Category: 1990s

Throwback: R.I.P. DMX

I was drinking coffee, chatting with mom and watching NY1 when we both heard the news of DMX’s tragic death at 50. As an artist, DMX had unparalleled success: he’s the few artists of any genre to have his first five albums debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 — and one of the few artists, who can claim two #1 albums on the Billboard charts in the same calendar year. Paraphrasing DMX, he locked down the industry on some ol’ power shit.

If you’re a hip-hop head, you know all the songs and you know about the man’s troubled backstory. My hope is that within the hip-hop community and within the Black community that we can start having serious conversations about how abuse, mental illness and addiction reverberate and impact everyone around us. If we love Earl Simmons, we need to do what we can to save the countless other Earl Simmons out there.

My heart aches for poor Earl and his family. And I also hope that we can wrap them up in the love that we have for DMX in their time of need.

In the meantime, DMX’s music has meant a lot to me — and to countless other fans. We love you Earl. And we’re going to miss you.

Throwback: Happy 77th Birthday, Diana Ross!

This week is a rather auspicious week in music history: Yesterday Elton John and Aretha Franklin shared a birthday. And today, the legendary Diana Ross turns 77, I firmly believe that we should celebrate our legends while we have them — and Diana Ross is one of the most influential and important out of the entire Motown Records universe.

So I thought the best to celebrate her birthday would be to post some throwback live footage of Ms. Ross doing her thing.

Throwback: Happy 53rd Birthday Damon Albarn!

Thanks to a friend’s music history blog, I was reminded that today is Blur frontman and Gorillaz mastermind Damon Albarn’s 53rd birthday. I’ve been a huge fan of Albarn’s genre-defying work with Gorillaz since their debut album back in 2001. I’ve even seen them twice: once at The Meadows Festival, on which was one of the best music festival days I’ve ever experienced and at the Barclay’s Center about a year later. Both shows were phenomenal displays of animation and some genre-defying, incredibly dance floor friendly material.

So for his 53rd birthday, I wanted to thank Albarn for creating some weird yet infectious music that’s part of my own life story. Thank you, man. Happy birthday! May there be many many more!

Throwback: Happy 88th Birthday Quincy Jones!

This weekend has proven to be a rather auspicious weekend for music and music history: Yesterday Roy Haynes celebrated his 96th birthday and the equally legendary Quincy Jones celebrates his 88th birthday today. Much like Haynes, Jones has worked with a who’s who of music. including Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and a lengthy list of others.

Of course, Jones has been behind some of the best-selling, most memorable and beloved songs of the past 60 years — including some very obvious ones. So it should be unsurprising that he is one of the most decorated producers, composers and arrangers of the past 60 years. But instead of the regular choices, I went with some earlier and more jazz-based work of Jones’ including some live footage shot in 1960 with his big band.

Happy birthday Quincy! Thank you for so much great music!

Throwback: Happy 96th Birthday, Roy Haynes!

Yesterday was the legendary Roy Haynes’ 96th birthday. Over the course of his 77 year career — yes, 77! — Haynes has played swing, bop, fusion and avant garde jazz with a who’s who of jazz, including Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughan, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, Oliver Nelson and a long list of others. And unsurprisingly because of such a lengthy and productive career, Haynes is one of the most recorded drummers in jazz history.

I had the pleasure and honor of photographing and watching the imitable legend play on a SummerStage bill that featured Ron Carter and McCoy Tyner. At the time, I believe that Haynes was around 91 and even in his advanced age, he was full of energy, charming and incredibly spry: during his set, he got up from his drum kit to tap dance and sing. I hope to have that kind of energy and joy if I get to that age! He’s also still regularly playing and touring. And if it wasn’t for the COVID pandemic, Haynes would have been playing his annual Blue Note residency to celebrate his birthday.

Happy birthday, Mr. Haynes! May there be many, many, many more!

Throwback: Happy 75th Birthday, David Gilmour!

This week has been an important week in music history:

The 48th anniversary of Dark Side of the Moon’s release was earlier this week — March 1.
David Gilmour’s birthday is today. The legendary Pink Floyd guitarist turns 75. He’s been behind some of my favorite albums and songs and I felt it was appropriate to celebrate his birthday with some live footage of Glamour and Pink Floyd. Happy birthday, David. May there be many, many more!

Throwback: Happy 77th Birthday, Roger Daltrey

One of the things you should probably know is that I’m a huge fan of The Who. Roger Daltrey has one of the most unique voices in rock. And as it turns out, yesterday was Daltrey’s 77th birthday. Happy birthday, Roger! May there be many, many, many more. Thank you and the band for music that has meant the world to me.

Throwback: Black History Month: Wu-Tang Clan

Today is February 28, 2021. It’s the last day of February and of Black History Month. Throughout the past month, I’ve featured Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of greens and styles — with the hopes that this series will serve as a sort of primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

While we’re at it, let’s remember the following:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

I’ve often said that hip-hop is the lingua franca of everyone under about 55 or so. And to that end, I’d almost guarantee that everyone from New York to Beijing, from Buenos Aires to Amsterdam from Johannesburg to New Delhi knows and loves the legendary Wu-Tang Cla