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I saw “Melinda,” “Cooley High,” “Superfly,” “Come Back Charleston Blue,” “Cleopatra Jones,” “Five on the Black Hand Side,” “Cotton Comes to Harlem,” “Blacula,” “Shaft in Africa,” “The Mack” and a few others. In a way, politics is show business, right? So we should mention that Richard Austin made a strong showing in his attempt to become Detroit’s first Black mayor. (Roman Gribbs, a very decent guy, won.) I said to Mr. Austin, “I wish I was old enough to vote.” He responded, “I wish you were too!”
“Hair,” promoted as “a tribal love rock musical,” was presented at the Vest Pocket Theater on the west side. That was a lot of fun. The cast included such outstanding talent as Eddie Robinson, Sheila Royster, Audrey Mitchell and Stanley Ramsey, all of Detroit, as well as future rock star Meat Loaf.
We were all saddened by the passing of the talented and beautiful Tammi Terrell. In addition to all of those wonderful duet hits with Marvin Gaye (my favorite is “You’re All I Need To Get By”), Tammi had hits of her own with “I Can’t Believe You Love Me” and “Come On and See Me.”
But she used bad judgment in getting involved with David Ruffin.
THE JACKSON 5 had their own cartoon show that aired Saturday mornings from 1971 to 1973. No Black vocal group had ever been honored in that way. Months before the show began airing, the J-5 made one of their finest recordings, “Never Can Say Goodbye,” written by actor/singer and now minister Clifton Davis. The Supremes were doing a great job of carrying on despite the departure of Diana Ross. The new Supremes — Jean Terrell, Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong — were guests on virtually all of the variety TV shows, singing hits like “Up the Ladder to the Roof” and “Everybody’s Got the Right to Love.”
Al Green quickly moved from new star to superstar to R&B legend/icon. “Love and Happiness,” “Call Me” and “I’m Still in Love With You,” to name a few, will always be popular. He had style and charisma. Still does.
Eddie, who was replaced by Damon Harris, scored big with “Keep On Truckin’,” “Boogie Down” and others.
The hairstyle of choice for most Black people was the Afro. And in the spirit of Black pride, James Brown gave us songs like “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved,” “Soul Power” and “It’s a New Day.”
Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye moved themselves out of “the Motown machine,” or “assembly line,” deciding it was time to take full control of their lives, careers and especially their music. Each subsequently reached new artistic (and commercial) heights.
Detroit’s own Dramatics became a national attraction. They even had an official fan club.
Among the biggest hit records — R&B and Pop — from early 1970 through 1973 were “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours” (Stevie Wonder), “Rainy Night in Georgia” (Brook Benton), “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (Simon & Garfunkel), “War” (Edwin Starr), “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)” (Three Dog Night). “Don’t Play That Song” (Aretha Franklin), “The Long and Winding Road” (the Beatles), “If I Were Your Woman” (Gladys Knight & the Pips), “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?” (the Bee Gees) and “Family Affair” (Sly & the Family Stone). Also, “Let’s Stay Together” (Al Green), “Lean on Me” (Bill Withers), “I Gotcha” (Joe Tex), “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” (B.J. Thomas), “I Can See Clearly Now” (Johnny Nash), “Pillow Talk” (Sylvia), “Love Train” (the O’Jays). “My Sweet Lord” (George Harrison), “The Tears of a Clown” (Smokey Robinson & the Miracles), “You’re So Vain” (Carly Simon), “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” (Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes), “I Am Woman” (Helen Reddy) and “Oh Girl” (the Chi-Lites).
EDDIE KENRICKS left the Temptations and went out with a bang because the beautiful “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me),” on which he sang lead, is one of the legendary group’s greatest achievements. that her specialty was southern cooking.
MEMORIES: “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get” (the Dramatics), “Get Down Tonight” (KC & the Sunshine Band), “And I Love Him” (Esther Phillips), “Rock Your Baby” (George McCrae), “Show and Tell” (Al Wilson), “Ring My Bell” (Anita Ward), “Mirror, Mirror” (Diana Ross), “Walk Away From Love” (David Ruffin), “Just Got Paid” (Johnny Kemp), “Don’t Leave Me This Way” (Thelma Houston).
BLESSINGS to Ann Jamerson, Sylvia Quarles, Brenda Franklin, Tyrone Williams, Aaron Foley, Nat Morris, R.J. Watkins, Jill-Day Foley, Huel Perkins and John Collins.
WORDS OF THE WEEK, from Jill Scott: “Just because you have a nightmare doesn’t mean you stop dreaming.”
Let the music play!
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