come tonight,” the attacker yelled before security guards could wrest him away from Mr. Charles
Reports later speculated that the attacker was simply a fan overcome with emotions. However, witnesses claimed the man yelled out “Ray Charles will see and the Lord will come tonight,” while trying to strangle the music legend. Luckily, Charles did make it out scratch free and continued to perform later in the evening.
When people ask me what my top 10 favourite albums are , I find it impossible to give a definitive answers, because over the years that has changed. However there are a few albums that will always be in that top 10, ‘Songs in the Key of life’ by Stevie Wonder is one of them.
Stevie Wonder was born Stevland Hardaway Judkins on May 13, 1950, in Saginaw, Michigan. He was born six weeks early with retinopathy of prematurity, an eye disorder which was exacerbated when he received too much oxygen in an incubator, leading to blindness.
When Stevie Wonder was four, his mother divorced his father and moved with her (at the time) three children to Detroit, Michigan, where Wonder sang as a child in a choir at the Whitestone Baptist Church.
He lost his sight as a newborn when he came into the world six weeks early with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), an eye disorder caused by abnormal blood vessels throughout the retina. Receiving too much oxygen in the incubator likely worsened the condition for the tiny baby, leaving him blind.
Despite growing up in poverty and blind, this didn’t stop Stevie to live a full life and fulfill his dreams. He grew up to become one of the most recognized musicians of the 20th century and he is still active today.
He showed an early gift for music, first with a church choir in Detroit, Michigan, and later with a range of instruments, including the harmonica, piano and drums, all of which he taught himself before age 10.
In 1961, when aged 11, Wonder sang his own composition, “Lonely Boy”, to Ronnie White of the Miracles. White then took Wonder and his mother to an audition at Motown, where CEO Berry Gordy signed Wonder to Motown’s label. Before signing, producer Clarence Paul gave him the name Little Stevie Wonder.
He made his recording debut at age 11, with the album “The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie” including the single “Fingertips” written and composed by Clarence Paul and Henry Cosby.
Lifelong blindness isn’t the only health issue that Wonder has battled. In 1973, he was in a near-death car crash when the sedan he was in collided with a truck. Wonder suffered a head injury and was in a coma for four days.
He has been married three times. First he was married to Motown singer-songwriter and frequent collaborator Syreeta Wright from 1970 until their amicable divorce in 1972. From 2001 until 2012 he was married to fashion designer Kai Millard. In October 2009, Wonder and Millard divorced in August 2012. In 2017 he married Tomeeka Bracy.
Romantically he has been a busy man. He has nine children by five different women. The mother of Wonder’s first child is Yolanda Simmons, whom Wonder met when she applied for a job as secretary for his publishing company. Simmons gave birth to Wonder’s daughter Aisha Morris on February 2, 1975.] After Aisha was born, Wonder said “she was the one thing that I needed in my life and in my music for a long time”.Aisha was the inspiration for Wonder’s hit single “Isn’t She Lovely?”
She is now a singer who has toured with her father and accompanied him on recordings, including his 2005 album A Time to Love. Wonder and Simmons also had a son, Keita, in 1977.
Stevie Wonder has been given a range of awards, both for his music and for his civil rights work, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Civil Rights Museum, being named one of the United Nations Messengers of Peace, and earning a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2014.
In December 2016, the City of Detroit recognized Wonder’s legacy by renaming a portion of his childhood street, Milwaukee Avenue West, between Woodward Avenue and Brush Street, as “Stevie Wonder Avenue”. He was also awarded an honorary key to the city, presented by Mayor Mike Duggan.
He has won 25 Grammy Awards, as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. He is one of only two artists and groups who have won the Grammy for Album of the Year three times as the main credited artist, along with Frank Sinatra. Wonder is the only artist to have won the award with three consecutive album releases.
Stevie Wonder has always been an inspiration to me especially in more recent times. In 2011 I lost my right eye and in 2015 I nearly lost my left eye too, luckily they were able to safe it , but for about 6 months I was blind.
Finishing up with one of my favourite tracks of the aforementioned album ‘Songs in the Key of Life” “Sir Duke”.
“Music is a world within itself With a language we all understand With an equal opportunity For all to sing, dance and clap their hands”
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Not much really when you think of it. Yet bass players are nearly always underrated. Most people will be able to name a list of singers, guitarists, drummers and even keyboard players when asked, but they will struggle with listing bass players.
The bass is real the base of music, it is the foundation together with the drums. The vocals, guitars and keyboard are the rest of a song., the melody that makes a song recognizable. But without a solid foundation the melody would collapse. The bass is the most important part of that foundation.
I could mention 1000s of bass players but I will limit it to a few of my favourites.
Robbie Shakespeare-Sly & Robbie
Mark King- Level 42
Lemmy -Motorhead(performing with Metallica)
Peter Hook-Joy Division and New Order
Tina Weymouth-Talking Heads
Chuck Wright-Quiet Riot
John Entwistle-The Who
James Jamerson was an American bass player. He was the uncredited bassist on most of the Motown Records hits in the 1960s and early 1970s (Motown did not list session musician credits on their releases until 1971), and is now regarded as one of the most influential bass players in modern music history.
If Elvis is the King of Rock N Roll, and Robert Johnson is the King of the Blues, then Marvin Gaye must be the King of Soul.
The title “If I should die Tonight” is from a track of Marvin Gaye’s 13th studio album “Let’s Get It On” which was released on August 28, 1973. I thought it would be an appropriate title because today marks the 37th anniversary of his death.
When I heard the news on the radio on April 1, 1984 that Marvin Gaye had died and had been killed by his father , I thought it was an April Fools’ day joke. However it quickly emerged that this was not the case.
Marvin Gaye was shot by his Father Marvin Gaye Sr, a Christian preacher. Marvin was shot three times following an altercation with his father after he had intervened in an argument between his parents. The wounds were fatal and he was pronounced dead on arrival at the California Hospital Medical Center.
Despite being successful Marvin struggled badly with the substance abuse and also episodes of depression which had plagued him for most of his life. After his last tour, he moved into his parents’ house. There he and his father regularly had fights and quarrels. Marvin had a bitter relationship with his father, which had been the case since childhood . On April 1, 1984, Marvin Gaye Sr. shot and killed his son after a physical altercation; the father claimed he acted in self-defense but would later be convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
In the days prior to his killing , Marvin’s parents had arguments mainly over a misplaced insurance policy letter. The day before his death, the arguments spread to Gaye’s bedroom. Angered by his father confronting his mother, Gaye commanded Marvin Sr. to leave her alone. Marvin Sr did leave without any further arguments or altercation.
However at 12.30 PM on April 1, the arguments between Marvin Sr and his wife had flared up again. Marvin Jr shouted downstairs, telling his father if he had something to say, he should do it in person.
Eight minutes later Marvin Sr went up with a .38 pistol, aimed it at his son and shot him 3 times. The 1st shot had already been fatal.
Marvin Gaye was killed a day before his 45th birthday, actually less then 12 hours before his birthday.
His death had all the hallmarks of a Greek tragedy. VH1 listed Gaye’s death as the eighth most shocking moment in music history. Marvin Gaye was not just a great singer, he had a very distinctive voice which was immediately recognizable , only few singers possess that talent.
There have been many tribute songs about Marvin Gaye. I will only posting 2 of them.
Finishing up with the Great man himself
If I should die tonight Though it seems far before my time I won’t die blue ‘Cause I’ve known you