Friday, May 19, 2023

Pro Football Great Jim Brown Dies at 87, Remembered for Athletic Brilliance and Social Activism

Courtesy LBJ Presidential Library Photo by Lizzie Chen

Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown, the running back known for his exceptional athletic prowess,
successful acting career, and role as a civil rights advocate during the 1960s, has died at 87.

According to a family spokesperson, Brown died peacefully at his Los Angeles home on Thursday night, with his wife, Monique, by his side.

Brown had a nine-year career with the Cleveland Browns from 1957 to 1965, leaving an enduring legacy. He was awarded the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 1965 and made a mark on the league's record books.

After retiring at the age of 30, Brown transitioned into a successful acting career, appearing in over 30 films, including notable works such as "Any Given Sunday" and "The Dirty Dozen." His running style and skills boosted the popularity of football on television.Brown's impact extended beyond sports. In 1967, he orchestrated a meeting known as "The Cleveland Summit," bringing together top Black athletes, including Muhammad Ali, to support Ali's stand against the Vietnam War.

Throughout his life, Brown dedicated himself to various social causes. He worked to combat gang violence in Los Angeles and founded the Amer-I-Can program in 1988, empowering underprivileged inner-city youth and ex-convicts.

In a statement on Twitter, the Browns organization expressed appreciation for being part of Jim Brown's life and legacy. They mourned his passing, celebrated his impact, and extended condolences to his family and loved ones.Brown's talent and commitment to social change solidified his place in history. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell highlighted Brown's athletic dominance and role in inspiring athletes to engage in social initiatives during the civil rights movement.

“Jim Brown was a gifted athlete — one of the most dominant players to ever step on any athletic field — but also a cultural figure who helped promote change,” Goodell said. “During his nine-year NFL career, which coincided with the civil rights movement here at home, he became a forerunner and role model for athletes being involved in social initiatives outside their sport.”

Despite personal controversies, Brown's athletic achievements remain unparalleled. Standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing 230 pounds, he had a combination of strength and agility that made him a formidable force. His signature stiff-arm move became legendary.

Brown's career earned him eight All-Pro selections and nine Pro Bowl appearances. When he retired, he held the NFL's all-time records for rushing yards (12,312) and touchdowns (126). Notably, he never missed a game, showcasing his durability and tenacity.Tributes poured in from fellow athletes, fans, and admirers as news of Brown's passing spread. NBA superstar LeBron James expressed respect and gratitude for Brown's impact on their lives.Jim Brown's legacy transcends sports. He inspired generations, exemplified excellence on and off the field, and made contributions to athletics, activism, and humanitarian efforts that will forever be etched in history, alongside his talent and pursuit of greatness.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Reggae Legend Calton Coffie, Voice Behind 'Bad Boys' Theme Song for 'COPS,' Dies at 68

Reggae singer Calton Coffie, renowned for his tenure as the lead vocalist of the legendary Jamaican reggae group Inner Circle, has died at the age of 68.

Coffie's daughter, Eruth Spencer, confirmed his death to the Caribbean-based site DancehallMag. She stated that he passed away on February 2, 2023, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The exact cause of his death was not disclosed, but Coffie had been battling diabetes for several years, according to Spencer.

"My dad always had diabetes... he started to get sick when he was with the band Inner Circle, which is what caused him to leave," she told the publication. Spencer added that Coffie had continued to struggle with diabetes, and despite efforts from family members to reach out to him, they had not received any response since January. They learned of his passing on February 2nd.

Coffie played a pivotal role in Inner Circle as the lead singer, percussionist and keyboard player from 1986 to 1994, contributing significantly to the band's success during his tenure.

Inner Circle's "Bad Boys," featuring Coffie's powerful vocals, became widely recognized as the theme song for the popular TV series COPS. The track was part of Inner Circle's album "Bad To The Bone," which was later re-issued as "Bad Boys" in the United States.

The album achieved notable success on the Billboard 200 chart, spending 49 weeks and peaking at No. 64. The song's popularity transcended television, finding its way into films such as "Bad Boys" (1995), starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, as well as Tom Cruise's "Minority Report" (2002).

The band received its first Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album with "Bad Boys" in 1994. The following year, their album "Reggae Dancer," featuring Coffie as the lead singer, earned a second Grammy nomination in the same category.

Coffie's talent also shone on Inner Circle's hit song "Sweat (A La La La La Long)," which recently received Gold Certification in the United Kingdom, with over 400,000 copies sold, according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

After leaving Inner Circle, Coffie pursued a solo career under the name Hot Cup of Coffie, gaining recognition in the United Kingdom music scene.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Rhino Records Unveils Exclusive Collection of Otis Redding's Posthumous Albums

Courtesy Rhino Records
Otis Redding, widely known as the King of Soul, continues to captivate fans even more than five decades after his tragic death in a plane crash at the age of 26. To honor his profound musical contributions, Rhino Records is set to unveil a special vinyl boxed set featuring all four of Redding's posthumous albums.

The company is releasing "Otis Forever: The Albums & Singles (1968-1970)," a vinyl boxed set that brings together Redding's four posthumous studio albums. The collection includes 24 singles in their original mono versions.

Limited to just 1,000 copies, the 6-LP set will be available on June 9. Each album is pressed on a different colored vinyl: "The Dock of the Bay" in yellow, "The Immortal Otis Redding" in silver, "Love Man" in green, "Tell the Truth" in blue and "The Singles 1968-1970" in yellow. A retail exclusive edition in classic black vinyl will also be offered.

The highlight of the collection is "The Singles 1968-1970," an exclusive double album housed in a gatefold sleeve adorned with the original 7" labels from all 24 singles. This release showcases Redding's timeless hits, including fan favorites like "The Happy Song (Dum-Dum)" and "Hard To Handle."

During his career from 1962 to 1967, Redding recorded prolifically at Stax Records alongside his bandmates, Booker T. & The MG's. His exceptional talent and chart-topping R&B and Top 40 hits, such as "These Arms Of Mine," "Respect" and "Try A Little Tenderness," helped elevate Stax Records to global recognition.

Following Redding's tragic demise, his posthumous albums ensured his music remained in the spotlight. "The Dock of the Bay" (1968), "The Immortal Otis Redding" (1968), "Love Man" (1969) and "Tell the Truth" (1970) featured Redding's powerful vocals and memorable songwriting, spawning hits like "Look At That Girl," "Love Man," "I've Got Dreams To Remember" and "Amen."

"Otis Forever: The Albums & Singles (1968-1970)" opens with the iconic album "The Dock of the Bay," which soared to number one on both the U.S. and U.K. charts. The title track, released shortly after Redding's passing, made history as the first posthumous song to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Over the years, this timeless anthem has sold over four million copies worldwide and secured its place at number 38 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Redding's significant contributions and influence have been widely acknowledged. He has been inducted into prestigious halls of fame, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. 

In 1999, Redding was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Additionally, three of his timeless tracks, "Respect," "I've Been Loving You Too Long" and "Try A Little Tenderness," have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

The set is available for pre-order, priced at $149.98 for the multi-color vinyl edition and $124.98 for the black vinyl edition here.

Vinyl Track Listing

The Dock of the Bay (1968)
Side One
1. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay”
2. “I Love You More Than Words Can Say”
3. “Let Me Come On Home”
4. “Open The Door”
5. “Don’t Mess With Cupid”

Side Two
1. “The Glory Of Love”
2. “I’m Coming Home”
3. “Tramp” – Otis Redding & Carla Thomas
4. “The Huckle-Buck”
5. “Nobody Knows You (When You’re Down And Out)”
6. “Ole Man Trouble”

The Immortal Otis Redding (1968)
Side One
1. “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember”
2. “You Made A Man Out Of Me”
3. “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”
4. “Hard To Handle”
5. “Thousand Miles Away”
6. “The Happy Song (Dum-Dum-De-De-De-Dum-Dum)”

Side Two
1. “Think About It”
2. “A Waste Of Time”
3. “Champagne And Wine”
4. “Fool For You”
5. “Amen”

Love Man (1969)
Side One
1. “I’m A Changed Man”
2. “(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher And Higher”
3. “That’s A Good Idea”
4. “I’ll Let Nothing Separate Us”
5. “Direct Me”
6. “Love Man”

Side Two
1. “Groovin’ Time”
2. “Your Feeling Is Mine”
3. “Got To Get Myself Together”
4. “Free Me”
5. “A Lover’s Question”
6. “Look At That Girl”

Tell The Truth (1970)
Side One
1. “Demonstration”
2. “Tell The Truth”
3. “Out Of Sight”
4. “Give Away None Of My Love”
5. “Wholesale Love”
6. “I Got The Will”

Side Two
1. “Johnny’s Heartbreak”
2. “Snatch A Little Piece”
3. “Slippin’ And Slidin’”
4. “The Match Game”
5. “A Little Time”
6. “Swingin’ On A String”

The Singles: 1968-1970
Side One
1. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay”
2. “Sweet Lorene”
3. “The Happy Song (Dum-Dum)”
4. “Open The Door”
5. “Hard To Handle”
6. “Amen”

Side Two
1. “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember”
2. “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”
3. “White Christmas”
4. “Merry Christmas, Baby”
5. “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag”
6. “Direct Me”

Side Three
1. “A Lover’s Question”
2. “You Made A Man Out Of Me”
3. “Love Man”
4. “Can’t Turn You Loose”
5. “Free Me”
6. “(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher & Higher”

Side Four
1. “Look At That Girl”
2. “That’s A Good Idea”
3. “Demonstration”
4. “Johnny’s Heartbreak”
5. “Give Away None Of My Love”
6. “Snatch A Little Piece”
"Snatch A Little Piece"