Today marks one year since the passing of Scott Hardkiss. His memory has not faded and the impact he has had on many of us is still reverberates.
In the wake of his passing, many memorials were written, including my own, and several tribute mixes were released. As the one year anniversary approached, I was contacted by a kindred spirit on the other side of the globe who was as influenced by Hardkiss as I was, although we had never actually met in person. His name was Steve "Griffo" Griffiths aka Derek Random and he hailed form the west midlands of England but was now living in Spain. We had connected at some point online over our love of quality house music and now he was asking me if I'd like to contribute to a special edition of his radio show dedicated to Scott and the legacy of Hardkiss. I told him it would be an honor and a pleasure.
I contributed a one hour set that was a very personal reflection on the legacy of Hardkiss and the SF house sound they helped to inspire. It was a mixture of some older, obscure tracks by members of Hardkiss, material off the new Hardkiss album, 1991, and a selection of newer material from San Francisco artists and labels, including some of my own material (as Sine Qua Non and 2 Block Radius, with my bro Schnezzy). Steve then integrated that in between two and a half hours of his own mixing, creating something truly special in the process.
When the show aired on My House Your House radio, something very cool happened. Thanks to the diligent promoting that Steve had done, an international community of family and friends (including Gavin and Robbie Hardkiss) gathered on the facebook event page to chat, comment on the music, reminisce and reconnect in real time, a true testament to the lasting legacy of Hardkiss and the family they helped build. This comment from Scott's widow, Stephanie, was particularly moving, "Thanks so much... our daughter came home from school and started dancing ... my heart lept... thanks for putting this together!".
As we remember Scott today, here are some words that Gavin Hardkiss had posted to his facebook page:
There are a lot of ways to lead an honorable life on Earth. You can teach kids, heal the sick, cloth the homeless, build better things or simply make other people laugh. We make music. In honor of Scott Hardkiss, who passed away 1 year ago today, fill your day with 3.5 hours of the Hardkiss sound courtesy of Derek Random and Tee Cardaci
Cheers, brother. Hardkiss forever!
Below is the show, archived on Mixcloud. If you would like to download the show, it is also available on Soundcloud.
If you care to read what I wrote, explaining the reason for inclusion for each track I selected, you can after the break.
RIP Johnny Otis & Etta James
Wow, it's been a sad week in the world of music. As I sat down to write my last post, a belated obit to funky brother, Jimmy Castor, I learned of the passing of another favorite of mine, Johnny Otis. Only hours later, I learned of the passing of one of Johnny's protégés that would go onto achieve far greater fame than he ever would, Etta James.
Otis (middle) connected with black culture.
Johnny Otis (1921-2012)
Johnny Otis, born Ioannis Veliotes, was the child of Greek immigrants who grew up in the predominantly african-american area of Berkeley, California. He was enamored with black culture and music and once famously said, “I decided that if our society dictated that one had to be black or white, I would be black.” This was in the severely segregated 1930's. In his career he would come to fame with his 1950's hit, "Willie and The Handjive" before helping launch the careers and mainstream acceptance of artists such as Little Richard and Etta James, whom sadly would pass on the same day as her mentor (see below). The later part of his career saw him producing unforgettable funk gems such as "Watts Breakaway" and helping to launch the career of his virtuoso son, Shuggie Otis. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Godfather of Rhythm and Blues, as he was often he refereed to as, was 90 years old.
Etta James, performing live in the late 50's
Etta James (1938-2012)
Etta James' life was never an easy one. Sadly today may be the first time she has found peace in many years. The bluesy songstress, known for such heartbreaking songs as "I'd Rather Go Blind", was listed by Rolling Stone magazine at number 22 on their list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. In her lifetime, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Blues Hall of Fame as well as the Grammy Hall of Fame after winning the coveted award on six occasions. Her epic successes, sadly, were mirrored by her epic struggles with heroin addiction. Life on the streets was no stranger to her, as documented in her track from 1972, "All the Way Down". She had managed to clean up her act, to some extent, and reemerged in the 1980's with her critically acclaimed album, The Seven Year Itch. She would soon be battling addiction and illness again however, finally succumbing to leukemia and other illnesses today, January 20th, five days shy of her 73rd birthday.
Although slightly atypical of her style, this is my favorite track by the late Ms. James and probably the one most highly regarded by the diggers.
From her 1972 self tittled Lp, this is "All The WAy Down", a hard knocks tale of life in the streets and the pimps and pushers that inhabit them.
Ms. James was introduced to the younger generation through the Flo Rida track (of dubious quality), "Good Feeling", which samples the intro to her track, "Somethings Got A Hold On Me". Below is a scorching live performance from 1962.
The music world lost a legend of the funk and disco sound the other day. Jimmy Castor passed away at the age of 71. The mainstream listening public may remember him as the creator of 'novelty' or 'party' records, such as "Big But Bertha" but b-boys, djs, producers and crate diggers know the real worth of this man's contribution to the world. His 1972 album, "it's Just Begun", with his then newly formed Jimmy Castor Bunch produced at least two tracks that will live on far longer than their creator. The title track, with its epic drum breaks and Jimmy's urgent sax, still has the power to launch a thousand b-boys onto the dance floor whenever it's dropped some 40 years after it's original release. And it's impossible to even count the number of times the vocal intro to his tune 'Troglodyte' has been appropriated by djs and producers. You know the one... the one proclaiming, "What we gonna do right here is go back. Way back. Back into time!" Yeah, that one! Thank you for all the funky good times, Mr. Castor. We all owe you one.
Featured below is my tribute edit to Jimmy Castor, of one of my favorite disco funk tunes of his, "E-Man Par-Tay". Download it, groove to it, love it and let his funk live on!
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