April 20, 2011 · 3:01 pm
One of the ugliest parts of the Vietnam War was the havoc it waged right here on the home front. A discriminatory draft system promised legions of African American men would be forced to leave their girlfriends, wives and children and head off to a questionable war they wouldn’t return from for a minimum of twelve months. And that was the upside of the situation.
Uncle Sam was hell-bent on stopping the spread of Communism, much to the detriment of the American Solider. Sadly, many wouldn’t come home alive and some of those who did, brought home new demons like drug addiction or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
For the loved ones back home, it could all just be too much for a relationship to bear. It’s easy to become lonely when there’s an ocean between you and the world you know. The Dear John letter became all too commonplace in this incomprehensible era of callous Cold War.
Vietnam was an all too-real part of life if you lived in the sixties or seventies. Your best friend was there, your brother was there, your son was there, and your husband was there. You could be going there. It’s no wonder that the Southeast Asian war inspired countless artists to write some of their best material.
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August 19, 2010 · 3:02 pm
After a successful career as one the most popular radio deejays in Texas and producing Archie Bell and the Drells’ seminal hit “Tighten Up,” Skipper Lee Frazier did what anyone else would do, he ran for political office. In the early seventies, Frazier made an ill-fated bid for Harris County Commissioner Seat, Precinct 1 here in Houston.
On a visit over at his house in Sunnyside a few years back, I found this small handbill within a cardboard box mixed in amongst other ephemera. When I asked Frazier about his attempt to get into the political arena he smirked at me and gently remarked “I thought I knew how to fight dirty but then I tried my hand at politics. It’s a whole other level of crooked and I suggest you never try such a foolish thing.”
Very well Skip, I like you better as a radio deejay and hit-maker anyways.
July 13, 2010 · 7:05 am
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, only a few men held enough water to influence the sounds of soul music on a commercial scale in Houston. The men that could put your record in the Billboard charts or put your musical career in the ground, the gate keepers so to speak of the Bayou City.
There was Don Robey, owner of the illustrious Duke-Peacock-Backbeat family of labels. He recorded everyone from Bobby Bland and Junior Parker to OV Wright and Carl Carlton. He built a small empire from his office over on 2809 Erastus Street (The building which still stands today as the Charity Baptist Church) including the legendary nightclub the Bronze Peacock.
Skipper Lee Frazier split his time as a radio DJ on KCOH 1430AM (he still broadcasts today on KWWJ 1360AM) and as owner of his Ovide Records imprint. The 1968 release of Archie Bell and the Drells “Tighten Up” firmly cemented Lee’s stature amongst the heavyweights of Texas record label men. But even if it didn’t, having other acts like the TSU Toronadoes and Masters of Soul on his roster certainly did.
But neither Robey nor Lee had the influence on the scale that Huey Meaux had.
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