Before Thundercat, Rick James, and even Prince...Sly Stone was that musical genius to bridge black, white, and women and men into a single funk odyssey. His songs explored racial unity and other social matters of the day to an unforgettable beat. In fact, Sly set the template for modern recording acts like The Internet and many others.
For those of you who watch those Ed Sullivan reruns in hopes of catching this iconic performance, YouTube comes through. If you're familiar with the episode that featured The Doors, censorship (as in "high" or "higher" in reference to drugs) may be the reason why this segment is so hard to come by.
This performance on the Mike Douglas Show is also worth a watch.
For years, there's been an online debate about the cast and storylines of this iconic sitcom from the 70s. Where did Carl go (or better, what was his purpose)? What did that kitchen door lead to? Were Willona and James more than friends? Many of us probably will never know the truth behind the scenes or why creator Norman Lear made these interesting choices.
You're probably like me where in the past few years you've probably had time to binge in front of the set and ponder a few things. I did when I was on bed rest a few years ago. While it seems like a Good Times series remake is out of the question for now, we can have a little fun with these facts about the popular show.
The J.J. Evans character was loaded with charm and talent, making him a somewhat unlikely match for a bevy of beauties during its run from 1974 to 1979. Have you ever noticed that women who were overly affectionate are still working actors today? Yup, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Debbie Allen, Debbie Morgan, Tina Andrews, and the late Rosalind Cash had success in front of and/or behind the camera.
But what about the others? Let's see what they're up to.
Beverleigh Banfield who played the original T. C. (Bookman's assistant), is still active in the business. After taking guest starring roles in the 80s and 90s, her last acting credit was as a voiceover artist in the cartoon Static Shock. Since the 2010s, she's parlayed her talents as a producer and director. She's alive and well at 69 years young.
Rosanne Katon was in an early episode where her snob parents wanted their teen daughter to date someone who wasn't from the PJs. From the mid-70s through the 80s, Katon starred in a number of guest roles and was also known for being one of the first Black Playmates. She quietly retired from acting by the early 90s to focus on family and humanitarian efforts.
Renee Brown didn't play a love interest but a painting student of J.J.'s who quietly forced him to eat a big piece of humble pie during a local art competition. After starring in a number of 70s sitcoms and light crime dramas like James at 16, Brown retired from acting in the early 80s to focus on family.
Ta Tanisha played one of J.J.'s early girlfriends that didn't exactly have his back yet he was so whipped. Anyway, her career goes back to 1969 when she guest-starred on an episode of Mod Squad and remained pretty busy from the 70s to the 80s with sporadic appearances. She also made an uncredited appearance on Alex Martin's (daughter of Whoopi Golberg) reality show in the 00s.
Rolanda Douglas is one of the few actresses who played different roles on the sitcom. First, it was the snobbish girlfriend who was ready to go and cared less about a burned Penny Gordon. Then she was the second T. C. who actually did make a move on the lean, chocolate, loving machine after undergoing a makeover. Her acting credits range from 1976 to 1987.
Brenda Sykes was J.J.'s chain-smoking date who proved an important lesson about the dangers of tobacco products. Besides an extensive list of acting credits for the small and silver screen, she's also known as the former wife of musician and poet Gil Scott Heron. This 1978 role was also her last, according to IMDB.
Fay Hauser played the married woman who wanted to have her cake and eat it at J.J.'s expense (or his developing ulcer). At 74 years young, she's still booked and busy with recent credits including Glee and Shameless. Hauser also has recent producer and director credits to round out her long list of roles that go back to 1978.
While it's nice to see the majority of these actresses are healthy and well, here are some other things that may have been overlooked.
Dap Sugar Willie (above), who played Lootin Lenny, got his start on the comedy circuit. Like Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor, he sold albums of his performances and this was also a promotional tool that landed him roles in a number of 1970s sitcoms. Sadly, he died in 1994 at the age of 55.
Penny (played by Miss Jackson, of course) is actually named Millicent, which is a clever but odd name choice for a Black child of the 70s.
If you think Bernadette Stanis (Thelma) has disappeared from the silver screen, you're mistaken. Since the show's end in 1979, she's made numerous appearances on sitcoms, done voiceovers, and also attended the prestigious Julliard to upgrade her thespian skills. Her last credit was on TV One's Family Business series which stars Ernie Hudson.
Well, it's good to be back y'all and I hope you can stop by every few weeks where we deliver something different.
Lately, I've been watching old Ed Sullivan reruns on the digital broadcasting channel and there are many Black comedians who were either underrated or seemed to disappear from the planet by the time us Gen X's were old enough to understand. I've also discovered other old programs that show an entire host of funny chocolate folks, like Mr. Watson but here's a couple of videos you might like.
This is a new feature I chose to add because 1) Life's too short to not get in a good laugh at least once a week, and 2) I would like to shine a brief light on those comedians that may not be household names today.
Been away longer than I planned but thought I'd return with good news. My favorite mag, Wax Poetics, is currently taking orders for the posthumous tribute edition. Issue 67, according to the email I received last night, will be free of ads with full color pages throughout, available as a hard or soft cover copy.
For those not familiar with Wax Poetics (WP) magazine, it's pretty much the Lexus of all periodicals that represent hip-hop, R&B, jazz, and all the subgenres. Issue 50, which was originally released back in 2013, featured the music legend and featured extended interviews with those who were once close to him musically. This also was for pre-sale and though re-released in May 2016, is the best-selling edition in the magazine's history.
As for the collector's value, most WP issues bring in a nice return, as most give intimate details and/or exclusive interviews with recording artists of past and present. I was able to sell my David Bowie/ATCQ issue for almost three times what I paid for it. Remember back in the day when you went over someone's house and they had the latest issues of Ebony or Jet spread across the coffee table? If you've got little ones (or kids at heart) that like to scribble on things, you might want to keep these hidden at all costs.
Happy New Year folks, I'm restructuring here and realize I still owe you an old-school countdown. I didn't want my first post to be an obit but this is a true story I can't get out of my head. As you may know, jazz trumpeter and anti-Apartheid activist Hugh Masekela died at the age of 78. At this time, there is no direct cause but, like many musicians who have left us in recent, I'm happy for his contributions. However, I didn't realize some years ago how grateful I should've been to be in his presence or to celebrate what was a historic moment. Back in the early 90s, I was a big super-brat woman/baby who really didn't know if she was coming or going. One day, I woke up and decided that I was going to attend Job Corp in Downtown L.A. because it was free. It was not one of my best moments but on top of free job training, medical care and food (I didn't live there), I could go to events for free. Not long before dropping the program for good (I also worked a full-time job near LAX), I got an invite to see a newly-freed Nelson Mandela at the L.A.Coliseum. Didn't have to work that evening but me and about a half-dozen folks packed into some car and got pretty good seats. Once again, very fortunate to have not experienced the nosebleed section. Looking back, the concert was long. Very long. And back then, on top of drinking and partying, I ingested a lot of caffeine (and this was a couple of decades before energy drinks were a way of life) so I can remember being near tears because I had to coordinate how to get back home without risking my life. But in-between, I had a hoot explaining to my reformed gangbanger buddies why Paul Simon, Sting, and many others with pink toes were there to celebrate the South African hero. However, amusement turned into anxiety when Mr. Masekela went into a set that lasted more than an hour long. Sting and James Taylor's sets were less than 15 minutes and other notables (whom I don't remember) were restricted to maybe one song. Since then I have not seen so much love and unity for mankind displayed on a single stage. Gangsta rap was beginning to cross into the mainstream and the riots were less than two years away. My generation has few leaders, as many seem to care more about commerce instead of a solution to make things better.
The irony is that while gangsta rap is supposed to be about being a badass, I've yet to see any of its representatives take a real stand against a minor injustice...just abuse or battery against a woman. Anyway, I still have a thing about Soul Train reruns and ran across this rare episode with Mr. Masekela and fellow trumpeter Herb Alpert.
Had he lived, Jimi Hendrix would have turned 75 on Monday. They say genius never dies and his skills are incomparable today...no matter what new music trend or artist tries to take a bite. One has to wonder what would've become of him had he survived that fateful night. Touring with the Stones? A collabo with Prince (no doubt they're somewhere jamming). Anyway, the only way to celebrate this unique life is to share his gifts with those who may have missed out. Here's one of my favorites.
Last month, we lost Keith Wilder of Heatwave, who is best known for singing lead on their popular wedding song "Always and Forever". Him and brother Johnny (who died back in 2006), not only shared lead but wrote many hits with bandmate Rod Temperton. While some may associate them with the disco era, other songs had an R&B flavor to them. Check it out.