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Andy Sullivan: Against the Grain

You can learn a lot by watching tv and listening to the radio.  “War” by Edwin Starr was done originally by the Temptations.  It appeared on their 1970 album Psychedelic Shack.  The song was written for the Motown label in 1969 by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong.  Berry Gordy felt the song would alienate the Temptations’ fanbase and hurt their career. Apparently, he didn’t care about Edwin Starr’s career.  Gordy gave the song to Starr, who took it to #1.  I learned that little tidbit on Mighty Mannfred’s show on Little Steven’s Underground Garage. 

I was watching the show Very Best of ‘70’s Comedy on AXS the other day and learned a couple of things.  For one, Jay Leno once wrote for the classic tv show Good Times.  The late Redd Foxx real name was John Elroy Sanford.  His father, Fred Sanford, an electrician and auto mechanic from Hickman, KY, left the family when Foxx was 4 years old. 

In the 1940s, he met Malcolm Little, later known as Malcom X.  In Malcolm’s autobiography, Foxx is referred to as "Chicago Red, the funniest dishwasher on this earth." He earned the nickname because of his reddish hair and complexion.[3] During World War I, Foxx dodged the draft  by eating half a bar of soap before his physical, a trick that resulted in heart palpitations On September 30, 1946, Foxx recorded five songs for the Savoy label under the direction of  Teddy Reig He paid tribute to this in his Sanford & Son character name, Fred Sanford.

“Claudette” was written by Roy Orbison as a rocking tribute to his wife Claudette.  It was the first major songwriting success for the then-unknown Orbison, who subsequently terminated his contract with Sun Records and affiliated himself with the Everly’s publisher, Acuff-Rose Music.  That little bit came from  I discovered that’s where Chris Allen gets his facts for his radio show on SAM 100.7 from 3-7 pm Monday-Friday.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this visit into the realm of little-known music facts as much as I did discovering them.  Writing pieces like this make me think that music historian would be a fun job for me someday.


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