This is no April fools. Today is Gil Scott Heron’s earthday, he would have been 68 years young. Gil Scott Heron is without doubt one of the genius wordsmiths of the 20th and 21st Century. As well as doing his own material, he was not afraid to cover other esteemed artists like Bill Withers’s ‘Grandmas Hands’ and Marvin Gayes’ ‘ Inner City Blues’. Providentially Marvin Gaye died on 1st of April 1984 and may of us who love him probably thought it was a sick joke. The sad irony is that Marvin Gaye died aged 44 the day before he was born 2nd April 1939 almost 10 years bar one day before Gil Scott Heron. Both were uniquely talented and are regarded as eternally loved and respected soul survivors to infinity and beyond. One of my other passion’s is art and here are two Blue Peter drawings I did earlier of Gil & Marv and I will spin a tune or two tonight with them in mind at my gig later . “Makes Me Wanna Holla & Throw Up Both My Hands”
At random moments when I wax lyrical with my antidotes of metaphoric ‘cult diction’, you will see sometimes I’ll refer to something I’m doing on my own as being ‘Napoleon Solo’. No prizes for guessing it was inspired by other than the late actor Robert Vaughn’s side kick character, to his Man From U.N.C.L.E agent partner Illya Kuryakin. As a kid growing up in the mid 1960’s and 1970’s I was a huge fan of Man From U.N.C.L.E with its cool funky jazz theme tune. Robert Vaughn was the epitome of ‘Cool Like That’ like Digable Planet, in his slick suits and always had a variety of the most intriguing facial expressions (especially the Elvis Presley pout trout), when he acted. Also known for his character as the nervous drunk gunman Lee in The Magnificent Seven, he was also a guest star on occasion in episodes of Columbo. Just one more thing..In recent years he was remembered for being the respected elder con man in the BBC series ‘The Hustle’ as a loveable father figure rouge Albert Stroller. Sad to hear of his passing aged 83. ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ like Queen.
It really was a Throwback Thursday on 27th October 2016. I really had and ‘Eddycation’ chatting with musical genius and social commentating activist, Guyana’s favourite son Eddy Grant. This photo was taken by his daughter Pauline Grant at the end of our very intimate and afternoon soiree at a coffee house establishment in Dalston east London. This will be documented in issue 67 for the festive December 16 – January 17 issue of The Soul Survivors Magazine.
My next royal appointment was to meet the mighty three T’s, Tavares, The Four Tops and The Temptations at the 02 in Greenwich. I was offered tow pairs of seats one in the VIP lounge way up in the balcony top and a pair in block B row N to the right of the stage near the front, whats a boy to do? ‘It Only Takes A Minute’ to have decided upon the option of being nearer. Tavares were for me the premier performing act with Chubby on lead vocals, they were smooth polished and reminiscent of the panache of that classic old school ‘doo woo’ quartet era they come from. Both the The Four Tops and The Temps gave an equally all singing and dancing performance and I was fortunate to have a ringside few at stage level 10 feet away, courtesy of Tavares’s manager David Oriola. Having met Ralph and Chubby Tavares, here we proudly display my interview with Ralph Tavares in the current Royalty issue. Unbeknown to me I then bump into The Temptations’s musical director, the legendary McKinley Jackson of The Politicians, as we left the backstage area. Sometimes..just sometimes ..I really like my job and vocation in life being married to my spiritual wife MUSIC!!
Greetings on this pinch punch first of the month and defo no returns 1st July 2016 Froback Friday. There certainly seems to be a massive “Ball Of Confusion” like The Temptations for peoples state of mind here in the UK since last weeks double Brexit and Punch & Judy show antics within politics in both the red and the blue camps. It’s been an emotive week of more twist and turns than a theme park roller coaster or an out of control tornado. But there is no Leroy Burgess “Confusion” about my digital memory of today’s post. 1986 was a vintage year that would impact on my life unknowingly for various reason. It was the spring and summer of that year when Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke corrupted my not so innocent mind with the ‘sexsational’ at the time film “Nine And A Half Weeks”, but I just threw that in to get your attention.
Seriously 1986 was the year I started djing in the west end of London at a night club called “Oxfords” at the Tottenham Court Road end of Oxford Street, that apparently used to be Studio Valbourne, or so I’ve been advised. I made my debut alongside my fellow Pleasure loving music enthusiast Norman Cummins, on an Easter Bank Holiday Monday in April 1986, after contacting a fellow soul survivor comrade Joel Karamath, who had access to hiring the club. In short a now dearly departed and talented friend Debbie Miller, was leaving our front of house team at the musical “Starlight Express’s” home venue The Apollo Victoria Theatre, to do her first professional dance job. She was well loved and we managed with little time to pack the club out with those who were going to miss her presence. Joel teamed myself and Norman up with two guys I’d seen out but never previously conversed with Wayne Malcolm and Tony Francis who did the early set. This was the providential start of an Indeep “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life”
The night was an overwhelming success and as a bonus both myself and Norman were paid £50 each, when we were only doing this free for the love of a friend. A lightbulb went off in Joel’s head and he asked if we (myself ands Norman) would be interested in working with him and the other two dj’s, plus another who wasn’t present that night, on a regular Saturday night residency. I was most certainly interested and about 6 weeks later we got the nod it was actually going to happen. On the opening Saturday night in June 1986 it was then that I met this young man in the photo for the very first time. His name is Paul Martin and as collective of 6 we dj’d under the guise initially as “The Buzzboyz Inc”. This name concept as I’ve been advised was originally devised by Tony Francis who had been djing with his friend Wayne previously under this umbrella and working with Joel on various events. That may fill in the blanks as to why I was known initially as “Fitzroy from The Buzzboys” which became “Fitzroy The Buzzboy” which eventually morphed into “Da Buzzboy” Fitzroy, coined around 1998 by Summer Soulstice’s Jamie Topham then working in club promotions at Arista Records.
To cut a longer story short Norman left early after landing a dancing job abroad and the remaining Enid Blyton “Famous Five” did various gigs together until I left in February 1989 and went as Napoleon Solo free agent. Paul Martin who lived local to me in Wembley west London when I met him, was selling 7 inch imports with his mate a record dealer Mark, to some of the top underground warehouse and ‘Rare Groove’ funk Dj’s in London. I remember buying quite a few things like Kellee Patterson’s “I’m Gonna Love You More” on a 7 inch promo and The Chakachas “Jungle Fever” promo from him at his mums house. Paul went on to make his own history working at Steve Jervier’s Black Market Records in D’Arblay Street Soho, and was later snapped up by Giles Peterson to work at the newfound UK label division of Talking Loud. Myself and Paul forged our own musical paths outside of the our initial collective foundation, and over the years we have crossed paths many times. It’s always been good and mutually respectful whenever I see Paul when he is out and a “Jeremy Beadle About”. These days we tend to bump into each other at private industry parties, like last year at Louie Vega’s Ministry of Sound album launch, and on Tuesday 28th June 2016 at Angie Stone’s soiree in St Martin Lane’s The Library Gentleman’s club in WC2. I asked my IT consultant and magazine photographer Anna B to take this photograph, as it suddenly dawned upon me at Angie’s gathering, that Paul and I first met and dj’d together 30 years ago..That impromptu meeting was no accident. Happy 30th to us in my 30th year djing and 10 years in the making of The Soul Survivors Magazine that first hit the streets this month in 2006..”Happy Days” like Fonzie..”Ayyyyeeehhh” and a set of double thumbs up!!
Here are extracts from my interview with Bill Curtis a few years back ahead of the Fatback appearing at CampSoul in August
I’ve spoken to Robert Khallis Bell of Kool & The Gang, Larry Blackmon of Cameo and Randy Muller of Brass Construction who all confirm that there was a big street funk fraternity out of New York and the East coast.
That’s right and Fatback opened the doors for that so the record companies wanted their own versions of that. What happened at Perception was the label was going broke and our first two albums just about earned him his money he borrowed from family. He was going bankrupt and said it nothing personal but he left us stranded without a deal. Whilst shopping for a new deal and coming out of Polydor records my lawyer hooked us up with Spring Records after looking at the dubious contract that Mercury was offering.
I remember when I hooked up wit you at Southport 2005 you told me that your track “Dance Girl” was controversial with The Rimshots and you were going to sue them, why was that?
They stole it and took my tune and didn’t pay me royalties and thats another one that came out of “Going To See My Baby” you can tell. Remember what I told you earlier bout the formula? That’s what I used throughout my Fatback career.
But they did credit you on the track eventually
Yeah they did but I didn’t get no money. Not one penny but we worked out an agreement. Joe Robinson wasn’t the most up and up person in the world but he paid me back after I sent some people who represented me to talk to Joe and he ensured we performed with The Moments whenever they did a show.
After the 3rd and last Perception album you join Spring/ Polydor’s Event label. “Mr Bass Man” is a killer but “Keep On Stepping” (That was the big record on there and we’ll be doing that when we come over) and “Wicky Wacky” would become the club anthems. By this time the bass lines of Johnny Flipping would simulate one of a reggae ilk on both those tracks. How much did the Caribbean and reggae influence have on the band as much later this would be evident with Spanish Hustle and Night Fever?
Remember what I told you I got my beat from ?? It came from the reggae from the calypso but what I did was put a 2 and 4 back beat to it which the reggae didn’t have. So by us playing cabaret dances the people loved calypso music and with that New Orleans feel that influenced the Fatback Sound. Now if you listen to “Going To See My Baby”, four tunes came out of that like “Wicky Wacky” and “Bus Stop”. At night we’d play them tunes differently and never the same way twice. So when we went to the studio we’d written another tune on top of it and perform it unconsciously but we were not aware of that. When you have a band thats working every weekend they are writing tunes in between.
“Raising Hell” and “Yum Yum” albums with their sexy funk disco, jazz and Caribbean flavours remain two of my favourite albums that endured a degree of commercial success. “Raising Hells’s” “Bus Stop” created a dance craze to be capitalized 5 years later by another bullet on the future “14 Karat” album. How did you receive that adulation as this did catapult the group into the commercial arena more-so I guess in the UK than the USA?
I never knew until Gerry Thomas came to the UK with Jimmy Castor and said they playing the hell out of “Bus Stop”. When I first came to England I toured with a little van and did bars cabaret places and in the little country towns and built my own following before I did big concerts .
Just spreading the love with John Morales and Frank Ryle of Cool Million in the photo from my debut at Yogi Haughton & Caroline’s Scottish Soul Weekender. This was my second set on the Sunday of 50 Shades Of Play Minutes.. so click the link in “Prince Purple “and enjoy… Fitzroy
Ahead of his Fold Festival 24th June..here’s a snippet of my 2010 interview with Nile Rodgers.
Before Chic how you were involved in the Sesame Street Band and with Bernard Edwards and Tony Thompson as part of New York City’s “I’m Doing Fine Now” backing band line up ?
The Sesame Street Band was my first real professional paid tax information job. It was a long running job with one of my longest friends Fonzi Thornton and Luther Vandross. Fonzi replaced Luther and Carlos Amar as they both did the Young American thing with David Bowie. The start of the Big Apple Band happened when Bernard got the job as music director for the New York City group and we’d become friends from doing pick up gigs at the weekends. When they auditioned guitar players Bernard got that job for me. We didn’t even know Tony Thompson then as we stayed with New York City for around 2 years. In 1973 when the Jackson 5 were doing a world tour as their management had ideas of them being bigger than the Beatles, so he wanted them to have more hits before they hit the UK. We were the opening act of the J5 American tour and still without Tony. We did our last show in London and staying in Bayswater and my hotel room was broken into and my passport stolen. It was New York City’s last tour and really they were a one hit wonder that toured for nearly 2 years on the strength of “I’m Doing Fine Now” around 1972/73 as the 2nd album did nothing. They returned to the US that weekend and broke up after. I got left in London to go to the US Embassy to get a new passport, my girlfriend at the time worked as a hostess at a club called Churchill’s an knew everyone on the cool club circuit in London like Gullivers. She took me to see and her favourite band a new group called Roxy Music who were playing at the Roxy which I thought was really cool. The crowd was beautiful hip well to do and cool. I thought this would be cool to do this in black music so when I got back I spoke with Bernard and we auditioned for our band The Big Apple Band. Tony Thompson auditioned and I knew him as an exceptional jazz drummer from perviously working with him in Persian/Middle Eastern pick up bands like Jamshid Al Murad and Grugosh. We were in that circle and he was versatile and exceptional as that music is complicated to play. He had just left Labelle auditioned blew me away but Bernard didn’t like him as he overplayed.
I already know the story but whats the story of Grace Jones Studio 54 and “Le Freak” ?
“Everybody Dance” was popular as an underground anthem in New York clubs like Studio 54 for 2 years and Grace Jones and everyone knew it well and the song’s impact after a year and a half. “Dance Dance Dance” was getting pop radio airplay also and “Everybody Dance” our 2nd formal single, but 1st brought back to life, had her invite us New Years Eve 1977 into 1978 gig at Studio 54, with us as her new record composers. Assuming Grace added us we went to stage door and the guy told us to ‘Fuck Off’. We were pissed off and exhausted and went to the liquor store and bought some rock n roll mouth wash Don Peringnon and went to my near by apartment and stared jamming. So we started playing this groove and singing “ahhh fuck off”…..fuck studio 54 which eventually became “Freak Off” and made it “Le Freak” to make it our own.
With “Rappers Delight” did Sylvia Robinson and Sugar Hill approach you before or after using “Good Times”?
Well (Nile laughs)I first heard “Rappers Delight” in a nightclub called Leviticus which was predominantly a black club that played a lot of the mainstream and underground tracks before they came out. Before we became known as Chic we were a cover band and copied records that sounded exactly like the original artist. We used to copy the tracks and write breakdowns of very famous records that didn’t have breakdowns, so dj’s could play them. We had a recording studio we did a famous breakdown of “Love Is The Message” by MFSB with along tape loop ..we did that and I get excited when I hear it. So when I first heard “Rappers Delight” I thought they had done what we had done and that it was an instrumental for a rapper to rap over. That was very common then in the USA and even in the UK the Jamaican guys used to talk over the tunes. So I knew it wasn’t us playing but I heard they took our strings run on a two track and made it sound very ambient. I thought ok they put more work into their production than we did, then I looked in the dj booth and there was no rapper. The dj was drinking champagne with some girl and the tune was going on for 10 minutes and I thought what the fuck is this? I asked the dj where he got it he said down town from a record store and he showed me the label, and my name wasn’t on it. I went “Woah”!!.. Now when we did that they were white labels and only sold to dj’s we never tried to make commercial profit from someone else work. If it was underground we had no problem with it but it had taken us years to work on a song where Bernard did a walking bass line to a groove. We tried it in 76 with an Ashford and Simpson track and it didn’t work and now someone comes along and basically steals it without credit or royalties ..No that can’t happen!! So we issued a lawsuit and settled out of court and if you see copies of “Rapper’s Delight” now.. we got our names on it.