A soul and r&b singer, associated with the Philadelphia soul sound and the Delfonics
On February 9, 1947, was born Major Harris; soul and r&b singer who became a member of the Delfonics in 1971, but left the band in 1975 to pursue a solo career. He passed away on November 9, 2012.
After years of trying, Major Harris finally scored a big hit with the romantic, sensual "Love Won't Let Me Wait" in the summer of 1975. The ballad, with sexy backing vocals supplied by session singer Barbara Ingram, made its mark at number five on the pop charts while topping the R&B chart. He was born into a musical family on February 9, 1947, in Richmond, Virginia, as Major Harris III. His grandparents worked in vaudeville, his father was a professional guitarist, and his mother led the church choirs. His brother was Joe Jefferson, a Philadelphia songwriter responsible for many of the Spinners' hits like "Mighty Love," "Love Don't Love Nobody," and "One of a Kind Love Affair." His cousin was longtime Philly stalwart Norman Harris, a guitarist, producer, songwriter, and former record company owner.
Harris paid major dues: he sang with the Charmers, was briefly a member of Frankie Lymon's Teenagers, recorded with the Jarmels, issued solo singles on Laurie and OKeh Records, and later sang with Nat Turner's Rebellion on Philly Groove Records. None of his previous efforts brought him fame or success. He recorded with the Jarmels after they hit with "A Little Bit of Soap." Harris' first big break came when he joined the Delfonics, replacing Randy Cain; his first tour of duty with them ended in 1974 when he went solo. While with the group his mellow tenor was featured on quite a few recordings as a foil to lead William "Poogie" Hart's soulful falsetto, as is evident on "Think It Over Baby," "Lying to Myself," and "I Told You So."
Having left the Delfonics, he passed a solo audition for W.M.O.T. (We Men of Talent) productions and was signed as a solo act. An album was produced and released on Atlantic Records. The first release, "Each Day I Wake Up," was credited as being by the Major Harris Boogie Blues Band. When Atlantic later sprung "Love Won't Let Me Wait" on the public, the seductive ballad achieved a million in sales and became the high mark of Harris' career. It was recorded in a darkened Sigma Sound Studio with only a small light at Harris' lyric stand: Barbara Ingram, Carla Benton, and Yvette Benson supplied the backing vocals. MFSB played on the tracks with that distinctive, prevalent guitar supplied by Bobby Eli, who also produced the session and wrote the song with Gwendolyn Woolfolk (under her pen name of Vinnie Barrett).
Subsequent ballads by Harris fared well on the charts for a while, but when the hits dried up Harris went back to the Delfonics. As a solo act he was featured on an excellent live recording with Blue Magic and Margie Joseph, which showed that he was an even better entertainer than recording artist. He later toured with one of the two groups called the Delfonics; his version featured original members William Hart and Randy Cain. The other group included William Hart's brother, Wilbert (an original member), and two new guys. Major Harris died in Richmond on November 9, 2012; he was 65 years old.
CLICK HERE TO LEARN ABOUT THE DELFONICS
"Honor the past, don't just remember it." Dizzie Gillespie
String orchestra that helped R&B maestro Barry White set the stage for the emergence of disco.
On February 9, 1974, the Love Unlimited Orchestra went to No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Love's Theme.'
The longtime support unit for R&B love man Barry White, the 40-piece Love Unlimited Orchestra's lush, string-laden sound helped set the stage for the emergence of disco. The ensemble was originally formed by White to back his female protégés, Love Unlimited, beginning with their 1972 debut LP; the orchestra soon began supporting White himself as well, and in 1974 they issued their first LP Rhapsody in White, scoring a hit with the single "Love's Theme." Two other albums, Together Brothers and White Gold, appeared later that same year, and in 1975 the Love Unlimited Orchestra returned with Music Maestro Please. Around the time of the release of 1976's Sweet Summer Suite, the orchestra welcomed to its ranks a new member, saxophonist Kenny Gorelick, who under the name Kenny G. later went on to considerable success as a solo act. After recording the theme to Dino de Laurentiis' big-budget 1977 remake of King Kong, the Love Unlimited Orchestra recorded My Musical Bouquet a year later; Just a Little Bit Different followed in 1979, and in 1981 the group yielded two more LPs, Let 'Em Dance and Welcome Aboard. 1983's Rise was the final new Love Unlimited Orchestra LP, although they continued backing White in the studio and on-stage.
CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT BARRY WHITE
"Honor the past, don't just remember it." Dizzie Gillespie
The most successful female solo artist of the '90s, an R&B superstar with an octave-hurdling range and truly massive sales.
On February 8, 2006, at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards, held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, Mariah Carey won 3 of her 8 nominations.
The best-selling female performer of the 1990s and one of the most popular artists through the 2010s, Mariah Carey rose to superstardom on the strength of her stunning five-octave voice. An elastic talent who moved easily from glossy ballads to hip-hop-inspired dance-pop, she earned frequent comparison to rivals Whitney Houston and Celine Dion, but did them both one better by co-writing almost all her material. Like all artists with lengthy periods in the mainstream spotlight, Carey experienced creative and commercial lulls, yet each one of her proper studio albums peaked within the Top Five of the Billboard 200.
Born in Long Island, New York, on March 27, 1970, Carey moved to New York City at the age of 17 -- just one day after graduating high school -- to pursue a music career; there she befriended keyboardist Ben Margulies, with whom she began writing songs. Her big break came as a backing vocalist on a studio session with dance-pop singer Brenda K. Starr, who handed Carey's demo tape to Columbia Records head Tommy Mottola at a party. According to legend, Mottola listened to the tape in his limo while driving home that same evening, and was so immediately struck by Carey's talent that he doubled back to the party to track her down.
After signing to Columbia, Carey entered the studio to begin work on her 1990 self-titled debut LP. The heavily promoted album was a chart-topping smash, launching no less than four number one singles: "Vision of Love," "Love Takes Time," "Someday," and "I Don't Wanna Cry." Her overnight success earned Grammy Awards as Best New Artist and Best Female Vocalist, and expectations were high for Carey's follow-up, 1991's Emotions. The album did not disappoint, as the title track reached number one -- a record fifth consecutive chart-topper -- while both "Can't Let Go" and "Make It Happen" landed in the Top Five. Carey's next release was 1992's MTV Unplugged EP, which generated a number one cover of the Jackson 5's "I'll Be There." Featured on the track was backup singer Trey Lorenz, whose appearance immediately helped him land a recording contract of his own.
In June 1993, Carey wed Mottola -- some two decades her senior -- in a headline-grabbing ceremony; months later, she released her third full-length effort, Music Box, which became her best-selling record to date. Two more singles, "Dreamlover" and "Hero," reached the top spot on the charts. Carey's first tour followed and was widely panned by critics; undaunted, she resurfaced in 1994 with a holiday release titled Merry Christmas, scoring a seasonal smash with "All I Want for Christmas Is You." Released in 1995, Daydream reflected a new artistic maturity; the first single, "Fantasy," debuted at number one, making Carey the first female artist and just the second performer ever to accomplish the feat. The follow-up, "One Sweet Day" -- a collaboration with Boyz II Men -- repeated the trick, and remained lodged at the top of the charts for a record 16 weeks.
After separating from Mottola, Carey returned in 1997 with Butterfly, another staggering success and her most hip-hop-flavored recording to date. #1's -- a collection featuring her 13 previous chart-topping singles as well as "The Prince of Egypt (When You Believe)," a duet with Whitney Houston effectively pairing the two most successful female recording artists in pop history -- followed late the next year. With "Heartbreaker," the first single from her 1999 album Rainbow, Carey became the first artist to top the charts in each year of the 1990s; the record also pushed her ahead of the Beatles as the artist with the most cumulative weeks spent atop the Hot 100 singles chart.
However, the early 2000s weren't as kind to Carey. After signing an $80 million deal in 2001 with Virgin -- the biggest record contract ever -- she hit a bumpy patch culminating in the release of the poorly received movie Glitter and its attendant soundtrack (which was also her Virgin Records debut). Despite poor reviews and ticket sales, the Glitter soundtrack eventually went platinum. Following these setbacks, Virgin and Carey parted ways early in 2002, with the label paying her $28 million. That spring, she found a new home with Island/Def Jam, where she set up her own label, MonarC Music. In December, she released her ninth album, Charmbracelet, her first proper studio album to go merely platinum rather than multi-platinum.
The Emancipation of Mimi, her most successful work in years, appeared in 2005. It climbed to multi-platinum status and earned Carey three Grammy Awards -- Best Contemporary R&B Album and, for the single "We Belong Together," Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song -- thus restoring her status as a megastar. Two weeks before the release of her subsequent album, 2008's E=MC2, Carey scored her 18th number one hit with "Touch My Body," a feat that pushed her into second place (past Elvis, no less) among all artists with the most chart-topping singles. Although that hit song, along with the late April news that she had married Nick Cannon, kept her in the spotlight that year, the remainder of the album's spinoffs weren't nearly as successful; only "Bye Bye" managed to scrape the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100.
Carey went back to work fairly quickly, however, and in 2009, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel -- featuring collaborations with the-Dream as well as a cover of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is" -- became her 12th studio album. Despite some positive reviews, it was her least successful studio album; only one of its singles, "Obsessed," reached the Top Ten. The following year, Carey released her second Christmas album, Merry Christmas II You. She gave birth to twins in 2011, and within a year she was performing again and judged the 12th season of American Idol. The Miguel collaboration "#Beautiful," the lead single to her next album, was released in 2013 and went platinum. Me. I Am Mariah: The Elusive Chanteuse, her first album for Def Jam, followed in 2014, and reached number two on the album charts.
"Honor the past, don't just remember it." Dizzie Gillespie
Sizzling 1970s funk unit, known for the hits "Fire" and "Love Rollercoaster."
On February 8, 1975, the Ohio Players went to No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Fire', the group's first of two US No.1's.
With their slinky, horn-powered grooves, impeccable musicianship, and eye-popping album covers, the Ohio Players were among the top funk bands of the mid-'70s. Emerging from the musical hotbed of Dayton in 1959, the group was originally dubbed the Ohio Untouchables, and initially comprised singer/guitarist Robert Ward, bassist Marshall "Rock" Jones, saxophonist/guitarist Clarence "Satch" Satchell, drummer Cornelius Johnson, and trumpeter/trombonist Ralph "Pee Wee" Middlebrooks. In late 1961, a relative of Ward's founded the Detroit-based Lupine Records, and the group traveled north to the Motor City to back the Falcons on their hit "I Found a Love"; the Ohio Untouchables soon made their headlining debut with "Love Is Amazing," but when Ward subsequently exited for a solo career, the group essentially disbanded.
At that point, the nucleus of Middlebrooks, Jones, and newly added guitarist Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner returned to Dayton; there they recruited saxophonist Andrew Noland and drummer Gary Webster, the latter a somewhat elusive figure whose true involvement in the group's convoluted history has never been definitively answered -- some sources credit him as a founding Untouchable, others even as the band's early leader. In any case, by 1967, with the subsequent addition of singers Bobby Lee Fears and Dutch Robinson, the newly rechristened Ohio Players were signed as the house band for the New York-based Compass Records, backing singer Helena Ferguson on her lone hit, "Where Is the Party," before issuing their solo debut, "Trespassin'," which hit the R&B charts in early 1968.
Although the Players' trademark bottom-heavy, horn-driven sound was already blossoming, their follow-up, "It's a Cryin' Shame," flopped, and as Compass teetered on the brink of bankruptcy they exited the label. (Their early Compass sides were later packaged as First Impressions.) The Players then landed on Capitol, where 1969's "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" was a minor hit; an LP, Observations in Time, soon followed, with covers of "Summertime" and "Over the Rainbow" offering a strong hint of the stylistic detours to follow. In 1970 the group disbanded, however; Fears and Robinson both mounted solo careers, while the remaining members again decamped to Dayton, eventually re-forming with keyboardist, vocalist, and songwriter Walter "Junie" Morrison, trumpeter Bruce Napier, and trombonist Marvin Pierce.
Influenced by the groundbreaking funk of Sly & the Family Stone -- and with the nasal, cartoon-voiced Bonner assuming vocal duties -- the new Ohio Players lineup made their debut with the single "Pain," issued on the small local label Rubber Town Sounds; it was soon picked up for distribution by the Detroit-based Westbound label, reaching the R&B Top 40 in late 1971. An LP, also titled Pain, appeared that same year, and was followed in 1972 by Pleasure, which launched the absurdist smash "Funky Worm." Ecstacy appeared in 1973, and after 1974's Climax, the Players signed to Mercury; the label change also heralded yet more lineup changes, with keyboardist Billy Beck replacing Morrison (who later signed on with Parliament) and drummer Jimmy "Diamond" Williams taking over for Webster.
At Mercury, the Ohio Players enjoyed their greatest success; not only did their sound coalesce, but they became notorious for their sexually provocative LP covers, a tradition begun during their Westbound tenure. Their 1974 Mercury debut, Skin Tight, was their first unequivocal classic, launching the hit title track as well as "Jive Turkey." Its follow-up, Fire, remains the Players' masterpiece, topping the pop charts on the strength of its bone-rattling title cut, itself a number one hit; "I Want to Be Free," one of the band's few attempts at social commentary, was also highly successful. 1975's Honey -- which featured perhaps the Players' most controversial and erotic cover to date -- was another monster, generating the chart-topping masterpiece "Love Rollercoaster" in addition to the hits "Sweet Sticky Thing" and "Fopp."
The insistent "Who'd She Coo?" from 1976's Contradiction, was the Players' last number one R&B hit; "O-H-I-O," from 1977's Angel, was their last major hit on any chart, and as the '70s drew to a close, the band's fortunes continued to decline. 1979's Jass-Ay-Lay-Dee was their final Mercury effort, and upon signing to Arista, the Players returned with Everybody Up, followed by a pair of dismal releases on Boardwalk, 1981's Tenderness and 1982's Ouch! After 1984's Graduation, four years passed prior to the release of their next effort, Back. No new material was forthcoming, although various lineups continued performing live well into the following decades. Despite the deaths of core members Satchell (December 1995), Middlebrooks (November 1997), Ward (December 2008), Johnson (February 2009), and Bonner (January 2013), the band continued to sporadically record and extensively tour.
"Honor the past, don't just remember it." Dizzie Gillespie
Singer, drummer, songwriter and producer Maurice White founded the '70s supergroup Earth, Wind & Fire.
Late Wednesday, February 3, 2016 or early Thursday, February 4, 2016, Maurice White, the founder and leader of Earth, Wind & Fire, whose genre-defying music made it one of the most successful bands of the 1970s, died at his home in Los Angeles. He was born on December 19, 1941, making him 74 years old at the time of his passing. The band’s publicist, Mark Young, said Mr. White died "late Wednesday or early Thursday." He did not specify the cause, but Mr. White had announced in 2000 that he had Parkinson’s disease.
Singer, drummer, songwriter and producer, Maurice White, founded the '70s supergroup Earth, Wind & Fire. White, a former session drummer for legendary Chicago-based labels OKeh Records and Chess Records (Etta James, Fontella Bass, Billy Stewart, Ramsey Lewis, Sonny Stitt's 1966 LP Soul in the Night, the Radiants, among others), aspired to form a band like no other pop music had ever known. It certainly was successful, as EWF combined high-caliber musicianship, a wide-ranging musical genre eclecticism, and '70s multicultural spiritualism that included Biblical references.
The Chicago-born band had 46 charting R&B singles and 33 charting pop singles (including eight gold singles), won six Grammys and four American Music Awards, and earned more than 50 gold and platinum albums. Charles Stepney, a former Chess arranger, producer, session musician, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter, was White's main collaborator on his EWF projects and sides created through his Kalimba Productions and released on ARC, White's Columbia-distributed label. Though EWF is White's best-known band, earlier he had formed the Salty Peppers with his brother, EWF bassist Verdine White, who recorded "Uh Hun Yeah" b/w "Your Love Is Life" for Capitol Records.
White got the concept of EWF from a drum and bugle corps band from his hometown. He formed the band after having touring stints with Santana, Weather Report, and Uriah Heep. One night after an EWF concert in Denver, CO, White briefly met singer Philip Bailey. It was an encounter that was to prove vital to Bailey's future and to the history of American pop music. Bailey left college a year later and decided to pursue a musical career in Los Angeles. Once he arrived on the West Coast, he hooked up again with Earth, Wind & Fire. Maurice White had arrived in L.A. only the year before with visions of creating a truly universal music group, one that was spiritually charged and ambitious in scope, defying boundaries of color, culture, and categorization. Those ideas appealed to Bailey as well and he joined the group in 1972. Bailey's shimmering falsetto blended perfectly with White's charismatic tenor.
The first recording for Warner Bros. (the ballad "I Think About Lovin' You" featured vocals by Jessica Cleaves and hit number 44 R&B in early 1972), then Columbia Records (debuting with the 1972 LP Last Days and Time), the group slowly began to build a reputation for innovative recordings and exciting live shows, complete with feats of magic (floating pianos, disappearing acts) engineered by Doug Henning. Their first gold LP, Head to the Sky, peaked at number 27 pop in summer 1973, yielding a smooth tangy cover of "Evil" and the title track single. The first platinum EWF LP, Open Our Eyes, whose title track was a remake of the classic originally recorded by Savoy Records group the Gospel Clefs, included "Mighty Mighty" (number four R&B) and "Kalimba Story" (number six R&B).
White once again shared a label roster with Ramsey Lewis, whose Columbia debut, Sun Goddess, was issued in December 1974. The radio-aired title track, released as a single under the name Ramsey Lewis and Earth, Wind & Fire, went to number 20 R&B in early 1975. A smoking cover of Stevie Wonder's 1973 number one R&B hit "Living for the City" got massive airplay. The Sun Goddess album went gold, hitting number 12 pop in early 1975. White had also played on Lewis' other high-charting LP, Wade in the Water; the title track single peaked at number three R&B in summer 1966.
The inspiration for one of EWF's most beloved singles, "Shining Star," was gleamed from thoughts White had during a walk under the star-filled skies that surrounded the mountains around Caribou Ranch, CO, a popular recording site and retreat during the '70s. The track was originally included in the That's the Way of the World movie that starred Harvey Keitel and was produced by Sig Shore (Superfly). The film is said to be the most accurate music business-themed movie ever made. "Shining Star" glittered at number one R&B for two weeks and hit number one pop in early 1975. It was included on their 1975 double-platinum LP That's the Way of the World, which held the number one pop spot for three weeks in spring 1975. The title track single made it to number five R&B in summer 1975. It also yielded the classic ballad "Reasons," an extremely popular radio-aired LP track. "Shining Star" was immortalized in a hilarious segment of TV's Seinfeld when Julia-Louis Dreyfus unleashed a dance that became known as "the Elaine."
The two-record half-live/half-studio two-million-selling set Gratitude held the number one pop LP spot for three weeks in late 1975. On the album was "Sing a Song" (gold, number one R&B for two weeks, number five pop), the Skip Scarborough ballad "Can't Hide Love" (number 11 R&B), and the popular radio-aired LP tracks "Celebrate," "Gratitude," and the live version of "Reasons." In 1976, White decided he want to record a spiritual album. The double-platinum LP Spirit parked at number two pop for two weeks in fall 1976 and boasted the gold number one R&B single "Getaway" and "Saturday Nite." Spirit is remembered as one of EWF's best albums and sadly for also being the last project of Charles Stepney, who died May 17, 1976, in Chicago, IL, at the age of 43.
The All 'N All LP went triple platinum, peaked at number three pop in late 1977, won three Grammys, was co-produced by Joe Wissert, and had arrangements by Chicago soul mainstay Tom-Tom Washington and Eumir Deodato. The singles were "Serpentine Fire" (number one R&B for seven weeks) and "Fantasy." The platinum greatest-hits set The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 included a cover of the Beatles' "Got to Get You into My Life," which went to number one R&B and number nine pop in summer 1978 (the flip side, the gentle acoustic guitar ballad "I'll Write a Song for You" with lead vocals by Bailey, received massive R&B radio play). The group performed the song in the 1978 Bee Gees/Peter Frampton movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Another single, "September," made it to number one R&B, number eight pop in early 1978. On the flip side was the enchanting popular radio-aired LP track "Love's Holiday" from All 'N All.
Around this time, Philip Bailey used members of Earth, Wind & Fire on an album that he produced for the singing group Free Life, signed to Columbia's Epic imprint. Their single, the Bailey-written ballad "Wish You Were Here," charted number 91 R&B in early 1979. That and the other singles, "Stomp and Shout" and a non-LP single "Dance Fantasy" b/w "There's Something Better," as well as the album Free Life, had EWF influences. "Wish You Were Here" became a post-release collectible among soft soul music lovers and was included on various compilations. The two-million-selling I Am hit number three pop in summer 1979 on the strength of the million-selling single "Boogie Wonderland" with the Emotions (number two R&B for four weeks, number six pop) and the phenomenal gold ballad "After the Love Is Gone," written by David Foster and Allee Willis, which stayed at number two R&B/pop for two weeks. Their Faces LP peaked at number ten pop in late 1980 and was boosted to gold by the singles "Let Me Talk" (number eight R&B), "You" (number ten R&B), and "And Love Goes On." The million-selling funked-up "Let's Groove," co-written by the Emotions' Wanda Vaughn and her husband, Wayne Vaughn, was the track that re-energized EWF's career, parking at number one R&B for eight weeks and number three pop, causing their Raise LP to go platinum, hitting number five pop in late 1981. Their next gold album, Powerlight, made it to number 12 pop in spring 1983 and included the Top Ten R&B single "Magnetic." Their Electric Universe LP stalled at number 40 pop in early 1974, breaking the band's string of gold and platinum albums.
White decided he and the band needed a hiatus. He signed a solo deal with Columbia that resulted in a sweet cover of Ben E. King's 1961 hit "Stand by Me" (number six R&B). Maurice White, issued in fall 1985, also included the chimey, island-flavored "Switch on Your Radio" and the airy ballad "I Need You," a radio-aired LP track. White sang backing vocals on fellow Columbia artist Neil Diamond's 1986 "Headed for the Future" and can be heard on Diamond's 1996 best-of Sony CD In My Lifetime. Reuniting with EWF in 1987, the group scored yet another number one R&B single, "System of Survival." The smash was included on the gold Touch the World album. EWF's last charting pop LP was Millennium in fall 1993.
Earth, Wind & Fire (sans White) appeared on A&E's live concert/call-in show Live by Request in July 1999. That same year, White began a new Navarre-distributed label, Kalimba Records, whose roster included Freddie Ravel and the band Sixth Sense. Kalimba Productions scored hits with Deniece Williams, the Emotions, and DJ Rogers' "Love Brought Me Back."
"Honor the past, don't just remember it." Dizzie Gillespie
El Caobo &