Tag Archives: Woodstock Birthdays

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

Detroit

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

Germany

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

Paris

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

Woodstock

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.

Awards

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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Trumpeter Steve Madaio

Trumpeter Steve Madaio

Trumpeter Steve Madaio

Happy birthday Steve
July 18, 1948

For some Woodstock performers I am often surprised how little information I can find. On the other hand, some have so much, it is difficult to limit what I intend to be a short essay about them.

Steve Madaio falls into the latter category.

Trumpeter Steve Madaio

Facebook basics

His Facebook page says that he attended Lynbrook High School, Lynbrook, NY and then the Mannes School of Music in NYC. He now lives in Palm Desert, CA.

Steve played trumpet with Paul Butterfield at Woodstock on Day 3 of that famed festival. He had first joined the band in 1969 on their Keep On Movin’ album. He stayed with the band for there next album, Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin'”.

Trumpeter Steve Madaio

Credits

That was not the end of his musician’ s path. Not by a long shot!

The Rate Your Music site listed 153 credits for Steve. In addition to the obvious example of Paul Butterfield, a few of the other names listed are: James Cotton Blues Band, B.B. King, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Rolling Stones, Dave Mason, Etta James, Carly Simon, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Martha Reeves, The Temptations, Boz Scaggs, Dionne Warwick, Ace, Bobby Bland, Paul Anka, Richie Furay, Janis Ian, Bonnie Raitt, Freddie Hubbard, Rita Coolidge, Four Tops, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, and many more.

Trumpeter Steve Madaio

Steve Wonder

Trumpeter Steve Madaio

National Association of Music Merchants video w Steve speaking about his time playing with Steve Wonder. He played trumpet on most of Stevie Wonders recordings during the innovative and creative period between 1971 and 1976.  Stevie was experimenting with electric keyboards and synthesizers, which Steve witnessed and took part in, including working on the classic album Songs in the Key of Life. 

Ah, those horns on “Sir Duke” !

Hopefully Steve will find his way back to Bethel for a bit of the 50th’s celebration.

AllMusic credits

Trumpeter Steve Madaio
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Mel Lawrence Woodstock

Mel Lawrence Woodstock

Remembering Mel
May 17, 1935 – November 5, 2016

Mel Lawrence already had a long list of credits to his name before Woodstock Ventures hired him to be its Director of Operation for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

Mel Lawrence Woodstock

From the top

After a stint in the Army and attending Long Island University (received a BS in Speech Pathology), he moved to Hawaii. There he eventually got involved in promotion with KPOI, a rock radio statio. He helped produced many concerts until 1967 when he became the promotion director at another rock radio station, KFRC in San Francisco.

He helped create and produce the Magic Mountain Music Festival (in many ways the first rock festival). A week later assisted with the much more famous Monterey Pop Festival.

In a 2014 Rolling Stone article, Mel said of Magic Mountain, “My M.O. was that I was as crazy as any hippie, but I had short hair so I could talk to corporations and cops.”

The attitude he and the others helped promote there, served them well down the road in 1969: “ I think the basic thing was a consideration for the audience and realizing that there were other options than just sitting them down in a seat and watching a show. And you had to care for their welfare because you’re the promoter.”

In 1968, he co-produced the Miami Pop Festival. Michael Lang was slightly involved with that event and said of Lawrence in the RS article, “Mel was very practical and very creative and very well organized. He was just very unflappable, which was essential.”

Mel Lawrence Woodstock

Film

Woodstock was just one, albeit perhaps the most famous, of Lawrence’s many projects. He also became involved in film:

Year Title Credit
1982 Koyaanisqatsi Associate Producer
1987 Powaqqatsi: Life in Transformation Producer
1988 Without Borders Associate Producer
1989 Île Aye Line Producer
1994 Paha Sapa – The Struggle for the Black Hills Producer/Director
1995 Biker Women Producer
1996 The Amazon Warrior Producer/Director
1997 Legends of the Bushmen Executive Producer
1997 Soul in the Hole Executive Producer
2002 Naqoyqatsi: Life as War Co-producer
2005 Un Retrato De Diego Producer
2013 The Ambassador of Tequila Producer
2013 Visitors Consulting Producer
Mel Lawrence Woodstock

Television

  • Recovery Network (1997-2000) (Producer, Program Director)
  • Iditarod (Original Productions) (2008) (story producer)
  • Shark U (Original Productions) (2008) (story producer)
  • Deadliest Catch (Original Productions) (2008 – 2010) (story producer)
  • Black Gold (Original Productions)(2011-2012) (story producer)

Mel Lawrence died on November 6, 2016. An obituary from the LA Times read: “Big spirit, huge heart and beautiful soul Mel Lawrence left us to soar with the eagles early Saturday morning, November 5th at his home in Santa Monica. He lived a life full of adventurous travel, creativity, and self exploration. The twinkle in his eye and his passionate connection to life will be missed by all of us who knew and loved him. “

Thank you, Mel.

Mel Lawrence Woodstock
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