Lesser known artists like JJ Malone, Fred Hughes and more popular artists like Bobby Bland, Mahalia Jackson and others were always on in my home. I can't remember a day when music wasn't played in my home. I remember one time when I was a kid, I got in trouble at school and instead of taking the tv and outdoor activities away from me, my mom decided to take away my little tape player..Talk about hurt. Yeah, music is and always will be a part of my being.
By the way - Who remembers tape players?
I still remember to this day the very first album I bought and the very first 45 I bought. Surprisingly enough, I still have both! The first album I ever bought was "Mothership Connection" by Parliament in 1975 and the very first 45 I bought that same year was "Golden Years" by David Bowie. Talk about two different extremes!
"Golden Years" still to this day stands as one of my all time favorite top 100 songs.
Now my parents weren't the only ones who had a huge influence on my love for music. I have to credit my two brothers, my two sisters and one of my cousins as well. As the years went by my two brothers turned me on to artist like Elton John, Curtis Mayfield, Willie Hutch and many others. My cousin flooded my ears with the sounds of Gladys Knight and The Pips, Stevie Wonder, Jr. Walker, Isaac Hayes and so many more. One of my sisters passed away when I was only 4 years old, but she left behind a record collection that boasted many artist including The Isley Brothers. Whereas my other sister, when I was old enough to go spend the night at her house, (she and her then husband), had a collection of artist like The People's Choice, The Supremes, William DeVaughn, Marvin Gaye, Peter Frampton and many others.
I would imagine the most pivotal time period for me was 1975. Wow, it's hard to think back to 1975 and it's 2011!! I was 8 years old in 1975 and my love for music had already been festering inside of me!!!
In the summer of 1975 my family took a road trip from Houston to Cali and Canada! What an amazing trip that was. My dad drove most of the time and we listened to some great music all the way there and back. One of the things I remember most was an amazing live album by BB King and Bobby Bland called "Live...Together For The First Time". This was one of the most incredible recordings I had ever heard in my short life!! (Remember I was only 8) LOL... By the time we got back to Houston, I knew that tape (8 track) by heart. Intro and all. Now who remembers the 8 track???
That kind of set the pace for me. But it's what happened when we got to California that really, really set me on fire! My brother had bought a copy of an lp by an English bloke named Elton John. Now this album, (I found out years later), had been released in 1974. It was Elton John's Greatest Hits! It featured tunes like "Rocket Man", "Saturday's Alright For Fighting" and "Honky Cat". I totally fell in love with that album....I fell in love with Elton's music as well. That same year, (back in Houston), my brother purchased two other Elton John albums, (both of which were actually released in 1975), "Rock Of The Westies" and one of my all time favorite albums ever "Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy". Both of these releases have stood the true test of time, (my time). I still, to this day find myself listening to those two albums, (these days MP3's),back to back repeatedly as if they are brand new.!! True classics indeed.
Now, there was another group, (a family band), that blended gospel with Soul music long before Kirk Franklin and Mary Mary came on the scene. I'm referring to The Staple Singers. By 1975, the Staple Singers had already made their mark on the history of popular music with their massive hits, "I'll Take You There" and "Respect Yourself", both of which came from the 1972 release "BeAltitude-Respect Yourself". I was already a huge fan of The Staple Singers, (I've even had the pleasure of befriending Mavis and Pops, (before he passed away), but my love for The Staple Singers really took shape when they released the Curtis Mayfield penned "Let's Do It Again" in, (yes..you guessed it 1975)!! This had to be one of the most awesome songs around at the time. I could sit on my porch and hear people passing by in their pimped out cadillacs playing "Let's Do It Again". That song had such soul, such a timeless feeling of being. It was incredible. After that, I became a true Staple Singers fan. I've been one since!!! I also enjoyed "Unlock Your Mind" which came out in 1978. Pops and Mavis made quite a few trips to Houston in the late 90's up until his death in 2000. I still have photos with the late, great Pops Staples..
I guess if my foundation for music was being laid, it might have started with The Staple Singers among others...
As it turned out, The Staple Singers had left an indelible print on my musical mind that was helped along the way by artist like BB King, Bobby Bland, Mahalia Jackson and a host of others..My music collection began in earnest in 1975 with the David Bowie single and the Parliament album I mentioned earlier. Since that time I've amassed a wealth of music that rivals any radio station disc jockey's collection..Hits and misses by some of the best artist of all time and some that should have been bigger than they were.
So, along with albums like BB King's "Indianola Mississippi Seed Blues" lp, The Staple Singers "Be-Altitude", Parliament's "Mother Ship Connection" and Prince's "For You" among other great releases from the early 70's through 1978. I had become hooked.
Music has been my drug of choice for many years now and it doesn't look like that addiction will disappear anytime soon.