Don McLean, in his epic “American Pie”, sings of “the day the music died” commemorating February 3 1959, the tragic day the plane carrying Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper crashed. Well, this was the WEEK the music died with the loss of, not one, but four icons of ’70’s music. In the words of Dorothy Parker, “What fresh hell is this??”
First to pass was my dear friend, the amazing vocalist Belita Woods. Belita first hit the scene with the group Brainstorm, who has the #1 ’70’s Disco hit “Loving Was Really My Game” and one of my very favorite slow songs of all time “This Must Be Heaven.“ (If you haven’t heard the latter you simply must. It is one of the best slow dance and make out songs of all time and Belita’s soaring vocals just make it. Click the link and be prepared to fall in love with this track.) Without knowing it, I loved Belita before I even knew her! Then we met through her 20+ years as a member of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. Belita was the funniest, nastiest, most hilarious woman I have ever had the honor to hang with and I will very dearly miss her. We used to have great party times backstage at George Clinton shows and she was wild and wacky. We danced on stage with me even dancing on a speaker at a frat party in Philly along side the band. Once time I gifted her with a whip that she took on stage and started spanking everybody with and she used to have the best snarky witticisms about everything. And that raspy laugh was so infectious that you would crack up just hearing it. Belita loved so deeply. You could genuinely feel and see the love she had in her heart for her band mates and all the other very lucky people invited to climb aboard, the inner sanctums of the magical Mothership, in each town. I quite frankly can’t imagine what it is going to be like to see the band without her. Having lost my Mom and five other musical friends in thirteen months, I am still not even processing that she too is gone too soon.
As if God decided he wanted to throw the funkiest of parties on a Monday, Chuck Brown, the Godfather of Go-Go, died the same day as Belita! I met Chuck and his band the Soul Searchers many moons ago when I was the hostess, in charge of both the guests and the bands, at the now closed Tramps. (I met Belita and Parliament in the same venue.) That was back when I first arrived in New York in the nineties and New York was still New York! Tramps was an incredible club because the booker, Steve Weiss was awesome. In a typical week on the main stage, you could see an eclectic schedule like George Clinton and Parliament, Willie Nelson, Teena Marie (who I also hung with and we lost this year), Arthur Lee and Love, The Time, and Desmond Dekker, and Billy J0 Shaver! Then in the backroom, there were all these legendary underground blues cats, like Louisiana Red, (who offered to buy me some diamonds and rubies) and Lucky Peterson. Tramps was the best music venue in NY and unfortunately there is nothing quite like it now. Anyway, one night Chuck came to Tramps to conquer the city with the sound he created in DC, Go-Go! He was a cool cat and a very funky dude and I had a real blast hanging with him and his crew. Just try to not to dance when you drop “Busting Loose“. Your ass will take off on its own! And for a real look at versatile Chuck was, check out his work with Eva Cassidy, which I only discovered on You Tube after he passed.
The week of musical loss continued with the passing of the Queen of Disco, Donna Summers. Although I never met Donna, her music evokes so many memories in me as it harkens back to such a happy time in my Life – those wonderful disco days of my youth. And to end this dreadful week with the loss of Robin Gibb is too much to take. I LOVED the Bee Gees as a child and even loved their pre-Saturday Night Fever tracks, like “To Love Somebody” and “I Started a Joke”. My heart goes out to Barry, the last remaining Bee Gee, who has now tragically lost all three of his brothers.
Rest in beautiful rhythm all you incredible, wonderful, talented, joyful angels of music. You will fortunately live on forever through your great works and the love we all have for you.
And in a side note, while it wasn’t a death it certainly felt like one, to watch Joshua Ledet, the most talented and polished of any American ldol contestant in the 11 seasons of the show, be voted off in favor of two far inferior singers! It was certainly the final nail in the coffin of Idol viewing in my household. J-Lo would be smart to get out now. The show has jumped the shark and has no further credibility after this fiasco. They might as well skip the cheesy finale. Everyone, with even half an ear for music, knows who the real winner should’ve been!