So, there was this little rock band from England, and they got pretty famous and all, so famous that they initiated the era of stadium concerts
, back in '65, at a little place in Queens called Shea
. But there was an opening
act that night, led by a sax-blowin' fellow name of King Curtis
, and he kicked total muhfukkin ass
, and it wasn't even with his baddest
band! You can hear them here
. Jump Back
Opening their show with a appropriately energetic version of the Ray Charles chestnut What'd I Say
, Curtis and his band turned in a fine performance that evening, for the sweaty young throngs packed into Shea Stadium to see the most famous band in the world. Although the audio quality is less than sterling, here is their short set in its entirety
From the same live TV studio performance as "Memphis Soul Stew" (under the here
link of this FPP), here's Ridin' Thumb
and Soul Serenade
, albeit with weirdly squashed video.
But let's go back a few years, to the tune where Curtis first really made his mark: as the saxophonist on the Coaster's infectious Yakety Yak
, which, by the way, was the inspirstion for Boots Randolph
's famous Yakety Sax
Here's a soulful little number called Foot Pattin'
. Video is another one of those that just shows the record spinning. Nice.
Like Booker T and the MGs, Curtis and his band recorded instrumental versions of lots of 60s R&B hits, as well as rock numbers made famous by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Procol Harum, etc. Here are three: I Heard It Through The Grapevine
, Whole Lotta Love (with absurdly unrelated video here)
, A Whiter Shade of Pale (Again, what's with the video? Stupid...)
And here's Champion Jack Dupree
with a slow blues, joined by King Curtis. And look who's there in the front row, at the beginning of the clip: that's Aretha! Which brings us to another point: King Curtis was Aretha's musical director and backing band leader
in 1971, the year he was tragically murdered in the hallway of his apartment building on the Upper West Side of New York City.
And, finally, hey, let's give the drummer some. The man who put the seriously funky percussive underpinning to much of King Curtis' work: the great Bernard "Pretty" Purdie
. While we're talking Kingpins, let's not forget the great guitarist Cornell Dupree
, either, eh?