The Woodstock Festival took place on a dairy farm in Bethel the 15th through 17th of August 1969. And while many attended the event many were also stuck in traffic and never made it there for trying... The queue on the highway stretched all the way to New York! So that means that many out there recall what they did at this time fifty years ago, and that this was: being stuck in a car!
The very word "Woodstock" still means something so clear to people, and so naturally to people who weren't even born at this time too. It needs no explanation. If you say "Woodstock" you're done talking. People got you.
The word conjures up the immortal sounds of Jimi Hendrix playing the Star Spangled Banner. A classic moment in American history and the history of music.
Herb Reed of The Platters' fame, joined this successful singing group in the early 50's, to sing on hundreds of recordings with them, and tour consistently until the time of his passing. He was the last surviving member of the early line-ups of this group.
There is little doubt that The Dramatics is one of the greatest groups that ever worked in the music industry. Thirty plus something top ten hits, more appearances than anyone on Soul Train, went on for 48 something years, you can't even sum it up if you try - there is so much to find out about this group. And although it is in fact often times about numbers when we look at things, with music the proof is in the pudding too - and it can't even be fully described where the most deep and rich music is concerned. You could attempt to, and assign music theorists and poets for the task of describing the harmonic, melodic, rythmical, blended, rich, vast, deep sounds of the Dramatics, and they would be coming up short. The best music is indescribable. We don't have the faculties. We can wave about a bit and say SOMETHING about the music, but it will only ever be something in the midst of it ALL that could have been said had we had the vocabulary.
The Dramatics original members were Ron Banks, Larry Squirrel Demps, William Wee Gee Howard, Elbert Wilkins - and Willie Ford - all native Detroiters. The group was formed in the 60s and a trillion gazillion things happened since. And two weeks ago we had the heavy - heavy - news that Willie Ford has transitioned, and as these words are written this great contributor to music is being returned home.
Willie Ford's unique bass voice and stellar capabilities as a dancer is a combo that has made Willie Ford a true one-of-a-kind artistic presence for five decades in entertainment. He has projected the poise of someone who enjoys executing his profession to perfection on stage. He certainly is the very illustration of the gift of musical superbness that we know as The Dramatics. He was there for the creation of and massive break-through of this group, which is what most people associate with The Dramatics, and which was also the pinnacle of their chart success - and he was there for the full journey through all its twists and turns.
Willie Ford leaves a legacy of happiness to those hundreds of millions of lives that were and will be touched by what he gave of himself to the world. He is forever one of the personalities who make Detroiters extra proud to be Detroiters, and equally one of the legends who represent what music became at the very height of what has been the golden era of recorded music.
We so regret that we didn't get to hear more of him. We will always miss the solo album, and what it could have been. We can only sense what it could have been, and that's something else.
The end... Something feeling like the dignified & matured thing this legacy and five part harmony five lead singers' concept deserved. And you just look at that young crowd loving every second. Well done!
Thank you so much, Willie Ford, for what you have done for music, and enjoy that Heaven that loves to have you.
Small Note: Willie Ford recorded a song, titled ''Lie To You'', which is currently in the 'vault' of bassist Tony Green. Willie Ford sings straight through this cut. Supposedly this song belongs to its originator/s, and it shouldn't be lost to the world.
For example... For anyone who went to see Solomon Burke in latter years this is so well known...
There was a man up there, behind the keys of an organ, in constant conversation with King Sol throughout. This man was the fire in the belly of the band, feeding the music with his performances, living the music with every fiber, reaching for the sky in between and sometimes during his playing. An outstanding instrumentalist, who also played the organ for preacher Burke in church and worked with many other luminairies in music.
His name: Rudy Copeland.
Remember that name.
His story is of course so much longer and you will be well advised to go explore HERE
Here he is being excellent solo:
And here he is laying the foundation to a very memorable cut:
Us here at Musicians' Corner are great fans of this artist's contributions to music.
Thank you for the music, Mr. Copeland.
For a little more reading about Solomon Burke's band we recommend the articles with Kenneth Meredith a.k.a. 'the love man', that are featured here.
Remembering Didier Lockwood. Monsieur Lockwood did an article with us in 2014, and it didn't take many moments into our talk with him before we realized that we had set up way too little time for the article. A man of great depths! The article became a flicker of something, as we faced the fact that we had in fact missed an opportunity to dive deeper. But the subtext speaks volumes. We always intended on getting back to him, and we especially wanted for someone to do an artist-to-artist interview with him to really get in there, into the conversation on the inside of music. Sadly this never happened, and it is without a doubt one of our biggest regrets here on Musicians' Corner.
A quartet that blows our minds: Didier Lockwood, Mike Stern, Tom Kennedy, Dave Weckl
Didier Lockwood, 11 February 1956 – 18 February 2018