Thursday, July 9, 2009


On August 11, 1965, Marquette Frye was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. The Watts Rebellion ensued. Six days later, 34 people had been killed, 1, 032 injured, and 3,952 arrested. Seven years later, there was Wattstax.

Produced by the legendary Stax label, it was hailed as the "Afro-American answer to Woodstock." Held at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the concert served to commemorate the 7th anniversary of the Watts Rebellion. To ensure that everyone could have the opportunity to partake, tickets were sold for only $1. The Kings and Queens of funkdom were all in attendance: Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, The Bar-kays, The Staples Singers, the list (and the beat) goes on. A dashiki-cloaked Jesse Jackson opened the event with the poem, "I Am - Somebody," performing a massive call and response with the crowd. The next 7 1/2 hours were surely something to behold. I, for one, regret not being there. I was, however, -11 at time. So I suppose these clips will have to suffice.

Ladies and gentlemen, Rufus Thomas.

Stanky leg my ass. THIS is dancing.


The Bar-Kays, who at the time had only two hit singles, had initially planned to enter the stadium on chariots, a plan which was promptly thrown out by stadium management, whom I will lovingly call the Buzz Killingtons of the event world. Fortunately, they were unable to foil the groups plans of bringing the FONK. And looking damn fly while doing it.


About 2 minutes in Mavis Staple goes to work. Wow.


Black Moses. Rest in power.

I'm switchin it up here. Cause I feel like it. Click to download "Walk On By"

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