Fontella Bass, July 3, 1940-Dec. 26, 2012
Here is the beginning of an appreciation of the R&B singer Fontella Bass from Los Angeles Times’ Pop Critic Randall Roberts:
Any appreciation of soul singer Fontella Bass, who died Wednesday at age 72, must first acknowledge “Rescue Me,” the propellant 1965 R&B banger that became her signature. But equally vital in her — and the American — pantheon is “Theme de Yoyo,” her rousing vocal turn during the free jazz collective Art Ensemble of Chicago’s 1970 album “Les Stances a Sophie.” Continue Reading…
Here is a link to Theme de Yoyo.
The Telegraph has an interesting obit which lays out Bass’ career and makes the point that she and Bobby McClure (with which she sings Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing, below) were teamed on more than one song by Chess Records. The obit also says that her big hit – Rescue Me, above — was recorded after Don’t Mess Up A Good Thing. Here is the part of the piece that discusses Rescue Me, and the unfortunate aftermath, which unfortunately is not uncommon:
Tom Jones, Cher and Aretha Franklin, among many others, have made their own recordings of the hit. But its success did not always profit Fontella Bass. She once claimed that when her record label, Chess, presented her with a royalties cheque for Rescue Me, the sum was so insignificant that she tore it up. In 1990, living in near-poverty, she heard the song on an American Express advertisement. Forced to sue for its unauthorised use and a share of the songwriting royalties, she eventually won the day in court. Continue Reading…
Stevie Wonder needs no introduction. His bio may not be well known by all but his most ardent fans, however. Here is how the version at Encyclopedia Britannica starts:
Stevie Wonder, original name Steveland Judkins or Steveland Morris (born May 13, 1950, Saginaw, Mich., U.S.), American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, a child prodigy who developed into one of the most creative musical figures of the late 20th century.
Blind from birth and raised in inner-city Detroit, he was a skilled musician by age eight. Renamed Little Stevie Wonder by Berry Gordy, Jr., the president of Motown Records—to whom he was introduced by Ronnie White, a member of the Miracles—Wonder made his recording debut at age 12. The soulful quality of his high-pitched singing and the frantic harmonica playing that characterized his early recordings were evident in his first hit single, “Fingertips (Part 2),” recorded during a show at Chicago’s Regal Theatre in 1963. But Wonder was much more than a freakish prepubescent imitation of Ray Charles, as audiences discovered when he demonstrated his prowess with piano, organ, harmonica, and drums. By 1964 he was no longer described as “Little,” and two years later his fervent delivery of the pounding soul of “Uptight (Everything’s Alright),” which he also had written, suggested the emergence of both an unusually compelling performer and a composer to rival Motown’s stable of skilled songwriters. (He had already cowritten, with Smokey Robinson, “The Tears of a Clown.”) Continue Reading…
Ray Charles’ I Can’t Stop Loving You was the top song on the charts during this day in 1962. It held the spot for five weeks, from May 27 to June 30..
Other notable songs that year were The Lion Sleeps Tonight, The Twist, Peppermint Twist (Part 1), Duke Of Earl, Soldier Boy, Roses Are Red (My Love), Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, The Loco-Motion, Sherry, Monster Mash, He’s A Rebel and Big Girls Don’t Cry.
Check here for the artists and how long each song held the top spot. Two of the songs also held the top spot for five weeks. Can you name them?by
That’s a lot of genius to pack into two minutes and twenty seconds. Here’s a later version of the same song. It isn’t clear if it is the same version of the Raelettes. Other videos of note – among the dozens of good ones at YouTube – are What I’d Say, Georgia on My Mind and America, the Beautiful.
His website has a lot of material, including a biography and discography. Finally, here is a link to the IMDb listing for the very good 2004 biopic Ray, which starred Jamie Foxx. They had the good sense to have Foxx lip sync the music.