This has been a sad couple of weeks for deep soul and soul-blues fans. We’ve lost three of the most memorable stylists in the genre.
Philadelphia’s Howard Tate, who in collaboration with producer and songwriter Jerry Ragovoy, recorded such late 1960s soul classics as “Ain’t Nobody Home,” “Stop” and “Look At Granny Run Run,” died Dec. 2 at 72. After struggling with cocaine addiction and homelessness, Tate became a preacher only to re-emerge in 2003 with the critically acclaimed album “Rediscovered.” His Billboard obituary is here.
J. Blackfoot sang lead with Stax recording artists The Soul Children. The 1970s vocal group had two male and two female singers and is perhaps best remembered for the classic cheating song, “I’ll Understand” and the funky “Hearsay.” They benefited from the songwriting and production of David Porter, who also worked with Sam and Dave. Blackfoot had a coarse quality to his voice. His later solo ballad, “Taxi” (1983), brought him a following on the chitlin’ circuit and comparisons to singer Bobby Womack.
A trouper to the end, Blackfoot, who died on Nov.23 at 65, was reportedly performing up to the last week of his life. In recent years, he had formed a new version of the Soul Children. His obituary from the British newspaper The Guardian is here.
Lee “Shot” Williams will be familiar to those who listen to WPFW’s Gator Show on Saturday afternoons. While best known for such raunchy, cartoonish songs as “Meat Man” and “Starts With a P,” Lee “Shot” had a long career as a blues singer in Chicago where he first recorded in 1962 with a style similar to Bobby “Blue” Bland. His best known hits were “You’re Welcome to the Club” (1962) and “I Like Your Style” (1967).
Williams died Nov. 25 at 73. Here is an interview with him from soul music reseacher, Heikki Suosalo.