Friday, July 27, 2007

Respect Yourself

Al Bell, Executive Vice President and co-owner (with Jim Stewart) of Stax Records from 1970 to 1975, and Bev Johnson of WDIA Memphis, just after the sneak-preview screening last night of the upcoming PBS documentary, Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, here in Memphis. This powerful and affecting film about the great Stax adventure, driven by an incredible score, will be aired Wednesday, August 1, at 8 pm Central (9 pm Eastern) on PBS stations nationally (WKNO locally).

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Three old friends

March 7, 2004.
Old friend #1: Joey Williams, stained glass entrepreneur.
Old friend #2: Joey's Harley.

Old friend #3: The late, great Blue Monkey saloon, in downtown Memphis, Tennessee.

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Atlanta, c. 1972

Songwriter Bettye Crutcher, singer Billy Eckstine, Novella, and Lydia Isbell, wife of Al Bell (co-owner of Stax from 1970-1975). Photo taken around 1972.

Corrected: It turns out the photo was taken not in Houston's Shamrock Hilton, but in Atlanta, on Lydia's birthday. But that's Billy Eckstine for sure, and I'll keep the 1985 New York Times story below about the hotel's demise.


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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Black Radio Hall of Fame

On August 23, 1991, Novella (a.k.a. KYOK's "Dizzie Lizzie") was inducted into the Black Radio Hall of Fame. Pictured here with Novella are fellow inductees James Brown, Radio One entrepreneur Cathy Hughes (holding award), and Jack "The Rapper" Gibson, who is considered the Father of Black Radio. Gibson is also the founder of NARA.

Same event, different photo. Jack "The Rapper" Gibson, Novella, James Brown, and Cathy Hughes. Novella and James can be seen to be holding their awards. The identity of the man in sunglasses is unknown. Security?

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NARA Convention, circa 1964

Gregory Peck at a NARA (National Association of Radio Announcers, Inc., later to become NATRA) convention, probably in 1964. Left to right: Ken Knight, Gregory Peck, "Sir Walter", (unknown), and Novella.

Gregory Peck was the keynote speaker. Since this photo pre-dates the photo with the Supremes, I will guess that this is around 1964, just after Peck had given an Academy-award winning performance, starring in To Kill a Mockingbird (1963). Novella remembers him telling her, "I want you in my next movie!"

The original print of this photo was loaned to a media outlet in Houston, and never given back. This early-technology photocopy, unfortunately, is all that remains.

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Living Legend Award

Novella received the Jack Gibson Living Legend Award (National Black Programmers Coalition) on November 20,1999. Left to right: Larry Dodson (Bar-Kays), Norman West and J. Blackfoot (Soul Children), Novella, and another radio legend, Skipper Lee Frazier.

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KYOK radiothon

"Bugaloo" George Frazier, KYOK (Houston) DJ, announcing a radiothon benefit for the Eliza Johnson Home for the Aged, circa 1970. That's Novella's daughter Monique Smith giving direction.

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Dionne Warwick.


Surprise! Caught-Cha!

Lou Rawls (1933-2006).


Merry Christmas from KYOK

Santa's helper Novella, with holiday greetings from KYOK in Houston, Texas. In those days the format was R&B with a dose of spirituals. Today, the station broadcasts on a different frequency in an urban gospel format.


Jerry Butler

A youthful Jerry Butler of the Impressions ("For Your Precious Love").


Jackie Wilson

Jackie Wilson (1934-1984), 1960s soul and R&B singer ("Lonely Teardrops").


Friday, July 20, 2007

Tina Turner

One of these two people is Tina Turner.

Tina Turner, Juggy Murray (d. 2005), co-founder of Sue Records, and Novella.

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The Supremes

The Supremes, just before Christmas, 1965, at the Shamrock Hilton in Houston. The next day they would perfrom a big concert at the Astrodome. Left to right: Mary Wilson, Novella (from KPRC), Florence Ballard, Marlyn Williams (Homecoming Queen for the Weatley [H.S.] Alumni, Diana Ross. (Photo appeared in the Forward Times of Houston.)

Florence Ballard had been replaced in the Supremes by 1967. The Ballard-inspired role, Effie White, was played by Jennifer Hudson in the movie Dreamgirls.

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Jerry Butler

Jerry Butler. Photo taken December, 2005.

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Mayor Bill Morris

Former Shelby County Mayor Bill Morris, at a party celebrating the lighting of the "M" bridge (Hernando de Soto Bridge).


Alphabetical Photo Index

Alphabetical by last name: ...and more to come!

Names link to the articles and photos on this site. [AMG] links to the artist or group's page on All Music Guide.

Partying at B.B. King's

The legendary Rufus Thomas (1917-2001), at a 1997 party at B.B. King's on Beale Street. The event was for the presentation of gold records to several Stax artists, by Fantasy Records (who purchased the Stax label in 1977). Fantasy was merged into Concord Records Group in 2004.

Judge Joe Brown and Deanie Parker, at B.B. King's. Deanie was songwriter for several Stax artists, a Stax employee until the very end, and was the dreamer behind the rebirth of Stax as a Museum of American Soul and Music Academy.

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