WHO STOLE THE SOUL? THE DEATH OF RHYTHM OF BLUES IN VANCOUVER, PART III
By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor – in – Chief
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA (www.basnnewsroom.com) As the page turned into 1967, it was becoming apparent that some of the youthful energy had begun to convert…to Soul Power!
The kind of hits delivered to the Top 100 R&B Chart had Motown at its chart apex, with over 30 hit songs covered by Motown and its affiliate labels.
Memphis made its mark as Sam & Dave led the Stax Pack, and overall it seemed more “B” was added to the R&B formula by way of artists such as Aaron Neville, Lowell Fulsom, Oscar Toney, Jr. , Bobby “Blue” Bland, Little Milton, Jimmy Hughes and Toussaint McCall making the big board…
Most significant, the rise and coronation of Ms. Aretha Franklin as the unquestioned Queen of Soul – with four mega-hits and one song so powerful that every female on Planet Earth to this very day – knows the first two lines to!
As The Epics continued to rule over all on stage, desiring to add to their repertoire, the infusion of a different kind of soul flava gave lead singer Jayson Hoover pause to savor.
From a material standpoint, there was more fuel for Jayson and the Epics’ fire with two particular songs. The Parliaments’ “I (Wanna) Testify” and “Funky Broadway” first done by Dyke and the Blazers, but also covered by Wilson Pickett.
“Vocally, these songs were right in my wheelhouse,” proclaimed Hoover.”They were more in line with the grittier, rawer sound that I was gravitating to.”
Two factors, however, were needed to put in effect the effort to generate what could be called a ‘Vancouver Sound.’
Original material and venues where a band can tighten up their chops are always important for any local act; but having radio DJs, promoters and music writers and other media in your corner is just as important. For whatever reason, The Epics, Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers, Soul Unlimited or the Night Train Revue did not get such a push…
What constitutes a place being a ‘music city?’ Venues for artists to perform in, and an infrastructure which believes the music is culturally important enough to run parallel with the business aspects of said location. That means concert promoters, radio station program directors, night club owners, DJs, etc. being in sync to press forward the unspoken mission that the collective effort to do this is – a good idea!
Vancouver in the 1960s, for whatever reason, did not desire to follow through on such a premise, according to David Love Jones. “In the early 1960s, there was an unspoken policy in which Black people were not welcome, let alone perform in a night club; the Hotel Vancouver, among others was notorious for this. Mike Taylor, a Black American musician who came to Vancouver and who eventually run the Harlem Nocturne night club, verified this.
Jayson was able to work at the Nocturne and other spots because of his desire to succeed, an electric persona on stage and off, and his immense talent – he was truly the first to consistently succeed in that aspect; by itself, this underscores how valuable he was as a trailblazer.”
Compare this with places like Chicago, where Blues pedigree flourished with the Chess and Checker record labels became even more important when you consider generations after its peak exposure, it continued to go thanks to people like Curtis Mayfield, Jerry Butler, Gene Chandler and others…
Detroit was working the power of Motown and its subsidiary labels, but indie labels like Ric Tic (Edwin Starr’s first label) and Revilot (home of a pre-Funkadelic Parliament) managed to swim upstream and chart in spite of agendas.
I can personally tell you “Testify” was a song you heard exclusively on Black stations, if at all, outside of Detroit; that Mr. Hoover chose to use this in a showcase like his television appearances is tribute to his taste in music and his quest to carry on in helping to develop an original sound / material – for his band.
WHICH WAY DO WE GO?
Just as Bobby Taylor felt impassioned enough to name his band after his new home, Jayson Hoover and the Epics were forcing their competition to bring their best whenever they took it the stage…so what could go wrong?
An example of how soul music was doomed to die an unnatural death in Vancouver as Things To Come would manifest years later in the U.S….
SOUL TRAIN vs. AMERICAN BANDSTAND
According to the Black History Year Round Directory, in 1973, Dick Clark, who dominated TV for teens with American Bandstand, felt threatened as Soul Train’s popularity grew. American Bandstand began to lose its black audience, so he tried to have Don Cornelius’ Soul Train taken off the air and replaced with his own knockoff, Soul Unlimited.
Clark’s power move outraged black political leaders who along with the Black community believed that having a black-owned show on television was not only cool, but an extension of the civil rights movement.
Led by Chicago’s Reverend Jesse Jackson, they contacted Clark and ABC executives to protest. The idea that Clark, with whom black folks had always had an uneasy relationship, could kill Soul Train led to threats of an ABC boycott.
Black leaders were joined by one of the most powerful men in the history of the black music business—and also a consultant to ABC, Clarence Avant, who went ballistic when he learned about Clark’s power move.
After too much pressure, ABC finally caved and cancelled Soul Unlimited.
‘World’s Oldest Teenager’ my Black ass!
Did a Dick Clark asshole wannabe provide the Kiss of Death for Soul Music and artists playing that genre of music in Vancouver?
to be continued…
always outnumbered…never outgunned.
Copyright (c) 2019 Michael – Louis Ingram all rights reserved.