Cameo (band)

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Cameo
Origin New York City, U.S.
Genres R&B, funk, soul, electro, hip hop
Years active 1974–present
Labels

Chocolate City, Atlanta Artists, Reprise
Way 2 Funky / Raging Bull

Crash / Private I[1]
Associated acts Bobby Brown, Will Smith, Ca$hflow, Charles Earland, East Coast, George Howard, Howard Kenney, L.A. Connection, M.C.B., Malemen, Mantra, Barbara Mitchell, Slapbak, The Reddings, Tity Brothers, Wynd Chymes, Mariah Carey
Members Larry Blackmon
Tomi Jenkins
Anthony Lockett
Aaron Mills
Charlie Singleton
Past members

Jeryl Bright
Michael Burnett
Thomas Campbell
Wayne Cooper
Merve de Peyer
Gary Dow
Eric Durham
Gregory Johnson
Kurt Jeter
John Kellogg
Kevin Kendrick
Arnett Leftenant
Nathan Leftenant
Damon Mendes
Stephen Moore
William Morris
Eric Nelson
Jeff Nelson
William Revis
Charles Sampson
Robert L. Smith
Melvin Wells


Additional tour members
Bruce Carter
Wayne Cobham
Darrell "Yogi" Dickerson
Keni Hairston
Jeff Nelson
Rayford Griffin
Jonathan Moffett

Cameo is an American soul-influenced funk group that formed in the early 1970s. Cameo was initially a 13-member group known as the New York City Players; this name was later changed to Cameo to avoid a lawsuit from Ohio Players,[citation needed] another group from that era.

As of 2009, some of the original members continue to perform together, while two others were hired by the hip hop group Outkast.[2] Cameo was a top R&B/Funk band in an era with notable peers such as: Rick James, Parliament-Funkadelic, Bar-Kays, Earth, Wind & Fire, Ohio Players, The Isley Brothers, etc. and singers like Marvin Gaye, Billy Paul, Prince, Isaac Hayes, Stevie Wonder, and Bootsy Collins.

History[edit]

In 1974, Cameo started out with 10 members created by Larry Blackmon and called the New York City Players. Signed by Casablanca Records to their Chocolate City imprint in 1976, the group soon changed its name to Cameo after concerns that New York City Players might cause confusion between them and the funk band Ohio Players. Prior to this, Blackmon, keyboardist Gregory Johnson, and the late Gwen Guthrie formed the band East Coast, together with James Wheeler (alto saxophone), Melvin Whay (bass), Michael Harris (percussion), and Haras Fyre (also known as Pat Grant) on trombone. They released one self-titled album in 1973 on the independent label Encounter.

Cameo started with a deep, funk sound, but it was obvious from the start their sights were set on the dance floor. Their first album was Cardiac Arrest. The first hit single "Rigor Mortis" was the start of Cameo's hit-studded career; it went gold. Ugly Ego, We All Know Who We Are, and Secret Omen contained dance floor songs such as "I Just Want To Be" and "Find My Way", the latter of which was a major disco smash and was included on the soundtrack to Thank God It's Friday. But the sleeper hit in the movie was "It's Serious".

The height of Cameo's career was in the 1980s, particularly Word Up! with its hits, "Word Up!" and "Candy". The writers of "Word Up", Cameo's biggest hit, were Larry Ernest Blackmon (founder and front man) and Thomas Michael Jenkins (member of the group).

Music career[edit]

By the time Cameosis came out in 1980, Cameo had gained considerable momentum through singles such as "Shake Your Pants". Albums such as 1981's Knights of the Sound Table and 1982's Alligator Woman saw the band playing up their eclectic style.

1985's album Single Life, featuring the title track and "Attack Me With Your Love" continued the band's momentum, paving the way for what was to come the following year. The song "Word Up!" hit the radio airwaves in mid-1986. Critically acclaimed with large amounts of club and radio airtime, the resulting album Word Up! turned Cameo into superstars. The follow-up tracks, "Candy" and "Back and Forth" were also huge hits for the funk trio.

Two years later, Cameo would release Machismo to lukewarm pop response but favorable critical reviews and R&B success. Kendricks left the band at this point. Next, 1990's Real Men... Wear Black and 1992's Emotional Violence failed to reach the same commercial success of Word Up!. By this time, after their departure from Polygram on to their new label, Reprise, Blackmon represented himself (besides his band activities and side productions) as A&R agent for this label, a division of Warner Bros. Records. It also saw the absence of Nathan Leftenant, but the return of guitarist Charlie Singleton as one of "main" members. Leftenant returned again for the next album, which they released on a new label (Way 2 Funky/Raging Bull), and recorded at their next headed location, Miami, Florida. In 1994 In the Face of Funk was released and got some club play, a single release, and at least one track that received critical acclaim (for "You Are My Love").

Present[edit]

Tomi Jenkins, who released his self-produced CD The Way in 2005, is writing and recording his follow-up EP. He is also the music supervisor/producer on the film Icemosis, the story of a 1970s fictional funk band. The film is in music production and they hope to have the film released in 2013. He is also the author of a murder mystery entitled "Crime, Love and Honor" which he is autographing and selling at concerts.

Aaron Mills continues to tour with Cameo as well as other artists. He has worked with Andre 3000 and Big Boi to record a bassline for "Ms. Jackson".

Ex-Cameo vocalist John Kellogg became an entertainment lawyer representing such hit artists as the O'Jays, the late Gerald Levert and LSG. He also pursued a career in music industry higher education, becoming Assistant Chair of the Music Business/Management department at one of the world's leading institutions of contemporary music, Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.

Larry Blackmon & Tomi Jenkins recorded the next Cameo album with a tentative release scheduled for late fall 2012 or early 2013.

Gregory B. Johnson has released 2 CD's on his own label, Allspice Record Co. "A New Hip" which is a smooth Jazz CD in 2007. "Funk Funk (Just For A Little Time)" in 2012 which is an urban funk CD.

Discography[edit]

Main article: Cameo discography

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Private I Records – CDs and Vinyl at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  2. ^ Griffith, Spencer. "Bassist Aaron Mills' best years may be ahead of him | Music Feature | Independent Weekly". Indyweek.com. Retrieved 2012-01-13. 

External links[edit]