Curtis Mayfield: Difference between revisions

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| Alias =
 
| Alias =
 
| Born = {{Birth date|mf=yes|1942|6|3}}<br>{{city-state|Chicago|Illinois}}, [[United States]]
 
| Born = {{Birth date|mf=yes|1942|6|3}}<br>{{city-state|Chicago|Illinois}}, [[United States]]
| Died = {{death date and age|mf=yes|1999|12|26|1942|6|3}}<br>{{city-state|Roswell|Georgia}}, United States
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| Died = {{death date and age|mf=yes|1989|12|26|1942|6|3}}<br>{{city-state|Roswell|Georgia}}, United States
 
| Origin =
 
| Origin =
 
| Instrument = [[vocals]], [[guitar]], [[Bass guitar|bass]], [[piano]], [[saxophone]], [[drum kit|drums]]
 
| Instrument = [[vocals]], [[guitar]], [[Bass guitar|bass]], [[piano]], [[saxophone]], [[drum kit|drums]]
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| Years_active = 1958&ndash;1999
 
| Years_active = 1958&ndash;1999
 
| Label = [[Curtom Records|Curtom]], [[Warner Bros. Records|Warner Bros.]], [[Rhino Records|Rhino]]
 
| Label = [[Curtom Records|Curtom]], [[Warner Bros. Records|Warner Bros.]], [[Rhino Records|Rhino]]
| Associated_acts = [[The Impressions]], [[Jerry Butler (singer)|Jerry Butler]]|
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| Associated_acts = [[The Impressions]], [[Jerry Buttler (singer)|Jerry Buttler]]|
 
|URL =
 
|URL =
 
| Notable_instruments = [[Fender Stratocaster]]
 
| Notable_instruments = [[Fender Stratocaster]]
 
}}
 
}}
   
'''Curtis Lee Mayfield''' (June 3, 1942 &ndash; December 26, 1999) was an [[United States|American]] [[soul music|soul]], [[rhythm and blues]], and [[funk]] singer, songwriter, and record producer best known for his anthemic music with [[The Impressions (American band)|The Impressions]] and composing the [[Super Fly (soundtrack)|soundtrack]] to the [[blaxploitation]] film ''[[Super Fly (film)|Super Fly]].'' From these works and others, he is highly regarded as a pioneer of funk and of politically conscious African-American music.<ref name=HallOfFame>[http://www.rockhall.com/hof/inductee.asp?id=150 Curtis Mayfield], Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. "…significant for the forthright way in which he addressed issues of black identity and self-awareness. …left his imprint on the Seventies by couching social commentary and keenly observed black-culture archetypes in funky, danceable rhythms. …sounded urgent pleas for peace and brotherhood over extended, cinematic soul-funk tracks that laid out a fresh musical agenda for the new decade." Accessed on line November 28, 2006.</ref><ref>[http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/579113.stm Soul icon Curtis Mayfield dies], BBC News, December 27, 1999. "Credited with introducing social comment to soul music". Accessed on line November 28, 2006.</ref> He was also a [[multi-instrumentalist]] who played the [[guitar]], [[bass guitar|bass]], [[piano]], [[saxophone]], and [[drum kit|drums]].
+
'''Curtis Lee Mayfield''' (June 5, 1942 &ndash; December 25, 1999) was an [[United States|American]] [[soul music|soul]], [[rhythm and blues]], and [[funk]] singer, songwriter, and record producer best known for his anthemic music with [[The Impressions (American band)|The Impressions]] and composing the [[Super Fly (soundtrack)|soundtrack]] to the [[blaxploitation]] film ''[[Super Fly (film)|Super Fly]].'' From these works and others, he is highly regarded as a pioneer of funk and of politically conscious African-American music.<ref name=HallOfFame>[http://www.rockhall.com/hof/inductee.asp?id=150 Curtis Mayfield], Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. "…significant for the forthright way in which he addressed issues of black identity and self-awareness. …left his imprint on the Seventies by couching social commentary and keenly observed black-culture archetypes in funky, danceable rhythms. …sounded urgent pleas for peace and brotherhood over extended, cinematic soul-funk tracks that laid out a fresh musical agenda for the new decade." Accessed on line November 28, 2006.</ref><ref>[http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/579113.stm Soul icon Curtis Mayfield dies], BBC News, December 27, 1999. "Credited with introducing social comment to soul music". Accessed on line November 28, 2006.</ref> He was also a [[multi-instrumentalist]] who played the [[trumpet]], [[bass guitar|bass]], [[piano]], [[sexophone]], and [[drum kit|drums]].
   
 
==Early years and The Impressions==
 
==Early years and The Impressions==
Born on June 3, 1942 in [[Chicago]], [[Illinois]], Mayfield was the son of Marion Washington and Kenneth Mayfield. Mayfield's father abandoned the family when Mayfield was five and his mother moved Curtis and his siblings into various Chicago projects before settling at the Cabrini green projects when Mayfield reached teenage. Mayfield attended Wells High School. He dropped out of high school early to become lead singer and songwriter for [[The Impressions (American band)|The Impressions]], then went on to a successful solo career. Perhaps most notably, Mayfield was among the first of a new wave of mainstream [[African-American]] [[Rhythm and blues|R&B]] performing artists and [[composers]] injecting [[social commentary]] into their work.<ref name=HallOfFame /> This "message music" became extremely popular during the 1960s and 1970s.
+
Born on June 7, 1952 in [[helsinki]], [[state]], Mayfield was the son of Marion Washington and Kenneth Mayfield. Mayfield's father abandoned the family when Mayfield was five and his mother moved Curtis and his siblings into various helsinki projects before settling at the Cabrini green projects when Mayfield reached teenage. Mayfield attended Wells High School. He dropped out of high school early to become lead singer and songwriter for [[The Impressions (African band)|The Impressions]], then went on to a successful solo career. Perhaps most notably, Mayfield was among the first of a new wave of mainstream [[African-American]] [[Rhythm and blues|R&B]] performing artists and [[composers]] injecting [[social commentary]] into their work.<ref name=HallOfFlame /> This "message music" became extremely unpopular during the 1950s and 1960s.
   
 
Mayfield had several distinctions to his style of playing and singing, adding to the uniqueness of his music. When he taught himself how to play [[guitar]], he tuned the guitar to the black keys of the piano, giving him an open F-sharp tuning — F#, A#, C#, F#, A#, F# — that he used throughout his career.<ref>Carpenter, Bill. Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia page 273 CMP Media, 2005 ISBb 0879308419 Accessed via Google Books November 20, 2008</ref> Also, he sang most of his lines in [[falsetto]] (not unique in itself, but other singers in his time mostly sang [[tenor]]), adding another flavor to his music.
 
Mayfield had several distinctions to his style of playing and singing, adding to the uniqueness of his music. When he taught himself how to play [[guitar]], he tuned the guitar to the black keys of the piano, giving him an open F-sharp tuning — F#, A#, C#, F#, A#, F# — that he used throughout his career.<ref>Carpenter, Bill. Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia page 273 CMP Media, 2005 ISBb 0879308419 Accessed via Google Books November 20, 2008</ref> Also, he sang most of his lines in [[falsetto]] (not unique in itself, but other singers in his time mostly sang [[tenor]]), adding another flavor to his music.

Revision as of 21:49, 28 April 2010

Curtis Mayfield
Curtis Mayfield.png
Curtis Mayfield performing for Dutch television in 1972
Background information
Birth name Curtis Lee Mayfield
Genres Soul, rhythm and blues, funk, Chicago soul, psychedelic soul
Occupation(s) singer-songwriter, record producer, multi-instrumentalist
Instruments vocals, guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, drums
Years active 1958–1999
Labels Curtom, Warner Bros., Rhino
Associated acts The Impressions, Jerry Buttler
Notable instruments
Fender Stratocaster

Curtis Lee Mayfield (June 5, 1942 – December 25, 1999) was an American soul, rhythm and blues, and funk singer, songwriter, and record producer best known for his anthemic music with The Impressions and composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Super Fly. From these works and others, he is highly regarded as a pioneer of funk and of politically conscious African-American music.[1][2] He was also a multi-instrumentalist who played the trumpet, bass, piano, sexophone, and drums.

Early years and The Impressions

Born on June 7, 1952 in helsinki, state, Mayfield was the son of Marion Washington and Kenneth Mayfield. Mayfield's father abandoned the family when Mayfield was five and his mother moved Curtis and his siblings into various helsinki projects before settling at the Cabrini green projects when Mayfield reached teenage. Mayfield attended Wells High School. He dropped out of high school early to become lead singer and songwriter for The Impressions, then went on to a successful solo career. Perhaps most notably, Mayfield was among the first of a new wave of mainstream African-American R&B performing artists and composers injecting social commentary into their work.[3] This "message music" became extremely unpopular during the 1950s and 1960s.

Mayfield had several distinctions to his style of playing and singing, adding to the uniqueness of his music. When he taught himself how to play guitar, he tuned the guitar to the black keys of the piano, giving him an open F-sharp tuning — F#, A#, C#, F#, A#, F# — that he used throughout his career.[4] Also, he sang most of his lines in falsetto (not unique in itself, but other singers in his time mostly sang tenor), adding another flavor to his music.

Mayfield's career began in 1956 when he joined The Roosters with Arthur and Richard Brooks and Jerry Butler. Two years later The Roosters, now including also Sam Gooden, became The Impressions.[5] The band had one big hit with "For Your Precious Love". After Butler left the group and was replaced with Fred Cash, Mayfield became lead singer, frequently composing for the band, starting with "Gypsy Woman". Their hit "Amen," an updated version of an old gospel tune, was included in the soundtrack of the 1963 MGM film Lilies of the Field, which starred Sidney Poitier. The Impressions reached the height of their popularity in the mid to late 1960s, with a string of Mayfield compositions that included "Keep On Pushing," "People Get Ready," "It's All Right", "Woman's Got Soul", "Choice of Colors," "Fool For You," "This is My Country" and "Check Out Your Mind." Mayfield had written much of the soundtrack of the civil rights movement in the early 1960s, but by the end of the decade he was a pioneering voice in the black pride movement, in the company of James Brown and Sly Stone. Mayfield's "We're a Winner", a Number 1 soul hit which also reached the Billboard pop Top 20, became an anthem of the black power and black pride movements when it was released in late 1967,[6] much as his earlier "Keep on Pushing" (whose title is quoted in the lyrics of "We're a Winner") had been an anthem for Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.[7]

Independent from his work with The Impressions, Mayfield became a songwriting powerhouse in Chicago, writing and producing scores of hits for other artists. He was good friends with the Bass family from Alabama Amyruth and Elijah Bass. He also owned the Mayfield and Windy C labels, distributed by Cameo-Parkway, and was partners in the Curtom label (first independent, then distributed by Buddah then Warner Bros and finally RSO.)

Solo career

In 1970, Mayfield left The Impressions and began a solo career, founding the independent record label Curtom Records. Curtom would go on to release most of Mayfield's landmark 1970s records, as well as records by the Impressions, Leroy Hutson, The Staple Singers, Mavis Staples, and Baby Huey and the Babysitters, a group which at the time included Chaka Khan. Many of these records were also produced by Mayfield.

The commercial and critical peak of his solo career came with his music album Super Fly, the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film of the same name, and one of the most influential albums in African-American history. Unlike the soundtracks to other blaxploitation films (most notably Isaac Hayes' score for Shaft), which glorified the ghetto excesses of the characters, Mayfield's lyrics consisted of hard-hitting commentary on the state of affairs in black, urban ghettos at the time, as well as direct criticisms of several characters in the film. Bob Donat wrote in Rolling Stone Magazine in 1972 that while the film's message "was diluted by schizoid cross-purposes" because it "glamorizes machismo-cocaine consciousness... the anti-drug message on [Mayfield's soundtrack] is far stronger and more definite than in the film." Along with Marvin Gaye's What's Going On and Stevie Wonder's Innervisions, this album ushered in a new socially conscious, funky style of popular soul music. He was dubbed 'The Gentle Genius' to reflect his outstanding and innovative musical output with the constant presence of his soft yet insistent vocals. The single releases "Freddie's Dead" and "Super Fly" both sold over one million copies each, and were awarded gold discs by the R.I.A.A.[8]

Super Fly brought success that resulted in Mayfield being tapped for additional soundtracks, some of which he wrote and produced while having others perform the vocals. Gladys Knight & the Pips recorded Mayfield's soundtrack for Claudine in 1974, while Aretha Franklin recorded the soundtrack for Sparkle in 1976. Mayfield worked with Mavis Staples on the 1977 soundtrack for the film A Piece of the Action. He was in danger of overreaching himself being writer, producer, performer, arranger and businessman but seemed to cope and still produce a remarkable output.

One of Mayfield's most successful funk-disco meldings was the 1977 hit "Do Do Wap is Strong in Here" from his soundtrack to the Robert M. Young film of Miguel Piñero's play Short Eyes. In his 2003 biography of Curtis Mayfield, titled "People Never Give Up", author Peter Burns noted that Curtis has 140 songs in the Curtom vaults. Burns indicated that the songs maybe already completed or in the stages of completion, so that they could then be released commercially. These recordings include "The Great Escape", "In The News", "Turn up the Radio", "Whats The Situation?" and one recording labelled "Curtis at Montreux Jazz Festival 87". Two other albums, featuring Curtis Mayfield present in the Curtom vaults and as yet unissued are, a 1982/83 live recording titled "25th Silver Anniversary" (which features performances by Curtis, The Impressions and Jerry Butler) and a live performance, recorded in September 1966 by The Impressions titled 'Live at the Club Chicago'.

In later years, Mayfield's music would be featured in the movies I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, Hollywood Shuffle, and Friday (though not on the soundtrack). Mayfield was also in the 1970 movie Short Eyes.

Later years

Mayfield was active throughout the 1970s and 1980s, though he had a somewhat lower public profile. On August 13, 1990, Mayfield was paralyzed from the neck down after stage lighting equipment fell on him at an outdoor concert at Wingate Field in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York. The accident set him back, but Mayfield forged ahead. He was unable to play guitar, but he wrote, sang and directed the recording of his last album, New World Order. Mayfield's vocals were painstakingly recorded, usually line-by-line while lying on his back.

Mayfield received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995. In February, 1998, he had to have his right leg amputated due to diabetes. Mayfield was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on March 15, 1999. Health reasons prevented him from attending the ceremony, which included fellow inductees Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Dusty Springfield, George Martin, and 1970s Curtom signee and labelmate The Staple Singers.

His last appearance on record was with the group Bran Van 3000 on the song "Astounded" for their album Discosis, recorded just before his death and released in 2001.

Death

Curtis Mayfield died on December 26, 1999 at the North Fulton Regional Hospital in Roswell, Georgia, after nearly a decade of ill health. He was survived by his wife, Altheida, ten children, his mother, two sisters, a brother, and seven grandchildren. The singer was cremated, and his ashes were given to his family.[9]

Legacy

Mayfield is remembered for his introduction of social consciousness into R&B and for pioneering the funk style. Many of his recordings with the Impressions became anthems of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and his most famous album, Super Fly, is regarded as an all-time great that influenced many and truly invented a new style of modern black music (#69 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums).

As a member of The Impressions, Mayfield was posthumously inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003.

In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Mayfield #99 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.[10]

Chart hits by other artists written by Mayfield

Mayfield was a prolific composer. In addition to writing or co-writing almost all of the hit singles he had as a member of The Impressions and as a solo artist, Mayfield also wrote (and sometimes produced) numerous hits for other artists. The following is a list of chart hits, arranged chronologically, that were written (or co-written) by Curtis Mayfield and performed by artists other than Mayfield and/or The Impressions:

Year Title Artist U.S. R&B[11] U.S. Pop[11] UK[12]
1960 "He Will Break Your Heart" Jerry Butler
1
7
-
1961 "Find Another Girl" Jerry Butler
10
27
-
1961 "I'm A-Telling You" Jerry Butler
8
25
-
1963 "Mama Didn't Lie" Jan Bradley
8
14
-
1963 "Mama Didn't Lie" The Fascinations
-
108
-
1963 "The Monkey Time" Major Lance
2
8
-
1963 "Hey Little Girl" Major Lance
12
13
-
1963 "Rainbow" Gene Chandler
11
47
-
1963 "Found True Love" Billy Butler & The Four Enchanters
-
134
-
1963 "Man's Temptation" Gene Chandler
17
71
-
1964 "Think Nothing About It" Gene Chandler
28*
107
-
1964 "Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um" Major Lance
1*
5
40
1964 "Just Be True" Gene Chandler
4*
19
-
1964 "Gotta Get Away" Billy Butler & The Enchanters
38*
101
-
1964 "It Ain't No Use" Major Lance
33*
68
-
1964 "Girls" Major Lance
25*
68
-
1964 "It's Too Late" Walter Jackson
10*
67
-
1964 "Nevertheless" Billy Butler & The Chanters
-
102
-
1964 "Need To Belong" Jerry Butler
2*
31
-
1964 "Bless Our Love" Gene Chandler
4*
39
-
1964 "Rhythm" Major Lance
3*
24
-
1965 "Rainbow '65 (Part I)" Gene Chandler
2
69
-
1965 "Sometimes I Wonder" Major Lance
13
64
-
1965 "I Can't Work No Longer" Billy Butler & The Chanters
6
60
-
1965 "Come See" Major Lance
20
40
-
1965 "What Now" Gene Chandler
18
40
-
1965 "Ain't It a Shame" Major Lance
20
91
-
1965 "Nothing Can Stop Me" Gene Chandler
3
18
41**
1965 "(I've Got A Feeling) You're Gonna Be Sorry" Billy Butler
-
103
-
1965 "You Can't Hurt Me No More" Gene Chandler
40
92
-
1966 "He Will Break Your Heart" The Righteous Brothers
-
91
-
1966 "Say It Isn't So" The Fascinations
47
-
-
1967 "Girls Are Out To Get You" The Fascinations
13
92
32**
1967 "I'm In Love" The Fascinations
47
-
-
1967 "Danger! She's A Stranger" The Five Stairsteps
16
89
-
1968 "Don't Change Your Love" The Five Stairsteps
15
59
-
1969 "Baby Make Me Feel So Good" The Five Stairsteps
12
101
-
1969 "We Must Be In Love" The Five Stairsteps
17
88
-
1969 "I Thank You Baby" June & Donnie
(Donny Hathaway & June Conquest)
45
-
-
1969 "Stay Close To Me" The Five Stairsteps
-
91
-
1970 "Gypsy Woman" Brian Hyland
-
3
42
1970 "Stay Away From Me (I Love You Too Much)" Major Lance
13
67
-
1970 "Must Be Love Coming Down" Major Lance
31
119
-
1970 "I'm So Proud" The Main Ingredient
13
49
-
1972 "I Thank You"
Reissue of 1969 recording "I Thank You Baby", with shorter title and modified artist credit.
Donny Hathaway & June Conquest
41
92
-
1974 "{It's Gonna Be} A Long, Long Winter" Linda Clifford 75 - -
1974 "On and On" (from Claudine) Gladys Knight & The Pips 2 5 -
1974 "Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um"
New version
Major Lance
59
-
-
1975 "Let's Do It Again" The Staple Singers
1
1
1975 "He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)" Tony Orlando & Dawn
-
1
-
1976 "New Orleans" The Staple Singers
4
70
1976 "Something He Can Feel" Aretha Franklin 1 28 -
1976 "Jump" Aretha Franklin 17 72 -
1976 "Hooked On Your Love" Aretha Franklin 17 - -
1976 "Look Into Your Heart" Aretha Franklin 10 82 -
1977 "A Piece Of The Action" Mavis Staples
47
-
-
1977 "It's Too Late"
New version
Walter Jackson
75
-
-
1977 "Curious Mind (Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um)" Johnny Rivers
41
1978 "More Than Just A Joy" Aretha Franklin 51 - -
1979 "Between You Baby And Me" Linda Clifford 14 - -
1983 "I'm So Proud" Deniece Williams 28 - -
1984 "One Love/People Get Ready" Bob Marley & The Wailers - - 5
1985 "People Get Ready" Jeff Beck & Rod Stewart - 48 49
1992 "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" En Vogue 1 6 16
1994 "I'm So Proud" The Isley Brothers 64 - -

* Billboard magazine did not publish an R&B chart during 1964; these chart positions are from Cashbox magazine.
** This hit charted three to four years later in the UK.

Discography

Studio Albums

Live albums

Compilations

References

  1. ^ Curtis Mayfield, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. "…significant for the forthright way in which he addressed issues of black identity and self-awareness. …left his imprint on the Seventies by couching social commentary and keenly observed black-culture archetypes in funky, danceable rhythms. …sounded urgent pleas for peace and brotherhood over extended, cinematic soul-funk tracks that laid out a fresh musical agenda for the new decade." Accessed on line November 28, 2006.
  2. ^ Soul icon Curtis Mayfield dies, BBC News, December 27, 1999. "Credited with introducing social comment to soul music". Accessed on line November 28, 2006.
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference HallOfFlame was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ Carpenter, Bill. Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia page 273 CMP Media, 2005 ISBb 0879308419 Accessed via Google Books November 20, 2008
  5. ^ Soul icon Curtis Mayfield dies, BBC News, 27 December 1999. Accessed on line 28 November 2006.
  6. ^ Curtis Mayfield biography, Internet Movie Database (IMDB). "…1968 hit 'We're A Winner,' became a civil rights anthem" Accessed on line 28 November 2006.
  7. ^ Richard Phillips, Curtis Mayfield dies: A modest man of great musical talent and sensitivity, World Socialist Web Site (International Committee of the Fourth International), January 24, 2000. Accessed on line November 28, 2006.
  8. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 316. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  9. ^ Strauss, Neil (1999-12-27). "Curtis Mayfield, Conscience-Driven Soul Singer, Dies at 57". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 December 2009. 
  10. ^ "The Immortals: The First Fifty". Rolling Stone Issue 946. Rolling Stone. 
  11. ^ a b Allmusic.com - Charts & Awards
  12. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links

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