By: sonofabeach96

Dec 26 2015

Category: Uncategorized


On this date, in 1999, Curtis Mayfield left the planet, as a result of complications from diabetes.  He was a talented singer and songwriter, guitarist, and producer.  He is most well known for his socially and politically conscious songwriting though.  He was a key cog in the wheel of social change, civil rights, and influencing music, primarily soul and R & B, for years to come.

He got his start when he joined The Impressions in 1956, at the age of 14.  He became a primary songwriter for the group throughout the ’60’s, including what could be considered the song that defined his career, “People Get Ready”.  His lyrics tended to be related to social injustices, the strife of living in poverty, and inner city issues such as crime and drug abuse, things he witnessed daily growing up in one of Chicago’s most notorious public housing projects, Cabrini Green.

As the Civil Rights movement was gaining steam in the early to mid-’60’s,  his music became anthems, signifying the struggle.  He became a Civil Rights hero, one considered as influential as many of the renowned leaders of the movement.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr reportedly utilized his music ahead of marches to motivate people to stay the course, and not let fear of repercussions deter their participation.  Songs like “Keep On Pushing”, “People Get Ready”, and “We’re A Winner” were used to inspire, motivate, and build hope and courage in marchers.  In those times of change, and resistance to change, his song “Keep On Pushing” was sometimes banned from radio stations, at times being blamed for inciting riots in various cities.  His political and social stances were detrimental to his commercial success.

But he remained a voice, for political and social change, throughout his career.  A career that continued as a solo artist, after he left The Impressions in 1970.  His 1972 soundtrack for the film Superfly highlighted his ability to capture the essence of life in tough inner-city environments while criticizing the tendency of youth to glorify the “glamorous” life of pimps and drug dealers.

Mayfield suffered a tragedy in 1990 while performing live at Wingate Field in Brooklyn, NY.  During the show, lighting equipment fell, striking him, and resulted in his being paralyzed from the neck down.  In a manner befitting his lyrics, he kept pushing on, continuing to record.  His final album, New World Order, was released in 1997.

Curtis Mayfield was a legend, in more ways than one.  Musically, he was acclaimed.  His awards and recognition include: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction as a member of The Impressions in 1991 and as a solo artist in 1999, a Grammy Legend Award in 1994, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995, inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1999, and inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame with The Impressions in 2003.  “People Get Ready” was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll list and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Rolling Stone has him all over their “Greatest” lists. “People Get Ready” is ranked no. 24 on their 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time.  He’s ranked no. 34 on their 100 Greatest Guitarists of All-Time list.  He’s ranked no. 40 on their 100 Greatest Singers of All-Time list. The Superfly soundtrack is ranked no. 64 on their 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time list.  He’s ranked no. 98 on their 100 Greatest Artists of All-Time list.

So, in honor of this legendary musician and social catalyst, my songs of the day are:

“Superfly” by Curtis Mayfield

“Keep On Pushing” by The Impressions

“The Makings of You” by Curtis Mayfield

“Gypsy Woman” by The Impressions

“Get Down” by Curtis Mayfield

“”Choice of Colors” by The Impressions

“Keep On Keeping On” by Curtis Mayfield

“It’s Alright” by The Impressions

“Here But I’m Gone” by Curtis Mayfield

“People Get Ready” by The Impressions

7 comments on “Superfly”

  1. A couple other of my Mayfield favorites are “Freddie’s Dead” and “Don’t Worry (If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Gonna Go)”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. this was a blast from the past….thanks…hasn’t thought of this guy, well in a very long time…..Kat

    Liked by 1 person

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