Sunday, April 21, 2024

R&B Legend Curtis Mayfield: Celebrating What Would Have Been The 77th Birthday of the Man Behind So Many Hits


It’s actually even sadder now that I realize when Curtis Mayfield died at the end of 1999 he was only 57 years old. OMG. The great singer-composer-producer was a genius who still has not been adequately recognized. He would have turned 77 today.

Mayfield was paralyzed in August 1990 after a light tower fell on him during an outdoor concert in Brooklyn. His death was attributed to type 2 diabetes, but he suffered for nine years after that accident. And he actually produced one album in 1996 called “New World Order.”

But the huge legacy Curtis leaves are his songs with the Impressions, producing Impression Jerry Butler, hits with Major Lance, and then his own solo hits, producing Aretha Franklin.

Those songs include the immortal “People Get Ready,” “It’s Alright,” “Move on Up,” “Freddie’s Dead,” “Superfly,” and the songs from “Sparkle” like “Givin’ Him Something He Can Feel.”

Do yourself a favor– get a Curtis Mayfield greatest hits. There’s nothing better. Get Major Lance’s “Monkey Time” and “Um Um Um Um.”

Just recently, Mayfield’s family reissued four of his CDs as “Keep On Keeping On,” Curtis’s solo albums from 1970-74. The albums are all remastered, sound better than ever. Once you’ve heard the eight minute, thirty four second version of “Move on Up” you will never listen to current music again.

Here’s a shout out to Curtis’s widow and mother of his kids, the wonderful Altheida Mayfield, who’s kept his torch burning.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News