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THE ISLEY BROTHERS

THE ISLEY BROTHERS CLOSE UP
THE ISLEY BROTHERS
THE ISLEY BROTHERS GREEN
THE ISLEY BROTHERS LIVE
Biography: 

First formed in the early '50s, the Isley Brothers enjoyed one of the longest, most influential, and most diverse careers in the pantheon of popular music -- over the course of nearly a half century of performing, the group's distinguished history spanned not only two generations of Isley siblings but also massive cultural shifts which heralded their music's transformation from gritty R&B to Motown soul to blistering funk. The first generation of Isley siblings was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH, where they were encouraged to begin a singing career by their father, himself a professional vocalist, and their mother, a church pianist who provided musical accompaniment at their early performances. Initially a gospel quartet, the group was comprised of Ronald, Rudolph, O'Kelly, and Vernon Isley; after Vernon's 1955 death in a bicycling accident, tenor Ronald was tapped as the remaining trio's lead vocalist. In 1957, the brothers went to New York City to record a string of failed doo wop singles; while performing a spirited reading of the song "Lonely Teardrops" in Washington, D.C., two years later, they interjected the line "You know you make me want to shout," which inspired frenzied audience feedback. An RCA executive in the audience saw the concert, and when he signed the Isleys soon after, he instructed that their first single be constructed around their crowd-pleasing catch phrase; while the call-and-response classic "Shout" failed to reach the pop Top 40 on its initial release, it eventually became a frequently covered classic.

Still, success eluded the Isleys, and only after they left RCA in 1962 did they again have another hit, this time with their seminal cover of the Top Notes' "Twist and Shout." Like so many of the brothers' early R&B records, "Twist and Shout" earned greater commercial success when later rendered by a white group -- in this case, the Beatles; other acts who notched hits by closely following the Isleys' blueprint were the Yardbirds ("Respectable," also covered by the Outsiders), the Human Beinz ("Nobody but Me"), and Lulu ("Shout"). During a 1964 tour, they recruited a young guitarist named Jimmy James to play in their backing band; James -- who later shot to fame under his given name, Jimi Hendrix -- made his first recordings with the Isleys, including the single "Testify," issued on the brothers' own T-Neck label. They signed to the Motown subsidiary Tamla in 1965, where they joined forces with the famed Holland-Dozier-Holland writing and production team. Their first single, the shimmering "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)," was their finest moment yet, and barely missed the pop Top Ten.


"This Old Heart of Mine" was their only hit on Motown, however, and when the song hit number three in Britain in 1967, the Isleys relocated to England in order to sustain their flagging career; after years of writing their own material, they felt straitjacketed by the Motown assembly-line production formula, and by the time they returned stateside in 1969, they had exited Tamla to resuscitate the T-Bone label. Their next release, the muscular and funky "It's Your Thing," hit number two on the U.S. charts in 1969, and became their most successful record. That year, the Isleys also welcomed a number of new members as younger brothers Ernie and Marvin, brother-in-law Chris Jasper, and family friend Everett Collins became the trio's new backing unit. Spearheaded by Ernie's hard-edged guitar leads, the group began incorporating more and more rock material into its repertoire as the 1970s dawned, and scored hits with covers of Stephen Stills' "Love the One You're With," Eric Burdon & War's "Spill the Wine," and Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay."

 


In 1973, the Isleys scored a massive hit with their rock-funk fusion cover of their own earlier single "Who's That Lady," retitled "That Lady, Pt. 1"; the album 3 + 3 also proved highly successful, as did 1975's The Heat Is On, which spawned the smash "Fight the Power, Pt. 1." As the decade wore on, the group again altered its sound to fit into the booming disco market; while their success on pop radio ran dry, they frequently topped the R&B charts with singles like 1977's "The Pride," 1978's "Take Me to the Next Phase, Pt. 1," 1979's "I Wanna Be With You, Pt. 1," and 1980's "Don't Say Goodnight." While the Isleys' popularity continued into the 1980s, Ernie and Marvin, along with Chris Jasper, defected in 1984 to form their own group, Isley/Jasper/Isley; a year later, they topped the R&B charts with "Caravan of Love." On March 31, 1986, O'Kelly died of a heart attack; Rudolph soon left to join the ministry, but the group reunited in 1990. Although the individual members continued with solo work and side projects, the Isley Brothers forged on in one form or another throughout the decade; in 1996, now consisting of Ronald, Marvin, and Ernie, they released the album Mission to Please. Ronald and Ernie hooked up several years later for Eternal (2001), a brand-new selection of R&B cuts featuring collaborative efforts with Jill Scott, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and Raphael Saadiq. On that particular release, Ronald also introduced the alter ego Mr. Biggs. Body Kiss (2003) and Baby Makin' Music (2006) followed.

 

Discography:

Shout!, RCA Victor, 1959.
Twist and Shout, Wand, 1962.
Twisting and Shouting, United Artists, 1963.
This Old Heart of Mine, Tamla, 1966.
Soul on the Rocks, Tamla, 1967.
It's Our Thing, T-Neck, 1969.
The Brothers Isley, T-Neck, 1969.
Live at Yankee Stadium, T-Neck, 1969.
Get Into Something, T-Neck, 1970.
In the Beginning, T-Neck, 1971.
Givin' It Back, T-Neck, 1971.
Brother, Brother, Brother, T-Neck, 1972.
3+3, T-Neck, 1973; reissued Sony, 2003.
Live It Up, T-Neck, 1974.
The Heat Is On, T-Neck, 1975; reissued, Sony, 2003.
Harvest for the World, T-Neck, 1976; reissued, Sony, 2003.
Go for Your Guns, T-Neck, 1977.
Showdown, T-Neck, 1978.
Timeless, T-Neck, 1978.
Winner Takes All, T-Neck, 1979.
Go All the Way, T-Neck, 1980.
Grand Slam, T-Neck, 1981.
Inside You, T-Neck, 1981.
The Real Deal, T-Neck, 1982.
Between the Sheets, T-Neck, 1983.
Greatest Hits, Volume 1, T-Neck, 1984.
Masterpiece, Warner Bros., 1985.
Smooth Sailin', Warner Bros., 1987.
Spend the Night, Warner Bros., 1989.
Shout!: The Complete Victor Sessions, RCA, 1991; reissued, 1996.
Tracks of Life, Warner Bros., 1992.
Live, Elektra/Asylum, 1993.
Beautiful Ballads, Sony/Legacy, 1994.
For The Love of You, Collectables, 1995.
The Isley Brothers Live, Rhino, 1996.
Mission to Please, Island, 1996.
Shake it Up Baby: Shout, Twist and Shout, Varese Vintage, 2000.
Eternal, DreamWorks, 2000.
Love Songs, Sony, 2001.
20th Century Masters - The Millenium Collection: The Best of the Isley Brothers, Universal, 2001.
Body Kiss, DreamWorks, 2003.
Here I Am: Isley Meets Bacharach, DreamWorks, 2003.
Live It Up, Epic/Legacy, 2004.

Source:  Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide; eNotes

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Earth, Wind & Fire

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EARTH, WIND & FIRE

EARTH, WIND & FIRE
EARTH, WIND & FIRE BASS
EARTH, WIND & FIRE LIVE
EARTH, WIND & FIRE MUSIC
Biography: 

Earth, Wind & Fire were one of the most musically accomplished, critically acclaimed, and commercially popular funk bands of the '70s. Conceived by drummer, bandleader, songwriter, kalimba player, and occasional vocalist Maurice White, EWF's all-encompassing musical vision used funk as its foundation, but also incorporated jazz, smooth soul, gospel, pop, rock & roll, psychedelia, blues, folk, African music, and, later on, disco. Lead singer Philip Bailey gave EWF an extra dimension with his talent for crooning sentimental ballads in addition to funk workouts; behind him, the band could harmonize like a smooth Motown group, work a simmering groove like the J.B.'s, or improvise like a jazz fusion outfit. Plus, their stage shows were often just as elaborate and dynamic as George Clinton's P-Funk empire. More than just versatility for its own sake, EWF's eclecticism was part of a broader concept informed by a cosmic, mystical spirituality and an uplifting positivity the likes of which hadn't been seen since the early days of Sly & the Family Stone. Tying it all together was the accomplished songwriting of Maurice White, whose intricate, unpredictable arrangements and firm grasp of hooks and structure made EWF one of the tightest bands in funk when they wanted to be. Not everything they tried worked, but at their best, Earth, Wind & Fire seemingly took all that came before them and wrapped it up into one dizzying, spectacular package. 


White founded Earth, Wind & Fire in Chicago in 1969. He had previously honed his chops as a session drummer for Chess Records, where he played on songs by the likes of Fontella BassBilly Stewart, and Etta James, among others. In 1967, he'd replaced Redd Holt in the popular jazz group the Ramsey Lewis Trio, where he was introduced to the kalimba, an African thumb piano he would use extensively in future projects. In 1969, he left Lewis' group to form a songwriting partnership with keyboardist Don Whitehead and singer Wade Flemons. This quickly evolved into a band dubbed the Salty Peppers, which signed with Capitol and scored a regional hit with "La La Time." When a follow-up flopped, White decided to move to Los Angeles, and took most of the band with him; he also renamed them Earth, Wind & Fire, after the three elements in his astrological charts. By the time White convinced his brother, bassist Verdine White, to join him on the West Coast in 1970, the lineup also consisted of Whitehead, Flemons, female singer Sherry Scott, guitarist Michael Beal, tenor saxophonist Chet Washington, trombonist Alex Thomas, and percussionist Yackov Ben Israel. This aggregate signed a new deal with Warner Bros. and issued its self-titled debut album in late 1970. Many critics found it intriguing and ambitious, much like the 1971 follow-up, The Need of Love, but neither attracted much commercial attention, despite a growing following on college campuses and a high-profile gig performing the soundtrack to Melvin Van Peebles' groundbreaking black independent film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. 


Dissatisfied with the results, White dismantled the first version of EWF in 1972, retaining only brother Verdine. He built a new lineup with female vocalist Jessica Cleaves, flute/sax player Ronnie Laws, guitarist Roland Bautista, keyboardist Larry Dunn, and percussionist Ralph Johnson; the most important new addition, however, was singer Philip Bailey, recruited from a Denver R&B band called Friends & Love. After seeing the group open for John Sebastian in New York, Clive Davis signed them to CBS, where they debuted in 1972 with Last Days and Time. Further personnel changes ensued; Laws and Bautista were all gone by year's end, replaced by reedman Andrew Woolfolk and guitarists Al McKay and Johnny Graham. It was then that EWF truly began to hit their stride. 1973's Head to the Sky (Cleaves' last album with the group) significantly broadened their cult following, and the 1974 follow-up, Open Our Eyes, was their first genuine hit. It marked their first collaboration with producer, arranger, and sometime songwriting collaborator Charles Stepney, who helped streamline their sound for wider acceptance; it also featured another White brother, Fred, brought in as a second drummer. The single "Mighty Mighty" became EWF's first Top Ten hit on the R&B charts, although pop radio shied away from its black-pride subtext, and the minor hit "Kalimba Story" brought Maurice White's infatuation with African sounds to the airwaves. Open Our Eyes went gold, setting the stage for the band's blockbuster breakthrough. 

 

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In 1975, EWF completed work on another movie soundtrack, this time to a music-biz drama called That's the Way of the World. Not optimistic about the film's commercial prospects, the group rushed out their soundtrack album of the same name (unlike Sweet Sweetback, they composed all the music themselves) in advance. The film flopped, but the album took off; its lead single, the love-and-encouragement anthem "Shining Star," shot to the top of both the R&B and pop charts, making Earth, Wind & Fire mainstream stars; it later won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group. The album also hit number one on both the pop and R&B charts, and went double platinum; its title track went Top Five on the R&B side, and it also contained Bailey's signature ballad in the album cut "Reasons." White used the new income to develop EWF's live show into a lavish, effects-filled extravaganza, which eventually grew to include stunts designed by magician Doug Henning. The band was also augmented by a regular horn section, the Phoenix Horns, headed by saxophonist Don Myrick. Their emerging concert experience was chronicled later that year on the double-LP set Gratitude, which became their second straight number one album and featured one side of new studio tracks. Of those, "Sing a Song" reached the pop Top Ten and the R&B Top Five, and the ballad "Can't Hide Love" and the title track were also successful. 

Sadly, during the 1976 sessions for EWF's next studio album, SpiritCharles Stepney died suddenly of a heart attack. Maurice White took over the arranging chores, but the Stepney-produced "Getaway" managed to top the R&B charts posthumously. Spirit naturally performed well on the charts, topping out at number two. In the meantime, White was taking a hand in producing other acts; in addition to working with his old boss Ramsey Lewis, he helped kick start the careers of the Emotions and Deniece Williams. 1977's All n' All was another strong effort that charted at number three and spawned the R&B smashes "Fantasy" and the chart-topping "Serpentine Fire"; meanwhile, the Emotions topped the pop charts with the White-helmed smash "Best of My Love." The following year, White founded his own label, ARC, and EWF appeared in the mostly disastrous film version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, turning in a fine cover of the Beatles' "Got to Get You Into My Life" that became their first Top Ten pop hit since "Sing a Song." Released before year's end, The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 produced another Top Ten hit (and R&B number one) in the newly recorded "September." 

1979's I Am contained EWF's most explicit nod to disco, a smash collaboration with the Emotions called "Boogie Wonderland" that climbed into the Top Ten. The ballad "After the Love Has Gone" did even better, falling one spot short of the top. Although I Am became EWF's sixth straight multi-platinum album, there were signs that the group's explosion of creativity over the past few years was beginning to wane. 1980's Faces broke that string, after which guitarist McKay departed. While 1981's Raise brought them a Top Five hit and R&B chart-topper in "Let's Groove," an overall decline in consistency was becoming apparent. By the time EWF issued its next album, 1983's Powerlight, ARC had folded, and the Phoenix Horns had been cut loose to save money. After the lackluster Electric Universe appeared at the end of the year, White disbanded the group to simply take a break. In the meantime, Verdine White became a producer and video director, while Philip Bailey embarked on a solo career and scored a pop smash with the Phil Collins duet "Easy Lover." Collins also made frequent use of the Phoenix Horns on his '80s records, both solo and with Genesis

Bailey reunited with the White brothers, plus Andrew Woolfolk, Ralph Johnson, and new guitarist Sheldon Reynolds, in 1987 for the album Touch the World. It was surprisingly successful, producing two R&B smashes in "Thinking of You" and the number one "System of Survival." Released in 1990, Heritage was a forced attempt to contemporize the group's sound, with guest appearances from Sly Stone and MC Hammer; its failure led to the end of the group's relationship with Columbia. They returned on Reprise with the more traditional-sounding Millennium in 1993, but were dropped when the record failed to recapture their commercial standing despite a Grammy nomination for "Sunday Morning"; tragedy struck that year when onetime horn leader Don Myrick was murdered in Los Angeles. Bailey and the White brothers returned once again in 1997 on the small Pyramid label with In the Name of Love. After 2003's The Promise, the group realigned itself with several top-shelf adult contemporary artists and released 2005's Illumination, which featured a much-publicized collaboration with smooth jazz juggernaut Kenny G

 For The Record

Original members include Michael Beale, guitar; Leslie Drayton, horns; Wade Flemons,electric piano; Sherry Scott, vocals; Alex Thomas, horns; Chester Washington, horns;Maurice White (born December 19, 1941, in Chicago, IL), vocals, drums, kalimba; Verdine White (born July 25, 1951), bass; Donald Whitehead, keyboards; and Phillard Williams,percussion.

 
Later members include Phil Bailey (born May 8, 1951, in Denver, CO; joined band 1972), vocals, percussion; Roland Bautista, guitar (left band 1972; rejoined 1981); Jessica Cleaves (born 1943, joined and left band 1972), vocals; Larry Dunn (born June 19, 1953), keyboards; Johnny Graham (born August 3, 1951; joined band 1972), guitar; Ralph Johnson (born July 4, 1951), drums; Roland Laws, reeds (left band 1972); Al McKay (born February 2, 1948; bandmember, 1972-81), guitar, percussion; Sheldon Reynolds, vocals, guitar, Tuscanni keyboards; Freddie White (born January 13, 1955; joined band 1974), drums; and Andrew Woolfolk (born October 11, 1950), sax, flute.
 
Group formed c. 1969 in Los Angeles as the Salty Peppers; signed with Capitol c. 1969; renamed Earth, Wind and Fire, 1971; signed with Warner Bros., 1971; reformed and signed with Columbia, 1972; disbanded, 1983; reunited for world tour, 1986; disbanded until 1990; signed with Warner Bros, and released Millennium, 1993.
 
Awards: Grammy Award for best single, 1975, for "Shining Star"; two Grammy awards, 1978; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Hall of Fame Image Award, 1994.
 
Addresses: Office—Reprise Records, 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505-4694.
 

Discography:
 
Earth, Wind and Fire, Warner Bros., 1970.
The Need of Love, Warner Bros., 1972.
Last Days and Time, Columbia, 1972.
Head to the Sky, Columbia, 1973.
Another Time, Warner Bros., 1974.
Open Our Eyes, Columbia, 1974.
That's the Way of the World, Columbia, 1975.
Gratitude, Columbia, 1975.
Spirit, Columbia, 1976.
All'n' All, Columbia, 1977.
Best of Earth, Wind and Fire, Volume I, Columbia, 1978.
I Am, Columbia, 1979.
Face, Columbia, 1981.
Raise, Columbia, 1981.
Powerlight, Columbia, 1983.
Touch the World, Columbia, 1987.
Heritage, Columbia, 1990.
The Eternal Dance, Columbia, 1992.
Millennium, Warner Bros., 1993.
Electric Universe, Columbia.
The Best of Earth, Wind and Fire, Volume 2, Columbia.
Sweet Sweetback's Baadasss Song (soundtrack).
 
 
This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com

 

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THE HIGSONS

The Higsons cover
The Higsons live
The Higsons
The Higsons album cover
Biography: 

The Higsons were active from 1980 to 1986. Their main creative driver, front man, and singer was Charlie Higson, now better known for “The Fast Show” and increasingly as the writer of the Young James Bond novels.

The Higsons were the best of a pretty good crop of Post Punk and New Wave bands that came out of the University of East Anglia in the late seventies and early eighties, many of whom were featured on the “Norwich, A Fine City” collection. There is a story that the greatest adoptive East Anglian of them all called them onto his show in frank amazement that any bands were active in Norfolk. John Peel championed The Higsons, and they had consistent Indie Chart success from the release of their first single “I Don’t Want To Live With Monkeys” in July 1981, through their excellent debut album “The Curse Of The Higsons” in October 1984, and right up to their eventual demise in 1986. Openly acknowledging a debt to The Talking Heads (something I myself only hear sporadically) The Higsons’s sound has echoes of Joy Division and Iggy Pop (if that isn’t a tautology), with some Ska blended into the mix which isn’t that surprising as they ended up on the 2 Tone label. If you haven’t heard any, download a couple of tracks at random – they’re all good.

The Higsons didn’t really do much wrong, had a loyal following both in London and amongst their many friends and fans from Norwich, and trod the boards with apparently sober professional well-rehearsed and packed gigs. They probably would have achieved commercial success to match their critical acclaim if they hadn’t got their timing exactly wrong. Looking back all those years as Punk descended Rome-like into the parody of Glam Rock it did so much to end, and music scratched around in the New Romantic void created by the death of the high priest of New Wave Ian Curtis, Switch, as we knew Charlie Higson then, seemed earnestly out of sorts with an eighties of big hair and covers. (Ironically this frustration contributed to his first taste of real fame, as the joint creator of “Loadsamoney”.)

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Three years earlier and they’d have been at ease alongside The Clash, and three years after they split The Stone Roses reinvented what was to become Brit Pop. The Higsons might have been another La’s. All we were left with is a most remarkable post-dissolution adieu in “The Attack Of The Cannibal Zombie Businessmen”(1987), a tantalising bazaar of the greatest of never to be hits.

Albums:

The Curse of The Higsons (October 1984)

©JD Shanks September 2009

This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com

Why Not Check Out:

The Talking Heads

Joy Division

Madness

Joy Division Cult Heroes

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The Clash

Biography: 

The Clash was an English Punk Band founded in 1976. The bands stalwarts were Joe Strummer on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Mick Jones lead guitar/ vocals and Paul Simon on on bass guitar and backing vocals. Nicky “Topper" Headon on drums and percussion would join the band later.

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After some time, Headon left the group as did Mick Jones, however the band continued to perform with new members until they disbanded in 1986. The Clash’s sound was based on punk rock, reggae, ska, dub, funk, rap and rockabilly and their lyrics and musical experimentation had such an influence on rock and, in particular, alternative rock they were referred to by some as “The Only Band That Matters".

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Have You Seen This???

The Clash signed to CBS Records in 1977. Their first album "The Clash” was a major success in the UK and while CBS released only a “radio friendly” version in the US, the original album became the best selling imported album of all time in the USA. The Clash’s third Album “London Calling” released in 1977 is regarded as one of the greatest rock albums every recorded.

The band recorded a further three albums: “Sandinista,” “Combat Rock” and “Cut the Crap” before disbanding in 1986.

Unfortunately Joe Strummer died of a heart problem in 2002, The Joe Strummer Foundation (Strummerville) was set up by Lucinda, his wife shortly after his death and continues to champion new music.

Mick Jones continues to play and collaborates with Tony James releasing several albums under the Band name Silicon/Carbon.

This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com

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Rancid

Tom Petty

The Pogues

Stone Roses

Theatre Of Hate

The Higsons

Steel Pulse

New York Dolls

Complete History Of Punk 

Sly & The Family Stone

Sly and The Family Stone
Biography: 

Sly and The Family Stone truly are ‘A Family Affair’. Hailing from San Francisco, the band started out as two separate bands: one led by Sylvester ‘Sly’ Stone, the other by his brother Freddie. Sister Rose Stone later joined to supply keyboards and vocals. The line-up also featured Larry Graham on bass, Jerry Martini on saxophone, Cynthia Robinson on trumpet and Gregg Errico on drums. Freddie took on the guitar duties and Sly agreed to learn the electronic organ. Sly and The Family Stone were made up of black and white members, which at the time was quite revolutionary.

The band’s sound was rich and unique. It blended influences from gospel, soul and funk, incorporating the use of wah-wahs and fuzz effects, to create a psychedelic musical backdrop to the late 60s. Bassist Larry Graham introduced the world to the bass-playing technique of slapping, favoured by many artists across the funk genre such as Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Level 42.

Their first album – ‘A Whole New Thing’ – was released in October 1967. ‘Dance to the Music’ was their debut single released that same year and reached the Top 10 in the US.

Stand’, their next album, was released in May 1969 and is ranked #118 in the Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All time. The band was asked to perform at Woodstock festival in August 1969. The single ‘I Want to Take You Higher’ had been previously released as a b-side, but was later re-released due the popularity of their performance at Woodstock. The track was later covered by Ike and Tina Turner and was about the joy of music taking one higher, rather than alluding to drug use.

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However, following the band’s move to Los Angeles, Sly and his band mates were increasingly involved in the city’s drug scene. Friction set in with band members, which resulted in several line-up changes. Throughout the 70s, Sly’s creative output slowed down as the drug abuse took its toll, although he did release genre-defining albums and toured with George Clinton into the early 80s.

Different Strokes by Different Folks’, an album of Sly and The Family Stone covers, was released in 2005 featuring will.i.am, Arrested Development and Joss Stone. They performed at the 2006 Grammy Awards with most of the original line-up. Sly made the briefest yet startling of appearances. The band last toured in Europe in 2007.

This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com

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James Brown

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Tina Turner

H.P. Lovecraft

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James Brown

James Brown Live
James Brown Album Cover
James Brown Splits
James Joseph Brown Jr.
Biography: 

Godfather of Soul James Joseph Brown Jr. was born in South Carolina in May 1933. At an early age, he developed into a great entertainer. He earned money by dancing to crowds of WWII troops, and mastered the harmonica, guitar, piano and drums.

Brown met Bobby Byrd while in juvenile detention and, together with Byrd’s sister, formed The Flames. The group secured a record contract and had a massive hit in 1956 with ‘Please, Please, Please’. Early Brown songs have the influences of Little Richard and Ray Charles running through them. The group later billed themselves as James Brown and The Famous Flames.

They rose to prominence in 1962 with the release of the instrumental single ‘Night Train’ and even more so in 1963 with their live album ‘Live at the Apollo’. James Brown won a Grammy for ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag’ in 1966.

Towards the end of the 60s, Brown’s music was developing a funky edge. Instrumental track ‘Funky Drummer’ is one of the most sampled drum loops in music history. His music, together with his enormous stage presence and energetic performances, had an impact on contemporaries like Sly and the Family Stone, Edwin Starr and a young Michael Jackson. The routine where he appears exhausted and is escorted under a cape from the stage, only to reappear fully invigorated, is so notorious that it is often the subject of parody.

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Brown formed a new band with Byrd in 1970 called The J.B.’s, featuring now-legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins and Fred Wesley, later of Parliament-Funkadelic. ‘Get Up (I Feel like Being A) Sex Machine’ was their debut single and was a huge sensation. Other notable achievements for Brown during the 70s were the score for blaxploitation film ‘Black Caesar’ and his performance in Zaire prior to the Rumble in the Jungle fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

During the 80s, James Brown cropped up in two blockbuster films: 'The Blues Brothers' and 'Rocky IV', contributing the track ‘Living in America’ to the latter.

He collaborated on tracks with MC Hammer and appeared in many films and TV programmes in the 90s. In 2006, the last year of his life, he continued his ‘Seven Decades of Funk’ world tour. The so-called Hardest Working Man in Show Business succumbed to pneumonia in December 2006. His last public appearance was in November the same year at his induction into the UK Music Hall of Fame.

Carly Page

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