TRANSITIONS: Billy Paul

Billy Paul transitioned today, Sunday, April 24, 2016.

Billy Paul (born Paul Williams) RobFather's edit

American Grammy Award-winning soul, R&B, pop and jazz singer Billy Paul was born Paul Williams in [North] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 1, 1934. He had been an active singer in the Philadelphia area where he was raised since the 1950s. Paul was one of the many artists associated with the Philadelphia soul sound created by the producer/song-writing team Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Thom Bell. Under Gamble and Huff, founders of Philadelphia International Records (PIR) Paul’s career prospered.

Billy Paul began his singing career when he was eleven, appearing first on a local radio station then known as WPEN (now WKDN) in Philadelphia. He attended the West Philadelphia Music School and the Granoff School of Music for his formal vocal training. As he got older and continued singing, Paul’s popularity grew and led to appearances in jazz clubs and at college campuses nationally. He changed his birth name to ‘Billy Paul’ to avoid confusion with other music artists such as songwriter Paul Williams and saxophonist Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams. These early experiences led to further signing opportunities including appearing in concert with such music greats as Charlie “Bird” Parker, Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, The Impressions, Sammy Davis, Jr., Roberta Flack and a brief stint singing with the group Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes.

Paul was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1957, being stationed in Germany with rock and roll music legend Elvis Presley and actor/singer Gary Crosby (son of crooner Bing Crosby). Paul and [Gary] Crosby started a band called the Jazz Blues Symphony Band (whom he and Crosby tried to get Elvis to join) and sang with the 7th Army Band. These opportunities allowed Paul to continue his music passion until his dischargeBillie Holiday from military service when he resumed his professional singing career.

Paul was usually identified by his diverse vocal style which ranged from mellow and soulful to low and raspy. He once stated that his style of singing was particularly influenced by female blues and jazz singers like Nina Simone, Carmen McRae and Nancy Wilson and most especially by Billie Holiday, whom he said was his “biggest influence” in developing his vocal singing style.

Billy-Paul_Me and Mrs Jones_45 recordBilly Paul is best known for his U.S. top-charted 1972 hit, Me and Mrs. Jones. A classic confessional tale of infidelity, Paul’s unorthodox style enhanced the ballad’s sense of guilt.
Me and Mrs. Jones
would receive newfound attention decades later when singer Michael Bublé released a cover version in 2007. Other popular releases from Billy Paul include Thanks For Saving My Life (1974) and Let’s Make A Baby (1976) – a controversial song (of a few sung by Paul) at the time of its release whose lyrics drew the protest of Reverend Jesse Jackson and Operation PUSH who help lead the protest to ban or alter the track lyrics of the song due to its supposed or perceived “obscene and negative” message. Another hit was Paul’s 1977 cover of Let ’Em In (1977) – which was a soulful, funky adaptation cover of the original 1976 hit from [former Beatles member] Paul McCartney and his then-band ‘Wings’. Paul’s cover of Let ’Em In mentioned notable African-American figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Louis Armstrong in lieu of some of the people named in McCartney’s original.

Paul had continued to make excellent records long but his last chart entry to date came in 1980 with You’re My Sweetness. He recorded for Total Experience and Ichiban Records in the 1980s and would continue to perform throughout the world in addition to running his own production company. He announced his retirement in 1989 on stage while in London. However, like many artists before him, he could not resist the temptation to continue to play live shows and record.

Billy Paul-1Paul released fifteen albums (not counting a 1973 reissue of Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club) between 1968 and 1988. While he never again matched the mainstream success of Me and Mrs. Jones, he is recognized by many as a pioneer and important figure in soul music, known for his socially conscious lyrics. In 2008, Billy Paul was inducted into the Philadelphia Walk of Fame.

Billy Paul was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had been hospitalized the week before his death at Philadelphia’s Temple University Hospital. He was 81 when he transitioned on Sunday afternoon April 24, 2016 at his home in Blackwood, New Jersey.

We thank artist Billy Paul for his many years contribution to the music industry.

– RobFather X

(Excerpts of this transition bio were adapted from various sources.)
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© RobFather X! Productions

Remembering Prince (A Personal)

Facebook Profile-1I had been spending this entire Friday evening trying to select some of the best songs from Prince to play on my radio show later this morning. I confess: it has been very hard for me to do, especially for a show that’s just shy of being three hours long. I’m not worried about what Prince songs I’ll select for my playlist. You see, since my show Saturday At The Oldies W/The RobFather (SAO) has been LIVE on the air for the past eight years, I’ve always played music according to how I’m feeling on the day of the show. When I go on the air several hours from now it will be no different. Still, as I listen to various songs from Prince in the [limited] “Prince Music” category of my music library, I can’t help but have this continuing feeling of disbelief that Prince is gone. He’s GONE! When I woke yesterday morning Prince’s passing was the first thing on my mind.

I’ll never forget how I felt when James Brown died ten years ago. He was a lifelong favorite of mine since my childhood. (By the way, the 10th anniversary of the Godfather of Soul’s transition will be this December 25. James Brown (sm)Mark your calendar.) I haven’t forgotten the feeling of loss when Minnie [Riperton], Marvin [Gaye], Tupac [Shakur], Reverend James [Cleveland], Barry [White], Lou [Rawls], Luther [Vandross], Michael [Jackson], Teddy [Pendergrass], Teena [Marie], Walter [Hawkins], Bobby [Womack], Andraé [Crouch], Natalie [Cole], David [Bowie], Glenn [Frey] and Maurice [White], to name several of my favorites music artists who left us in their prime; at least in my 55 year-old mind any age younger than 80 is still prime. Sorry not sorry but I wasn’t that great a fan of [the late] Whitney [Houston]. Many people have and/or want to put her on the same level as Michael and Prince in terms of music greatness. Well, I mean no shade to the late Ms. Houston – who indeed has a place of iconic greatness in the music world but I can’t agree with that elevated appointment of glorified status. You see, I’m saving that spot for when the still-reigning Queen of Soul, Ms. Aretha Franklin transitions. And after Aretha transitions or perhaps before, Whitney’s status on the level of icon worship must still come after that of still-living music legends like Diana [Ross], Dionne [Warwick], Cher, Patti [LaBelle], Nancy [Wilson] and Elton [John] and several other music icons whose names escape me at the moment. Again, these are my personal assessment statuses; you’re free to observe your own.

I’m often reminded of my own mortality whenever my favorite music artists leave this existence. I’m not ashamed to admit that in recent years, it scares me a little but not for long. You see, as a non-religious man and atheist I’m kool with the inevitability of death but like anyone, I do not look forward to it. I want – and intend to live as long as I’m able.

Michael Jackson, PrinceI tell you; sometimes I play with the sick idea that guys like Michael and Prince were playing some kind of sick joke on us when each passed away respectively, but of course, I know better. I was a seventeen year-old young adult when Elvis [Presley] died and twenty years old when John [Lennon] was murdered but I recall each of those events of some forty years ago as though they had happened last week. I recall how many people reacted when Elvis and John transitioned. Some of them were feeling as I am now – bad – and having fantasies of denial which stems from one who received shocking newElvis Presley, John Lennons of the respective passing of their favorite and much-loved music (or television or film) legend. I remember well how the world mourned the deaths of Elvis and Lennon. At the time I had no idea that years after their deaths, I too would be struck by such feelings of loss, particularly for someone I had admired, whose music I loved but who I’d never met. I recall a number of neighbors, classmates and parents of friends who said that Elvis and John had intentionally dropped out of their respective limelight for a while because they simply got tired of dealing with their fame and need to take a long break. If that had been true of them I wonder if we would forgive them when they returned to the scene. Would we forgive Michael and Prince if they came back to us?

I did indeed finish drawing the tentative music playlist for today’s radio show. I had originally planned a tribute in honor of what would have been Luther Vandross 65th birthday. Sorry, Luther but many of my listeners will expect me to play Prince’s music today. They know that playing a song from Prince, Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF) and sometimes War is a mandatory weekly thing on my show and has been since Saturday At The Oldies W/The RobFather (SAO) premiered eight years ago. Since Prince had so much great music and my show is so short, I’ll to play at least two or three songs on each SAO show in the weeks to come. I’ll make it up to Luther in a future SAO show.

I’ll be wearing my purple golf shirt in honor of Prince when I go on the air today. It’s the least I can do in Prince’s honor. I think he will be pleased.

– RobFather X
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© RobFather X! Productions

 

Prince – Transition Controversy

Prince Controversy (re)
As expected, the GoFundMe requests from people to raise money to travel to Prince’s funeral and the “Illuminati” conspiracy theories surrounding the who and the why of his death have already begun. Actually, they began shortly after news of his death saturated social media networks yesterday. The man’s dead body hasn’t been cold a good 48 hours and already people are acting the fool. I’m not surprised. These happenings are simply part of or are in line with the kind of thing I talked about in my previous (and seemingly unpopular) posted article written yesterday regarding the Court of Public Speculation.

Until official toxicology reports are complete and a final cause of death is made to the public, I suppose we can expect about two, perhaps three to four more weeks of what I’m calling “speculation winter” surrounding the death of Prince Rogers Nelson. It’s déjà vu; we’ve been here before with Michael Jackson. Remember?
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If you are, as they say, “feeling some kind of way(Ugh; I’ve always hated that silly-ass phrase) and wish to send money to help someone go to Prince’s funeral – an event which, as of this post, has not yet been determined, I advise that you beware as to whom and where you send your (or someone else’s) money. As for the growing conspiracy theories about how Prince died and who or what caused his death, here’s my position:
Unless you have solid evidence to support your claims or that which “you heard” via Rumor Control, I would ask that you please save us your sloppy and amateurish detective work. And please stop referring to the so-called “Illuminati” as though you know who or what that is all about. Instead of thinking and conducting research of facts, some people read too damn much of the wrong thing and listen much too closely to the wrong people. Geez.

– RobFather X
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© RobFather X! Productions

The Passing of Prince and the Court of Public Speculation

For most of the day various news media outlets along with social media networks have been putting out slightly different versions of how Prince died and/or what caused his death. Prince- the hits -(just face)Some of the reports from those sources may have some truth but we can’t know for sure, at least not this soon (or as I write this article). There are reports saying Prince had been ill with the flu for several days. Some reports gave reference to a time when Prince admitted to having suffered with bouts of depression, while others are saying that because he is a Jehovah’s Witness, his religious beliefs kept him from getting or accepting medical treatment when it was needed. I saw one post today from someone who thinks Prince may have had a bout of depression that was so serious that he contemplated committing suicide. The person based his assumption on a news story that told of Prince inviting a bunch of people to his house recently. The person said that party was for Prince to say “farewell”, for unbeknownst to his houseguests, he had already planned on checking out from this life.
*sigh* I can’t with people on social media and their ignorant and still-unproven assumptions. Will everyone just shut the fuck up already?

CHECK IT: I think we should not speculate on what we heard, may have heard, are currently hearing, reading, have been told by someone or what we might assume happen (based on the word of someone else), concerning how Prince passed…that is, until a final and official coroner’s report is released and made public. That finding often takes a day or two, sometimes longer. As of this post, no final report has been issued regarding how Prince died. I don’t care what the news media is reporting. I recall similar speculations made and so-called “factual reports” issued years ago when Michael Jackson died. We all learned later what really happened to Michael, didn’t we?

Prince-concert-1I suggest we give it a few days or so and see what the official report is on how Prince died and what, if anything, caused his death. Until then, we need to take everything we read and/or hear this soon after his death with a grain of caution. Everyone – including Prince’s family, close friends and staff are most likely still in a state of shock. I know I am… and I never knew the man on any personal level! We must consider that there are people with certain self-interests who are eager and willing to publish or announce anything to the public simply to get attention and/or perhaps become “the source” of information…information which could be very wrong.

As I do concerning many things read or seen on television, the radio and most especially on the Internet and in social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, I warn against blindly accepting certain news, tabloid reports, rumors and hearsay, and against passing along that which has not yet been shown or proven as fact.

–RobFather X
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© RobFather X! Productions

TRANSITIONS: Prince

Prince transitioned today, Thursday, April 21, 2016.

Prince-solo (re)
Born Prince Rogers Nelson in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 7, 1958, Prince was an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and actor, serving as a major figure in popular music for over three decades. He was renowned as an innovator and was widely known for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence and wide vocal range. He was widely regarded as the pioneer of the Minneapolis sound. His music combined rock, R&B, soul, funk, hip hop, disco, psychedelia, jazz, and pop.

Prince developed an interest in music at an early age, writing his first song at age seven. After recording songs with his cousin’s band 94 East, the 19-year-old Prince recorded several unsuccessful demo tapes before releasing his debut album ‘For You’ in 1978. His 1979 album ‘Prince’ went platinum due to the success of the singles “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover“. His next three records ‘Dirty Mind’ (1980), ‘Controversy’ (1981), and ‘1999’ (1982) continued his success, showcasing Prince’s trademark of prominently sexual lyrics and incorporation of elements of funk, dance and rock music. In 1984, Prince began referring to his backup band as The Revolution and released ‘Purple Rain’ which served as the soundtrack to his film debut of the same name. A prolific songwriter, Prince in the 1980s wrote songs for a number of artists and produced work by many other acts, often under pseudonyms such as “Jamie Starr”, “Christopher”, “Joey Coco”, “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince” to name a few. In 1993, Prince changed his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol (O(+>) also known as the “Love Symbol”. In 2000, he began referring to himself as “Prince” again.

Prince sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. He won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, the first year of his eligibility. Rolling Stone magazine has ranked Prince at number 27 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.

Prince with love symbol guitar

My heart is broken over the news of Prince’s transition…a most original, talented, elegant and beautiful man. There will only be one Prince – one “Purple One”. Reports continue to be broadcast covering the life, career and passing of Prince. I suspect such reports will continue for days to come. Though I was a fan of Prince’s music, becoming such since his debut in 1978, I did not know the man on a personal basis – though I would have loved to! I cannot possibly give Prince’s transition, his life or his career and contributions to music, to the community and to the world the justice it so richly deserves in a Facebook post. I invite you…no, I encourage you to search the internet yourself and read and learn all you can about man named Prince. Those of you who consider yourselves “hardcore” fans of Prince should read too. You might learn something new about the man. Prince’s story is nothing short of fascinating.

Prince was 57 when he transitioned at his Paisley Park recording studio and home in Chanhassen, Minnesota, near Minneapolis, according to reports. Prince will be missed on the physical plane but his music and his very huge influence in various music genres will forever live on.

Thank you, Prince for enriching all of our lives through your music and talent. Rest in peace my good man.

– RobFather X
(Excerpts of this transition bio article were adapted from Wikipedia and other sources.)
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© RobFather X! Productions