Category Archives: History

Medgar@ 90

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Although this is the last day of July, I would like you take some time and join me to pay tribute to Medgar Evers, because it was in this month, the 2nd of July to be precise, he would have turned 90 years old.

For the many world wide who is unfamiliar, Medgar Evers was the leader of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement for Coloured People), based in Jackson Mississippi. He was cut down while leaving his parked car, walking towards his home and family, on June 12th 1963.

Although Medgar was not internationally known as Dr Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, his role as a Freedom Fighter and activist was easily on par with the others. As a matter of fact, I personally consider him to be the most courageous of them all due to the fact that he was against all the odds, residing in the most racist zones in the US at that time, unprotected by the law or an entourage of friends and well-wishers.

I present another painting of mine, once again, unfinished in honour of such an icon. Medgar, may you continue to make your friends, family and mankind, proud.

Marcus Garvey – 75 Years On

 

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Hail Mi Irieites,

More commemorations.

10th June 2015 was the 75th anniversary of the Right Honourable, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, making his transition.

If you have been following, about a year ago I made a visit to the house he occupied in London during the 1930s as well as the house where he was born, in Saint Ann’s, Jamaica, 1887.

The works of Marcus Garvey have not gone unnoticed. Let’s see if the powers that be can put their Hearts together to have this African icon exonerated.

In the meantime, let’s continue to Rally Round the flag.

Peace.

Steel Pulse and UB40: REGGAE LEGENDS ANNOUNCE UK DATES

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Birmingham’s reggae legends UB40 and Steel Pulse have confirmed they will play two very special shows together for the first time in December 2015.

The first show will take place at London’s O2 Academy Brixton on Sunday, 20th December, followed by a hometown show at the O2 Academy Birmingham on Monday, 21st December.

Steel Pulse’s lead singer David Hinds said, “Yes, this is history in the makings when the two Birmingham giants have come together to make our city proud. This is a legacy to be witnessed and documented and treasured for the rest of our lives.  Forget about the million dollar question as to why it took so long. The hard core fact is that it is happening and we hope everyone will “show up” for this “show down” come December 2015. We, Steel Pulse, will be celebrating our 40th anniversary, too.”

UB40’s Robin Campbell said, “I’m looking forward to seeing Pulse again, they’re one of the best live reggae bands, a class act.”

UB40 formed in 1978, naming themselves after the unemployment benefit form, before releasing their debut album ‘Signing Off’ in August 1980 – considered by many to be one of the greatest reggae albums ever released by a British band. It was the start of a career that has since seen the band have over forty UK Top 40 hit singles and achieve sales of over 100 million records, making UB40 one of the most successful British groups of all time

Formed in 1975 at Birmingham’s Handsworth Wood Boys School, Grammy Award-winning Steel Pulse have been true to their roots for the past forty years. One of Bob Marley’s favourites, the band has maintained a sense of fierce integrity as it strives to get the message of love and justiceacross to all people. They won a Grammy for their 1986 album ‘Babylon The Bandit’, and received further Grammy nominations for the albums ‘Victims’, ‘Rastafari Centennial’, ‘Rage & Fury’, ‘African Holocaust’ and ‘Vex’.

Steel Pulse are David “Dread” Hinds (lead vocals, rhythm guitarist, composer and harmonica player), Selwyn “Bumbo” Brown (keyboards, vocals), Sidney “Predator” Mills (keyboards, backing vocals), Amlak “AmBASSador” Tafari (bass), Wayne “Ceesharp” Elvis Clarke (drums),  Moonie (lead guitar), Keysha McTaggart (backing vocals), and Jerry “Saxman” Johnson (saxophone).

UB40 are Robin Campbell (co-lead vocals and guitar), Duncan Campbell (lead vocals) Earl Falconer (bass, vocal), Brian Travers (saxophone and keyboards), Jimmy Brown (drums), Norman Hassan (percussion, vocals). The band also feature, Martin Meredith (sax) and Laurence Parry (trumpet) and Tony Mullings (keyboards).

 Tickets are £35 (STBF), available on O2 PRIORITY from Wednesday 27th May at 9.00am

General sale Friday 29th May at ticketweb.co.uk or 0844 477 2000

Irving Wladawsy-Berger

Ali vs. Liston – May 25, 1965

Exactly 15 months after Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston for the Heavyweight Championship, he made his first title fight defence against the former champion, who he’d called “the bear.” This was on May 25th 1965. Today, marks the 50th anniversary of this great occasion.

There was plenty of controversy in the period between the two fights. To begin with, upon receiving his belts Ali announced that he was a Muslim and denounced the original name he was once called, which was Cassius Clay. His claim was that it was a name given to him by his former slave masters.

This was not good publicity in the eyes of the authorities in regards to the rematch. They saw problems ahead for hosting the event.

Secondly, there were many who believed that Liston had thrown the first fight, and claiming it could have been mafia controlled, creating the need for a rematch. The first fight was also remembered for Ali screaming and showing emotions of pain to his eyes, stating that the gloves that Liston was wearing were laced with something to blind him.

Thirdly, it was only three months prior to the rematch that Malcolm X, was assassinated, creating a huge rift amongst others in this new found religion of Ali’s.

In any event the contest took place at Lewiston’s Central Maine Youth Center, as oppose to another place in Boston where it was initially planned. If my memory serves me correctly ( it was soooo long ago), the fight lasted only 64 seconds, becoming one of the fastest first round knock outs in history at that time. The punch, landed by Ali, was known as “The Phantom Punch.” It brought about even more controversy due to no one actually seeing it strike Liston, hence believing that Liston, once again had thrown the fight. But after several slow motion reruns, everyone was able to see how it was done, though there were many still not convinced it was hard enough to send the former champ toppling on the canvas. But this was the start of a new era for boxing. An era of witnessing an unusual speed and agility from a heavyweight.

Anyway, fans please excuse me for not posting this sooner. Travelling got the better of me. In the meantime please try and enjoy the painting that I just started of this incredible individual. Muhammad Ali:

alipaintingEnjoy

Farewell, B.B. King: Remembering Our 3 Kings

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Yes, this is a tribute to the Legendary, Riley B. King, better known as B. B. King, born September 16, 1925 and was approaching his 90th birthday this year.  Passed May 14, 2015.

I had the pleasure to be present at a Grammy Award back in 1985/86 and watched B.B. jam on stage with Mark Knopfler, Hank Williams Jr, J.J. Cale and others. They all had their guitars screaming out all at once, playing every note on the fret board.

Except for B.B.

He just stood there and played one single note and it stood out by far from that wall of a sound coming from all those other guitar players. Yes, B.B. King had the most distinctive guitar tone ever. On that day I learned that guitar playing is all about quality and not quantity. Yes, we all know the story of saving “Lucille” from a fire, but there was an interview that I read of his many years ago about how he came to develop that tone. He said something about trying to emulate all those guitar effects including the wah-wah pedal, by trilling extra hard the notes with his fingers on the fret board. But from the upbringing he had, he had no idea that the effects were coming from pedals and other electrical devices, so thinking one had to be one heck of a guitar genius to get that sound. So out of sheer, blessed ignorance B.B. created a style of playing that was second to none.

Today B.B. King has been hailed as one of the top ten greatest guitar players of all time. Unlike many of the traditional blues guitarists, BB had a good knowledge of chords that were not used in traditional 12 bar blues; chords like 7 flat 5 chords and chords that were leaning towards the jazz format. Although there are many songs that were hits, one of my favourites of his is How Blue Can You Get.

Upon B.B. King’s passing, we mark the end of “The Real Deal” orthodox blues, as we know it.

But while I am at it I would like to pay tribute to the other Kings in all of this. Least we not forget the efforts of Albert King (1923-1992) and Freddie King (1934-1976). The three Kings were gracious and majestic with their achievements. With none of them being related to each other, B.B., Albert and the youngster Freddie all played major parts in keeping the blues alive in a time where rock n’ roll was the order of the day.

Freddie, having the rockiest tone of the Kings was trying to develop a crossover sound, by having quite a few of his songs, played upbeat. One of my favourites of his was Big Legged Woman.

Albert, on the other hand, had lots of popularity among others such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Clapton, and the list goes on. Hence there have been albums and live performances with him featuring cats like these and visa versa. My favourite of his was The Sky is Crying,  originally done by Elmore James.

By the way, I had the pleasure to meet Albert King in a hotel lobby, in New Jersey, somewhere back in 1989. I also had the pleasure of him taking a photo holding an ESP telecaster of mine. Now it beats me what I’ve done with the photo, although the guitar itself was stolen within a couple of years of that experience.

So B.B. King, The Thrill is Gone. No way bro, you will be forever in our hearts.

Steel Pulse will be appearing at your New York nightclub come August 6th. Our show will be livicated to you. All Hail, The King of the Blues.

 

From Selma to Montgomery, 21st to 25 March – 1965: The 50th Anniversary

Blessings Mi Irieites,

SELMA

Been flying around today, so please forgive me for not blogging this sooner. The “livication” continues for Dr Martin Luther King, who this day 50 years ago, started what would be the march that became a success, from Selma to Montgomery, in Alabama. After a series of attempts previous to this historical event where all the protestors gathered on the Edmund Pettis Bridge, the march was completed 4 days later in Montgomery. The protestors had travelled on an average of 12 miles a day and took refuge and shelter wherever they could along the way.

We Steel Pulse, tip our crowns out of maximum respect for those who courageously conducted their moral duties during that episode. Thank you for moving the world a few steps closer to civilisation.

The Return to Handsworth

As we are into our 40th year of existence as a band, we give thanks for each and every moment for the opportunity that was given to us by the Most High. Because we are totally aware that if it was not for H.I.M, there would never be a “Steel Pulse.”

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Our first recognition on ‘centre stage,’ was our debut album, “Handsworth Revolution” (1978), which came at time when the UK was facing absolute turmoil in regards to the policies that were very much disenfranchising the first generation of blacks of post colonialism, stationed throughout the many pocketed communities in Britain. Already plagued with unemployment, there were laws and socially political issues that were not working in our favour. Having our limited outlets of entertainment under constant surveillance, along with the youths no longer accepting the “back seat” (so to speak), that was offered and accepted by our parents, and to top it all, the occasional police brutality…. it was only a matter of time for the lid to have been blown off that pressure cooker.

Steel Pulse predicted the sentiments of Handsworth Revolution at least three years before the very first riots kicked off in Bristol, back in 1981. HR became a landmark, a milestone; call it what you may, in the history and development of ‘Black Culture,’ in Britain. As a result the band played a significant role among the punk and new wave music that was sweeping across the country. Our lyrics and stance became part and parcel to the issues that the punks were lashing out against. it was at a time when being left winged and being an anarchist, was at its heights.

Today, we can see clearly how current and relevant those lyrics and ideologies of yesteryear have become. Now, do you see why I started out this blog by thanking the Most High, in the first place? In all honesty, the band never dreamed that the whole HR experience would have taken such a stronghold throughout the rest of the world. We could barely play our instruments when all this happened. Yet, we were eager to make a difference in our lives that we had hoped, would in turn, influence others.

We are looking forward to returning to the shores of England, after a very long hiatus to deliver this same album that created us, “live” in its entirety to the nation that was first in line to bear witness to such an enlightening experience. We sincerely hope that you can be present to join the masses that will be attending this walk down memory lane.

Everything Bless

David Hinds