The most celebrated liberated, muse/lover/artists of the late ’60s is Betty Davis, the funk goddess who hung with Jimi Hendrix, briefly married Miles Davis and made a couple of hard core funk LPs before dropping out of sight due to mental health issues.

Not as well known, but equally bold in her sensuality and connection to numerous black music innovators, is the late Lithofayne Pridgon, who died April 22 in Las Vegas at age eighty-one. Perhaps if her unreleased 1973 album on Atlantic was ever unearthed from the vaults Fayne would have a cult following equivalent to her charisma. She…


#BEFOREHIPHOPA A PROMOTER WHO TIME LEFT BEHIND

New York’s Beacon Theater

Concert goers either entered the upper west side’s Beacon Theater or milled on the Broadway sidewalk waiting on friends or dates. People smoked. Perfume and cologne wafted. Taxis and town cars dropped off well dressed folks. The crowd was overwhelmingly black and in an festival mood. It was a summer Friday night and the feeling was right.

Ice Cream stood by the liquor store on the corner of 74th Street asking, “Who got extra tickets? Who needs one or two?” to the people walking up uptown from the subway. Ice Cream was a…


Well, if all William ‘Bootsy’ Collins did was anchor the James Brown “new breed” band for eleven months starting March 1970 and then play on and co-produce the bulk of the mid-70s Parliament-Funkadelic classics, he’d be one of the most important musicians of the ’70s.

With his brother Phelps ‘Catfish’ Collins on guitar and childhood friend Frankie ‘Kash’ Waddy on drums, Bootsy was part of one of the greatest rhythm sections in black music history.

But this self-taught Cincinnati born, bassist remains one of the most charismatic and beloved figures in the black music culture, whose child-like singing voice and…


Previously unpublished excerpts from my interview with legendary background vocalist taken from the doc Finding the Funk (available for rent or purchase on Amazon.)

Few people have a funk pedigree that matches Dawn Silva. She made her recording debut with Sly & the Family Stone, toured with Parliament-Funkadelic, and was the longest-serving member of the Brides of Funkenstein before singing with the Gap Band during their early ’80s run of superb albums.

But Dawn is more than her impressive resume. As you’ll discover she’s a dynamic storyteller with a raw, incandescent aura. There’s a reason so many masters of funk, from Sly to George Clinton to Charlie Wilson, wanted them in their artistic circle. Dawn wasn’t twenty feet from stardom. …


On what would have been his 63rd birthday an appreciation of his vocal mastery and influence

Michael Jackson would have been sixty-three years old today. He died in 2009. Even before his death, his reputation had been damaged by a child molestation trial and, since his passing, a documentary featuring two dancers who accused him of sexual abuse when they were young. Yet his music lives on. There are twenty-six million monthly listeners to the Michael Jackson artists page on Spotify. A Broadway show based on his life, delayed by Covid-19, is scheduled to open in December. …


Birdel’s in Bed-Stuy was one of the now long lost neighborhood records stores

The corner of Nostrand Avenue and Fulton Street is buzzing with shoppers, cars, city buses, children being scolded by their mothers, brothers in dark suits and now ties hawking Muhammad Speaks, and music soul music coming from Birdel’s record store at 535 Nostrand. It is the late ’60s. My mother takes me inside where she is greeted by the gravelly voice of Joe Long’s owner, an empresario of vinyl, who she knows through a girlfriend. …


Motown, Soul Train and Right ON! magazine sparked theblack Hollywood dream #beforehiphop

Ask any Detroit resident of a certain age and they’d bemoan the exit of Berry Gordy’s Motown Records from the Motor City in the early ’70s. Ask any of the remaining Funk Brothers, the fantastic session players who performed on all those production line hits, and they’d wax nostalgic about their long nights in the basement at 2648 West Grand Boulevard. Finally ask any critic/historian of popular music and they’d see the label’s move west as the end of a glorious golden age.

When I published my history…


Her born day is August 9, 1963

I wrote short record reviews for Playboy magazine throughout the ’90s, which was a steady check and not very challenging work. But my dream was to conduct one of those epic Playboy interviews. It was an assignment I never landed. My consolation prize was conducting a couple of what they called 20 Questions, which was kind of a mini-Playboy interview. I did one with Chris Rock which, honestly, wasn’t very insightful, since we were good friends and kind of walked through the conversation. …


Respecting the value of your collaborators is crucial to creative partnership

Just as a creative career needs serious business back up to suceed, your creativity needs support too. People are seduced by the “great man” or “great woman” narrative that suggests one person, against all odds, alone created something or made a movement happen. In truth no one moves a culture forward without collaborators of various kinds, no matter how fabulously talented they are.

You probably don’t know who Maxwell Perkins is, but you know the names of the people he signed for their first novels and edited throughout their…


#BEFOREHIPHOP A night uptown with salesmen and clients

Pete took off his blue mechanics overalls, splashed on some Brut cologne and slid into a beige suit and chocolate, wide collared shirt before calling an OJ to pick him up. The overnight man had just arrived. Once he clocked in Pete clocked out. He could have taken the late model Caddy he had stashed in the back of the garage, but he wanted to make a few stops and parking uptown could be a bitch. The OJ that arrived at the midtown garage was a Deuce and a quarter driven by…

Nelson George

Author and filmmaker. Current books: a novel, The Darkest Hearts (Akashic); music collection The Nelson George Mixtape (Pacific) www.pacificpacific.pub.

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