RIP Oscar Brown Jr.
Most recently heard on the Verve Remixed series, with the killer tune 'Brother Where Are You?'
Singer, songwriter and playwright Oscar Brown Jr. died Sunday in Chicago after a brief illness, his family said. He was 78. Brown was hospitalized in mid-April following emergency surgery to stop the spread of an infection in his lower spine. Before the surgery, he had complained of severe pain and suffered paralysis to both of his legs.
He had been released but was readmitted about two-and-a-half weeks ago and died at St. Joseph Hospital from complications of the illness, said his niece, Lauren Hudson. "Although we will miss him deeply, he has left a wealth of works that will continue to touch the world," his daughter, Maggie Brown, said in a statement.
Brown is known for his compositions "The Snake," "Signifyin' Monkey" and his lyrics for Miles Davis' "All Blues." Early in his career, Brown shared the bill with jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane. Brown, who was active in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, also ran and lost twice for political office - first for the Illinois legislature and later for a seat in the U.S. Congress, according to his Web site. Along with his wife, Jean Pace Brown, he is survived by one son, four daughters and grandchildren. From Chicago Sun Times.
From AMG bio for Brown...
The multi-talented Oscar Brown, Jr. wrote several classic pieces, including the lyrics to "Dat Dere," "Work Song," "Watermelon Man," and "The Entertainer" (the latter a bittersweet biography of Scott Joplin); and the compositions "Signifyin' Monkey" and "But I Was Cool."
An important social commentator and playwright, Oscar Brown, Jr. acted on a regular network radio soap opera while in high school. After a wide variety of careers (including public relations, real estate, ad copy, and running unsuccessfully for political office), he became a professional songwriter, starting with "Brown Baby" (which was recorded by Mahalia Jackson) and collaborating with Max Roach on the "Freedom Now Suite."
A dramatic singer, Brown was signed to Columbia in 1960, where he recorded several classic albums. In 1962, he was the MC on the legendary Jazz Scene USA television series (some episodes of which have been made available on video). Brown performed on and wrote many shows through the years, and served as artist-in-residence at several colleges. After recording steadily, he was off records altogether during 1975-1994, until returning with Then & Now for the Weasel Disc label in 1995, a disc full of both fresh remakes and new material.
Check NZ On Air's page about NZ Music Month. Notice something badly wrong with it? Here's a clue... "NZ Music Month is coming ... ! May 2004 will be NZ Music Month again and this time, the colour will be GREEN." In the words of Nelson Muntz (from 'the Simpsons') HA HA!