Charles Stepney

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Charles Stepney
BornMarch 26, 1931
Chicago, Illinois, United States
DiedMay 17, 1976(1976-05-17) (aged 45)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
GenresSoul, R&B, modern classical
Occupation(s)Record Producer
Arranger
Conductor
InstrumentsVibraphone, piano, keyboards, guitar, drums
Years active1957–1976
LabelsChess
Columbia
Associated actsThe Dells, Rotary Connection, Earth, Wind & Fire, Terry Callier, Ramsey Lewis, Maurice White and Minnie Riperton

Charles Stepney (March 26, 1931– May 17, 1976) was an American record producer, arranger, songwriter and musician. Stepney is noted for his work with artistes such as The Dells, Ramsey Lewis, Rotary Connection and Earth, Wind & Fire.[1][2][3]

Career[edit]

During the mid 1960s Charles Stepney and Marshall Chess, son of Chess Records co-founder Leonard Chess, created the band Rotary Connection. Stepney went on to produce the group on the Chess vanity label Cadet Concept.[4] These were their 1967 self titled debut album, 1968's Aladdin and Peace LPs and 1969's release Songs. He also produced the group's 1970 album Dinner Music and 1971 LP Hey Love.[1]

Stepney went on to produce Rotary Connection lead singer Minnie Riperton's 1970 debut album Come to My Garden. Commenting on Minnie at the time he said that she "has a soprano range of about four octaves, a whole lot of soul, she's good-looking and she's got the experience of Rotary behind her."[5] During 1970 Stepney also wrote, produced and conducted a Classical Jazz Symphony entitled "Cohesion". "Cohesion" was performed by the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Ramsey Lewis Trio and Minnie Riperton in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[4]

Stepney began producing soul group The Dells on their 1968 album There Is. He later produced the group's 1969 release Love is Blue and their 1971 LPs Like It Is, Like It Was and Freedom Means.[1]

Stepney began to collaborate with the Ramsey Lewis Trio as a producer on their 1968 LP Maiden Voyage. He also arranged on the Trio's 1968 album Mother Nature's Son and 1969 LP Another Voyage. With the Trio was a young drummer named Maurice White who in prior played with Chess Records. White went on to found and lead a new band called Earth, Wind & Fire. Stepney eventually worked as an associate producer on the band's 1974 release Open Our Eyes.[1]

He then performed on Ramsey Lewis's 1974 album Sun Goddess and produced his 1975 LP Don't It Feel Good. Additionally Stepney coproduced with Maurice on Earth, Wind & Fire's 1975 albums That's the Way of the World and Gratitude. Stepney then went about coproducing with White on EWF's 1976 album Spirit, Ramsey Lewis's 1976 LP Salongo, The Emotions 1976 album Flowers and Deniece Williams's 1976 LP This Is Niecy.[1][6]

Stepney is also credited as a musician/producer on several other albums. These include:

[1][7]

Death[edit]

The song "Spirit" was intended to uplift Stepney's spirit and to show all the gratitude that Earth, Wind & Fire had towards him. However, Stepney never got to hear the song. Maurice White spoke to Stepney on the morning of May 17, 1976, but later that day, Earth, Wind & Fire keyboardist Larry Dunn received a phone call, informing him that Stepney had died of a heart attack.

Influence and legacy[edit]

Artists such as Ramsey Lewis, Stevie Wonder, Deniece Williams, Chaka Khan, 4hero, Jean-Paul 'Bluey' Maunick, Zero 7, Elton John, Gilles Peterson & Terry Callier have been influenced by Stepney.[4][1] Stepney is survived by his wife Rubie and his three daughters Eibur, Charlene and Chante.

See also[edit]

Discography[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Eddie Harris

With Ramsey Lewis

As arranger[edit]

With Ramsey Lewis

With Eddie Harris

With Minnie Riperton

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Charles Stepney". AllMusic.
  2. ^ "Charles Stepney". Discogs.com. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  3. ^ "Charles Stepney Chicago's Most Prolific Man of Music". Schillingersociety.com. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c [1] Archived January 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Black, Edwin (November 26, 1970). "For The Record: Charles Stepney". Downbeat Magazine. Archived from the original on February 25, 2005. Retrieved May 8, 2009.
  6. ^ "Ramsey Lewis: Don't It Feel Good". 45worlds.com.
  7. ^ "Charles Stepney legendary composer/arranger/producer who was behind some of the most spiritual albums to come out of the chicago/cadet school..." Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on March 24, 2005.

External links[edit]