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"Chicago Streetwise Editorial " & "The Citizen"




     Working in radio has it’s benefits, and one of my perks was meeting Minnie.  Ms. Riperton was in the Chess recording studios for about five years before I got to the Chess radio station.  Starting in 1968 as music director for WVON, I had the chance to meet celebrities and record people all the time.  Minnie was a mass of smiling energy and just plain nice.  I was aware of her initial work with the Gems group and the countless backgrounds they had done for the label.  On her first solo 45 record it was “Andrea Davis” not Minnie…why? I’m not sure but the record was not a big hit (“Lonely Girl”) the hits were to come later.

     Minnie Riperton started her singing career at birth when she arrived, born at home on East Oakwood in November 1947.  Her family enjoyed the arts, with sister Clarice studying opera, and Minnie taking lessons, ballet and activities at the Lincoln Center in the neighborhood.  Hyde Park high school and the Acapella Choir under Jerry Ramsfield gave Ms. Riperton the basics before her family allowed a contract with Chess Records.  The basics included singing backup for Etta James, The Dells, and anyone who needed great female voices behind them.*
1968 found Minnie in the lead voice position with The Rotary Connection, an integrated psychedelic soul group.  Note the group’s crowning achievement is their Christmas album with Minnie and Sidney Barnes’ vocals on “Christmas Love and Peace At Least”.   The arranger for the Connection’s sessions was the very talented Charles Stepney.

     Chess closed in 1970, Minnie and husband Richard Rudolph moved to Florida after the release the “Come To My Garden” album which is a Chicago made artistic masterpiece.  STEVIE WONDER got interested in Minnie’s work and hired her to do his “Fullfillingness’ First Finale LP. Then Stevie put his production touch on Minnie’s 1974 “Perfect Angel” – “Loving You” top of the charts album.

     On the downside Minnie’s health became an issue with her diagnosis with breast cancer.  A mastectomy in ’76 and sadly she passed on July 12th 1979.  I was on the radio at WJPC when the news came in for me to announce to Chicago that we had lost our Minnie.

     A PERK FOR RICHARD My trusty cassette recorder captured an hour’s worth of ‘sit down and just talk to me’ conversation with Minnie Riperton at WVON in 1977.  I play the twelve minute exclusive interview two times a year in July and November.  For the sake of this STREETWISE article I’ll replay Minnie’s story again on November 25th at 3:30pm.  My show on WKKC is from 10am until 4pm every Sunday on the southside’s WKKC 89.3 fm.

To listen on line go to www.
P.S.  Notice that Stevie really likes Chicago women… Minnie Riperton, Denice Chandler Williams (Gary) and Yvette Marie Stevens aka Chaka Kahn.  All right Mr. Wonder.  LITTLE KNOWN FACT >> *That is Minnie singing with Fontella Bass on “Rescue Me”.

The Citizen


“DRIVING WHEEL” is the title to a great blues by Little Junior Parker.  But it is also the theme song for everyone motoring down the Dan Ryan Expressway.  I was on the newly finished QUICKWAY Tuesday morning when I noticed a little yellow car that was really in a hurry, speeding, weaving and bobbing, and seemingly determined to catch up with the first car to ever enter the left lane in 1962.  Little bitty car, low to the ground, not a Vette or Jag, little cheap car.  With temporary license plates…a made-of-plastic pregnant roller skate of a car.  A NO chance of survival car in the event of a collision.  No reguard, no concern for anybody, just speeding.  Temporary Plates, Permanent Insanity. >>
Speaking of yellow…Why are the lane lines painted white on the expressway’s light beige cement?  When the lines get dirty and blend in with the color of the road won’t the lines will appear to disappear?  Shouldn’t the lane lines be yellow?  Or the cement dark gray or black?
Remember your first experience driving down the Dan Ryan?…scary eh?  New to you.  Same as today eh?  Please drive defensibly and sensibly.  Zoom zoom, NO.

LIFE IN THE MOVIES - AZZ I SEIZE IT - Lately I have been reflecting on the power of the media. The complete message.   Who is in control?  Who is it that tells them what’s good or bad, what’s cool or not,  groovy or yukkie?  When you look back on what was available, the westerns, at the show,  Hop A Long Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry…black and white TV, The Lone Ranger and later Chuck Norris, Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, the 70’s brothers, Richard Roundtree,  Fred Williamson and even Issac Hayes…James Bond and the whole concept of Miami Vice.   What percentage of parents had the ability and took the time to EXPLAIN these works of art to the babies THE BABIES who became the 20 and 30 year olds and learned how to do it – like in the movies.  Did you try to explain?  Yeah I mean YOU!!!
TV MOVIES radio and videos…who can explain?  Take a look at the advertising poster for “HIT MAN”.  Look at it very carefully, starting at the left.  Then move past his gun and torso to HER arm, head and then down to her back, and now carefully look at her behind, carefully look at the lines, shadows, implications…just look.  Then get the book named “SUBLIMINAL SEDUCTION” and read it.  READ!   Look at that poster again.  Better hurry because the movie opens soon and the poster will go away.  The X files are everywhere.  Trust who?

THE DUSTY RECORD CONVENTION was a grand event that was enjoyed by faithful dusty record lovers at St. Elizabeth last Saturday night starting at 8pm.  This was the first convention that a NEW song was played more than one time…in fact THREE times….Yes THE CUPID SHUFFLE rolled everyone to the dance floor at 9:30, 11:30 and 1:30.  Young old and in-between took it to the left and right.  As we predicted months ago the CUPID would or should be the official national dance right now.
ON THE AIR The radio holiday season music is starting and we at WKKC will bring you our version along with other Chicago stations.  This practice started years ago and has become a Chicago radio tradition.>> Where are those Chicago radio Divas now?  Where are Jackie Haselrig / WGCI, Shirley Hayes / WLNR-V103, and “First Lady” from WGCI?>> I just realized there are still 4 of us RICHARDS IN RADIO.  Richard Steele, Richard Deal at 106, Richard “Dick” Biondi at True Oldies and ME “Doctor Dusty”.   With the late Richard Stamz there were Five Richard’s active.

MORE ON MOOVIES I first saw the B E T straight-up interview with the “American Gangster” guy about 2 weeks ago and it was good.  The Denzel Washington movie came in at number one or two.>> Halley is still hangin’ in there.>> I don’t know if the movie uses Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” on the soundtrack but it would be the right thing to do.  The song written by Chicago’s Nadine Scott McKinnor is the official contemporary Christmas song for the world.  Regina King and Loretta Divine star in the film.>> Stealing from STELLA- She wrote in the Times that Chicago’s ‘Dreamgirl’ Jennifer Hudson dumped her longtime boyfriend James Payton for access to Kerry Rhodes from the New York Jets. So solly.

Soooo  “In The Kitchen” is the jazz album by Organist Shirley Scott, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Jerome Richardson George Duvivier and Arthur Edgehill on the  Prestige #7141.  I mistakenly made it by Jimmy Smith, and that’s why Jazzy George Green is the Jazz expert.  HOWEVER George recommends “The Best Of LOUIS JORDAN” on the MCA label.

AZZ EYE SEIZE IT PART 2 In the “O” Department.  As a protective or directive statement Oprah Winfrey has said “I did nothing wrong”.  And I say “No she did NOT do anything wrong”.  But she knows this is a time when all the haters will have a convention at her doorstep, so I understand her verbiage.  If you know anything about lady O’s background, you realize that this abuse scandal situation at her South African school is tricky.  The accused, 27 year old Tiny Virginia Makopo was released and is free on bail while declaring her innocence.  She is guilty of activating a new phrase (to me)  “dorm parent”.>> As of press time (Tuesday at 10am) this hasn’t even had time to explode.  Mary Mitchells account of the situation involving the police  tasering of the 82 year old grandmother.  I’m sure by the time you read this the flood of opinions and recounts about what happened to Lillian Fletcher will have been printed, televised and discussed.  And we’re still waiting for the new Superintendent.  Git ‘em Mary!

     THE 79th STREET SENIORS partied again with the jazz music played by George Green and the dusties that I played at The ATLAS Center on Monday.  We did lunch, talked and did the CUPID and the MADISON!  This Monday is a holiday so the center will be closed.  But we’ll return on the 19th with plenty of fun and food, $1.50 if you’re 60 or more, or $2.50 if you’re under 60.   We start at 11 and unofficially end at 2pm.  Join us for a real good time at 79th and Creiger-The Department Of Aging’s BLUE MONDAY BLUES LUNCHEONETTE.

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