Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1093

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BRINGING YOU THE STORIES BEHIND MUSIC + ESSENTIAL NEWS, REVIEWS AND INTERVIEWS...

Feature

Randy Hall: Rubberband Man

Randy Hall @bluesandsoul.com
Randy Hall @bluesandsoul.com Randy Hall @bluesandsoul.com Randy Hall @bluesandsoul.com Randy Hall @bluesandsoul.com

Soul aficionados aside, he may not be a household name but for over forty years Randy Hall has been wowing audiences and worked with some of the biggest names in US black music. A true musician’s musician, the singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer and arranger has toured with Diana Ross, Ray Parker Jr., Phil Perry and The Jacksons. He has written songs with Leon Ware, appeared on albums by The Commodores and Ramsey Lewis, and written and produced songs for Roberta Flack, Jeffrey Osborne and Kevin Toney (The Blackbyrds).

Hall has appeared in the Disney movie “Can’t Buy Me Love” and he wrote and produced songs for the film “Soul Men” and for Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” among others. He performed the musical score for the classic Fox TV series “Dawson’s Creek” and before reaching adulthood he cut his teeth as a guitarist playing for The Staple Singers in front of a packed congregation and the watchful eye of ‘Pops’.

The one-time lead singer of crack funk group Pleasure has also worked alongside Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg and Tupac Shakur. And did I not mention his work with the Prince of Darkness himself, Mr Miles Davis? So when Hall agreed to a short interview to talk about his career, and his current and future projects, yours truly jumped at the opportunity. The transatlantic phone call to Las Vegas was duly made.

Candid and exuding warmth, Hall revealed the high points – and the lows – of a remarkable career which continues to this day with exciting times ahead. Indeed, his life in the music business seemed to be pretty much mapped out as soon as he started kindergarten where he quickly became friends with someone who not only became a superb drummer but also had a family connection to die for. With Hall displaying an ever-increasing aptitude for music, initially the piano and later the guitar, this early friendship was one that would last.

“Vince Wilburn is a nephew of Miles Davis. We grew up together, played in groups together. We called our first group TSD. It was the thing to do back then. There was Earth, Wind & Fire so we called ourselves Time Space & Distance. After that, we formed Data, and later AL7. Robert Irving III – Bobby to us - (piano) was also in the group, so was Glenn Burris (horns) and Felton Crews (bass). Anyhow, Vince sent his uncle a tape of some of the stuff we were doing. Miles loved it! So much so that he wanted to put a couple of our songs on his new album. I’d co-written both of them with Bobby and Glenn. There was “Shout” and an instrumental, which became the title track,”The Man With The Horn”. Miles asked me to write some lyrics, he liked my voice, I sang the song and it became the first vocal track ever to appear on a Miles Davis album. What was great about it was that it attracted a new audience for him. It charted well on urban radio stations and it did really well for him. I’ll never forget him saying “thank you for making me number one”.

The success of “The Man With The Horn” opened doors for Hall and his friends. They were soon invited to appear on Ramsey Lewis’ 1981 album “Three Piece Suite” on Columbia, which contained the UK Jazz-Funk floor-filling “Expansions” with Hall on guitar. Tom Washington, AKA Tom Tom 84, who produced and arranged it, was suitably impressed by them and tried to get them a deal with Columbia. But Hall’s next move was to join a long-standing Funk act with considerable pedigree.

“When I was studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston (in the late seventies) I loved that Pleasure record “Glide” - I listened to it daily. I saw the show when Pleasure played in Boston and I met them. Two years later, thanks to the Miles Davis record, they called me up and asked me if I’d sing lead on their new album, “Give It Up”. Robert Wright, who produced with Earth, Wind & Fire, produced it. They were great times!”

Singles "How Do You Want Your Love", "DJ's Need Love Too" and "Callin' For Love" are available through Six Nine Records

You can read more from our interview with soul star Randy Hall, including the artist's memories of his time as lead singer of r&b/soul/jazz/funk outfit, Pleasure. Then, how he became a solo artist. Also, memories of working with Ray Parker Jr, The Commodores and other superstars, including jazz god Miles Davis on his once shelved, now resurrected, project "Rubberband". Plus, when he became a Record Exec at Death Row records and his dealings with their roster of superstar hip-hop artists. And, how his link-up with Six Nine record's boss Neil Pounds has lead to a new lease of life as a solo artist. All in the current issue of Blues & Soul magazine - click the 'BUY NOW' link below to order straight from the B&S shop or read on for high street retailer details...

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Words DUNCAN PAYNE

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