The Funk Show
An Invasion of the Funk! PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 10 August 2015 14:11

The FUNK invaded Richmond VA on Friday 31, 2015. It came in the name of O.F.M. (Other Funky Music) who performed at the Canal Club on East Canary Street. This is a new group comprised of Parliament – Funkadelic alumni and associated acts. The group performed in front of adoring fans to a sound fusing funk, hard rock and heavy metal. They sounded much like the original Funkadelic of 1970-1972. There was nothing pop about this act. They were true to the funk and beyond.

The O.F.M. band consisted of the band leader Jerome "Bigfoot" Brailey who performed as the drummer. Jerome’s history is vast. His early beginnings documents him as the drummer for the R&B vocal group the Unifics from Howard University. He then became the drummer for the “First Family of Soul” the Five Stairsteps and stayed with them for 2-3 years. After leaving the Burke family he joined the Chambers family known as the Chambers Brothers. By 1975 / 1976 he joined Funkadelic and appeared on the Hardcore Jollies album. From that time until 1978 he appeared on P-Funk albums by Parliament, Funkadelic, Fred Wesley & the Horny Horns, Eddie Hazel, Bootsy's Rubber Band and Fuzzy Haskins. In 1978 he was the co-leader of the P-Funk spin off band Quazar, which was short lived. In 1979 he produced his first solo album for his group Mutiny. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was inducted in 1997 with 15 other members of Parliament-Funkadelic. Jerome is also the coauthor of one of the greatest P-Funk compositions of all time: Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker).

The lead vocalist for O.F.M. (Other Funky Music) and front man is Gary Mudbone Cooper. He first appears on record with the band Madhouse. They released an album in 1972 on Today Records titled Serve 'Em. By 1976 Mudbone appeared as a founding member of Bootsy's Rubber Band. He became the author of several Bootsy's Rubber Band classics like: Physical Love, I'd Rather Be With You, What's A Telephone Bill, and Very Yes. He was the author of compositions that have been covered by Eddie Hazel, Parlet, The Brides Of Funkenstein, George Clinton, Sly Fox, Bernie Worrell and many others. In 2006 he released a solo CD titled Fresh Mud.

The guitarist for O.F.M. (Other Funky Music) is Donald "Lenny" Holmes.  He is an original member of Mutiny featuring Jerome Brailey. He appeared on the Mutiny albums Mutiny On The Mamaship, Funk Plus The One and A Night Out With The Boys.

The bass man for the band is Jeff "Cherokee" Bunn. From 1978 until the present Cherokee has recorded with The Brides Of Funkenstein, Funkadelic, Parlet, George Clinton And P-Funk All Stars, and the Mutiny CD Aftershock 2005.

O.F.M. (Other Funky Music) performed a high energy show ‎that ranged from Jerome Brailey original compositions, Gary Mudbone Cooper compositions, early Funkadelic classics like Super Stupid, I Wanna Know If It's Good To You ?, Eddie Hazel’s California Dreamin', the Jimi Hendrix's rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner and a whole lot more hard rocking in your face hard-core funk!

Friday evening of Friday 31, 2015 was a great night of music and performance from four masters of the music. Richmond the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia came alive with the true raw FUNK from O.F.M. (Other Funky Music). Check them out when they come to your area.


Highly Recommended.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 August 2015 17:34
The King of the Blues: Remembering B.B. King PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 28 June 2015 18:17

B.B. King was born Riley B. King on September 16, 1925, on a cotton plantation in Itta Bene, Mississippi, just outside the Mississippi delta town of Indianola. He began his career by playing on the street for dimes. By 1947 he hitchhiked to Memphis Tenn. and was absorbed into that musical community. About a year later, he was performing on the Sonny Boy Williamson radio show. It was during this period that King changed his professional name to Blues Boy King or B.B. King. His guitar of choice for the last 40 years has been a Gibson guitar and they have all been named Lucille. The name came from a gig that he had played in the 1950s in Twist, Arkansas when suddenly the club caught on fire. King ran back amidst the flames to pick up his beloved guitar. He later discovered that a kerosene stove was knocked over when two men got into a fight. The fight was started over a woman named Lucille.   

B.B. King released his first album in 1957 titled Singin' The Blues on Crown Records. He would release 10 more LPs on Crown until 1963. From that year until 1970, he would release many classic albums on Bluesway, ABC and the Kent Record labels. One noted classic album by B.B. King was the 1963 masterpiece Live At The Regal. This album was recorded live at the Regal Theatre, in Chicago, November 1964. It is considered to be one of the greatest live albums of all time. It is also one of the most popular B.B. King albums by his fans. The 1969 album on Bluesway titled Completely Well produced his signature recording The Thrill Is Gone. The song had previously been recorded by West Coast blues musician Roy Hawkins and Rick Darnell in 1951. However, the B.B. King version took off around the country and the world. It earned him a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1970 and a Grammy Hall of Fame award in 1998. B.B. King continued to record and perform live almost up to the time of his death. One of his last recorded albums was released in 2011.

I first saw B.B. King perform for the first time while in high school circa 1973 or 1974. It was announced that B.B. King was coming to the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York. The Capitol Theater is a historic movie theater that also served as a concert hall. My first concert experience was at the Capitol Theater in 1968 when I sent to see Joe Tex perform there with my parents.

When it was announced that B.B. King was coming to the Capitol Theater, my buddy Keith and myself decided that we would go to the show. Keith and I went to high school together and we both liked the same music. After we purchased our tickets Keith told me Howard when we go to see B.B. King, make sure that you bring your albums so that he can sign them.” Every time I ran into Keith in school he would tell me the same thing Make sure you bring your B.B. King albums with you, because he will autograph them for you”. I never said much because I had never asked anyone for an autograph before. What kept running across my mind was “How could we ever meet B.B. King after the show?” I finally told Keith after he told me again to bring my B.B. King albums, I said Hey man, let me explain something to you. We will never get a change to meet or talk with B.B. King. They will never allow us to speak with him, besides B.B. King is too busy to sign autographs for us. I am not going to bring my albums because we will never get a chance to meet with him.” Keith never asked me again about that.

On the day of the show Keith and I went to the Capitol Theater to see B.B. King. The opening act was the James Cotton Band. Early in Cotton’s career he became the replacement for the harmonica player in the Muddy Waters Band named Little Walter. The James Cotton Band came out wailing with funky blues numbers like Sweet Home Chicago and Cotton Boogie. What I remember most about James Cotton was that I was impressed with his great band. During that time he had a fantastic drummer named Ken "The Snake" Johnson. He was known for chomping on his trademark Juicy Fruit chewing gum while keeping time on his drums and cymbals which were high standing. He is featured on the 1975 James Cotton album titled High Energy. After that, he became prominent as the drummer for the Steve Miller Band during the Fly Like An Eagle days and then he was with Kenny Neal. His career began as a teenager with the Ike & Tina Turner Review.

Once the James Cotton Band completed their set, I was satisfied that I had seen a good show and a good performance. Mind you, this was the first time that I had the chance to eyewitness B.B. King live on stage. I did not realize what I was about to experience.

The announcer came out from behind the curtain and said that B.B. KingThe King of the Blues” would be coming out shortly as soon as they rearrange the stage. The crowd responded eagerly. The band came out first and blew away the audience with a couple of funky blues numbers. Then the band leader introduced B.B. King who came out playing his guitar while the crowd went wild. B.B. King and his band performed numbers like I Believe In My Soul, Why I Sing The Blues, Sweet 16, The Thrill Is Gone, Guess Who, I Like To Live and others. The show was great and the audience clapped for him to come out to do an encore, which he did.

Keith and I had seats in the balcony and once the house lights came on we followed the crowd down the steps to exit the theater. The steps from the balcony in the Capitol Theater emptied into the main lobby. You can either exit to the street to your left or walk directly to the front of the stage on your right. The crowd exited to the left to the outside of the theater and Keith followed. Once I came into the lobby area, I happened to look to my right and quickly noticed that the main seating area of the auditorium was empty. Standing in the apron were about 15 or 20 white kids who were talking to the band leader who was standing in front of the closed curtain on the stage. The kids were cheering and they all had B.B. King Memorabilia in their hands. Some had posters, some has photos, some had albums etc. I called to Keith who was already outside and said “Hey Keith, come back in here. I think that B.B. King is about to give out something for free. It looks like they are about to give those kids something free maybe a t-shirt or something. If they get something free I want something free too.” Keith replied “Yeah. Let’s go down there”.  As we got closer, we could hear the conversation between the band leader and the small crowd of fans. I whispered to Keith “Let’s walk up real quiet and stand behind him. We will blend in with them and when they bring out the free stuff we will get one too.” Keith said “Bet!”

No one noticed us in all the excitement. We heard the bandleader say to the young fans that B.B. King just told him that he will go out and sign their things. The crowd of fans went crazy and began cheering. Keith and I looked at each other. The curtain moved and B.B. King came out. They cheered some more and began shaking his hand. He then began to sign everything that they had one by one. I remember one of the fans got his LP signed Live in Cook County Jail. I then said to myself; Dang! I have that album!”

Once the fans were satisfied, they admired each others autographs and the whole crowd walked past Keith and I without noticing us. Suddenly, I realized that we were alone standing on the floor looking up at B.B. King. Except for the faint voices behind the curtain of the band members packing up their equipment, there was just silence. A friendly smile was affixed upon B.B. Kings face. I continued staring at him blinking. Keith then broke the silence. He said Howard, say something to him man!” I replied. I don’t know what to say”. He responded “Just say something”. I then stepped forward and said ”Mr. King would you sign an autograph for us? B.B. King said Sure fellas. What do you have for me to sign?” I turned to Keith and said out loud Keith what did you bring for Mr. King to sign today?” Keith responded “Me? You see man. You never listen to anybody. I told you to bring your B.B. King records and here is the man right in front of you.” I then spoke to B.B. King Mr. King we don’t have anything sir.” B.B. King responded You fellas didn’t bring anything like a program or a poster?" We both said No sir”. B.B. King then asked his band leader to go and see if they had any more publicity photographs in the back. The band leader quickly disappeared behind the curtain. Again B.B. King was looking at us smiling and we would look at him and at the floor over and over not knowing what to say. The band leader came back and held up both of his hands and said that they are all out of photographs. B.B. King said Fellas, I am sorry. We gave out all of our photographs away at the last show, and we do not have anything to give to you.” We both responded Thank you sir. It’s OK. As we began to turn away, he called back to us and saidHey I do have one thing that you can have. I just have one, but you can have this.”  He handed me the bright red guitar pick that he played the show with which was in his shirt pocket. My eyes became big when I first saw it. Both of us were excited that we had a chance to fraternize with the great B.B. King. Like the previous small crowd of fans that preceded us in company of the King of The Blues, we both began to shout “Long live the Blues!, The Blues will never die, Long live the Blues!, B.B. King is the King of the Blues! Yeah! Yeah!”

Thirty to forty years later, hosting a radio show and having the opportunity to interview many great people of the music business I still feel that my job is incomplete. The one person that I have not added to my list of interviewees is the King of The Blues. I tried several times to schedule an interview with B.B. King. It became impossible to get through his employees that handled his calendar. I spoke to his personal manager and she told me to contact her back in three months. That turned into six months which turned into years. Once I had a scheduled interview with the King of the Blues which was set up by a publicist or an agent. Once it became known to the personal manager the interview was canceled. I tried at least five times or more to get a telephone interview with the King of the Blues for one specific reason. I wanted to say thank you again for giving a shy kid his personal guitar pic. A figure like B.B. King only comes around once in a lifetime and we will never see another like him. Long live the King of the Blues and long live B.B. King!

Rest in peace Riley B. King (September 16, 1925 - May 14, 2015)


Howard Burchette



Last Updated on Monday, 29 June 2015 07:14
The Last of the Manhattans: (Remembering Sonny Bivins and Winfred "Blue" Lovett) PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 23 December 2014 22:25

December 2014 was not a good month for friends, family and fans of The Manhattans.  In that one month we lost the last two remaining original and founding members of the world famous vocal group The Manhattans. Edward 'Sonny' Bivins died on December 3, 2014 at the age of 78 while Winfred "Blue" Lovett passed away on December 10, 2014 at the age of 74. In recent years, the two men had fronted two different versions of the group individually.

The story of The Manhattans started in the 1950’s when Winfred "Blue" Lovett and Richard Taylor started a doo-wop group while serving in the army in Germany called The Statesmen. Richard Taylor soon after that would form a group with Sonny Bivins called The Dulcets. Taylor would leave around 1961 and the final lineup would be Winfred Lovett, George Smith, Edward 'Sonny' Bivens, Ethel Sanders, and Buddy Bell. In 1962 they renamed themselves The Manhattans with the original lineup: George "Smitty" Smith, Winfred "Blue" Lovett, Richard Taylor, Kenneth Kelley and Edward "Sonny" Bivins. George "Smitty" Smith was the lead singer and they recorded a few sides on Avanti and Enjoy records with limited success. Their style remained in a doo-wop delivery and Winfred "Blue" Lovett was the baritone singer. From 1964 through 1968 they recorded for Carnival Records achieving charted hits from black radio stations. Two albums were released on Carnival which was Dedicated To You and Sing For You And Yours. From 1969 through 1972 / 1973 they released singles on the Deluxe record label. Two more LPs were released on Deluxe as With These Hands and A Million To One. The Manhattans were an elegant group who often wore tuxedos on stage. White gloves were also a part of their image at this time. They would appear at the Apollo Theater in 1970 wearing tuxedos with white gloves and would perform a number or two in the dark with the audience only seeing the white gloves moving back and forth. Their style had not changed much with George "Smitty" Smith the soulful lead singer accompanied by the rest of the group laying down a doo-wop layer of sound. The year 1970, also saw a big dramatic change for The Manhattans. Smith became ill and could no longer tour. Replacing him was a college student that they had met from Kittrell College, NC named Gerald Alston. Smith soon died and Alston became the new lead singer and front man.

Gerald Alston became the voice of The Manhattans beginning with A Million To One in 1971.  More mega hits followed with There's No Me Without You, Wish That You Were Mine, Don't Take Your Love,  I Kinda Miss You, Kiss And Say Goodbye (written by Winfred "Blue" Lovett), We Never Danced To A Love Song, It Feels So Good To Be Loved So Bad, Am I Losing You, Crazy, Shining Star and more. The group enjoyed their new success around the world and had achieved new fans not only in R&B, but also in the Pop arena.

Winfred "Blue" Lovett had been the group’s chief song writer and was responsible for the spoken word on many of their hits including Kiss And Say Goodbye which went up to #1 on the R&B and Pop charts in 1976. Gerald Alston joked about the practical jokes on the road by “Blue” Lovette. He once said that Lovette had pulled the fire alarm at a hotel where they were staying on the road in England. He was trying to play a joke on the group and the joke backfired on him when he became locked out of the hotel room.[i] Edward "Sonny" Bivins had aspirations of becoming a professional baseball player, if it had not been for the success of The Manhattans. He also was a successful song writer for the group, being responsible for hits like: Follow Your Heart, It's That Time Of The Year, There's No Me Without You, We Never Danced To A Love Song and more.

In 1988 Gerald Alston left the group to peruse a solo career and by 1990 Winfred "Blue" Lovett left the group. Bivins kept the group going under the original name The Manhattans with new and revolving membership. In 2000 a second group was formed called The Manhattans Featuring Gerald Alston & Blue Lovett. Two new members were brought on board who were Troy May & David Tyson. The passing of Bivins and Lovett has brought a chapter to an end. I am sure that the legacy will continue to go on. With that let’s end this by saying: “Let’s Just Kiss and Say Goodbye”.

Howard Burchette

[i] Telephone radio Interview with Gerald Alston by Howard Burchette, for The Funk Show, June 2010, at 90.7 WNCU FM, North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 December 2014 08:45
Cubie Burke: A Memorial PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 16 May 2014 21:33

Cubie Burke passed away Wednesday May, 14, 2014. He was 49. Cubie was a member of the First Family of Soul, known as the 5 Stairsteps & Cubie. He was a professional dancer, singer, song writer, actor, Choreographer and teacher at QBiquity Productions. The 5 Stairsteps & Cubie were made up of Alohe (Rami), Clarence Jr., James, Dennis, Kenneth (Keni), and Cubie. Cubie Burke’s debut in show business occurred at 16 months old with the Five Stairsteps at Chicago’s Regal Theater.  He would appear on stage in the early days with his siblings the Five Stairsteps dancing and performing with them. Besides the Stairsteps, Cubie also performed with Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Prince. Cubie also spoke French, German and Spanish and some Italian.

In a 2011 interview that I had with Cubie and his brother Clarence Burke Jr., they had reminisced about a gig when Clarence was supposed to bring Cubie out on stage. Clarence Jr. had said that the place went wild when Cubie came out and it was total mayhem. He said “it was a riot.” The fans started jumping on stage and they picked up the entire Burke group including Cubie. The out of control fans put them on their shoulders and started jumping around and singing. Clarence had said “Everybody loved Cubie, they went crazy over Cubie.”[i]

Cubie mentioned that he had recently compiled a list of people who had been influential in his life. One was Clarence and as he had gotten older, he said that he really appreciated his presence. “Clarence has been a leader for me; he was not only a great guy, but a great pioneer in music.” Clarence responded “Now, I look to you, my youngest brother. It goes back around. I look at Cubie as one of the greats, what I have seen out there. There are a lot of bad people out there. I include my brother of what I know of him, his abilities… he is definitely one of them for sure. If he wasn’t my brother, I would say that’s a bad dude; his name is Cubie! He’s awesome. He did this all on his own without the Stairsteps”. Cubie further stated “I am not just a dancer; I am a classical dancer, which makes me a classical artist. Growing up with artists, I could not appreciate the work of other people. I watched my brothers and my sister; The Stairsteps on YouTube recently as they danced and came up to the microphone one after the other. My brothers and my sister were artists, they were working hard and were not trying to out due each other, they were performers. I really appreciated what it was to be a Stairstep.” Also, during the interview Cubie gave homage to the person that he said mentored him. It was song writer and producer Clyde Otis “.[ii]

Cubie Burke first appears on record on the 1967 album Jimmy Bishop – On Stage Live At The Nixon Theater performing with the Stairsteps. The group performed Don't Waste Your Time and Something’s Missing. His photograph appeared with the group on the 1968 Buddah LP Our Family Portrait by The 5 Stairsteps & Cubie. The album included the track which included a 3 year old Cubie titled New Dance Craze.  It would be released as the B side of their first Curtom single titled Don't Change Your Love. Curtis Mayfield produced their next album in 1968/1969 titled Love's Happening. The New Dance Craze was also included on this album. The 5 Stairsteps & Cubie released a total of five singles on Curtom Records. Cubie’s voice also appeared on the 1970 Buddah LP called Stairsteps by the Five Stairsteps on the track Vice The Lights. Cubie would appear with the Five Stairsteps on a variety of television shows like The Merv Griffin Show in 1968 and The Barbara McNair Show in 1971.

Cubie Burke grew up in Englewood NJ, graduating from high school there. At the age of 15 he was invited by a friend named Shelly to try dance lessons and then enrolled in classes. He began working with a few local choirs and that association led to an audition with the Dance Theater of Harlem.  He received a full scholarship to the Dance Theater of Harlem at the age of 16. Cubie began dancing with the Dance Theater of Harlem professionally at the age of 17. He is quoted as saying “What I liked about ballet that interested me was that it was so detailed. I was interested in that. They wanted me to take tap classes. I didn’t take the classes, but I wish that had I had now.” He also was a professional dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dance Theater of Harlem, with Complexions — A Concept in Dance and the Atlanta Ballet. He was the only African American lead dancer that the Atlanta Ballet has ever had.[iii] He appeared as a dancer and Interviewee in the 2008 film Wolf Trap's Face of America. He also is a contributor to the 1999 film Choreography by Esaias Johnson, a 2000 film titled Tributary which included the New York City Ballet and the Dance Theater of Harlem, and is a performer in the 1997 film Dance Esaias : Esaias Johnson, choreographer.

He performed at the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Summer Olympics and the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona Spain. He also performed for Prince’s company Paisley Park studios.  He also was the choreographer for the 1997 Soul Train Music Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California on March 8, 1997. He choreographed the opening number for the Isley Brothers. In addition to that Cubie choreographed routines for the Atlanta Hawks organization.

Cubie’s solo recording debut occurred in 1982 with the release of the single Down for Double on the Rissa Chrissa label. A full album was never recorded, because of the breakup of the record company. Cubie then returned his energy back to dance. He was also a songwriter and the names of the compositions are Fix Me, which is about anything about ourselves that we would want to be fixed, Beautiful Holy; which is about God, who is holy, Every Now and Then; which is a break up song, No Turning Back; which is a song about not giving up, Together Again; which is dedicated to the families of the U.S. troops plus Magenta and Mother of Love also originals. All of these songs are unreleased and were copy written in 2011. The recordings made their debut on The Funk Show in January 2012. Cubie also recorded a song with the Invisible Mans Band that has never released.

As an actor Cubie appeared in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries: Season 9, Episode 20; called Unexplained Death: Tupac Shakur (aired 14 Mar. 1997). His character had been an eyewitness to the murder of Tupac Shakur. The hit by of Tupac Shakur titled Keep Ya Head Up was a cover of Ooh Child by the Five Stairsteps. Cubie was also founder of his production company in 1997 called QBiquity Productions.

Cubie Burke is survived by his daughter Decoda Kareem, granddaughter Aaliyah Kareem, his mother Betty Burke, father Clarence Burke, siblings Rami (Alohe Burke), James Burke, Dennis Burke, Kenneth Burke plus other family members, friends and fans.


Howard Burchette

[i] Telephone Interview of Cubie Burke and Clarence Burke Jr. by Howard Burchette, January 10, 2011; production studio of 90.7 WNCU FM, North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC

[ii] Telephone Interview of Cubie Burke and Clarence Burke Jr. by Howard Burchette, January 10, 2011; production studio of 90.7 WNCU FM, North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC

[iii] Telephone Interview with Cubie Burke by Howard Burchette, August 3, 2011; production studio of 90.7 WNCU FM, North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 February 2015 09:18
Soul Serenade – The Story of King Curtis PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 13 March 2014 13:38

On August 13, 1971 Curtis Ousley, had hosted a get together at his newly renovated Manhattan eight-family brownstone and had gone outside to turn down the air conditioning for his guests. He stopped and asked a drug addict that had been loitering on the steps of his building to move. A fight ensued between the two, resulting in Curtis getting stabbed in the heart. He was pronounced dead before the ambulance reach the hospital. Ousley was only 37 years old, ending a music career which began in the 1950s. He was known to the world as King Curtis. He had been an important figure in the careers of Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, John Lennon, The Coasters, The Shirelles, Buddy Holly, Bernard Purdie, Billy Preston, Cornell Dupree, Joe South, Shirley Scott, The Rascals, Champion Jack Dupree, Esther Phillips, and many others.

King Curtis was born in Fort Worth, TX on February 7, 1934. He was a saxophonist, a band leader, a song writer and producer. His range of music spanned from Jazz, to R&B, to Rock to Blues. He could play and master it all. He began playing the saxophone at the age of 12 and went to school with Ornette Coleman who himself would later become a Jazz great in the music business. Upon graduation from high school, he would turn down a college scholarship to join the Lionel Hampton Big band where he began to write and arrange music. By 1952, he moved to New York City and became a studio musician recording for a variety of labels. One of his early sessions was on the 1958 Atlantic recording of Ruth Brown’s This Little Girl's Gone Rockin', and the 1959 RCA recording session of the Jazz Pop group called The Three Suns. The earliest recording that featured King Curtis as a solo artist was a 1958 four track EP and picture sleeve released by RCA titled King Curtis, Count Hastings, Leroy Kirkland's Hi-Flyers, Leroy Kirkland ‎– The Battle For The Beat. His screaming saxophone solo is famous as it was used in the 1959 Coasters classic titled: Yakety Yak. Quickly King Curtis was recognized as an artist that could sell records and his first album was released by Atco in 1959 titled: Have Tenor Sax, Will Blow. Other recordings would follow like the 1960 release on ABC-Paramount titled: Beatnik Hoedown / King Neptune's Guitar. In 1960 three classic Jazz albums were released with King Curtis as a front man on the Esquire, Prestige and New Jazz record labels. The titles were Soul Meeting (with Nat Adderley and Wynton Kelly), The New Scene Of King Curtis and Soul Battle (featuring Oliver Nelson, King Curtis, Jimmy Forrest). During this period he toured as the King Curtis Quintet.


The Jazz releases are masterful and superb, but King Curtis was much in demand for R&B and Rock and Roll and the record companies continued to record him under these genres selling a lot of material. Tru-Sound which was a Jazz and Blues label would release an album in 1961 featuring King Curtis playing older Rhythm and Blues and Jazz standards in an early rock and roll style titled Old Gold. Three more would follow in 1962 titled: It's Party Time With King Curtis, Doing The Dixie Twist and a classic Blues album called Trouble In Mind. In 1962 Scepter Records which released material by Dionne Warwick, B.J. Thomas released a cult classic album titled: Give A Twist Party featuring the Shirelles and King Curtis. This effort was the early Rock and Roll sound. 


RCA would release in 1961 the King Curtis Combo ‎– Arthur Murray's Music For Dancing The Twist! This contained an easy listening pop sound. His first major hit occurred in 1962 on Enjoy Records with the release of Soul Twist. That was followed by an album titled: Soul Twist With King Curtis under the name King Curtis And The Noble Knights.


The popularity of King Curtis would increase with his association under Capitol Records beginning in 1962 with Country Soul, but he became a household name with his 1964 release Soul Serenade. The title track from the album would become his signature piece throughout his career. Capitol would follow-up with a 1965 album titled Plays The Hits Made Famous By Sam Cooke.


The big move for King Curtis was in 1966 with his collaboration with Atlantic Records for their Atco label. At Atlantic, he not only would record the majority of his more popular albums and singles but he also became a much in demand producer and leader. Atco first released That Lovin' Feeling

in 1966, followed by the great Live At Small's Paradise. In 1967 the Plays The Great Memphis Hits album was released. They record company would release a single by King Curtis that would become his second signature piece called Memphis Soul Stew. It was probably his most popular single recording of his career. In 1968 the Sweet Soul album was released with a rerecording of Soul Serenade. Atlantic / Atco also had begun using him on their recordings for Aretha Franklin, Eddie Harris, Herbie Mann, The Rascals, Bonnie & Delaney Bramlett, Donny Hathaway, Esther Phillips and others. Probably the most famous King Curtis solo was on the 1967 Aretha Franklin classic Respect. One great album that has been overlooked is the 1969 Jazz Soul album Shirley Scott & The Soul Saxes featuring Hank Crawford, David Newman and King Curtis.


He would begin using his new band about the time when he was at Atco called the King-Pins, who were some of the best of the best musicians of the day. Atco continued riding the success and popularity of King Curtis with Instant Groove in 1969, Get Ready in 1970 and finally the classic Live At Fillmore West in 1971. This recording occurred March 5–7, 1971 at the Fillmore West venue in San Francisco. For this date, he hired a special lineup for the King-Pins who were: Cornell Dupree, Jerry Jemmot, Pancho Morales, Billy Preston, Bernard Purdie, and Truman Thomas. They were accompanied by the The Memphis Horns of the Stax Records fame. This album was a recording of the King Curtis performance which was the opening act for Aretha Franklin. King Curtis and the King-Pins backed her up during her show. Atlantic would release highlights of it on an album titled: Aretha Franklin - Live at Fillmore West. He had been Franklin’s musical director. One week after the release of the highly successful King Curtis - Live At Fillmore West, he was murdered.


‎After his death Atlantic continued to release material by this great man like the 1972 album Everbody's Talkin' and the 1973 live album King Curtis & Champion Jack Dupree - Blues At Montreux.  RCA Records would release a masterful live recording of a Sam Cooke concert with King Curtis as the band leader called Sam Cooke ‎– One Night Stand! At The Harlem Square Club. There are many more singles and recordings with the great King Curtis that I have not mentioned within this article and I am sure that newly unreleased recordings will pop up in the future. The newly syndicated TV show “Soul Train” choose the King Curtis recording Hot Potatoes as its first theme song in 1971. Perhaps, this was a way of remembering him by Don Cornelius. His only Grammy award occurred in 1970 for the Best R&B Instrumental Performance for Games People Play by Joe South.


Music fans all over the world were robbed on August 13, 1971 when the great King Curtis was killed. Whenever you hear the phrase or title Soul Serenade or Memphis Soul Stew a picture of King Curtis comes up in ones mind. Surely, he would have contributed much more to the world had he lived.

For a sampling of some of the music of King Curtis, copy and paste the link below into your browser:



 Howard Burchette



Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 February 2015 21:06
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