Detroit Teddy Harris Jr

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr

August 27, 1934 – August 22, 2005

I often entitle my little bios of Woodstock performers by including the word “Woodstock” before or after their name. An SEO strategy.

In the case of Teddy Harris, the word Woodstock, however  much apropos, is far too limiting because his roots and branches are  Detroit.

As he says above, “Nobody swings as hard as Detroit.

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr


Theodore Edward Harris Jr. was born in Detroit on August 27, 1934.

His first music teacher was his father, jazz organist Theodore Harris Sr.

A Metrotimes article recounts his early musical milestone: as a precocious 7-year-old, [Harris] had a musical epiphany…at the Paradise Theatre. As recounted in Harris family lore, the curtains opened, the youngster jumped up on his seat, pointed at Duke Ellington on stage and pronounced, “That’s what I want to be.”

Harris himself talked about his home’s musical atmosphere: “I came up in a house full of music. I had uncles that sang; they sang like birds. They had a trio called the Cosmopolitan Trio, and they sang in churches throughout the area. My father was their accompanist. Every Saturday my father would give me a haircut, and after I would listen to the guys sing and rehearse.”

In high school, he served as student band director.

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr

New England

In 1955 Harris attended the New England Conservatory for a time before being drafted in 1956.  Before he left he  was part of Jackie Wilson’s first hit “Reet Petite (The Finest Girl You Ever Want to Meet).”

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr


The military did not interfere with his musical journey. He performed as guest saxophonist with the 7th Army Symphony Orchestra and Soldier’s Show Company

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr


After his discharge in 1959 he studied with  Nadia Boulanger in Paris before returning to Detroit.

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr

Back in Detroit

Harris had known Berry Gordy, Jr and when Harris returned to Detroit in 1961, he became part of Gordy’s growning  Motown enterprise. He worked with Marvin Gaye, Martha Reeves, the Temptations and Smokey Robinson.

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr


Detroit Teddy Harris Jr

Bassist friend Rod Hicks got Harris to join the Paul Butterfield Blues Band,  which led to Harris’s presence at Woodstock. He described flying over the site as looking at “biggest Indian pow-wow in the world.

After Paul Butterfield, Harris spent 16 years as musical director for the Supremes.

Post Woodstock

In the early 1980s Harris formed the New Breed Bebop Society Orchestra while heading a summer arts workshop for economically disadvantaged youngsters.

During the mid 1980s, Harris led the house band at Dummy George’s, and led a big band often accompanied with The Detroit Voices.


Some of the awards he received were: Outstanding Contributions (United Negro College Fund) 1986; Distinguished Recognition Medal (City of Detroit) 1990; State of Michigan Special Tribute 1992; Legends of Jazz International Hall of Fame; Michiganian of the Year 1993; Jazz Masters Award 1993; 1993 Key to the City of Detroit; Spirit of Detroit Award 1994, Governor’s Michigan Artist Award 1995.

Teddy Harris died of prostate cancer at John D Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit.

The Motown Forever site said of HarrisThere was always an elegance about Teddy Harris Jr., from the fluid caress of his piano and saxophone work, to the curlicue grace and bebop lyricism of his arrangements, to the hip presence with which he led his bands and mentored generation after generation of young jazz musicians.

Detroit Teddy Harris Jr
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Rev Gary Davis Van Gelder

Rev Gary Davis Van Gelder

Reverend Gary Davis

The discography of the Reverend Gary Davis is longer than the four albums he recorded at the Van Gelder Studios in Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Much longer.

And there are recordings that some of his students did while they were trying to learn the guitar playing intricacies that Davis could do.

I will stick with the four recording sessions that he did at Van Gelder mainly because of that studio’s fame for so many classic recordings, particularly jazz.

Rev Gary Davis Van Gelder

Gary D. Davis

Gary Davis was born on April 30, 1896 in Laurens, South Carolina. He was the oldest of eight children and the only one to survive.

Rev Gary Davis Van Gelder

In his 20s he moved to Durham, North Carolina and barely supported himself busking in its streets mainly the blues until he was ordained a minister in 1937. At that point, despite requests, he tried to get away from “secular” music, particularly when recording.

He moved to New York in the 40s where he continued busking and living in poverty. To supplement his income, he gave guitar lessons. $5 a lesson.

Van Gelder Recording Sessions

While he had been recorded several times earlier than his first Van Gelder session, the highest quality recordings came from those in Englewood Cliffs.

August 24, 1960

Rev Gary Davis Van Gelder

Rev Gary Davis Van Gelder
Harlem Street Singer

Matt Fink in his All Music review says, “…Gary Davis laid down 12 of his most impassioned spirituals for Harlem Street Singer. Starting off the session with a version of Blind Willie Johnson’s “If I Had My Way I’d Tear That Building Down,” here renamed “Samson and Delilah,” Davis is in fine form. His vocals are as expressive as Ray Charles’ while similar in richness to Richie Havens’ work. Harlem Street Singer features his inspired country blues fingerpicking as well. Many moods color the selections, from the gentle “I Belong to the Band” to the mournful “Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” only to be followed by the joyous shouting of “Goin’ to Sit Down on the Banks of the River.” Overall, the collection is well worth the purchase and should be considered essential listening for fans of country blues or gospel.”

Track listing

Unless noted otherwise, all compositions are by Davis:

  1. Samson and Delilah” (Traditional) – 4:02
  2. “Let Us Get Together” – 3:08
  3. “I Belong to the Band” – 2:54
  4. “Pure Religion” (Traditional) – 2:57
  5. “Great Change Since I Been Born” – 4:03
  6. “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” – 4:41
  7. “Twelve Gates to the City” (Traditional) – 3:08
  8. “Goin’ to Sit Down on the Banks of the River” – 2:55
  9. “Tryin’ to Get Home” – 3:46
  10. “Lo I Be With You Always” – 4:17
  11. “I Am the Light of the World” – 3:34
  12. “I Feel Just Like Goin’ On” – 3:29

Rev Gary Davis Van Gelder

August 10, 1961

Rev Gary Davis Van Gelder

A Little More Faith

Again Bruce Elder from AllMusicGary Davis’ second album for Prestige Records is a confusing affair, at least as far as its title — Little More Faith is how it’s listed in lots of reference sources, but its front cover calls it A Little More Faith, while its spine (at least for the CD issue) calls it Have a Little Faith. But by whatever name it’s called, it’s a masterpiece: its dozen songs recorded on one day in August of 1961 are nothing less than priceless. Davis presents an easy virtuosity on his solo guitar, and runs his voice across a surprisingly wide range in what is mostly gospel repertory. Not that any blues fans will mind his approach: Davis was one of those figures where the sound and feel of blues becomes indistinguishable from those of gospel. He was just doing what came naturally on this record, laying down 12 songs he knew well from across decades of performing, including a raw and affecting “Motherless Child” and the upbeat, inspiring “There’s a Bright Side Somewhere.” And his easy, unselfconscious approach demonstrates that he never once thought twice about his contributions to an already classic body of music. Included among the jewels here are some of the roots of the blues revival of the next generation, including Davis’ rendition of “I’ll Be All Right Some Day,” a song that Jorma Kaukonen parlayed into a killer opening for his solo magnum opus, Quah, about 13 years later. And speaking of natural, the stereo mastering of this album works amazingly well, despite the fact that it puts Davis‘ voice on one channel and his guitar on another; mono sound might be more authentic, but this way you can fully appreciate his playing and his singing, each on its own terms.

Track listing

Unless noted otherwise, all compositions are by Davis:

  1. You Got to Move” (Traditional) – 3:18
  2. “Crucifixion” – 4:57
  3. “I’m Glad I’m in That Number” – 2:58
  4. “There’s a Table Sittin’ in Heaven” – 3:28
  5. Motherless Children” (Traditional) – 4:12
  6. “There’s a Bright Side Somewhere” (Traditional) – 3:12
  7. “I’ll Be All Right Some Day” – 3:03
  8. “You Better Mind” – 3:26
  9. “A Little More Faith” – 3:40
  10. “I’ll Fly Away” (Albert E. Brumley) – 4:32
  11. “God’s Gonna Separate” (Traditional) – 3:35
  12. “When I Die I’ll Live Again” – 3:28

Rev Gary Davis Van Gelder

Late 1961

Say No to the Devil

Bruce Elder in his AllMusic review states, “His second Prestige album of 1961 shows the Rev. Gary Davis not breaking stride for a second, even in the wake of the triumphant A Little More Faith. The repertory here is perhaps a little more traditional gospel in orientation, and the songs more cautionary in nature — but that doesn’t stop Davis from displaying some overpowering dexterity, and if anything his singing is even more exuberant here. And this time out, in addition to his six-string guitar, he treats us to his powerful 12-string playing on “Time Is Drawing Near” and “Lost Boy In The Wilderness,” the latter a shimmering five-minute showcase for the instrument that’s almost worth the price of admission by itself; and he also shows off his considerable harmonica dexterity — of a distinctly old-school style — on “Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand” and “No One Can Do Me Like Jesus.” The stereo mix on this album, when compared to its predecessor, is also a bit more naturalistic, without sacrificing any detail in the finely nuanced playing or singing, and the result is an album as fine as its predecessor, and an equally worthy part of any serious acoustic blues collection.

Track listing

Unless noted otherwise, all compositions are by Davis:

  1. “Say No to the Devil” – 4:01
  2. “Time Is Drawing Near” – 4:26
  3. “Hold on to God’s Unchanging Hand” (Traditional) – 4:35
  4. “Bad Company Brought Me Here” – 3:38
  5. “I Decided to Go Down” – 4:25
  6. “Lord, I Looked Down the Road” – 4:20
  7. “Little Bitty Baby” (Traditional) – 4:32
  8. “No One Can Do Me Like Jesus” – 3:40
  9. “Lost Boy in the Wilderness” – 5:01
  10. “Tryin’ to Get to Heaven in Due Time” – 4:24

Rev Gary Davis Van Gelder

March 2, 1964

The Guitar & Banjo of Reverend Gary Davis

From Richie Unterberger at AllMusicBecause this is an all-instrumental recording, it’s an offbeat entry into the catalog of a performer known both as an important guitarist and as a singer. Some might miss Davis‘ vocals on this 1964 recording, but on the other hand there are plenty of records with him singing around. This gives listeners a chance to hone in on his dexterous guitar skills, blending ragtime, folk, and blues, usually on guitar (though he plays banjo on a couple of songs, and harmonica on one). “Maple Leaf Rag” is a natural showcase for Davis’ talents, and “Candy Man,” which may be his most well-known song, is here presented without words, making for an interesting juxtaposition with more commonly heard versions on which he (or others) sings. As further evidence of his eclecticism, there’s a version of “United States March aka Soldier’s Drill” — not the best format for his strengths, certainly, but an illustration of his ability to adapt his style to unexpected material.

Track listing

Unless noted otherwise, all compositions are by Davis:

  1. “Maple Leaf Rag” (Scott Joplin) – 2:58
  2. “Slow Drag” – 2:27
  3. “The Boy Was Kissing the Girl (and Playing the Guitar the Same Time)” – 2:42
  4. “Candy Man” – 2:54
  5. “United States March” (Traditional) – 6:31
  6. “Devil’s Dream” (Traditional) – 3:50
  7. “The Coon Hunt” (Traditional) – 3:32
  8. “Mister Jim” – 4:15
  9. “Please Baby” – 3:18
  10. “Fast Fox Trot” – 2:22
  11. “Can’t Be Satisfied” – 2:55


Rev Gary Davis Van Gelder
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August 23 Music et al

August 23 Music et al

Keith Moon

August 23, 1946: Keith Moon born.

August 23 Music et al

John & Cynthia marry

August 23, 1962: John Lennon married Cynthia Powell at the Mount Pleasant register office in Liverpool. Brian Epstein was the best man, and George Harrison and Paul McCartney were also in attendance. Absent was John’s aunt Mimi, who disapproved of the union, although Cynthia’s half brother and his wife were there.

As soon as the ceremony began, a pneumatic drill outside the building opposite drowned out all that was said; when the registrar asked for the groom to step forward, Harrison did, which only added to the farce.

At Epstein’s expense, they celebrated afterwards at Reece’s restaurant in Clayton Square, eating a set menu of soup, chicken and trifle. Reece’s was where John’s parents Alf and Julia had celebrated their own wedding in 1938.

John and Cynthia met in 1957 while both were students at Liverpool Art College, and began a relationship the following year.

In mid-1962 she discovered she was pregnant – the pair had never used contraception. John’s reaction when she told him was: “There’s only one thing for it Cyn – we’ll have to get married”.

Brian Epstein thought fans of The Beatles might feel alienated to know one of them was married, and so the Lennons kept the wedding a secret.

Epstein allowed John and Cynthia to live at his flat at 36 Falkner Street free of charge, where they stayed until the birth of Julian Lennon in April 1963. Thereafter they effectively moved into Mendips with John’s aunt Mimi, although by that time John was spending much of his time in London with the band.

On their wedding night John played a show with The Beatles at the Riverpark Ballroom in Chester. (see Sept 11)

August 23 Music et al

Second Shea concert

August 23, 1966: on John and Cynthia’s 4th anniversary and a little over a year after their first triumphant appearance at New York’s Shea Stadium, The Beatles returned for a second time.

The concert did not sell out, with 11,000 of the 55,600 tickets still available. Nonetheless, The Beatles made more money from their appearance than they had in 1965, receiving $189,000 – 65 per cent of the gross takings of $292,000.

The lack of a sellout was unsettling and it was against this background that they said, ‘Right, we definitely won’t do any more. We are going to have a break and then we are going into the studio to make a record.’ (George Martin from Anthology)

The support acts were The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle and The Ronettes. The Beatles performed 11 songs: Rock And Roll Music, She’s A Woman, If I Needed Someone, Day Tripper, Baby’s In Black, I Feel Fine, Yesterday, I Wanna Be Your Man, Nowhere Man, Paperback Writer and Long Tall Sally.

During the performance of Day Tripper hundreds of fans broke through barriers and attempted to reach the stage. They were held back by security guards and none managed to get close to The Beatles. (see Aug 28)

August 23 Peace Love Art Activism

Are You Experienced?

August 23, 1967: US release of Hendrix’s debut LP, Are You Experienced?” (see Sept 16)

August 23 Peace Love Art Activism

Cynthia sues for divorce

August 23, 1968: on their 6th wedding anniversary, Cynthia Lennon sued John Lennon for divorce. [Beatles Bible piece](Beatles, see Aug 28; Lennon, see Nov 8)

August 23 Music et al

Honky Tonk Women

August 23 – September 19, 1969: “Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

August 23 Music et al

Johnny Cash

August 23 – September 19, 1969: Johnny Cash’s At San Quentin the Billboard #1 album.

August 23 Music et al
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