Monday, June 30, 2008

Thirty Most Shocking Moments in Black Music

According to AOL’s Black Voices these are the top 30 historical events in the history of Black music. Some of the events I forgot about of the course of time and others I do not feel should have made the list at all. I would be interested to know what others think about the list. Please share your thoughts and take the Poll on the left.

30. Prince Changes His Name Then Changes It Back - For much of the 80s and the early 90s, Prince consistently topped the charts with his groundbreaking style and his unprecedented sound. Born Prince Rogers Nelson, he would use his name until 1993, when he stopped using the name Prince and started referring to himself as a symbol instead. He claimed the change was prompted by Warner Brothers Inc, taking too many liberties with his name and used the change as a way of freeing himself. Some would call him "The Symbol," others would call him "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince" and some would just call him the "Artist." By 2000 though, he would return to the name Prince and continue to adapt his style in a changing music landscape.

29. Lil Kim Wears The Pasty to the VMA’s - Not a stranger to outrageous fashion ensembles, Lil Kim donned a glittery purple jump suit at the 1999 VMA's that amazingly left one of her breasts to fend for themselves. If that wasn't enough, Kim's adventurous fashion choice was put on blast when Dianna Ross dribbled the pasty covered boob on stage during an award presentation, forever cementing the boob in shocking music history.

28. Stevie Wonder in a Car Accident and Goes into a Coma for a Week - One of the most prominent artists in music history, this blind wonder has been blessing the music world since 1961. But on August 6, 1973, just days after the release of his third album, 'Innervisions,' Wonder was in a serious car accident while on tour, when a log from a truck went through a passenger window and struck him in the head. This left him in a coma for four days and resulted in a permanent loss of his sense of smell. Despite this serious setback, Wonder would go on the produce hits to this day.

27. Suge Knight Gets Knocked Out - The Death Row co-founder was at the forefront of one of the most important eras in hip-hop. With the success of Dr. Dre's 'The Chronic' in 1992, the label would go on to be a stable for some of the most prolific acts in hip-hop from Tupac Shakur, to Dr. Dre, to Snoop Dogg. Knight is also known for his very thuggish demeanor and rumors abound of his close relation to many criminal elements. That's why when news broke out that Suge had actually been knocked out in a night club brawl in May, it came as such a shock. Who knew the the Death Row thug could catch it too?

26. Bob Marley is Almost Assassinated - Credited for helping spread reggae to a worldwide audience, Bob Marley in his own right, made music that moved people. With his dreadlocks and rock star persona, Marley would go on to be one of pop cultures most ubiquitous icons. What many tend to forget though is that in 1976, he was nearly assassinated inside his home with his wife Rita, and his manager Don Taylor maintaining serious injuries. They would all go on to survive their injuries and Marley would proceed with an already scheduled concert without a hitch.

25. Milli Vanelli is Exposed - There were few pop groups that could match the image and magneticism that was Milli Vanilli. The pair which consisted on Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan, sold over 30 million singles, 14 million albums and became one of the most popular pop acts in the late 1980s and early '90s. Their momentous success peaked when they received Grammy awards for best new artists in 1990. Soon after, it all came crashing down as it was discovered that the group used the recorded vocals of other artist and did not in fact sing any of their top hits. Subsequently, they lost their Grammy's, faced multiple lawsuits and became laughing stocks of the music industry. Unfortunately tragedy would strike in 1998, with the group on the cusp of a comeback, when Pilatus was found dead in a Frankfurt hotel of an apparent drug overdose.

24. Al Green Has Hot Grits Poured on Him and Turns to the Lord - Known for his powerful, yet silky voice, Al Green is one of Soul Music's most revered voices. Green's vocals were unparalleled as he often lulled his audience into his sweet melody. But in 1974, Green's whole perspective would change when longtime friend, Mary Woodson, would have a mental breakdown and spontaneously throw a large pot of sticky boiling grits over him as he was undressed and preparing to shower. She immediately ran to another room and promptly killed herself with a gunshot wound to the head. The assault caused third-degree burns on his back, stomach and arms and would serve as a catalyst for him becoming an ordained pastor in 1976 and eventually deciding to record only gospel music. Green would record exclusively gospel albums from 1981 to 1989, where he would make a return to R & B.

23. Nonmusical Celebrities and Athletes Come Out With Albums - Although, this phenomenon is not new, their will always be a handful of celebs who take themselves too seriously and actually feel as if they can get recording deals because of their talent and not from their stardom. This particular crop of bad crossover artists, Kobe Bryant, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks and Terrence Howard a only a small sampling of the many entertainers who continuously and on a regular basis, mercilessly assault our eardrums. Thank goodness Kobe had a fall-back plan, because he first and likely last album, Visions was a travesty.

22. Teddy Pendergrass Tragic Career Derailing Accident - Of all the 70s soul crooners, Teddy P was probably one of the most underrated. Although he was the first African-American singer to sell five platinum albums in a row, he failed to win any Grammy's after being nominated five times. He also began his practice of ladies-only concerts, for which he remains well-known. In 1982, Teddy was involved in an car accident when the brakes failed on his car and he hit a tree, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down with a spinal cord injury. Despite the injury he still performs to this day.

21. Luther Vandross Dies of a Stroke - Born in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1951, Luther Vandross grew up in a musical family. Drawing influence from everybody he came across, he sang back-up to such acts as Diana Ross, Roberta Flack, Carly Simon, Chaka Khan, Donna Summer, Bette Midler, Chic, Barbra Streisand, and David Bowie. Known for such tracks as "Here and Now," "The Power of Love," "Dance With My Father" to name a few, Luther won eight Grammy's and sold over 25 millions albums in his career. On April 16, 2003, just three days before his 52nd birthday, Luther died of a stroke due his combination of diabetes and hypertension.

20. Three Six Mafia Wins an Oscar - The Memphis duo had known underground success long before any of their more mainstream success. They built their reputation on the success of tracks like "Sippin' on Some Sizzurp" and "Chickenheads" and have a dedicated following. So when song they wrote for the film "Hustle & Flow," won them an Oscar in 2005, it only seemed right. Three six would go on to became the first black music group to win an Academy Award for Best Song and also became the first hip-hop artists to ever perform at the ceremony.

19. R. Kelly Marries Aaliyah - Unbeknown to many outside the music industry, the R&B crooner did in fact have a very brief marriage to an at the time 15-year-old Aaliyah. Kelly, who knew Aaliyah since she was 12-years-old helped her on her debut album "Age Ain't Nothing But A Number," and had spent significant time working with her. When it was discovered that Aaliyah had in fact lied on the marriage certificate that she was 18 instead of 15, the marriage was soon annulled with both parties denying ever being married.

18. Tina Turner Hits Roc Bottom Then Makes an Amazing Comeback - Eight time Grammy Award winning diva is one of music's most resilient artists. She has sang some of music's biggest hits, including 'River Deep - Mountain High' and 'Proud Mary.' Despite all of her earlier success, she lived a rough life with her abusive husband, Ike Turner, who was known for his temper, which often translated into him beating her. Tina finally fled Ike in 1976 and hid for several months, living off friends and food stamps. The divorce was finalized in 1978 after 16 years, and Tina was not shy talking about her experience, penning a book, 'I, Tina,' which was later turned into the film, 'What's Love Got To Do With It?' Tina's strength is noteworthy as she managed to maintain and attain her greatest success ever, with the release of her major label debut solo project, 'Private Dancer,' which would sell over 20 million copies.

17. Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake Launch Nipplegate - During the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII, the world was given an all access pass into Janet Jackson's wardrobe. At the end of the performance of Timberlake's "Rock Your Body," he was supposed to rip Janet's bustier and leave her red lace bra in tact, but of course, things didn't go according to plan and Janet was instead stripped down to a lone pasty. The "wardrobe" malfunction stirred so much controversy that it earned Janet a place in the Guinness book of world records as "The Most Searched in Internet History" -- surpassing even searches for the September 11th attacks.

16. Three of Hip Hop’s Most Prominent Female Rappers Go to Prison - Conspiracy and perjury for lying to a grand jury, violating probation for a fight with two manicurists and shooting your friend in the stomach over $5000, are the crimes that landed hip-hop's biggest rapstress' in the slammer. What's surprising is how closely the prison sentences followed each other as well as the fact that these women were even going to prison in the first place. It was almost surreal to see them go, despite their often gritty lyrics, because for the most part, you know they are not living the life they sometimes brag about.

15. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes Burns Down Andre Rison’s Home - In 1994, the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes made headlines when she burnt down the mansion of her boyfriend and Atlanta Falcons star, Andre Rison. The incident took place when Lopes lit Rison's sneakers on fire due to an argument the two had at the time. Not only did the fire cost Rison to lose his multi-million dollar home, but it landed Lopes at a halfway house for therapy with five years probation.

14. Whitney Houston Marries Bobby Brown - The phrase 'A Match Made In Heaven' didn't apply to Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown when they tied the knot in 1992. Many people were in fact shocked that the two were dating in the late 1980s when Houston was at the height of her career gaining crossover success, while Brown maintained a bad boy image. The couple would go on to divorce in 2007, after 15 years of marriage.

13. Curtis Mayfield is Paralyzed - Anybody who was anybody who lived in the 60s and 70s knew of Curtis Mayfield and had heard his sound. Curtis was a pioneer of funk and politically conscience music in the African American community and help spread the black power music through his heavy songs. He was best known for being the lead singer of 'The Impressions,' composing the soundtrack for the film 'Superfly,' and producing such hits as "Freddy's Dead," "Diamond in the Back," and "Move On Up." In 1990, Mayfield was paralyzed from the neck down when stage lighting equipment at an outdoor concert at the Wingate Field in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York, fell on him. He was unable to play to guitar and it became painful for him to record. In February, 1998, he had to have his right leg amputated due to diabetes and he passed on December 26th, 1999, the same year that he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

12. Snoop Dogg Acquitted of Murder Charges - The recording and release of Snoop Dogg's debut album 'Doggystyle' was faced with both critically-acclaimed success and controversy. While the album shot to the top of the charts Snoop along with his bodyguard, McKinley Lee was arrested in connection of the death of rival gang member Phillip Woldermarian. Woldermarian was reportedly killed in a shootout between other rival gangs. The two were tried and acquitted in 1996.

11. Rapper Shyne Takes the Fall for P. Diddy - Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' protégé Shyne (born Jamal Barrow) gained public notoriety with his involvement in the 1999 Club New York incident. The rapper allegedly opened fire in response to a gang member who attempted to shoot Combs in the club. Barrow's gunshots resulted in a bystander getting hit in the face with plaster from the club's ceiling. On June 1, 2001 Combs and his bodyguard Anthony "Wolf" Jones was acquitted of all charges, leaving Shyne to serve 10 years in prison for first-degree assault and reckless endangerment.

10. Jam Master Jay Killed in Recording Studio - In 2002, when Jason "Jam Master Jay" was killed, it was one of the most unexpected moments in hip-hop. No one expected one of the founders of the legendary hip-hop pioneers, Run-DMC, to be taken away so suddenly or so violently. Along with the other members, Run and DMC, Jay would popularize Adidas and forever ingrain them into the culture. He was only 37 and the motive for the crime apparently had something to do with his involvement with the rapper 50 Cent. Regardless of the fact, his memory lives on through the many rappers who were influenced by him.

9. Rick James and his Girlfriend Hold a Woman Hostage for Six Day and Burn Her With a Crack Pipe - Long before his career was resuscitated by Charlie Murphy's sketches on 'The Chappelle Show,' Rick James had reached the pinnacles of stardom, selling records, getting groupies and heavy usage of drugs. James' infamy with drugs was capitulated in 1991, when he and future wife, Tanya Hijazi were accused of holding a young woman hostage for up to six days, tying her up, forcing her to perform sexual acts, and burning her legs and abdomen with a hot end of a crack cocaine pipe during a week long cocaine binge. In 1993, James was said to have assaulted another woman, music executive Mary Sauger, at the St. James Club and Hotel in West Hollywood. She claims she met James and Hijazi for a business meeting, but says that the two kidnapped and beat her over a 20-hour period. Needless to say, he was imprisoned for two years and lost a $2 million civil suit.

8. Kayne West Goes on Television and Denounces George Bush - No stranger to controversy, Kanye West set off a venerable firestorm when he went on television during a live telethon and denounced the state of poverty in the United States as well as the disregard George Bush had for Katrinans, stating the now infamous line, "George Bush does not care about black people." Although his microphone was cut, the message was still received by much of America, loud and clear.

7. Gerald Levert and his Brother Sean Suddenly Die - The sons of O'Jays lead singer Eddie Levert, Gerald and Sean had a certain pedigree about them. They were both musically inclined and at one time even teamed up with their friend Marc Gordon to form the group Levert. Each enjoyed successful solo careers with Gerald's star rising slightly higher. On November 10, 2006, Gerald was found dead at the age of 40, in his Newbury home when a cousin tried to wake him. The cause of death was ruled an accidental overdose. Two years later, Sean Levert would unfortunately follow as he fell ill and died in prison, just a week into a year-long sentence for failing to pay child support. Sadly Eddie was forced to bury both his sons within only a two-year span.

6. Ice Tea Releases Cop Killer - Rodney King beating, Ice-T's group Body Count released 'Cop Killer.' The controversial song appeared on the group's self-titled debut album in 1992 causing an uproar within the justice system. Police forces from across the U.S. along with Vice President Dan Quayle and President Bush launched a campaign to force Body Count's label, Warner Bros. Records to pull the album from stores. The turmoil resulted in Ice-T removing the song from the record and replacing it with 'Freedom of Speech.'

5. Marvin Gaye is Shot and Killed by His Father - To say that Marvin Gaye was iconic, would be an understatement, he helped define black music over several decades. Gaye helped put Motown on the map with his songwriting as well as his soul ballads. Many of his songs are as ubiquitous today as they were in the 60s, 70s, and 80s with messages that remain relevant. Following the death of singing companion, Tammi Terrell , Gaye would eventually go into seclusion and move into his father's home. Gaye and his father, a clergyman, did not get along and on April 1, 1984, Marvin Gaye Sr. shot and killed his son at 44 years of age.

4. Aaliyah and Left Eye Die Tragically - These two will always be paired together for the proximity and timing of their tragic and unfortunate deaths. Their creativity they had individually was unmatched as they were very unique in their own rights. When news broke that Aaliyah's plane had crashed in 2001, it was saddening given her potential at only 22 years of age. She was a multi platinum artist and getting into a lot of more acting roles. Lisa, was at times considered one of the most creative catalysts within TLC and she helped propel them to sell over 22 million copies of their albums. She died a year later in 2002, when a car she was driving sped out of control and crashed only kill her, despite the fact that there were other passengers in the car.

3. Michael Jackson Being Michael Jackson - The king of pop, over the last several decades , has gone to no end to prove to the world just strange he can be. And it's pretty much a one man race as he seems to constantly up the ante. One of his more unfortunate moments came during the filming of a 1984 Pepsi commercial when the pyrotechnics accidentally went off set his hair on fire. Jackson was also noted for having Vitilligo (with many skeptics in the black community) and holding his baby Blanket out of the window for no apparent reason.

2. Eazy-E Dies of AIDS - As the founder of N.W.A., Eazy-E help usher in the era of West Coast gangster rap that would grip the country for much of the early to mid-90's. His record label, Ruthless Records, would find tremendous success for several years until label mates, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube jumped ship over what they deemed as irreconcilable financial issues. In March 1995, Eazy-E checked himself into Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles with what he he thought was bronchitis. It was soon discovered that he instead had AIDS and was already in the advance stages. And so just like that Eazy-E became an inescapable victim of a disease that people were just beginning to get a grasp of. He would die just 10 days later on March 20.

1. Tupac and Biggie are Shot and Killed in the East Coast/West Coast Feud - Few things have shaken up black music as much as the death to these two prolific rappers. Their brash and brazen bravado defined their individual persona's and they created identity's that many people wished to identify with. On the night of November 30, 1994, Shakur was shot five times and robbed after entering the lobby of the Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan. He would later accuse Sean Combs, Andre Harrell, and Biggie Smalls - whom he saw after the shooting - of setting him up. This incident would help create an volcanic East Coast/West Coast "beef" that would last until each of them was dead. They made no apologies as their feud grew to encapsulate two entire regions of the country. They helped propel music while at the same time redefined what hip-hop is and was. Their battle and it's unfortunate outcome serves as a reminder of frivolous nature of music and the fine line between art and reality. On September 7, 1996 Tupac was shot numerous times and on September 13, died of internal bleeding. Just a year later Biggie Smalls was killed on March 9, after sustaining multew things have shaken up black music as much as the death to these two prolific rappers. Their brash and brazen bravado defined their individual persona's and they created identity's that many people wished to identify with. On the night of November 30, 1994, Shakur was shot five times and robbed after entering the lobby of the Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan. He would later accuse Sean Combs, Andre Harrell, and Biggie Smalls - whom he saw after the shooting - of setting him up. This incident would help create an volcanic East Coast/West Coast "beef" that would last until each of them was dead. They made no apologies as their feud grew to encapsulate two entire regions of the country. They helped propel music while at the same time redefined what hip-hop is and was. Their battle and it's unfortunate outcome serves as a reminder of frivolous nature of music and the fine line between art and reality. On September 7, 1996 Tupac was shot numerous times and on September 13, died of internal bleeding. Just a year later Biggie Smalls was killed on March 9, after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds.


Malcolm said...

The problem with this list is that apparently, black music didn't exist before 1970. I don't see what the makers of this list find shocking about #s 12 (Snoop Dogg Acquitted of Murder Charges) , 23 (Nonmusical Celebrities and Athletes Come Out With Albums), and 29 (Lil Kim Wears The Pasty to the VMA’s). Even #1 isn't all that shocking when one considers all the stories we heard about the various rivalries within the rap community.

The one that was most shocking to me was Marvin Gaye getting murdered by his father. I would also put Whitney Houston's marriage to Bobby Brown higher on the list too.

Some of the events that didn't make the list that I think are worthy are:

The murder of Sam Cooke

David Ruffin being fired from The Temptations

Little Richard abruptly quitting rock and roll in 1957 to enter the seminary

Mariah Carey's marriage to Nick Cannon

pjazzypar said...

I am with you Malcolm. It is funny how with the exception of very few examples, nothing happened before Hip Hop. Also they don't seem to really know what the word "shocking" means. I would put Otis Redding's death as shocking. Shocking means unexpected. I saw Tupac and Biggie's demises coming for the reasons you specified. I was shocked when Isaac Hayes went bankrupt back in the 70's or 80's. R. Kelly getting off was Shocking, I just wasn't shocked.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea that Marvin Gaye was killed by his own father (or that he was so young when he died)!! I also never knew about Stevie Wonder's coma/etc. I remember a lot of the stuff that happened in the 90s, but I had also forgotten about all of the P Diddy stuff - am I the only person who doesn't like him? He annoys me.

X. Dell said...

I agree with Malcolm on both counts. A number of violent, sudden ends under clouded or tragic circumstances (e.g., Johnny Ace, Sam Cooke, Jimi Hendrix, King Curtis, David Ruffin, Paul Williams) seem not to rate, here. The trumped up prosecution of Chuck Berry for violation of the Mann Act would be something else I would add. The routine rip-off of black artists during the 1950s would catch my attention. So would the widely hyped rock race riots of that decade (Houston, Boston).

I think too that I would have rated the death of Marvin Gaye, and the crippling of Curtis Mayfield higher, although my own number one would probably be the deaths of Shakur and Wallace.

Lori said...

Good point, Malcolm and exactly what I was thinking--where's the pre-80's stuff?

Pjazzy, I'm with you when it comes to the list-makers obvious lack of understanding about the meaning of the word "shocking." (LOL) A lot of the things they listed were just silly or plain ole stupid.

I bet you and Malcom could come up with a great list (smile).

pjazzypar said...

Oh yeah Malcolm, Mariah's wedding to Cannon is shocking and might be stupid. The jury is still out on that one.

Mama PJ, How did you think Marvin Gaye died? I had forgotten about Stevie's coma, which was an awful long time ago. P. Diddy, Puffy, Sean John or whatever he's calling himself these days, annoys me too. He did however have a song that I really liked to skate to back in 2002.

X., You get no argument from me. These types of list illuminate the fact that the list compilers have no clue about the rich musically legacy, which is African American music. I would go back even further, The loss of Billie Holiday's cabaret card, The death of Charlie Parker at 36, or something that happened in the last few years that shocked the hell out of me, Diana Ross's DUI arrest. Tyra Banks album bombing is no shock at all to me.

Biggie and Pac wouldn't have been number 1 on my list cause as I mentioned in my response to Malcolm, the way that mess was going back and forth between the to camps, the only shocking thing was that it didn't come to a head sooner.


Your point is well taken. I think Malcolm and I could come up with a better list also. Maybe we will confer and come up with something.