Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sly Stone wins 5 million dollar royalty lawsuit against Jerry Goldstein and Glenn Stone

by Ted Lewis (Variety)
Funk singer Sly Stone has been awarded $5 million by a Los Angeles jury in his lawsuit against a former manager and attorney he claimed diverted royalties from his music for their own benefit.
The Los Angeles Superior Court announced its verdict on Tuesday, after two days of deliberations.
Stone’s litigation, filed under his real name Sylvester Stewart, involved millions of dollars in royalties and stretched over almost five years.
He filed suit in 2010, claiming that manager Gerald Goldstein and attorney Glenn Stone in the late 1980s induced him to sign an employment and shareholder agreement with Even Street Prods., but that they instead used the arrangement to divert millions in royalties, leaving him unable to get the money he said was due him.
The jury awarded $2.5 million in damages against Even St. Productions, $2.45 million against Goldstein and $50,000 against attorney Glenn Stone.
“It was a classic case of Hollywood accounting, but I guess it would have to be called record industry accounting,” said Nick Hornberger of Hornberger Law Corp., the lead attorney for the singer.
The jury, he said, “sent a very clear message.”
Gregory Bodell of Kozberg & Bodell, lead attorney for the defendants, said via e-mail that the jury found that Sly Stone was underpaid by $2.5 million under the employment agreement with Even St. Prods., and that the money was paid instead to Goldstein and Stone.
“We are disappointed in the finding and believe it will be changed by further proceedings,” Bodell said.
Stone, whose real name is Sylvester Stewart, testified that he had not received any royalty payments between 1989 and 2000.
But attorneys for Goldstein and Glenn Stone contended that the singer was paid millions, but broke an agreement to make new records. They claim that the singer was not tricked into signing the contract, but was aware of the terms and renewed the agreement 40 times over 15 years between 1994 and 2006.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Keystone Vote Fails in Senate

by Elana Schor 

      It’s clear there are any number of Republican senators who will be spending lots of time desperately trying to distort their irresponsible records,” said Justin Barasky, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
The politically charged nature of Senate debate was a big reason why now-Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) shielded vulnerable Democrats from sensitive votes in the last Congress. A number of Democrats privately argued that casting politically toxic votes on issues like Obamacare and taxes could hurt their reelection efforts. But others, like former Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, who lost his reelection bid last fall, said having more votes would have allowed red-state Democrats to distinguish themselves from an unpopular White House.
       In the new Senate, McConnell’s caucus appears to be taking Begich’s advice.
Ayotte, who won her 2010 Senate primary with an endorsement from Sarah Palin, cast a series of votes in the opening month of the new Congress that broke sharply from her caucus. The former New Hampshire attorney general opposed a Toomey proposal that would have exempted power plants that burn waste coal from certain federal emission limits. She opposed an effort by Utah Sen. Mike Lee to make it easier to drill for oil and gas on public lands. And she opposed a proposal by a member of her party’s leadership, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, to hamstring international climate agreements reached by the Obama administration, including a recent pact with China.
Ayotte spokeswoman Liz Johnson said the senator’s votes “are consistent” with her “long record” of “standing up for clean air and crossing party lines to protect New Hampshire’s environment.”
        Other GOP defections took Senate insiders by surprise, particularly on climate change. In a vote last week, 15 Republicans joined with Democrats to state that climate change is “real” and that human activity “contributes” to the phenomenon. In that group were a number of Republicans facing voters in 2016, including Ayotte, Kirk, Portman, Murkowski and Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky — along with Toomey.
        The Pennsylvania Republican, who narrowly won his first term in 2010 on the strength of his staunch conservative fiscal record, isn’t a recent convert on the science of global warming, his spokeswoman said.
       “Sen. Toomey has always said that human activity contributes to climate change,” said his spokeswoman, Elizabeth Anderson. “The degree to which we play a role is clearly up for debate.”


Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/moderate-republicans-mitch-mcconnell-senate-114620.html#ixzz3Q3beA0m7

Monday, January 19, 2015

William Pepper: "Dr Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated by U.S. government"

In his newly released book "An Act Of State" Willam Pepper, a lawyer from England states that civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered as part of plot authored by The FBI, under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover, organized crime figures from New Orleans and Memphis and Lloyd Jowers, who Pepper identifies as the actual triggerman. Pepper has made an "unimpeachable" exhaustive 39 year study that proves his thesis beyond a doubt. Pepper represented the King family in court where a verdict of "unlawful death" was concluded. This heinous act included the collusion of US media and local law enforcement within the city of Memphis. James Earl Ray, who we were lead to believe was the assassin always proclaimed his innocence up until the day of his death. Ray initally asked Pepper to represent him in court. Pepper declined to do so until he was absolutely convinced that Ray played not even a minor role in the murder of Dr. King. In a short while Pepper concluded that Ray was indeed an innocent pawn in a government sponsored assassination. In addition to being a brilliant speaker, King was a master organizer who was putting the same relentless energy behind the Poor People's march and opposition to the Viet Nam war as he put behind the March On Washington. What will the history books say of this event? .....more than likely nothing. Those who know the truth will once again be called "Conspiracy Theorists", but this time it is not a theory. Pepper has given us the undisputed truth. It is our responsiblility to tell our children and our children's children the truth about the deaths of both Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, both victims of state sponsored racist terrorism. This is precisely why words like "freedom" and "liberty" mean nothing when they come (or came) out of the mouths of establishment warmongers like George W. Bush and the late, not so great J. Edgar Hoover. Like minded people were responsible for the New Orleans disaster. Could they also have played a role in the deaths of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Paul Wellstone? It is not so farfetched after all.

MONDAY, JANUARY 15, 2007

A Tribute To A KIng

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was indeed a giant among men. As we celebrate his life and try to benefit from the lessons he taught we can't help but wonder what would he have been able to accomplish beyond his 39 years. King was able to mobilize the youth of his day with actions that produced results. With steadfast determination he made it possible for blacks to sit anywhere on the bus and he also filled the jails with demonstrating young men and women to such an extent that belligerent local authorities were neutralized. Today there is little doubt that Dr. King's assassination was a sophisticated plot by those who considered him a threat to the status quo. When the late Vice-president Hubert Humphrey said that Dr. King was on his potential list of vice presidential candidates the previliged right wing element felt compelled to act. If James Earl Ray was responsible (as the media led us to believe) ...he was not working alone. Former New York Times, New York Daily News and current WBAI radio personality Earl Caldwell was at the scene of the King assassination, but was prevented from giving testimony. Mr Caldwell wrote a book that could not find a publisher. There was and still is a deliberate attempt to muzzle his account of what happened that day. The right-wing pundits always say "Conspiracy Theory, Conspiracy Theory, Bah....." but what if there actually was a conspiracy and what if it is still going on?" Numerous attempts were made on the life of Malcolm X long before that fateful day at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. Clinton confident Ron Brown was found with a bullet in his head with no explanation of how it got there. Isn't the timing of the "accidental" death of Minnesota's Paul Wellstone somewhat suspect? There was a time when we would say we would never know but nevertheless the killers of Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman had to and will have to pay for their cowardly acts; De La Beckwith and Killian did not escape prosecution even though both faced justice late in life. Maybe one day the same thing will happen to the true killers of Martin King, who killed the man but not the dream. Isn't it odd that the vast majority of the victims of assassination or "accidental" death find themselves on the left of the political strectrum. The only exception in recent times to survive such an attack was Ronald Reagan. We should all remember Dr. King's ideals and honor his courage in these troubled times in which an administration bent on empire wants to use Social Security money to further its aim of world domination. Were he alive to today Martin King would oppose the Iraq War as vigorously and wholeheartedly as he opposed the Viet Nam War. In the area of Civil Rights things are as bad and in some cases even worse than they were in the 60s. These times may call for different tactics but they will require the same determination and focus Dr. King had to bear fruit.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 14, 2005

A Tribute To A King

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was indeed a giant among men. As we celebrate his life and try to benefit from the lessons he taught we can't help but wonder what would he have been able to accomplish beyond his 39 years. King was able to mobilize the youth of his day with actions that produced results. With steadfast determination he made it possible for blacks to sit anywhere on the bus and he also filled the jails with demonstrating young men and women to such an extent that belligerent local authorities were neutralized. Today there is little doubt that Dr. King's assassination was a sophisticated plot by those who considered him a threat to the status quo. When the late Vice-president Hubert Humphrey said that Dr. King was on his potential list of vice presidential candidates the previliged right wing element felt compelled to act. If James Earl Ray was responsible (as the media led us to believe) ...he was not working alone.
Former New York Times, New York Daily News and current radio personality Earl Caldwell
was at the scene of the King assassination, but was prevented from giving testimony. Mr Caldwell wrote a book that could not find a publisher. There was and still is a deliberate attempt to muzzle his account of what happened that day. The right-wing pundits always say "Conspiracy Theory, Conspiracy Theory, Bah....." but what if there actually was a conspiracy and what if it is still going on?" Numerous attempts were made on the life of Malcolm X long before that fateful day at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. Clinton confident Ron Brown was found with a bullet in his head with no explanation of how it got there. Isn't the timing of the "accidental" death of Minnesota's Paul Wellstone somewhat suspect? There was a time when we would say we would never know but nevertheless the killers of Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman had to and will have to pay for their cowardly acts; De La Beckwith and Killian did not escape prosecution even though both faced justice late in life. Maybe one day the same thing will happen to the true killers of Martin King, who killed the man but not the dream. We should all remember his ideals and honor his courage in these troubled times in which an administration bent on empire wants to use Social Security money to further its aim of world domination. Were he alive to today Martin King would oppose the Iraq War as vigorously and wholeheartedly as he opposed the Viet Nam War. In the area of Civil Rights things are as bad and in some cases even worse than they were in the 60s. These times may call for different tactics but they will require the same determination and focus Dr. King had to bear fruit.

MONDAY, JULY 04, 2005

Luther Vandross (1951-2005)

Legendary R&B balladeer Luther Vandross passed away at the age of 54.
He was considered one of the four frontline contemporary R&B balladeers of the powerful
voice (The others: James Ingram, Peabo Bryson and Jeffrey Osborne) At a time when
R&B is replaced by hip hop as the preference of today’s black youth Vandross
continued to thrive, earning eight Grammy awards and numerous platinum CDs.
You cannot sell records at this rate without appealing to all people. The Luther
Vandross story starts in the Alfred E. Smith projects of lower Manhattan where
Vandross was an avid enthusiast of popular music. He was particularly enamored
with the female voice. The Shirelles and Patti Labelle were among his early
favorites. When Vandross found out that his late father, Luther Sr., had a wonderful
singing voice he became even more inspired to be the consummate entertainer.
Luther Vandross had three siblings; two sisters and a brother. He was the youngest child Of Luther Sr. and Mary Vandross, the others preceded him in death. His siblings had offspring and Luther helped raise them. Luther Vandross never married or had children of his own but since he was so much a part of the lives of his nieces and nephews he felt like a parent. These children knew him as Uncle Ronny or Ronzoni because Luther got his name from his mother who saw that name on a box of spaghetti. The meteoric rise to world wide stardom began at the Apollo theatre where Vandross was involved in a program for young entertainers. He performed in the famous talent competition four times but never won. He did however manage to get a role in the popular long running PBS children’s program “Sesame Street”; in fact Vandross was in the very first show in 1969. Later Vandross wrote and sang the song “Everybody Rejoice” for the Broadway musical, “The Wiz”. Later Vandross became involved with two very influential bands of the disco era, Chic and Change. Luther sang background vocals on “Everybody Dance” and was the lead vocalist on Change’s “Glow of Love” and “Searching”.
Three divas played a role in the success of Luther Vandross (Dionne Warwick,
Roberta Flack, Patti Labelle) but Roberta Flack’s was really a pivotal one. She fired him
when he was her background singer. The reason that she fired him was because she
recognized his immense talent and felt that it was time that he build a career of his own.
Vandross saved his money and later released his first of many best selling albums; “Never Too Late” Every release on Epic Records was a success, in fact during those early
years the only Epic artist whose sales surpassed Luther’s was Michael Jackson. Luther Vandross was not only a great singer, but he was also a great composer. His albums contain his own compositions, usually paired with Nat Adderley Jr. or Marcus Miller.
But another feature of the typical Vandross album or CD was his uncanny ability to take
a classic song made popular by another artist and redo it with his own arrangement. Songs like “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” , “Always & Forever” and “Anyone Who Had
A Heart” but the song that received the most acclaim was the Leon Russell composition
“Superstar” which was popularized by the Carpenters in the seventies.
I thought that Brian McKnight’s “Back To One” would be the last classic soul song to top the popular music chart, but Luther Vandross proved me and others wrong when his “Dance With My Father” had a lengthy stay at the top of the charts.
Luther Vandross was a man of great social consciousness. He cancelled all his dates in Arizona when he found out that that state would not honor the national holiday, Martin Luther King Day. This “gutsy” move was made with great financial sacrifice.
Like Godfrey Cambridge and Karen Carpenter before him Luther Vandross had
numerous weight fluctuations, whether this was a factor in his demise is still unknown. Although I never knew him, we both grew up in the Alfred E. Smith projects and he was
only a few months younger than I. His death just reminds me of my own mortality. We are all here on earth for a short time. Luther Vandross did so much with the time he had
on Earth that his life will serve as an inspiration to others to follow their dreams just like he followed his.

SUNDAY, JUNE 15, 2008

An Open Letter to Fox News

I am angered by the recent remarks by Fox media pundits. It is one thing to firmly support a point of view, but its totally different to deliberately and vindictively distort the image of a political adversary with total disregard for the truth. As you probably know by now your "racist" comments against Michelle Obama have not gone unnoticed. Besides Ms. Hill's outrageous fist bump comment, Liz Trotter's declaration of wishing Barack Obama dead hasn't gone unnoticed either, nor has Michelle Malkin's racist "Baby Mama" comment. I want you to imagine a national boycott of your sponsors' products by African-Americans. Your sponsors make a significant amount of money from Black America. One major lesson that Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks taught us was that corporate America understands the bottom line. This is why apartheid died in South Africa and segregation on Montgomery busses ended. The Michael Savage show has lost major sponsors due to reaction to several outrageous statements he made. I know that you probably think that you are "immune" but I am sure that you can be shown that you are not. Sure, the political thought of African-Americans is not monolithic, but there are enough of us out there to make a difference. We are not going to be publicly humiliated by racially motivated innuendo. I think a REAL apology is in order.
-Claude Chaney

MONDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2005

Rosa Parks 1913 - 2005

Rosa Parks, considered to be the mother of the modern civil rights movement died in Detroit, Michigan today at the age at 92. Ms. Parks made the boycott a weapon against segregationist businesses when she refused to give her seat on the bus to a white man. This
ignited a national movement which led to many other boycotts and sit-ins all over the country.
Martin Luther King Jr. organized the Montgomery bus boycott which forced the bus companies to change their discriminatory policies when they began to lose huge amounts of money with the loss of black ridership. Ms. Parks will always be remembered as a shining example of raw courage in at time of savage racial hatred.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 03, 2005

Constance Baker Motley 1921-2005

On September 29, 2005 the first African-American woman to become a federal judge, Constance Baker Motley passed away at the age of 84. Ms. Motley was a defense lawyer for Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. as well as a persistant voice against segregation advocating the admission of James Meredith to then segregated University of Mississippi.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 04, 2005

Save Frances Newton

The United States' mistreatment of blacks is not a thing of the past. There are those who would have us believe that Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks ended discrimination. Those two legendary proponents of justice fought the good fight and as a result blacks can sit anywhere they want on the bus, but that's not the whole story. Today in 2005 in some aspects life for black people in these United States of America is worse. The recent neglect of the black and poor white populations of Louisiana during hurricane Katrina just shows us how insensitive the so called "leaders" of this country can be. During the past five years a growing number of African-Americans fill U.S. prisons. They are the majority of the prison population while only 12.1 percent of the overall US population. The authorities are more than eager to give a black adolescent a criminal record because it creates employment for the usually white prison guard and other predominately white poorly educated prison personnel. Some prisons have even forced prisoners to provide "free" labor for corporations. Other prisons permit prisoners to vote but their vote doesn't count for their place of residence but for the county of the place where they are imprisoned, therefore making their vote totally meaningless. Many blacks have served their time only to come out and find that they can't find a job and that they have been stripped of the right to vote. In an effort to increase the prison population there was an attempt to arrest the entire black population of Tulia, Texas on false drug charges. Elsewhere in the supposedly "liberal" state of Pennsylvania, Mumia Abu Jamal is still on death row. even though there is another man who has admitted to committing the crime. The majority of the people on Texas death row are black. One of these people is Frances Newton, who was accused of murdering her husband and her children. The evidence that the state of Texas is using to convict Newton is the fact that she purchased a life insurance policy, so what, I have a life insurance policy too. Does that make me a murderer. Like Abu Jamal, Newton also has new evidence that could persuade a jury that she is innocent but she has not been permitted to testify in front of a jury in her own defense. On September 14, 2005 Frances Newton is scheduled to be put to death. At the very least Frances Newton is entitled to a new trial. We must keep in mind that we are talking about the state of Texas, that leads the nation in state executions. This is the state that whose courts permitted defense attorneys to actually sleep during cases (Defense attorney Joe Frank Cannon slept during the murder trial of Calvin Burdine and Ron Mock slept during the murder trial of Shaka Sankofa(a.k.a Gary Graham, who was executed during the gubernatorial term of George W. Bush). It is under these circumstances that Frances Newton is fighting for her life. I am asking everyone to contact their elected officials as well as Governor Perry of Texas and demand a new trial for Frances Newton. Visit www.freefrances.org now for more information. Once again urgent action is needed because she is scheduled to be put to death on September 14, 2005

SATURDAY, MAY 07, 2005

Rosa Parks Wins Lawsuit

Although advanced in years and periodically in ill health Rosa Parks continues to be a tower of strength. I remember when I was a boy my late father talking about the lady from Cleveland Avenue in Montgomery, Alabama in glowing terms, and this was long before she became famous. At 92 years of age Rosa Parks once again stood firm and let it be known that the same way she would not be disrespected by a white man on a bus who demanded her seat is the same way she would not be disrespected in the lyrics of a hip-hop icon. Ms Parks won a lawsuit against the popular group Outkast, BMG Entertainment Group and LaFace records because she
was offended by the lyrics of one of the Outkast songs which more or less said "Don't nobody make a fuss, EVERYBODY get to the back of the bus" Unfortunately to get a "laugh" a segment of the black community feels that there is nothing that is sacred and they continue to push the limits and they are convinced that there would be no repercussions. Ms Parks has shown otherwise. The dollar amount of the settlement was not announced but part of the agreement calls for the defendants to produce a video and or DVD that details the struggles of the civil rights movement and specifically the contributions of Ms. Parks. Previously we have seen this
outlandish disrespect for civil rights heroes by African-American characters in movies such as "Barber Shop 1". A DJ on New York's Hot 97 had the nerve to actually make fun of the victims of the tsunami tragedy in Asia.
Hip-Hop empresario Russell Simmons was at the forefront of a movement to eliminate the
onorous Rockefeller drug laws. He intended to attract inner city youth to this demonstration to not only oppose the Rockefeller drug laws but to encourage the members of the hip-hop generation to register to vote. It was obvious that Mr. Simmons did this out of the genuine concern for inner city youth. When a WBAI interviewer asked one of the young men why he
attended the rally his response was "I'm here to see my girl L'il Kim. I don't care about this political stuff" Now this young man may not represent the opinion of the vast majority of the young people present but there were quite a few people who nodded in agreement. The Reagan era popularized the "I'm gonna get mine and the hell with everybody else" attitude which leads to the excess "bling-bling" materialism so prevalent today even in so-called minority communities where children are attacked and robbed of their sneakers and jewelry. Many of the youth of this generation know surprisingly little of Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall, Fannie Lou Hamer or Rosa Parks. The sacrifices these people have made to make life better for all of us should not be trivialized for the sake of a cheap laugh. Rosa Parks( a mugging victim in her later years) has proven once again that she will not be disrespected, but this time she had to prove it to members of her own race.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 22, 2005

The Case Against Condoleezza Rice

Recently Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made numerous condemnations of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias. She has referred to him as "dictator" and the Bush administration considers him "hostile" As a person of African descent who reasonably keeps abreast of current events I find Ms. Rice's comments inaccurate, distasteful and downright embarrassing. Mr. Chavez has been subjected to many derogatory invectives like "monkey" and "gorilla" from some fair skinned Euro-Venezuelans because of his race. Many African-Americans are all too familiar with this type of behavior from segments of the Caucasian population of the United States. I would think that since Ms. Rice grew up in Mississippi she should know something about racial prejudice.
The person Ms. Rice calls a "dictator" just happened to be elected president four times
in his country. This seems to be very hypocritical since her boss' (George Bush) two presidential elections came under clouds of controversy. The Bush administration has done everything in it's power to sabotage the Chavez government. The notorious National Endowment for Democracy has funneled millions of dollars to the opponents of Chavez, this in turn led to crippling strikes and demonstrations, but through it all Chavez prevailed. The
highly respected New York Times showed us that 100,000 people were protesting the Chavez government, yet they conveniently left out the fact that 500, 000 people took to the streets in favor of it. This makes one question the integrity of the New York Times, or wonder
if the administration is telling the paper what to print. It seems as if Mr. Chavez's unpardonable crime is that he has taken the revenue of the oil profits from the upper classes and given them to the lower classes for education, housing and improved infrastructure. The blacks and browns are going to share the petroleum income with the whites. I wonder if Ms.
Rice can see why I, as an African-American see Mr. Chavez as a hero. In this country the
gap between the rich and the poor is widening. All attempts to level the playing field are being
attacked: affirmative action, Medicare and overtime pay. The Bush Administration has mastered the art of double speak; "No Child Left Behind" does just the opposite of what it says as does the "Clear Skies Act" which seems to be designed to clear the skies of birds.
But perhaps the unkindest cut of all was the 40 million inaugural festivity, of which 12 came from the pockets of the residents of Washington D.C.(most of whom are African-American) who are heavily taxed but have no representation in Congress. Under this Bush administration half of the Black male population in the nation's largest city is unemployed while the blacks continue to be incarcerated in numbers far greater than their percentage of the population. I am certain that Ms. Rice is aware of the voter suppression in the Black community that eventually led to Mr. Bush's victory. History is filled with people who collaborated with oppressors to the detriment of their own people. Mohandas Ghandi was killed by a fellow Hindu. Martin Luther King was stabbed by a Black female. During the civil war there were blacks who voluntarily fought alongside the Confederate Army. Ms. Rice I
regretfully must acknowledge that you can be placed in this category as well.

SATURDAY, JULY 04, 2009

Michael Jackson (1958 - 2009)

I did not like the way Berry Gordy Jr. was portrayed in the movie "Dreamgirls". Of course he is not perfect, but who among us is? To me Mr. Gordy is a role model in spite of his perceived shortcomings. In the early days of Rock 'n' Roll most African-American performers were ripped off. They didn't receive just compensation for their work and also had stolen royalties. Two early pioneers who attempted to right this wrong were Berry Gordy Jr. and Sam Cooke, the first successful African-American owners of record companies with national (and later world-wide) distribution. Cooke understood the meaning of entrepeneurship. He wrote, produced and performed most of his songs and through his record company S.A.R he had many entertainers who became stars after his death(Bobby Womack, Billy Preston, Johnnie Taylor, Mel Carter). Cooke's death was very suspicious. He was disliked by many in the business because he was perceived as too "uppity" for a Black man of his time. After Cooke's demise Berry Gordy came to the forefront. Gordy went to the assembly line approach he saw while working for GM and applied it to making records. Just as the car companies had assembly lines for various parts of the cars that in the end all came together to have the finished product, Gordy did the same with his artists. There were teams of producers that worked with specific songwriters and performers who collectively came up with the finished product.
The most prominent songwriter/producer teams in the early days of Motown were
William "Mickey" Stevenson, William "Smokey" Robinson, Brian Holland-Lamont Dozier-Edward Holland, Nicholas Ashford-Valerie Simpson, Harvey Fuqua, Norman Whitfield-Barrett Strong, Pam Sawyer and Ronald Miller. They created and produced music for some of the most successful acts of all time.....Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Miracles, Diana Ross, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Jr. Walker & The All Stars, Eddie Kendricks, David Ruffin, Martha & The Vandellas, The Marvelettes, Jimmy Ruffin, Shorty Long, Marv Johnson, Kim Weston, The Isley Brothers, Brenda Holloway and a group of teenagers from Gary, Indiana...The Jackson 5, lead by this little 10 year old afro clad dynamo named Micheal Jackson. It is not clear who should get credit for discovering Michael and his brothers...Bobby Taylor?, Diana Ross?, Gladys Knight? but Michael was a rare find and Gordy knew just what to do to bring these very young men to absolute stardom.
Berry Gordy found the major portion of his talent coming from residents of a Detroit housing project. Motown was so successful that when The Temptations peaked at
#29 with the Smokey Robinson penned "Get Ready" Motown top brass decided that this was unacceptable. At that time if any black entertainer was able to crossover and get a tune in the top 40 of the pop chart that was considered a major accomplishment but that wasn't good enough for Motown, so Temptations production went from Smokey Robinson to Norman Whitfield. In the case of the Jackson Five, Gordy decided that he will handle this one himself. He chose his collaborators to form "The Corporation" and then went on to give The Jackson 5 four straight pop and R&B #1 songs(I Want You Back, ABC, The Love You Save, I'll Be There) and two #2 pop songs( Mama's Pearl, Never Can Say Goodbye). The Jackson 5 had now reached world wide acceptance and acclaim.
At this time Motown was at the top of the music world but that in itself caused problems. It became harder and harder to keep everyone happy. Once you made a name for yourself at Motown it was considered a risk to leave, a risk that most Motown performers were not willing to take. Mary Wells, was Motown's first lady. She left and never regained the popularity she once had: eleven top 40 hits (including #1 My Guy, but only one away from Motown (Use Your Head #34). This all changed in 1969 when the Isley Brothers left Motown to form their own T-Neck label and immediately had smash hit "It's Your Thing" (#2 Pop, #1 R&B) and later went on to have twelve other top forty hits on the pop chart. This no doubt went on to embolden other Motown stars to make that move. The assembly line that was responsible for so many Motown hits had disintegrated. Major producer/writer teams like Holland-Dozier-Holland not only left but sued Berry Gordy over royalties. Both Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye wanted more creative control. Gladys Knight & The Pips went to Buddah Records and had even more success with Buddah than they had at Motown.The Spinners left to find stardom at Atlantic records. The Temptations went to Atlantic Records also for a brief stint but Berry Gordy was successful in wooing them back. Even Diana Ross left to sign with RCA records. Fortunately for Motown they were able to keep Stevie Wonder by offering him a huge long term contract. Marvin Gaye, like Stevie Wonder was granted creative control and stayed for several years, but in the early 80s he also left. The Commodores, Rick James, Lionel Richie and a resurgeant Smokey Robinson (with four big hits in the eighties (Cruisin', Being With You, Just To See Her,One Heartbeat)also kept Motown alive and kicking.
The Jackson 5 were also unhappy with the material they were given. It appeared as if their requests to perform their own songs or at minimum have someone else write better songs for them fell on deaf ears. Michael and his brothers left Motown to sign with CBS/Columbia/Sony. Legendary R&B songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff took over production. During this period The Jackson 5 became The Jacksons and they found success with songs like Enjoy Yourself(#6 pop), Shake Your Body(Down To The Ground)(#7 pop) but there were still more moves in the making. Michael decides to go solo. He had performed and recorded by himself previously with Motown with great success ( Ben (#1 pop) Got To Be There (#4 pop), Rockin' Robin (#2 pop), I Wanna Be Where You Are (#16 pop). But this time Michael wanted to be a solo act on a permanent basis. Michael made a historic appearance on the televised Motown Special. We saw a totally different Michael tall and thin with the sequined black jacket as he introduced the platinum selling Billy Jean (#1 pop) and showed some startling choreography (The moonwalk) this was the moment Michael made the transition from "star" to "mega superstar" The hits were seemingly endless...Don't Stop ('til You Get Enough)(#1 pop), Rock With You (#1 pop), Off The Wall (#10 pop), She's Out Of My Life (#10 pop), The Girl Is Mine (with Paul McCartney)(#2 pop), Beat It (#1 pop), Wanna Be Startin' Something (#5 pop), Human Nature (#7 pop), Say, Say, Say (with Paul McCartney)(#1 pop), PYT(Pretty Young Thing)(#10 pop), Thriller (#4 pop), I Just Can't Stop Loving You(with Siedah Garrett) (#1 pop), Bad (#1 pop), The Way You Make Me Feel (#1 pop),Man In The Mirror (#1 pop), Dirty Diana (#1 pop), Another Part Of Me (#11 pop), Smooth Criminal (#7 pop), Black Or White (#1 pop), Remember The Time (#3 pop), In The Closet (#6 pop), Jam (#26 pop), Heal The World (#27 pop), Who Is it? (#14 pop), Will You Be There (#7 pop), Scream (with Janet Jackson)/Childhood(#5 pop),You Are Not Alone (#1 pop), They Don't Care About Us (#30 pop), You Rock My World (#10 pop), Butterflies (#14 pop).
Prior to this enormous popularity and record breaking sales Michael went through some growing pains. There are very few child stars who successfully make the trasition to successful adult star. Sammy Davis Jr., Robert Blake and Jackie Coogan are the exceptions not the rule. The public is in general very fickle, but at the same time they have an image of you and they want to keep that image. Michael was no longer that cute little boy who lead the Jackson 5, he was becoming an adult. The look was changing, the voice was changing. As a result people around him began to criticize him in a playful manner, even going so far as to say he looked like a monkey. This accounts for the numerous plastic surgeries that continued to alter his appearance. Michael apparently took this personally. This coupled with Michael declaring that he suffered from vitiligo, a disease that causes unnatural lightening of the skin made Michael an object of criticism. Many people now felt that Michael was ashamed of being what he was.....black.
As if these problems weren't enough Michael was burned badly while shooting a commercial for Pepsi. The soft drink giant dropped Michael as a spokesman when Michael was accused of improper behavior with minors. I was a big fan of Michael's but at the time I was saying if he is actually guilty of this then he deserves to serve time. I also remember Phil Collins saying that he knew Michael and that he knew that Michael would never do anything to hurt a child. Michael may be a bit too trusting and too naive, but never would he do anything to morally damage a child. Collins' statement was very convincing to me since he was someone who was in the entertainment business and was also getting world-wide attention. The papparazzi and
sensationalist newspapers like the New York Post were having a field day at Jackson's
expense referring to him as "Jacko", "Wacko" and "Child Molester".
Michael was accused of child molestation on more than one occasion. He didn't help himself by admitting on national television that he slept with little boys at night.Some members of the press took this as a golden opportunity to sink Michael's career. Jackson meant exactly what he said "SLEEPING and that's all" Several of these young boys testified in his behalf. Of course this wasn't a good thing to do and it did show poor judgment but it was not criminal. Michael's other problem was to believe that money can solve everything. More money to silence accusers only led to even more money being requested. Michael was found innocent in both trials, but the tabloids continued to bother him. The first Michael Jackson song that came to my head after hearing about his untimely death was "Leave Me Allow" which he composed specifically to strike back at the press. Now that he is gone these same newspapers write glowing articles but while he was alive they tormented him. This is exactly the same thing that happened to Martin Luther King.
With all the hundreds of millions that he earned for himself and others Michael to the end was politically aware. He labelled former RCA and current Columbia/Sony record executive Tommy Mattola a racist because of his refusal to promote his African-American artists. Many of Michael's songs were political and showed a genuine concern for the have-nots of the world...."Heal The World", "We Are The World", "Man In The Mirror" and especially the last song he ever sang "They Don't Care About Us".
On that fateful last day Michael, who had just signed on to do an extensive 50 city tour date in England that was to be titled the "This is it" farewell tour was in need of some rest. He wanted to be the best he could be for his fans. He was warned against taking drugs that would induce long periods of sleep but he didn't listen because he trusted those people who were supposed to be watching him in the event of any irregularity. So at the age of 50, the world loses it's greatest entertainer/philanthropist.
In 1975, The Miracles made their first ever concept album "City of Angels", the title song was one of the finalists to become the official song of Los Angeles while another song "Love Machine (Pt. 1)" made it to the top of the charts. Also on the lp was the song "My Name Is Michael" which has some paralells to Michael Jackson, but that was not the intent. Listening to that song now gives one an erie feeling.
Christine Yarian wrote in the liner notes 'Any similarity or resemblance to persons either living or dead is purely coincidental and unintentional and should not be construed otherwise" This was twenty-four years ago, what a coincidence. Yarian also writes (speaking of the character Michael in the song). "He left quietly, as he had come, returning to the land he had left behind and the memories of another time. On that day, one of the darkest in L.A., only his legacy remained: one angel more in heaven, one angel less in the "City of Angels" 
Like Sam Cooke, John Lennon, Rick Nelson, Sammy Davis Jr. and many others his music will always be with us. Rest in peace Michael.