DarielB – Flying Under the Radar

Life’s Too Short: Freddy Mangum, Johnny Jones Pass

Posted in Music Stories by darielb on October 21, 2009
beach newz w/3 pics (2 for freddy, 1 for johnny story)
By Dariel Bendin
Life’s Too Short
Freddy Mangum
1963 – 2009
We recently lost two musicians, one I knew personally and the other only by reputation. Both were significant artists and  deserve  mentioning here. Freddy Mangum, 46-year-old lead vocalist for Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs passed away unexpectedly on Oct. 7; and Johnny Jones, 73, Nashville blues guitarist and mentor to Jimi Hendrix and countless other musicians, died on Oct. 14, also unexpected.
I first met Freddy Mangum in 2004  in Raleigh, N.C. during  a celebration of Carolina beach music, the regional  R&B genre. He was recording a number of tunes for the northern soul market with the Sugar Bees,  from Florence, S.C. , although his fulltime gig was as a lead vocalist with Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs.
“Freddy was with me for 15 years,” Maurice Williams told me in a telephone interview earlier this week. “I was managing him now, and I produced ‘Mama Didn’t Know,’ his single on the GAD label. We had so many plans … a solo album for him … it’s such sad timing, here he has this song on the charts and he passes away.”
After years of hitting the high notes for Maurice, Freddie Mangum had just come into his own. “Mama Didn’t Know,” which was written by Curtis Mayfield,   is a bona fide hit and climbing the beach charts.
Fred Shaw, who owns Bradley House Productions and is also the Sugar Bees drummer, said, “We’ve been friends for years. I was devastated when I heard. I was in Washington D.C. and left to go to the funeral in Durham. Over 500 people showed up, could hardly fit them…
“We’ve done a lot of recording together … and I always knew when we went onstage that he was going to pull off a great show. Freddy just had that magic in his voice. I never heard him hit a bad note.
“The Zodiacs will be different now. They’ll go on, of course; they’ve had their share of loss in the group, but they’ll  go on.”
Shaw continued, “ Maurice was just so proud of Freddy … Freddy was great to be around. He was always positive … a good friend. ”
Williams agrees, “He was like a godson to me, to me and my wife, Emily. He had a fantastic personality … He was my right hand man, I put him in charge of the band. He conducted rehearsals. He helped me  produce, too. He set everything up for us. I was going to get off the road and Freddy would have the Zodiacs…” His voice trails off and it’s obviously a sad moment for Maurice Williams.
I feel so fortunate that I got to see him just last month. Jerry Goodman  and Maurice Williams decided the group would make a last minute appearance at Craig Fleming’s Beach Music 45 record showcase at the Avista Resort in North Myrtle Beach. Some three hundred fans were treated to over an hour of hits like “Stay,” “Little Darlin’” and Freddy’s own “Mama Didn’t Know.”
They rocked the place.
This would be the last time I saw Freddy Mangum perform and the last time I spoke with him. We talked about setting up an interview. He was going to be my next long interview. I’m a Freddy fan and I wanted to know what was ahead for him.
Life’s too damn short.
Freddy Mangum, 2009 (photo Dariel Bendin).
Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs performing at the Avista Resort last month (photo Dariel Bendin).
Johnny Jones
1936 – 2009
Johnny Jones, although not a household name, played a major role in Nashville’s Jefferson Street R&B scene as depicted in the 2004 Country Music Hall of Fame’s Last Train To Nashville project and compilation CD (Vol. 1 and II) of the same name.
Jones was born in 1936. It’s said he experienced his first live blues performance by Joe Hill Lewis in Memphis, Tenn. at the age of 13. By the early 50s he had relocated to Chicago  with his mother, a move that would place him in the midst of the  great blues players of the time and help shape his own musical career. He shared a flat with harpman Walter McCollum. Together they formed a group, often playing with  Junior Wells and Freddy King.
Jones moved to Nashville sometime in the early 60s, where R&B icon and songwriter  Ted Jarrett took him under his wing and taught him how to read music In Nashville, Jones worked as a studio musician and played in his own band, the Imperial Seven.The group worked regularly at the popular New Era Club. It was with this group that Jones met  a young guitarist named Jimi Hendrix, who regularly sat in with him at the club. During this period, Jones also played rhythm guitar with Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown in the house band for “The Beat,” a Dallas television  program.
In the mid sixties, Jones was a founding member of another band, the King Kasuals*, which included not only Hendrix but also bass player Billy Cox, who  was later part of Hendrix’ Band of Gypsies and also played with him at Woodstock.
Shortly afterward, as Johnny Jones & the Imperials, Jones released three funked up tunes: “It’s Gonna Be Good,” “Soul Poppin’” and a cover of Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” “Soul-Poppin’”  would be included on vol. 2 of the Night Train To Nashville disc set. “Really Part I” was included on vol. 1 and “Lucky Lou,” originally performed by the Imperials, but not  recorded in the studio was also on vol. 2.
Jones would go on to work with musicians such as Bobby Blue Bland. Continuing to gig around Nashville, he mentored many of the younger  Nashville  guitarists and played the Jefferson Street Jazz and Blues Festival every year.
Just last month, Jones was one of the speakers at a memorial jam in honor of his own mentor –   Nashville treasure Ted Jarrett ( single, “You Can Make It If You Try and album, Night Train To Nashville).
There has been no funeral, but tentative plans are in the works for a celebration of the man and his guitar mastery at The Place on Second Avenue in Nashville.
*There are numerous references to this band as both King Casuals and King Kasuals.
This was previously publilshed online at darielb.wordpress.com. Beach Newz writer Dariel Bendin can be contacted on the Internet on MySpace (MySpace.com/culturejunkie); Facebook and Twitter (Twitter.com/darielb).
Johnny Jones, 2008 (photo: George Walker IV/The Tennessean)
#################

Freddy Mangum /1963 – 2009

Freddy Mangum in North Myrtle Beach,S.C. Sept. 2009

Freddy Mangum in North Myrtle Beach,S.C. Sept. 2009

We recently lost two musicians, one I knew personally and the other only by reputation. Both were significant artists and  deserve  mentioning here. Freddy Mangum, 46-year-old lead vocalist for Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs passed away unexpectedly on Oct. 7; and Johnny Jones, 73, Nashville blues guitarist and mentor to Jimi Hendrix and countless other musicians, died on Oct. 14, also unexpected.

I first met Freddy Mangum in 2004  in Raleigh, N.C. during  a celebration of Carolina beach music, the regional  R&B genre. He was recording a number of tunes for the northern soul market with the Sugar Bees,  from Florence, S.C. , although his fulltime gig was as a lead vocalist with Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs.

“Freddy was with me for 15 years,” Maurice Williams told me in a telephone interview earlier this week. “I was managing him now, and I produced ‘Mama Didn’t Know,’ his single on the GAD label. We had so many plans … a solo album for him … it’s such sad timing, here he has this song on the charts and he passes away.”

After years of hitting the high notes for Maurice, Freddie Mangum had just come into his own. “Mama Didn’t Know,” which was written by Curtis Mayfield,   is a bona fide hit and climbing the beach charts.

Fred Shaw, who owns Bradley House Productions and is also the Sugar Bees drummer, said, “We’ve been friends for years. I was devastated when I heard. I was in Washington D.C. and left to go to the funeral in Durham. Over 500 people showed up, could hardly fit them…

“We’ve done a lot of recording together … and I always knew when we went onstage that he was going to pull off a great show. Freddy just had that magic in his voice. I never heard him hit a bad note.

“The Zodiacs will be different now. They’ll go on, of course; they’ve had their share of loss in the group, but they’ll  go on.”

Shaw continued, “ Maurice was just so proud of Freddy … Freddy was great to be around. He was always positive … a good friend. ”

Williams agrees, “He was like a godson to me, to me and my wife, Emily. He had a fantastic personality … He was my right hand man, I put him in charge of the band. He conducted rehearsals. He helped me  produce, too. He set everything up for us. I was going to get off the road and Freddy would have the Zodiacs…” His voice trails off and it’s obviously a sad moment for Maurice Williams.

I feel so fortunate that I got to see him just last month. Jerry Goodman of GAD Records and Maurice Williams decided the group would make a last minute appearance at Craig Fleming’s Beach Music 45 record showcase at the Avista Resort in North Myrtle Beach. Some three hundred fans were treated to over an hour of hits like “Stay,” “Little Darlin’” and Freddy’s own “Mama Didn’t Know.”

They rocked the place.

This would be the last time I saw Freddy Mangum perform and the last time I spoke with him. We talked about setting up an interview. He was going to be my next long interview. I’m a Freddy fan and I wanted to know what was ahead for him.

Life’s too damn short.

Johnny Jones/ 1936 – 2009

Johnny Jones, although not a household name, played a major role in Nashville’s Jefferson Street R&B scene as depicted in the 2004 Country Music Hall of Fame’s Last Train To Nashville project and compilation CD (Vol. 1 and II) of the same name.

Jones was born in 1936. It’s said he experienced his first live blues performance by Joe Hill Lewis in Memphis, Tenn. at the age of 13. By the early 50s he had relocated to Chicago  with his mother, a move that would place him in the midst of the  great blues players of the time and help shape his own musical career. He shared a flat with harpman Walter McCollum. Together they formed a group, often playing with  Junior Wells and Freddy King.

Jones moved to Nashville sometime in the early 60s, where R&B icon and songwriter  Ted Jarrett took him under his wing and taught him how to read music In Nashville, Jones worked as a studio musician and played in his own band, the Imperial Seven.The group worked regularly at the popular New Era Club. It was with this group that Jones met  a young guitarist named Jimi Hendrix, who regularly sat in with him at the club. During this period, Jones also played rhythm guitar with Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown in the house band for “The Beat,” a Dallas television  program.

In the mid sixties, Jones was a founding member of another band, the King Kasuals*, which included not only Hendrix but also bass player Billy Cox, who  was later part of Hendrix’ Band of Gypsies and also played with him at Woodstock.

Shortly afterward, as Johnny Jones & the Imperials, Jones released three funked up tunes: “It’s Gonna Be Good,” “Soul Poppin’” and a cover of Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” “Soul-Poppin’”  would be included on vol. 2 of the Night Train To Nashville disc set. “Really Part I” was included on vol. 1 and “Lucky Lou,” originally performed by the Imperials, but not  recorded in the studio was also on vol. 2.

Jones would go on to work with musicians such as Bobby Blue Bland. Continuing to gig around Nashville, he mentored many of the younger  Nashville  guitarists and played the Jefferson Street Jazz and Blues Festival every year.

Just last month, Jones was one of the speakers at a memorial jam in honor of his own mentor –   Nashville treasure Ted Jarrett ( single, “You Can Make It If You Try and album, Night Train To Nashville).

There has been no funeral, but tentative plans are in the works for a celebration of the man and his guitar mastery at The Place on Second Avenue in Nashville.

*There are numerous references to this band as both King Casuals and King Kasuals.

Writer Dariel Bendin can be contacted on the Internet on MySpace (MySpace.com/culturejunkie); Facebook and Twitter (Twitter.com/darielb).

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2 Responses

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  1. [...] “Johnny Jones” is a little bit of a departure. It’s full of sadness at the Oct. 2009 passing of Godfrey’s friend – and Nashville’s guitar legend – Johnny Jones.  After moving from Chicago to Nashville in the early 60s, Jones was working as a studio musician, when R&B icon Ted Jarrett took him under his wing and actually taught him how to read music. He began working at a club called the New Era Club. During this time, a young Jimi Hendrix used to sit in with him, anxious to absorb Jones’ lowdown blues sound. There was said to be a guitar face-off between the two at some point, and if you can find an old copy of The Tennessean (one of the 2003 issues), you can read about it for yourself. Not surprisingly, Rickey’s guitar solos pay homage to the guitar giant, including some of Jones’ own blues guitar licks. [...]

  2. [...] “Johnny Jones” is a little bit of a departure. It’s full of sadness at the Oct. 2009 passing of Godfrey’s friend – and Nashville’s guitar legend – Johnny Jones.  After moving from Chicago to Nashville in the early 60s, Jones was working as a studio musician, when R&B icon Ted Jarrett took him under his wing and actually taught him how to read music. He began working at a club called the New Era Club. During this time, a young Jimi Hendrix used to sit in with him, anxious to absorb Jones’ lowdown blues sound. There was said to be a guitar face-off between the two at some point, and if you can find an old copy of The Tennessean (one of the 2003 issues), you can read about it for yourself. Not surprisingly, Rickey’s guitar solos pay homage to the guitar giant, including some of Jones’ own blues guitar licks. [...]


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