Tag Archives: Birthdays

Daniel Natoga Ben Zebulon

Daniel Natoga Ben Zebulon

Wade Lawrence is the museum director and senior curator at The Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. He wrote in a January 2017 article about Richie Havens at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair: Richie Havens wasn’t scheduled to be the opening act of the Woodstock festival, but, in retrospect, it is hard to imagine anyone else doing it. The time for the festival to start had come and gone, all the roads leading to the festival were hopelessly congested with cars and people, and the audience was getting restless. Richie, Deano, and Daniel had been flown in by helicopter, and their setup was minimal, so festival organizers urged them to take the stage. The rest is history.

Daniel Natoga Ben Zebulon has a Facebook page. It states, “I am a percussionist who has played with Richie Havens, Isaac Hayes, and Stevie Wonder.”

I assume that that is accurate. I also assume that that is very limited.

In that same article referenced above, Lawrence wrote “Daniel Ben Zebulon is still active as a musician and has played percussion with Andy Gibb, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, and the Bee Gees.”

My memories of seeing Richie Havens always included the percussionist  Daniel Natoga Ben Zebulon and the guitarist Paul Deano Williams. As much a presence as Richie was, larger than life in so many ways despite his humility, Daniel and Deano were part of the fabric for any Havens concert.

 Daniel Natoga Ben Zebulon
 Daniel Natoga Ben Zebulon
Natoga and Paul Williams at the Woodstock site

The Allmusic site list of his credits is a long one.  In addition to the impressive names above, it also includes his working with: Juma Sultan,  The Rascals, Labelle,  The Manhattan Transfer,  Tim Hardin, and many others.

According to the guitarplayer site, Zebulon was once a part of the  Richie Havens Tad Truesdale Trio. It featuring Natoga on drums. Tad would just sing and Natoga would play these wonderful conga parts. His real name was Daniel Ben Zebulon, and he wound up playing with Richie for decades after that as well.

If you have anything you can add for this Woodstock Music and Art Fair alum Daniel Natoga Ben Zebulon and so much more, please comment or email. I’d love to hear more.

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Remembering Brother Gene Dinwiddie

Remembering Brother Gene Dinwiddie

“Take This Winter Out of My Mind” by Full Moon (1972)

Remembering Brother Gene Dinwiddie

September 19, 1936 –  January 11, 2002

I was one of those white suburban kids growing up in in a white suburban neighborhood that I didn’t realize was whites-only because no real estate agencies and owners would rent or sell to non-whites. Segregation northern style. Quiet but omnipresent.

We white suburban kids did not realize we were listening to our own American blues when we heard Eric Burdon sing “House of the Rising Sun” or Mick Jagger sing “You Better Move On.”

British bands like the Animals and Rolling Stones reinterpreted American blues, but bands like the Paul Butterfield Blues Band were revitalizing or simply continuing the blues tradition.

Remembering Brother Gene Dinwiddie

Gene Dinwiddie

Gene Dinwiddie, or Brother Gene Dinwiddie as he was often known, was part of that tradition.

He had already been playing in bands for 10 years when he joined Butterfield which presented him the opportunity to record. The American music scene was typically as segregated as my home town. Whether it be exclusionary tactics by record companies, recording studios, publishers, or venues, black musicians faced barriers at each entry. I certainly cannot speak for Gene Dinwiddie or any black musician, but I could understand the inclination of joining a band led by a white musician with hopes that the white musician had access that he did not.

Remembering Brother Gene Dinwiddie

Paul Butterfield Blues Band

He joined Paul Butterfield Blues Band in mid-1967 in time for the group’s appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival.

“Love March” became the band’s best known song because of its inclusion on the Woodstock album. It was Dinwiddie and drummer Phillip Wilson who lead on that song.

The longer Dinwiddie was in the band, the more he influenced its sound. The band ended in 1971, but a few of its members including Dinwiddie formed Full Moon.

Brother Gene Dinwiddie also played as a session musician with BB King, Melissa Manchester, Jackie Lomax, and Gregg Allman.

His most visible appearance on record in the 1990s was playing tenor sax on Etta James’ album Stickin’ to My Guns.

Remembering Brother Gene Dinwiddie
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David Clayton Thomsett Thomas

David Clayton Thomsett Thomas

David Clayton-Thomas at the 38th annual Festival of Friends at Hamilton, Ontario’s Ancaster Fairgrounds on August 11, 2013

born September 13, 1941

David Clayton Thomsett Thomas

David Clayton Thomsett Thomas

Canadian born in England

David Clayton Thomas’s father, Fred Thomsett, was a Canadian soldier serving in England during World War II. Thomas’s mother, Freda May Smith met Thomsett while playing the piano to entertain troops at a London hospital.

David Henry Thomsett was born  in Surrey, England. After the war, the family settled in Willowdale, a suburb of Toronto. David and his father had a difficult relationship and David ran away when he was 14.

He became homeless, slept in parked cars or abandoned buildings, and stole food and clothing to survive.

David Clayton Thomsett Thomas

Canadian jails

Authorities arrested him several times and Thomas lived his teen years jails and reformatories. By a fortunate chance, a released inmate left Thomas an old guitar. His love of music, perhaps remembering his mother’s love, too, kindled.

David Clayton Thomsett Thomas

Freed Canadian

Released in 1962, he found Toronto’s music scene.  Ronnie Hawkins, famous for breaking in the members of The Band, helped Thomas.

David Clayton Thomsett Thomas

David Clayton Thomas

He became David Clayton Thomas to distance himself from his former self and eventually fronted his own band: David Clayton-Thomas and The Fabulous Shays. Their 1964 successful recording of John Lee Hookers’ “Boom Boom” led to an appearance on the American TV show, Hullabaloo.

Thomas began to make blues his mainstay. His next band, The Bossmen, uniquely included jazz musicians. In 1966, the Bossman had a hit with the song “Brainwashed” written by Thomas.

David Clayton Thomsett Thomas

Blood, Sweat and Tears

The same year, Thomas traveled to NYC with John Lee Hooker and stayed there when Hooker left for Europe. Bobby Colomby, Blood, Sweat and Tears drummer, heard Thomas sing and invited him to join the re-aligned band.

The first album, Blood, Sweat and Tears, with Thomas was BS & T’s most successful. Released on December 11, 1968 it reached Billboard’s #1 album on March 29, 1969. It stayed a top album for seven weeks altogether. Five top singles came from the album, and it received a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1970.

The album also earned them an invitation to the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

David Clayton Thomsett Thomas

Post BS & T

Add Thomas’s name to the long and ever-growing list of musicians who found the pace of life on the road too grueling. Despite the band’s success, he left the group in 1972.

He did not leave music.

Thomas composed for Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Maynard Ferguson, and others.  He has released his own albums and continues to perform today.

David Clayton Thomsett Thomas
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