Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Many great ones left us in 2008

Today, the daddy is feeling the many great celebrities and legends who left us in 2008. No, it wasn't just our brave but poorly (civilian) led soldiers who died in Iran and Afghanistan. No, it wasn't just Paul "Cool Hand Luke" Newman, a great actor and businessman. No, it wasn't just Harold Pinter, the great playwright who used more than half of his 2005 Nobel Laureate acceptance speech, to criticize the U.S. violent behavior in the world; And it wasn't just Studs Terkel, who wrote books about common folk like us, but who made oral history into its own genre.

Isaac Hayes (file photo)

Besides these giants, America lost some of its greatest artists in 2008, artists who helped give America its unique culture. Here are just a few:

1. We lost Bo Diddley. His three stroke, rest, two stroke invention was unique; and it was borrowed by just about everyone from Buddy Holly to Bruce Springstein to the Yardbirds to the Rollingstones. You can't play rock & roll without playing the beat of Diddley or Chuck Berry.
2. America lost the great jazz saxophonist Johnny Griffin. He played with the great ones in the 50's and the 60's then moved to France. But in 1958, he recorded "A Blowing Session" with Coltrane and others and did more than hold his own. He showed out and got props from everyone. Though he lived across the waters, he was still a jazz giant.
3. We lost Levi Stubbs, lead singer of the famous R&B group, the Four Tops. He is known for singing songs like "Reach out," "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch" and others. But the daddy's favorite was "Just ask the lonely." But Levi Stubbs also represented those groups that worked so hard to succeed, groups that worked to step in unison and sing with harmony. With these values of hard work and excellence, they were very American.
4. We lost Norman Whitfield, the songwriter/producer for Motown, the guy behind many of those hits by The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips and many more. How influential was he on Black music? Soul Patrol, an on-line site dedicated R&B, wrote: No one in the media will cover this, but this is hands down the most tragic of the losses we've sustained this year, even moreso than the loss of Isaac Hayes. No one had more influence on complete revolutionizing Motown and its transition from party music in its early days to the social relevance and taking the pulse of American culture than Norman Whitfield... Very simply, Mr. Whitfield single-handedly changed the framework of Black popular music, making the intersection between Southern soul/funk, urban cool, rock rebellion and sophisticated pop."
5. We lost Isaac Hayes, the songwriter/producer/performer who came out of Stax Records but was so influential to music and black culture in the sixties and early seventies. He wrote the music for the movie Shaft. And he recorded a number of hits and performed like a God to African Americans. He helped black people to look at themselves, big afros and all, with pride.
6. We lost Earth Kitt. Yes, she was the Catwoman on the Batman series. Yes, she did the song that people play every year around Christmas time called "Santa Baby." But she was more than a "sex kitten" with the nice legs. She was a "sassy" black woman who stood up for what she believed in. She famously spoke out against the Vietnam war before the wives of men who were running the country, including Lady Bird Johnson, the U.S. President's wife:
"You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed! They rebel in the street. They don't want to go to school because they're going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam." By doing this, she placed her career in danger. She lost bookings in the United States. She escaped to Europe where the U.S. could not touch and where she was
absolutely adored.
7. We just lost Freddie Hubbard. He influenced a generation of trumpet and other horn players. He collaborated on projects with some of the greatest jazz players at the time, or any time. And he was on hundreds of recordings, spreading his unique sound. He was a giant among giants in the field of jazz.

Those who celebrate Kwanzaa are not only taught the seven Nguzo Saba principles. We are also taught to remember, to pay homage, to our ancestors. Maybe it's not a bad idea for the rest of us to pay homage to the great ones who passed away this year, who earned the right to stay in our hearts a little longer, who meant so much to all of us.

Is there a person who died this year that you would like to keep in your a little bit longer?


Anonymous said...

I'm thinking of Dee Dee Warwick, Dionne Warwick's siter. She died this year, a few months ago.Never got the breaks of her sister, but she was a very good singer.

rainywalker said...

I would like to remember a black blues player who passed away in 2008. He was born Sidney Jackson in Monterey, VA. Sidney sang in a band and played baseball on the black leagues all over WV, VA, PA and OH. When WWII came along he joined the Navy and was stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii. While there he pitched baseball against Joe Dimaggio's brother. After the war he ran a barber shop and worked for the Forest Service in Durbin, WV for 42 years. He continued to jam, play his guitar and mandolin until he passed away in Vermilion, OH. We had some good times together and he was a fine brother-in-law.

Stella said...

Yes there is, MacDaddy. I wish George Carlin were still with us. We still need his wit and ability to see the truth better than most.

Thank you for this post about Kwanzaa. I wish you a Happy New Year, wise one.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Freddy Hubbard (along with Donald Byrd and Kenny Wheeler) was one of the most underrated trumpet players EVER. An absoluet luminary. This is a huge loss.