TRANSITIONS: Dick Gregory

_Dick Gregory (RFXP edit for Real Time article)

Dick Gregory was an American civil rights activist and icon, social critic, author, entrepreneur, stand-up comedian, and actor. He was born Richard Claxton Gregory in St. Louis, Missouri on October 12, 1932. Gregory was 84 when he transitioned in Washington, D.C. of heart failure.
(Click The New York Times to read article.)

– RobFather X

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TRANSITIONS: Kashif

Kashif (Kashif Saleem aka Michael Jones) – American multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, record producer, artist, composer, author, director and educator – transitioned on Sunday, September 25, 2016.

kashif-album-collage_created-by-robfather-x-2016-kashif-center
Kashif was born Michael Jones on December 26, 1959 in Harlem, New York and was raised in the Brooklyn foster care system. Under his given birth name Michael Jones, Kashif was a member of the music groups The Bus Boys and Artists United Against Apartheid, though he was/is best known for being with the 1970s American disco/funk band B.T. Express (originally named Brooklyn Transit Express). It was B.T. Express who recruited him at age 15 to be their keyboardist and vocalist. As Michael Jones, Kashif is credited with performing on B.T. Express song hits such as Express and Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied), among others.

Michael Jones/Kashif initially launched his career as a multi-instrumentalist. Among other instruments, he played the piano, flute, trumpet, saxophone and tuba. Kashif left B.T. Express in 1978 to begin pursuing a solo career in music. It was either during or shortly before this time when he studied Islam and would change his name from Michael Jones to Kashif Saleem. [‘Kashif’ is an Arabic name meaning “discoverer” and “inventor” and ‘Saleem’ means “one who comes in peace”.] While solo, Kashif used his talents to play keyboards for R&B music artist Stephanie Mills before segueing into studio work on projects with other R&B artists like Nona Hendryx, Gloria Gaynor, Melba Moore, Tavares and The Four Tops, among many others.

Kashif, who had already crafted his own distinctive sound (a sound I would know anywhere), would sign with Arista Records in 1983 where he enjoyed success as a solo artist. His signature use of synthesizer technology paired with lyrics of love and devotion helped defined urban sounds following the exit of disco music. This helped him earned several awards, including two Grammy nominations for his second album, ‘Send Me Your Love’ (1984) – which has long been and remains a personally loved, often-played favorite of mine and another nomination for his 1985 album ‘Condition of the Heart’. Together with fellow musical genius and famed recording artist Stevie Wonder, Kashif is considered a R&B pioneer and synthesizer master in urban music thanks to his precise synthesizer technology approach and the introduction of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) in his production work.

Kashif wrote and/or performed a number of successful songs for and/or with artists like Whitney Houston (‘Thinking About You’, ‘You Give Good Love’), Evelyn “Champagne” King (‘I’m In Love’, ‘Love Come Down’, ‘Betcha She Don’t Love You’, ‘Back to Love’), Howard Johnson (‘So Fine’), Meli’sa Morgan (‘Love Changes’), Stacy Lattisaw, Melba Moore, Average White Band, Jermaine Jackson, Janet Jackson, Barry White, Johnny Kemp, Mariah Carey, Dionne Warwick (‘Reservations for Two’), Al Jarreau, guitarist George Benson (‘Inside Love (So Personal)’), Will Downing, The Stylistics and others. Kashif is credited with launching the career of best-selling jazz saxophonist legend, Kenny G with whom he has written, played instruments and/or sang several songs. In addition to his work in music, Kashif is also a successful director and best-selling author of the book Everything You’d Better Know About The Record Industry.

As of this writing, reports say that Kashif apparently died of natural causes in his home in Venice, Los Angeles in California. However, the official cause of death has yet to be determined. Kashif Saleem was 56 years old.

Many of us remember Kashif and his music and are very grateful for the sharing of his talents and influence as well as the many musical and humanitarian contributions he has given to society.

REFERENCE NOTE: Excerpts of this transition biography were adapted or retrieved from various sources, including Soulwalking.co.uk (which, in my opinion, is usually a good “go-to” source of accurate information on R&B artists of color), Billboard.com, Vibe.com, IMDb.com and AllMusic.com, among others.

– RobFather X

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© RobFather X! Productions

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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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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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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