Rare Essence

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Rare Essence
Origin Washington, D.C., United States
Genres Go-go
Years active 1976–present
Labels Groove Records
Website http://www.rareessence.com/
Members Anthony "Redds" Williams
Andre "Whiteboy" Johnson
Michael "Funky Ned" Neal
John (Big Horn) Jones
James (Jas. Funk) Thomas
Mark (Godfather) Lawson
Rory (DC) Felton
David Green
Marky Owens
Benjamin (Scotty) Haskell
Lawrence (The Maniac) West
Michael Muse
Tyrone (Jungle Boogie) Williams
Donnell (D-Floyd) Floyd
Milton (Go-Go Mickey) Freeman
Byron (BJ) Jackson
Derek (DP) Paige
John (JB) Buchanan
Darrin "X" Fraiser
Quentin (Shorty Dud) Ivey
Darrell "Blue" Arrington
Michael Baker
Kent Wood
Roy Battle
Dave "32" Ellis
Eric "Bojack" Butcher
Past members Quinten "Footz" Davidson[1]
Meshell Ndegeocello[2]
Anthony "Little Benny" Harley

Rare Essence is an American go-go band from Washington, D.C.


From Foundation to 2000

The band developed when four childhood friends: Quentin "Footz" Davidson, Andre "Whiteboy" Johnson, Michael "Funky Ned" Neal and John Jones decided to form a go-go band. After school, the four young musicians gathered together and play top forty hits from such influential bands like Parliament/Funkadelic, Cameo, and Confunkshun in basements. Eventually, the band adapted more players and conformed to the go-go style and sound, which started in 1976. It was at that time that the band called on the assistance of Quinten's mother, Annie Mack, who became the band's first manager. Today, Rare Essence consists of 12 musicians, who play a range of instruments from the timbales to the bass guitar. They play up to six nights a week, travelling throughout the country.

Rare Essence accomplished noteworthy successful hits as "Body Moves", the hit album Live at Breeze's Metro Club, and the single "Lock-It" which was featured on the Strictly Business film soundtrack. The band's most successful single, "Work the Walls", reached #68 in the US Billboard R&B chart.

In 1993, Rare Essence had a deal with Andre Harrell, the president of Uptown Records, signed the group through Sean Combs, but the group's recordings did not do too well so that relationship fizzled.[3] Go-go fans complain that most studio recordings aren't "hitting it”, says the Chicago Reader. But there are some studio recordings that are out there and Rare Essence has sold upwards of 30,000. However, fans prefer to listen to recordings of live shows.[4]

In 1999 Rare Essence had some controversy basis that their song “Overnight Scenario” which was copied by Jay-Z in the song “Do It Again (Put your hands up)” and was the first single from Vol.3 the Life and Times of S. Carter. There is an hour to hour account in the song “Overnight Scenario”, and “Do it again” follows the same concept.[5] For example, Rare Essence's line was “Three in the Morning the Pancake House” while Jay-Z said “4 AM at the Waffle House”. The question was whether or not the problem should be called plagiarism or just similar concept. The group had been performing the song for most of the late 1990s and was very concerned about the copyright infringement that seemingly took place. Jay – Z’s defense was that go–go music is just remakes of other artists’ songs.

In 2009, Rare Essence performed at one of the inaugural balls. In 2012, the group collaborated with the Soul Rebels Brass Band during a Tribute to Chuck Brown on June 21, 2012 in Washington DC at the historic Howard Theatre which is re-opened in April 2012. Slick Rick was also on the tribute show.[6]

Notable Members

Band member Anthony (Little Benny) Harley died on May 30, 2010 in Washington, D.C. He was 46 years old.[7]


  1. ^ Jeter, Jon (1994-09-20). "Go-Go music pioneer Footz Davidson is found shot to death on P.G. road". The Washington Post. p. b.04. Retrieved 2010-06-01. 
  2. ^ Wiltz, Teresa (2005-06-19). "Meshell Ndegeocello Breaks Step With Pop". Washington Post. pp. N01. .
  3. ^ Cheng,Jeff.”Bang The Drum.”Vibe,November,2001,p.114.
  4. ^ Dugan, John. “It’s a D.C. Thing.” Chicago Reader, February 06, 2003.
  5. ^ “More money, more problems”.the411online.com.Date accessed: May 10, 2011.
  6. ^ "Soul Rebels at the Howard Theatre". Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Thedeadrockstarsclub.com - accessed May 2010

There was a Rare Essence, R&B singing group from Detroit Michigan in the 80's, who recorded at The Sound Suite Recording studio. They were on the indie record label, Major Records. They had a minor hits called "Disco Fever" and "Kin Kong." The Sound Suite was owned by Michael Grace and John Lewis, who were former Motown Engineers. They also had a sound stage where the artist could perform. Acts that were associated with the Sound Suite at that time were Enchantment, Parlet, Was Not Was, The ADC Band, The Crowd Pleasers, and The Fantastic Four.

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