W is for Junior Walker and the All-Stars

Among the wealth of artists that performed on the Motown labels in 1960s, I probably know about Junior Walker the least. He was born Autry DeWalt-Mixom, Jr. in Blythesville, Arkansas on 14 June 1931. He grew up in South Bend, Indiana.

He started his band, the Jumping Jacks, and his good friend, drummer Billy Nicks, had a group, the Rhythm Rockers, but the two would play on each other’s gigs. Since Nicks had a local TV show in South Bend, he asked Walker to join his band.

When Nicks got drafted, Walker convinced the group to move to Battle Creek, Michigan. After some personnel and name changes, the All Stars were signed by Harvey Fuqua to his Harvey records. “Fuqua’s labels were taken over by Motown’s Berry Gordy, and Jr. Walker & the All Stars [the usual spelling] became members of the Motown family, recording for their Soul imprint in 1964.”

The group’s first big hit was “Shotgun” in 1965, which “uses only one chord throughout the entire song — A-flat seventh. Other songs featuring this same structure (or non-structure) are Chain of Fools and Land of 1000 Dances.” The song is in the Grammy and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame. The All Stars were in a particular groove. The song appeared in several movies, including Malcolm X.

I have this Motown LP box set that explains that there was a songwriter – it doesn’t identify who, but it was either Johnny Bristol, who discovered the group; Fuqua, who took Bristol’s suggestion; or a guy named Vernon Bullock. The songwriter pitched the song to Junior, but he said it wasn’t his thing.

The next year, the songwriter said he still had that song, and Walker reluctantly agreed to record “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” in 1969. “A Motown quality control meeting rejected this song for single release, but radio station DJs made the track popular, resulting in Motown releasing it as a single.”

Junior Walker died of cancer on 23 November 1995 at the age of 64 in Battle Creek.

Listen to:

Shotgun, #4 pop, #1 rhythm & blues for four weeks in 1965 here or here

(I’m A) Road Runner, #20 pop, #4 r&b in 1966 here or here

How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), #18 pop, #3 r&b in 1966 here or here

What Does It Take (To Win Your Love), #4 pop, #1 r&b for two weeks in 1969 here or here

These Eyes, #16 pop, # r&b for two weeks in 1969 here or here

Urgent (Foreigner, with Jr. Walker on sax solo), #3 pop in 1981, here or here

Urgent, 1983, appears in 1985 movie Desperately Seeking Susan, here or here

Round 20 of ABC Wednesday.

X is for Xylopolist

christmas_treeA xylopolist is someone who sells wood. Or, from Encyclo: 1. One who sells timber; a timber-merchant. 2. A dealer in wooden objects or one who sells various kinds of wood or wooden objects. I assume this includes someone who sells Christmas trees.

X is always tricky for ABC Wednesday participants. There are two common prefixes in English that start with X that folks have used quite often. Continue reading

Q is for Qualtagh

good-morning-this-morning (1)The Wiktionary defines qualtagh (Manx English) as “The first person one encounters, either after leaving one’s home or (sometimes) outside one’s home, especially on New Year’s Day.” Unused Words describes the word as “the first person one meets (either leaving or entering their house) after the start of the New Year.”

But the first reference I saw did not specify the New Year. So I started thinking about this Continue reading

P is for People songs

peopleI had all these posts for Round 15 lined up, either odd words or 70th birthdays, except for a few. After I mucked it over a good while, I said, to no one in particular, “I’ve got nothing, people.” Then suddenly, I did. Songs starting with the word People in the title that I own.

One must start, naturally, with People by Barbra Streisand, her signature song from Funny Girl that went to #5 in 1964 on the US Billboard singles charts. “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world. Is that true? I was rather fond of the cover version by Nat King Cole) that only went to #100 that same year.

A lot of People songs are inspirational. – People Get Ready by The Impressions), featuring Curtis Mayfield, went to #14 in 1965, but was an anthem of the civil rights movement.

People Are Strange by The Doors, #12 in 1967 Continue reading

N is for Nudiustertian

apollo11-yesterday-03Nudiustertian pertaining to the day before yesterday; it has nothing to do with strippers and nakedness. I’ve also discovered that, in the same linguistic family, hesternal relates to yesterday, and hodiernal pertains to to today.

“The OED goes on to gives its only example of the use of the word in a sentence from 1647, taken from the ever-popular The simple cobler of Aggawam in America, written by Nathaniel Ward. Continue reading

M is for Michael Douglas is 70 (tomorrow)

Michael_DouglasIn the 1960s and 1970s, I used to watch The Fugitive and Cannon and Barnaby Jones, virtually all the Quinn Martin productions, including the cop show The Streets of San Francisco. It starred Karl Malden as the wise senior partner, and Michael Douglas as the impetuous junior partner.

I didn’t really know who Michael Douglas was, except that he was the son of Kirk Douglas, the guy whose jaw was so square that the mimics on the Ed Sullivan Show, just had to grit their teeth to “do” him. Continue reading

J is for Jentacular

breakfastDan, you said this was a breakfast blog. THIS will REALLY be a breakfast post!

I had read somewhere in a list of weird words that jentacular was an adjective meaning “pertaining to breakfast.” But as I looked at other sources, it appears to mean, “Of or pertaining to a breakfast taken early in the morning, or immediately on getting up.” There’s even the word “antejentacular” Continue reading

I is for inert gases

inertgasesThis is true: part of what I liked about high school chemistry is that it was sexy. The idea of the Na hanging out there with an extra electron, hooking up with a Cl lacking one, and voila, salt! Hubba, hubba, and all that.

But then there were those elements, gases who did not who did NOT mess around with other elements, and I admired them too. After all, they were “noble” gases, virtuous, chaste.

Evidently, though, I must have mislearned part of this:

The noble gases and nitrogen often do not react with many substances. Continue reading

H is for “Happy”

happy.pharell
Pharrell Williams is a successful singer/songwriter/producer who was associated with a lot of hit songs in the past decade, including 2013’s “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk, and “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke.

He wrote and recorded HAPPY for the Despicable Me 2 movie soundtrack, with a video featuring characters from the movie released that summer. The song was disappointing, commercially, in the US.

Then in November 2013 Continue reading