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Thee Soul & Rhythm and Blues Thread


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ally, the AVB song above from 1975 reminds me of another great band from the same period.............

And this one, also from 1975.............

1975 was an excellent year for Soul and R&B! ..............:) missy

It was a great year Missy :)

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It was a great year Missy :)

ally, I don't recall that one from the Average White Band in 1975, but I like it! Thanks for giving me a new tune.

And plus, I can use this post to put up another 1975 EW&F song (probably my all time ewf favorite, not that anyone cares, lol.). ....:) missy


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I can use this post to put up another 1975 EW&F song (probably my all time ewf favorite, not that anyone cares, lol.). ....:) missy

Feels like we're doing the drive at five show :lol:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Saw these guys perform at Music In the Park during Artsplosure in Raleigh, NC yesterday. Can't say I was ever a fan of theirs back in the day but they certainly brought it last night.

This is a fan shot video from 2008 of the version of the band I saw last night:

Would like to see Hamish back in the band but yeah, they can still bring it alright ! Glad you enjoyed

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  • 2 weeks later...

New book unlocks the music and mystery of Detroiter Willie John

Michael H. Hodges/ Detroit News Arts Writer

His was one of the last great, untold stories in Detroit music and the mystery at the heart of "Fever: Little Willie John's Fast Life, Mysterious Death and the Birth of Soul" (2011, Titan Books) by Susan Whitall (with Kevin John, Willie's elder son).

Little Willie John — aka William Edward John — sang like a dream, wrote songs like a wiz, and by all accounts was poised to be as huge as one of the first singers to mix gospel cadence with rhythm-and-blues, the marriage that produced soul music. It was a radical fusion in the mid-1950s, but would later power the careers of Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, James Brown and countless others who followed in Little Willie's wake.

Small wonder Marvin Gaye called Willie a "soul-singer's soul singer."

Yet for all the promise, Little Willie never got his chance. The youngster who first recorded "Fever," the song that made Peggy Lee a superstar, was convicted of manslaughter in 1964 under murky circumstances. Four years later the 30-year-old, who wrote and recorded enduring classics like "Need Your Love So Bad" and "Leave My Kitten Alone," turned up dead on a prison floor — another act of violence never adequately explained.

Sometimes death at an early age guarantees lasting fame. In Little Willie's case, it reduced him to a musical footnote.

"Over the decades," writes Whitall in an apt metaphor, "Willie's life and career have been boiled down to a shallow, sordid haiku: Great talent, a violent assault in Seattle, prison and then death."

In music, particularly in the 1960s, timing is everything. "Because Willie died in 1968," says Whitall, a Detroit News reporter who also wrote "Women of Motown: An Oral History," "he missed the explosion of 1960s soul that made stars of Aretha Franklin, the Motown stable and the Stax stable of stars. Yet it was Willie who enabled all that — a transitional figure with a voice on the divide between 1940s crooners and R&B."

The gifted crooner behind "Fever" was born in Arkansas, but his family moved to Detroit when he was 3 years old. They settled in public housing on the city's northeast side, and his dad went to work at the Dodge Main plant. He was a childhood friend of Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops, and attended Pershing High School before he dropped out to tour with bandleader Paul Williams.

Music was a family affair, so Little Willie's indoctrination started early. As a child, he sang in church with The United Five, comprised of three of his brothers and their sister Mabel, who would later have her own career with Motown, and then Stax Records.

But Willie was a willful child, and while very young took to sneaking out of the house to sing with the likes of Count Basie and Duke Ellington.

"His father would whip him," Whitall says, "but he'd still sneak out. Finally his dad said he could sing in a nice theater like the Paradise (now Orchestra Hall), but not in nightclubs like the ones on Hastings Street."

Whitall spent five years, off and on, probing Willie's life for the book, written in collaboration with the singer's son, Kevin, interviewing his family, as well as Willie's peers such as B.B. King, Solomon Burke, Sam Moore of Sam & Dave, Norman Thrasher of the Midnighters, Joe Hunter of the Funk Brothers and many more.

She tracked down the former Seattle prosecutor who convicted Willie in 1964. ("Anyone in that house," he told her, could have committed that murder.) She obtained access to Willie's prison medical records after his suspicious death (Although the family was told that he died of pneumonia, the official line was "heart attack.")

Whitall confesses that the whole pre-Motown musical era in Detroit has always fascinated her. It was a lucky confluence of events that planted this particular book in her mind.

"Like a lot of things," she says, "it started with the Funk Brothers." Six years ago, accompanying musicians Joe Hunter and Joe Messina to a gig at Cleveland's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, she ran into Willie's son Kevin John.

"Kevin saw me and we spoke," Whitall recalls, "and he asked if I'd ever consider doing a biography on his dad. And I said, 'Hey — that's a great idea!'"

About the book

What: "Fever: Little Willie John's Fast Life, Mysterious Death and the Birth of Soul" (Titan Books, $25.99) by Susan Whitall with Kevin John, is out today.

Radio appearance : Susan Whitall will be interviewed on Ann Delisi's Essential Music at noon Saturday on Detroit Public Radio WDET-FM (101.9).

Reading/signing appearances : Susan Whitall will do a reading at 6:45 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday at Temporary Insanity IV, "Two days of art, poetry and performance," located south of Mack Avenue (SOMA) at The Bankle Building, 2944 Woodward Ave., Detroit.


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