Green’s life changed on October 18, 1974, when Mary Woodson, a woman who had walked away from her family to be with Green, attacked him in his bathroom with a pan of boiling hot grits. Woodson then shot and killed herself in Green’s Memphis home. He later became a minister using the church and the stage to preach until his fans protested (and his funds started to dwindle), he limited his testifying to the pulpit.
Ray Charles doesn’t suggest other blind people try it, but he has driven a car, a motorcycle and, in a jam, could land an airplane.
“I done all kinds of nutty things,” Charles told U.S. News and World Reports in an interview for editions that go on sale Monday. “I don’t recommend it because I don’t want other blind people to say if Ray Charles did it, I can do it, because I don’t want to cause anybody to get themselves killed.”The singer said he also once rode a motorcycle – “I know if I could see, I’d have me a Harley for sure” – on the old Mike Douglas television show in Philadelphia. The show blocked off a street for him.
“I know how to fly an airplane, too. I always had an attitude that anything that can kill me I want to know about,” the 66-year-old Charles said
Ray Charles Jr. says being blind never stopped his singing father from doing anything – even driving a car.
”I’ll never forget, my father had a ’63 Corvette, gorgeous car,” the younger Charles said in a PBS television program broadcast starting this week.
The valet gave way when Charles reminded him who owned the car.
”So my father gets in the driver’s seat, and we’re all in the house, right, and we hear this bam. Come out, car is totaled. . . . My father jumps the clutch, pulls out in the intersection and just totals out the Corvette.”
Oddly enough, Frank Zappa (put on a puppet show) and Lowell George (played the harmonica with his brother) were on the same episode!
Of course, Zappa went on to create the Mothers of Invention and George started the wonderful Little Feat. Before he did that however, he played guitar in Frank Zappa’s Band.
Frank ended up firing him for “being too good” and he went on to start The Factory, Little Feat, and his own brief but marvelous solo career.
Unfortunately both of them left us much too young with Frank Zappa dying on December 4, 1993 and Lowell George passing on June 29, 1979.
Signe Toly Anderson, the original female vocalist with Jefferson Airplane, who left the band after its first album and was replaced by Grace Slick, died on Thursday at her home in Beaverton, Ore. She was 74.
Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Onateska Ladybug Sherwood, who said that Ms. Anderson had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She had survived cancer in her 30s.
Ms. Anderson died the same day as another original member of the Airplane, the singer and guitarist Paul Kantner, who was also 74.
In the 1960s, Ms. Anderson was living in San Francisco and appearing at a popular folk club, the Drinking Gourd, when the vocalist Marty Balin heard her sing and asked her to join a folk-rock group he was forming.
The band, soon christened Jefferson Airplane, signed with RCA Victor Records and released its first album, “Jefferson Airplane Takes Off,” in 1966.
By the time that album came out, Ms. Anderson had given birth to her first child and decided to leave the group. She left after a farewell concert at the Fillmore in October 1966 and was replaced the next night by Ms. Slick, formerly of the San Francisco group the Great Society.
Ms. Slick brought with her a fierce vocal style very different from Ms. Anderson’s soulful contralto, as well as two songs from the Great Society’s repertoire, “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit,” which would become the band’s biggest hits.
Signe Toly was born in Seattle on Sept. 15, 1941, and raised in Portland, Ore., after her parents divorced. She began performing professionally while still in high school and later moved to San Francisco.
Her marriage to Jerry Anderson ended in divorce. Her second husband, Michael Alois Ettlin, died in 2011. She is survived by two children and three grandchildren.
Ms. Anderson stayed in touch with Mr. Kantner, Mr. Balin and other former bandmates and performed with them on occasion. Jorma Kaukonen, the Airplane’s lead guitarist, wrote on his blog that she was “our den mother in the early days” and a voice of reason for “our dysfunctional little family.”
Mr. Balin, writing on Facebook, imagined that she and Mr. Kantner “woke up in heaven and said: ‘Hey what are you doing here? Let’s start a band.’”
After leaving the Animals in mid 1966, bassist Chas Chandler turned toward a new role as producer and manager. And he struck gold on his very first try. Once Chandler heard Jimi Hendrix, he knew there was something magical there. So he brought the guitarist to England later that year, hooked him up with an aspiring pair of musicians and unleashed the trio on an unsuspecting public.
Over the next two years, Chandler would serve as Hendrix’s manager and producer, working on the Experience’s singles and first two albums. His enthusiasm fueled Hendrix during the early days, but halfway through the recording of his third album in 1968, Electric Ladyland, much had changed within the band’s framework. Hendrix and the Experience were stars, and the stress was beginning to take its toll on Chandler.
“Chas and Jimi didn’t really get on in terms of how many people Jimi wanted in the control room,” recalled engineer Eddie Kramer in an interview with Uncut. “Chas felt that he, Jimi, was playing for the audience, as opposed to for the production. I think Jimi loved all that attention, and Chas thought it was a distraction. Then they split.”
Hendirx was starting to settle into the studio, turning his musical visions into reality. He spent hours recording, which Chandler thought was wasteful. “After he left, the gate was open and Jimi could experiment,” Kramer said. “The whole album was an experimental thing.”
After leaving Hendrix, Chandler took on his next project, the band Slade, who were huge in the U.K., even though they never made much of a dent in the U.S. Chandler passed away at the age of 57 from an aneurysm in 1996.
Bates lost a leg at the age of 12 in a cotton gin accident. He subsequently taught himself to tap dance with a wooden peg leg. His uncle, Wit, made his crude first “peg leg” after returning home from World War I and finding his nephew leg-less.
Bates was a well-known dancer in his day. He performed on The Ed Sullivan Show 22 times, and had two command performances before the King & Queen of England in 1936 and then again in 1938. He retired from the dancing business in 1996.
He owned and operated the Peg Leg Bates Country Club in Kerhonkson, New York, from 1951 to 1987, along with his wife Alice E. Bates. This made Bates the first black resort owner in Ulster County in the Catskill Mountains, the famous Borscht Belt of Jewish resorts, hotels, and bungalow colonies.
He was also very active in the local Ellenville Lions Club, and during the last ten years of his life he traveled regularly to schools, senior citizen centers, and nursing homes showing a video about his life and talking about his life experiences. He also helped found a local Senior Citizens Center in the Ellenville / Kerhonkson area.
He loved to tell youngsters that they could do anything they wanted. He would say “look at me.”
Bates performed at an award ceremony at Hillcrest High School in his honor for receiving “The Order of the Palmetto.” the highest civilian awarded by the state in his hometown of Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He collapsed on his way to church a day later, and died on December 8, 1998, at age 91.
The citizens of Fountain Inn erected a life-size statue that can be viewed in front of the city hall and Robert Quillen’s library. There are signs at the entrance of the city saying “Peg Leg Bates’ home town.”
He was part of the first Louis Armstrong tour of Britain in the mid 50’s
PBS made a documentary of his life in the 1980s. The South Carolina ETV made a documentary about Bates in the early 2000s.
He is survived by his only child, daughter, Melodye Bates-Holden and her husband, Preston Holden. They live in Kerhonkson, New York.
Los Angeles, December 10, 1964, 9 p.m.
Everybody in Martoni’s Italian restaurant had their eye on Sam Cooke. In his Sy Devore suit, the 33-year-old R&B singer cut a dashing figure. With his recent Live at the Copa album climbing the charts, Sam was on the brink of stepping up to the big leagues, a crossover figure on par with Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis, Jr.
He was having dinner with producer Al Schmitt and Schmitt’s wife, Joan. Well-wishers kept stopping by the table, interrupting their conversation. Sam, who’d already had three or four martinis, eventually got pulled away to the bar.
When their orders arrived, Al Schmitt went to get Sam and found him laughing it up with a group of friends and music business associates. Sam was buying, and he flashed a wad of bills, what looked like thousands of dollars. He told Al that he and his wife should go ahead with their meal.
At a booth near the bar, there was a baby-faced 22-year-old Asian girl, sitting with three guys. Sam caught her eye. He’d seen her around. One of the guys, a guitar player Sam knew, introduced them. The girl’s name was Elisa Boyer. Before long, the pair were cozied up in a booth.
They left Martoni’s around 1 a.m. in Sam’s brand new red Ferrari and headed to a nightclub called PJ’s, where they were going to meet the Schmitts. By the time they arrived, the Schmitts were gone. In the club, Sam got into a heated argument with some guy who was hitting on Boyer. She asked Sam to take her home, and they left at 2 a.m.
According to Boyer, Sam raced down Santa Monica, and against her protests, pulled onto the freeway. She later told police that she asked again to be taken home, but Sam said, “Don’t worry now. I just want to go for a little ride.” He stroked her hair and told her how pretty she was.
They exited the highway at Figueroa Street, near LAX. Boyer asked again to be taken home, but Sam drove straight to the Hacienda Motel. He got out of the car and walked up to a glass partition at the manager’s office while Boyer remained in the car. He registered under his own name with the clerk, Bertha Franklin. Franklin eyed Boyer in the car, and told Sam that he’d have to sign in as Mr. and Mrs.
Sam drove around to the back of the motel. Boyer claimed he then dragged her into the room, pinned her on the bed and started to tear her clothes off. “I knew he was going to rape me,” she told the police. She went into the bathroom and tried to lock the door, but the latch was broken. She tried the window but it was painted shut. When she came out, Sam was already undressed. He groped her, then went into the bathroom himself. Boyer, wearing a slip and a bra, picked up her clothes and fled.
The first thing she said she did was pound on the night manager’s door. Franklin didn’t answer. Boyer ran half a block, dumped her clothes on the ground and got dressed. Tangled among her clothes were Sam’s shirt and pants. She left them on the ground, found a phone booth and called the police.
Meanwhile, Sam, wearing one shoe and a sports jacket, had come out of the room, frantically looking for Boyer. He drove the Ferrari back to the manager’s office, and banged on the door of Franklin’s office. “Is the girl in there?” he yelled. According to Franklin, when she said no, Sam began to work at the locked door and ram it with his shoulder. The frame ripped loose and the latch gave. Sam charged in, looking around for Boyer. He grabbed Franklin’s wrist. “Where is the girl?” They got into a tussle.
Franklin, though shorter than Sam, outweighed him by about 30 pounds. She told the police, “He fell on top of me … I tried to bite him through that jacket: biting, scratching and everything. Finally, I got up, when I kicked him … I run and grabbed the pistol off the TV, and I shot … at close range … three times.”
Two of the bullets missed. But the third entered his left side, passed through his left lung, his heart and his right lung. Sam fell back and in astonishment, said what would be his last words: “Lady, you shot me.”
Franklin claims that he got up again and ran at her. She hit him over the head with a broom handle. This time, he stayed down. When the police arrived, Sam Cooke was dead.
At 6 a.m., Sam’s widow Barbara greeted the news with hysterics, trying to shield their two young children from reporters and fans who were gathering at their house.
Five days later, at the coroner’s inquest, Boyer and Franklin recounted their stories in a hasty proceeding that barely allowed Sam’s lawyer one question. Tests showed that at the time of death, Sam had a blood alcohol level of .16 (.08 is considered too drunk to drive). Sam’s credit cards were missing, but a money clip with $108 was in his jacket pocket. The shooting was ruled “justifiable homicide.” Case closed.
There are many problems here. Let’s start with Elisa Boyer. She testified that she met Sam at a “Hollywood dinner party” and that he sang a song at the party. No mention of Martoni’s or PJ’s. She said she was “kidnapped” by Sam and couldn’t escape because his car was going too fast. Yet when Sam went to the motel window to register, Boyer was left alone in the car. She could’ve escaped or yelled for help. Moreover, if it was Sam’s intention to rape Boyer, why would he have registered under his real name? Boyer said she mistakenly took Sam’s clothes from the room when she grabbed her own. Wouldn’t it make sense that she was merely trying to prevent his pursuit? And what about the wad of cash that she spied earlier in the night? Surely she knew right where it was.
The truth about Boyer came out a month later when she was arrested in Hollywood for prostitution. The Hacienda Motel, which offered $3-per-hour rates, was known as a hangout for hookers. What probably happened is that Sam paid for Boyer’s services, and when he stepped into the bathroom, she ran out with his cash and credit cards. In 1979, Boyer was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of a boyfriend.
Bertha Franklin, an ex-madam with her own criminal record, was forced to quit her job after receiving several death threats. She filed a $200,000 lawsuit against Sam Cooke’s estate for punitive damages and injuries, but lost.
As for Barbara Cooke, her husband’s infidelity was nothing new to her. But she also had some action going on the side with a local bartender. On the day of Sam’s funeral, this guy was seen wearing Sam’s watch and his ring. Two months after Sam’s death, Barbara had dumped the bartender and married Sam’s friend and back-up singer Bobby Womack.
For Sam’s part, he was always a womanizer. As his friend Bumps Blackwell once said, “Sam would walk past a good girl to get to a whore.” There were all kinds of theories around his death—a drug deal involving someone close to Sam in which Sam tried to intervene, a Mafia hit, a set-up devised by a jealous Barbara Cooke. Many believed it was a racist plot in the entertainment business. As with any rising star (not to mention one of color in the early 1960s), Sam had made some enemies. As one woman friend of his said, “He was just getting too big for his britches for a suntanned man.”
Was Sam Cooke lured into a trap at the Hacienda Motel? Were Elisa Boyer and Bertha Franklin working in tandem? Was Barbara Cooke involved somehow? Or was it all just a tragic accident? Over the years, various investigators have made noises about reopening the case, but with most of the principle players dead and gone, it seems unlikely it will ever be solved.