Inspired by the April 4 birthdays of Cibo Matto’s Miho Hatori, Muddy Waters, Major Lance, Jill Scott and Kelly Price, and the passing of Bill Withers.
Tag Archives: Wilson Pickett
Inspired by the March 20 birthdays of Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos, Fabulous Thunderbirds’ Jimmy Vaughan, Carl Palmer, and Carl Reiner, and International Day of Happiness; and the March 19 birthdays of Ruth Pointer, The Specials’ Terry Hall, and Clarence “Frogman” Henry.
Inspired by the March 18 birthdays of Wilson Pickett, Irene Cara, Queen Latifah, Lykke Li, the Alan Parsons Project’s Eric Woolfson, Vanessa Williams, Sutton Foster and Adam Levine.
You may not know their names, but you know many of their songs. Individually, but more often as a team, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff wrote and/or produced a lot of timeless classic songs in the soul music genre. They were the pre-eminent rhythm and blues architects of the first half of the 1970s, and their production style paved the way for disco, before that genre got watered down. Plenty of their records found their way to the top of the pop charts as well.
Today is Kenny Gamble’s 75th birthday. To celebrate, Tunes du Jour presents a playlist of twenty great Gamble and Huff sides.
No other pop song so thoroughly challenged and transformed the commercials laws and artistic conventions of its time, for all time.
– Rolling Stone, naming Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” the greatest song of all time
If it came out now, it would still be radical. For 1965, it was mind-blowing, as was its success. Six minutes long, sung by a guy who sounded nothing like the other singers on the radio, with confrontational often insulting lyrics. Somehow, it went all the way to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, kept from the top spot by The Beatles’ “Help!” As Rolling Stone wrote, “Just as Dylan bent folk music’s roots and forms to his own will, he transformed popular song with the content and ambition of “Like a Rolling Stone.”
Thanks in part to “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Help!” and Motown and Stax and the Rolling Stones and other British Invasion acts, 1965 was one of the best years for pop music. Tunes du Jour celebrates Throwback Thursday with a second playlist of tracks from this stellar year (the first playlist can be found here), kicking off with a Bob Dylan record that changed the rules.
On October 24, 1963, The Beatles were in Stockholm, Sweden on the first day of their first foreign tour.
On October 24, 1963, I was born.
Both of these events turned out to be remarkably influential on the culture.
The Beatles, who synthesized American rock & roll with various British music traditions, moved popular music to a whole new place, expanding the types of song structures and lyrical content heard in the hit songs of the day and opening the floodgates for many British bands to prosper around the world.
Using the medium of stand-up comedy, I went to blue collar towns and meetings of Catholic senior citizens and told them of my travails same-sex dating. Just like the USA and Sweden and other parts of the world were exposed to what was happening in Liverpool, so were the people of Allentown, Pennsylvania exposed to what was happening in my love life, which believe me, wasn’t much. The Beatles and I opened peoples’ minds to a world beyond their own. They delivered their message to 55,000 people at Shea Stadium, while I delivered mine to a couple dozen folks at Bananas of Poughkeepsie. I also played to sold-out crowds at Caroline’s on Broadway and StandUp NY, but it’s not my nature to brag about such things. I’m the quiet Beatle.
On October 24, 1979, I turned 16 years old. That same day, Paul McCartney received a medallion commemorating his achievements in music. Having written or co-written 43 songs that sold over a million copies each between 1962 and 1978, he was named the most successful composer of all time. While working on the Licensing departments at Sony, Zomba and Warner, I licensed recordings to 43 Now That’s What I Call Music compilations that sold over a million copies each. It’s like Paul McCartney and I are twins.
Today, Sir Paul McCartney (he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997, something we don’t have in common. I am not a British citizen, and therefore not eligible.) turns 72 years old. The Beatles’ recordings are not on Spotify, so I’ve worked around that minor inconvenience to create this playlist of some of the finest songs McCartney composed or co-composed.
“Funky Broadway” is a song written by Arlester “Dyke” Christian. His group, Dyke & the Blazers, released it as their first single in late 1966 on tiny Phoenix label Artco Records. It was picked up by the Original Sound label for national distribution in 1967. The single peaked at #65 on the pop charts, but went top twenty on the r&b charts and remained on that listing for nearly six months.
The Broadway in the title was not named after New York City’s Broadway. Depending on who you believe, it refers to a Broadway in Buffalo, New York or a Broadway Road in Phoenix, Arizona. However, in every town there’s a street named Funky Broadway.
More notable is the other word in the song’s title. This was the first charted record with the word “funky” in its name. It laid the groundwork and provided a name for this genre of music.
Wilson Pickett recorded a cover of “Funky Broadway” at the legendary Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama less than two weeks before the Dyke version hit the charts. It became one of Pickett’s two top ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100 (the other was 1966’s “Land of 1,000 Dances”). It was one of five #1s for him on the r&b chart.
Dyke & The Blazers managed to have two pop top 40 hits, both in 1969: “We Got More Soul” and “Let A Woman Be A Woman – Let A Man Be A Man.” In 1971, Arlester “Dyke” Christian was shot to death. He was 27 years old.
Wilson Pickett was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. Born on this day in 1941, he died in 2006 after a heart attack at age 64.