Monday, April 24, 2017

A00092 - Joe Tex, Soul Singer

Tex, Joe
Joe Tex (b. Joseph Arrington, Jr., August 8, 1933, Rogers, Texas – d. August 13, 1982, Navasota, Texas) was a musician who gained success in the 1960s and 1970s with his brand of Southern soul, which mixed the styles of country, gospel and rhythm and blues.
The career of Joe Tex started after he was signed to King Records in 1955 following four wins at the Apollo Theater. Between 1955 and 1964, he struggled to find hits and by the time he finally recorded his first hit, "Hold On To What You've Got", in 1964, he had recorded thirty prior singles that were deemed failures on the charts. He went on to have four million-selling hits, "Hold What You've Got" (1965), "Skinny Legs and All" (1967), "I Gotcha" (1972), and "Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)" (1977). 

Joe Tex was born Joseph Arrington Jr. in Rogers, Texas to Joseph Arrington and Cherie Sue (Jackson) Arrington.  He and his sister Mary Sue were initially raised by their grandmother, Mary Richardson. After their parents divorced, Cheri Arrington moved to Baytown, Texas.  Tex played baritone saxophone in the high school band and sang in a local Pentecostal church choir. He entered several talent shows, and after an important win in Houston, he won $300 and a trip to New York City.  Joe Tex took part in the amateur portion of the Apollo Theater, winning first place four times, which led to his discovery by Henry Glover, who offered him a contract with King Records.  However, his mother's wish was that he graduate from high school first, so Glover agreed to wait a year before signing him at age 19.
Tex recorded for King Records between 1955 and 1957 with little success.  In 1958, he signed with Ace and continued to have relative failures, but he was starting to build a unique stage reputation, opening up for artists like Jackie Wilson, James Brown, and Little Richard.  He perfected the microphone tricks and dance moves that would define the rest of his career. 
In 1960, Tex left Ace and briefly recorded for Detroit's Anna Records label, where he scored a Bubbling Under Billboard hit with his cover version of Etta James' "All I Could Do Was Cry". By then, Tex's use of rapping over his music was starting to become commonplace.
In 1961, he recorded his composition "Baby You're Right" for Anna. Later that year, James Brown recorded a cover version, though with different lyrics and a different musical composition, gaining songwriting credit, making it a hit in 1962, and reaching No. 2 on the R&B chart. It was during this time that Tex first began working with Buddy Killen, who formed the Dial Records label behind Tex. After a number of songs failed to chart, Killen decided to have Atlantic Records distribute his recordings with Dial in 1964. By the time he signed with Atlantic, Tex had recorded 30 songs, all of which had failed to make an impact on the charts.
Tex recorded his first hit, "Hold On To What You've Got", in November 1964 at FAME Studios in Muscel Shoals, Alabama. He was unconvinced the song would be a hit and advised Killen not to release it.  However, Killen felt otherwise and released the song in early 1965. By the time Tex got wind of its release, the song had already sold 200,000 copies. The song eventually peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became Tex's first No. 1 hit on the R&B charts, staying on the charts for 11 weeks and selling more than a million copies by 1966.
Tex would place six top 40 charted singles on the R&B charts in 1965 alone, including two more No. 1 hits "I Want To (Do Everything For You)" and "A Sweet Woman Like You".  He followed that with two successive albums, Hold On To What You've Got and The New Boss. He placed more R&B hits than any artist, including his rival James Brown. In 1966, five more singles entered the top 40 on the R&B charts, including "The Love You Save" and "S.Y.S.L.J.F.M." or "The Letter Song", which was an answer song to Wilson Pickett's "634-5789".
His 1967 hits included "Show Me", which became an often-covered tune for British rock artists and later some country and pop artists, and his second million-selling hit, "Skinny Legs and All". The latter song, released off Tex's pseudo-live album, Live and Lively, stayed on the charts for 15 weeks and was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in January 1968.  After leaving Atlantic for Mercury, Tex had several more R&B hits including "Buying a Book" in 1970 and "Give the Baby Anything the Baby Wants" in 1971.
Tex recorded his next big hit, "I Gotcha", in December 1971. The song was released in January 1972 and stayed on the charts for 20 weeks, staying at No. 2 on the Hot 100 for two weeks and sold more than 2 million copies, becoming his biggest-selling hit.  Tex was earned a gold disc of the song on March 22, 1972. The parent album reached No. 17 on the pop albums chart. Following this and another album, Tex announced his retirement from show business in September 1972 to pursue life as a minister for Islam. Tex returned to his music career following the death of Elijah Muhammad in 1975, releasing the top 40 R&B hit, "Under Your Powerful Love". His last hit, "Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)", was released in 1977 and peaked at No. 12 on the Hot 100 and No. 2 in the United Kingdom.
His last public appearances were as part of a revised 1980s version of the Soul Clan in 1981. After that, Tex withdrew from public life, settling at his ranch in Navasota, Texas.
A convert to Islam in 1966, Tex changed his name to Yusuf Hazziez, and toured as a spiritual lecturer. He had a daughter, Eartha Doucet, and four sons, Joseph Arrington III, Ramadan Hazziez, Jwaade Hazziez and Joseph Hazziez.
On August 13, 1982, Joe Tex died at his home in Navasota, Texas, following a heart attack, five days after his 49th birthday.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A00091 - Ahmed Kathrada, Anti-Apartheid Activist

Kathrada, Ahmed Mohamed
Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada (b. August 21, 1929, Schweizer-Reneke, Western Transvaal, South Africa  – d. March 28, 2017, Johannesburg, South Africa), sometimes known by the nickname "Kathy", was a South African politician, former political prisoner and anti-apartheid activist.
Kathrada's involvement in the anti-apartheid activities of the African National Congress (ANC) led him to his long-term imprisonment following the Rivonia Trial, in which he was held at Robben Island and Pollsmoor Prison.  Following his release in 1990, he was elected to serve as a member of parliament, representing the ANC. He authored a book, No Bread for Mandela- Memoirs of Ahmed Kathrada, Prisoner No. 468/64.
Born into an Indian Muslim family, Kathrada was born in the small country town of Schweizer-Reneke in the Western Transvaal, the fourth of six children in a Gujarati Bohra family of South African Indian immigrant parents from Surat, Gujarat. 
Owing to his Indian origin and the policies of the time, he could not be admitted to any of the "European" or "African" schools in the area and thus he had to move to Johannesburg, 200 miles to the east, to be educated. Once in Johannesburg, he was influenced by leaders of the Transvaal Indian Congress such as Dr.Yusuf Dadoo, I. C. Meer, Moulvi and Yusuf Cachalia, and J. N. Singh. Consequently, he became a political activist at the early age of 12 when he joined the Young Communist League of South Africa.. He took part in various activities such as handing out leaflets and performing volunteer work in the individual passive resistance against the Pegging Act in 1941. During World War II, he was involved in the anti-war campaign of the Non-European United Front.  
At the age of 17, Kathrada left school to work full-time for the Transvaal Passive Resistance Council in order to work against the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Act, commonly referred to as the "Ghetto Act", which sought to give Indians limited political representation and defined the areas where Indians could live, trade and own land.
Kathrada was one of the two thousand volunteers imprisoned as a result of the campaign; he spent a month in a Durban jail. This was his first jail sentence for civil disobedience. Reportedly, he gave an incorrect age to the police so that he would not be treated as a juvenile, but sent to an adult prison instead. Later, he was elected as secretary-general of the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress.
While Kathrada was a student at the University of the Witwatersrand he was sent as a delegate of the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress to the Third World Festival of Youth and Students in East Berlin  in 1951.  He was elected as the leader of the large multi-racial South African delegation. He remained in Europe in order to attend a congress of the International Union of Students in Warsaw, and finally travelled to Budapest and worked at the headquarters of the World Federation of Democratic Youth for nine months.
As a result of the growing co-operation between the African and Indian Congresses in the 1950s, Kathrada came into close contact with African National Congress leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu.  Kathrada was one of 156 accused in the four-year Treason Trial which lasted from 1956 to 1960. Eventually, all of the accused were found not guilty.
After the ANC and various other anti-apartheid organizations were banned in 1960, Kathrada continued his political activities despite repeated detentions and increasingly severe house arrest measures against him. In order to be free to continue his activities, Kathrada went underground early in 1963.
On July 11, 1963, Kathrada was arrested at the South African internal headquarters of Umkhonto we Sizwe ("The Spear of the Nation" - the military wing of the ANC) in Rivonia near Johannesburg. Although Kathrada was not a member of Umkhonto we Sizwe, he became one of the accused in the famous Rivonia Trial, which started in October 1963. He was charged with sabotage and attempting to overthrow the government by violent means.
The trial ended in June 1964; Kathrada was sentenced to life imprisonment along with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Andrew Mlangeni, Billy Nair, Elias Motsoaledi, Raymond Mhlaba and Denis Goldberg. 
For the following 18 years, Kathrada was confined to the Robben Island Maximum Security Prison along with most of his Rivonia Trial "colleagues". In October 1982, he was moved to Pollsmoor Maximum Prison near Cape Town to join others such as Mandela, Sisulu, Mhlaba and Mlangeni who had been moved there a few months before.
While in jail on Robben Island and in Pollsmoor, Kathrada completed a bachelor's degree in History/Criminology and Bibliography as well as Honours degrees in History and African Politics through the University of South Africa. (However, the prison authorities refused to allow him or the other prisoners to pursue postgraduate studies.)
On October 15, 1989, Kathrada, along with Jeff Masemola, Raymond Mhlaba, Billy Nair, Wilton Mkwayi, Andrew Mlangeni, Elias Motsoaledi, Oscar Mpetha, and Walter Sisulu were released from Johannesburg prison.
After the unbanning of the ANC in February 1990, Kathrada served on the interim leadership committees of both the ANC and the South African Communist Party.  He resigned from the latter position when he was elected to the ANC National Executive Committee in July 1991. During the same year, he was appointed as head of ANC public relations as well as a fellow of the University of the Western Cape's  Mayibuye Centre.
Kathrada went on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in 1992.
In the first all-inclusive democratic South African elections in 1994, Kathrada was elected as a member of parliament for the ANC.  In September 1994, Kathrada was appointed as the political advisor to President Mandela in the newly created post of Parliamentary Counsellor. In June 1999, Kathrada left parliamentary politics.
In 1994 and 1995, Kathrada was elected as chairperson of the Robben Island Museum Council. He remained the chairperson of the Robben Island Museum Council. On October 27, 2013, on the island, he launched the International Campaign to Free Marwan Barghouthi and All Palestinian Prisoners.
Kathrada's life partner was Barbara Hogan, a Minister of Public Enterprises. 

Kathrada died at a medical center in Johannesburg from complications of a cerebral embolism on 28 March 28, 2017, at the age of 87.
In addition to receiving the Isitwalandwe Award (the ANC’s highest possible accolade) whilst still in prison, Kathrada has also been awarded four Honorary Doctorates, including the University of Missouri, Michigan State University, and the University of Kentucky. 
Kathrada was also voted 46th in the Top 100 Great South Africans in 2004.
He was awarded the Pravasi Bharativa Samman by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in 2005.