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50 years ago, this month R&B Voices of the 1967 Riots

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50 years ago, this month R&B Voices of the 1967 Riots cover

50 years ago, this month

R&B Voices of the 1967 Race Riots

This is just a short piece to acknowledge the 50th anniversary.

Before the Newark and Detroit riots, the 1July 8th 1967 Billboard reported…“the record industry will be a focal point of a campaign attempting to ease racial tensions during the so- called "long hot summer days". Clyde Otis spearheaded the drive to enlist record company support to supply DJ’s with special ’public service records’ that will get a message of brotherhood and good -will across to the listener. Columbia VP Bill Gallagher and Mercury Records executive Charlie Fach okayed “Take A Look", Aretha Franklin and “This Bitter Earth”, Dina Washington. Neither planned to release these records for commercial sale.

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The A&R issues and assignations of the Motown Corporation during the 1967 Detroit riots are well documented - as dealt with by Stuart Cosgrove in his book Detroit 67 The Year That Changed Soul.

But what might be overlooked is one of the other 100+ civil disturbances in 128 American cities that happened in 1967. Newark. July 12th-17th.

The Newark riots/rebellion was 12 days or so before Detroit. And 26 died.

The Band Leader

2On the night of July 12, 1967 Clement and Bonnie Moorman were driving home from a gig at the Governor Morris Hotel in Morristown, New Jersey. “As we came home,” he recollects, “we had to come through Irvington. The National Guard was there on the streets and they had their machine guns and everything. You had to show identification, and you had to reach very carefully because they were trained to shoot”.

Clement Moorman was one of the Piccadilly Pipers. A Newark band.

https://www.discogs.com/artist/891081-The-Piccadilly-Pipers

The Pipers included Moorman on piano, Al Henderson on bass, Ernie Ransome on guitar and Bonnie Davis on vocals (she was the mother of singer Melba Moore). Several tracks were recorded including "Don't Stop Now" which on March 6, 1943, reached no.1 on the "Harlem Hit Parade", which was later renamed the R&B Chart. Eventually they recorded several songs on Melmar. Right after the Melmar recordings, Ernie Ransome left the Pipers and by November of 1954, Ernie was appearing, in Philadelphia, with a group called the Tempos, (assumed perhaps to be those of ‘Why don’t you write me’ Bofuz 1106 or USA Records 810).

The DJ

One of the criticisms of R&B radio stations during the outbreaks of violence and destruction of that long hot summer was their total dis-involvement. 3Thus, all the stronger spotlight should be played on the role of a Negro deejay -and a woman, at that-during the recent Detroit riots. Although threatened by radical elements, Martha Jean Steinberg of WJLB continued on the air, pleading for peace and pleading for her listeners to keep calm. And this first lady of R&B radio has an enormous radio following. It has been said that, without her efforts, the Detroit disaster might have been much, much worse”.

The Stores

According to local sources, many of the record and high- fidelity shops are out of business. Some, virtually destroyed by fire, looting and general destruction will not reopen.

According to one source, 4Clinton Music Shop and Red Top, a one -stop, are two stores which have shut their doors permanently”.

3Siegal, Kimberly, "Silent No Longer: Voices of the 1967 Newark Race Riots" 10 July 2006.CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania, http://repository.upenn.edu/curej/31.



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I'm not sure if Themroc is being sarcastic or not with his "Putting the politics back into the music at last!" but for me the article was both timely and appropriate. I don't think you can separate out music from the social or political context of its creation - and that is especially the case for Afro American music like soul during the Civil Rights struggles of the 60s and the huge inequalities of the Vietnam War. So I'm grateful to KenB for writing the article.

I'm sorry there was no mention of the problems in Los Angeles during this period when Watts was ablaze for several days. For a very perceptive take on the causes of the problems in LA I don't think you can do better than Johnny Otis' excellent book "The Silence Of The Lambs".

Finally from me I am surprised by Chess1458's use of the phrase "both sides" in his comment on this subject. I do not think it is either helpful or relevant here even if it is well meant. But I do agree with his view that it was a "dark time".  

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Detroit -- July 67 .... these riots, MLK's assassination & the riots that followed + the Vietnam war both changed soul music in major ways .... 

 

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Baltimore -- April 68 

Most ghetto riots kicked off around this time because of MLK's death (the Detroit riots were different as heavy handed white cops raiding an after-hours black bar caused those) ...  Many black owned stores / businesses were torched / looted. Record stores & warehouses were wrecked & looted. Clubs were closed (even if not damaged) as martial law was imposed. Many clubs stayed closed for some weeks as no one was going out late at night. Some venues were destroyed but even some of those that weren't attacked went out of business in the aftermath of the riots.

Kenny Hamber told me that he & his group had been in Philly cutting some tracks that day & as they had been busy they didn't realise what had gone on. As they headed back to Baltimore in a van full of instruments / amps, they were soon pulled over by police / national guard units on the look-out for looters. It was only after the studio was phoned & confirmed their story, that they were allowed to head off to Balto. Needless to say, when they arrived back in the city, it was in flames.

 

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The riots in Baltimore started on the Saturday following MLK's murder & they continued non-stop for around 5 days. By that time, many parts of the city were in ruins. Just a couple of days later, the Impressions & their revue were booked to play a big local show. As it would have been just about impossible for the group to get to the city at that time, I'm sure the show was cancelled. I've also no idea if the big show planned @ the Civic Centre went ahead.

This Balto show was to be staged at the same time that the Impressions were getting started on breaking from ABC Records and setting up Curtom. I guess they already had some acts lined up to join the new label and some of these just might have formed parts of their revue show back at that time.  

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10 hours ago, sirshambling said:

I'm not sure if Themroc is being sarcastic or not with his "Putting the politics back into the music at last!" but for me the article was both timely and appropriate. I don't think you can separate out music from the social or political context of its creation - and that is especially the case for Afro American music like soul during the Civil Rights struggles of the 60s and the huge inequalities of the Vietnam War. So I'm grateful to KenB for writing the article.

I'm sorry there was no mention of the problems in Los Angeles during this period when Watts was ablaze for several days. For a very perceptive take on the causes of the problems in LA I don't think you can do better than Johnny Otis' excellent book "The Silence Of The Lambs".

Finally from me I am surprised by Chess1458's use of the phrase "both sides" in his comment on this subject. I do not think it is either helpful or relevant here even if it is well meant. But I do agree with his view that it was a "dark time".  

Sarcastic why would you think that? This forum always had a policy of political neutrality which has always gone against the understanding of a dialectical process in popular black music. Also that process should inform our understanding of current political form, you can't love the music and vote UKIP or bang on about immigration. 

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27 minutes ago, themroc said:

Sarcastic why would you think that? This forum always had a policy of political neutrality which has always gone against the understanding of a dialectical process in popular black music. Also that process should inform our understanding of current political form, you can't love the music and vote UKIP or bang on about immigration. 

I don't vote UKIP, but I don't see why you cant love "the music" if you do. Can people only "love the music" if they share your political views?

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On 09/07/2017 at 08:46, sirshambling said:

I'm not sure if Themroc is being sarcastic or not with his "Putting the politics back into the music at last!" but for me the article was both timely and appropriate. I don't think you can separate out music from the social or political context of its creation - and that is especially the case for Afro American music like soul during the Civil Rights struggles of the 60s and the huge inequalities of the Vietnam War. So I'm grateful to KenB for writing the article.

I'm sorry there was no mention of the problems in Los Angeles during this period when Watts was ablaze for several days. For a very perceptive take on the causes of the problems in LA I don't think you can do better than Johnny Otis' excellent book "The Silence Of The Lambs".

Finally from me I am surprised by Chess1458's use of the phrase "both sides" in his comment on this subject. I do not think it is either helpful or relevant here even if it is well meant. But I do agree with his view that it was a "dark time".  

Do you perhaps mean "Listen to the lambs"?

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