E. Rodney Jones..♪♫♪


Resonating across the airwaves with his slightly gruff baritone, E. Rodney Jones was a beloved legend to the listeners of WVON radio in the 1960s and 1970s.

He became known to the station's audience as one of "The Good Guys," five radio personalities handpicked by the owners, Leonard and Phil Chess of Chess Records. The 1,000-watt AM station, whose call letters stood for the Voice of the Negro, debuted in Chicago in 1963 with a rhythm-and-blues format.

Mr. Jones, 75, was the station's 3 to 7 p.m. disc jockey for more than a decade and its longtime program director. He died after a long struggle with lung cancer Friday, Jan. 2, in his home in Baton Rouge, La.


E. Rodney Jones & The
Hippies Band - Right On , Right On

E. Rodney Jones & Larry the
Hippies Band - Chicken On Down

He remained at WVON-AM 1450 during what former colleagues called its "golden era" as a music station. It now has a black-talk format. New owners fired Jones and other staff members in 1978 and the call letters came to stand for Voice of the Nation.

"Rodney had a 1,450 percent personality, bigger than life," said Richard Pegue, who first joined the station in 1968 and returned in recent years to host a late-night oldies music program. "He was a grand person to work with, with a lot of electricity."

WVON was the first 24-hour radio station aimed at the black community in Chicago, helping to launch and solidify hundreds of black artists' careers. The station also staked out a role as a voice, listener and cheerleader for Chicago's African-American community by addressing social issues such as civil rights while encouraging its listeners to support black-owned businesses in the city.

"It was the perfect time for the expansion of black radio into society," Pegue said. "Whoever was there at that time was in the position to be the first to blanket the city and service Chicago with a full-time format.

"His delivery was not overpowering but very dominating. He was very friendly, somebody that you could love after you heard him for a while. Just a great guy to listen to on the radio," Pegue said.

Among the black artists crediting Mr. Jones with their group's success is Marshall Thompson, leader of the Chi-Lites. The Chicago group had platinum records in the 1970s for its songs, "Give More Power to the People," "Have Your Seen Her" and "Oh Girl."

"We called him the godfather," Thompson said. "Rodney was the one who started our career and put us in the position to still be on tour [40 years later]."

Mr. Jones' career began at a radio station in his native Texarkana, Ark., where he met his wife, Amanda, after being discharged from the Army. The couple married in 1948. Within a few years he moved to a station in Kansas City and then St. Louis, before coming to Chicago to work for WVON, his wife said.

"Rodney was very dedicated to his work, really loved being on the radio because it meant he could reach out and help a lot of people," she said. "He was very outgoing and congenial and would give you the shirt off your back, as they say."

The couple separated in 1982 and Mr. Jones moved to Louisiana. A member of the Black Radio Hall of Fame, he retired a few years ago after spending many years as disc jockey at WXOK-AM, and then KQXL-FM in Baton Rouge. Sadly,his son Rodney Jr. died in 1982.

Other survivors include sons, Otis, Andre and Andrew; his daughters Earlene, Nichelle and Rocquin Bogard; 11 grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

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  1. play Norman Brown — Night Drive
  2. play Norman Brown — Feeling
  3. play Norman Brown — Still
  4. play Miles Davis — miles 1
  5. play miles 2
  6. play miles 3
  7. play miles 4
  8. play miles 5
  9. play Marvin Gaye — I Met A Little Girl
  10. play Santana — 01 Singing Winds, Crying Beasts
  11. play Santana — 02 Black Magic Woman-Gypsy Queen
  12. play Mongo — 02. Afro Blue

The history of the Butlers/Raw Soul is dense, but for all of us music nerds, that's normal. It is not totally clear what year the Butlers actually formed but they released their first single in 1963 on Liberty Records. That single was "She Tried To Kiss Me" and another single followed on Guyden entitled "Lovable Girl." After the Guyden single the Butlers took a break not recording another record until the single "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" was released on the Phila label in 1966. The group also backed Charles Earland and Jean Wells on one Phila single ("I Know She Loves Me"). 

As you might be noticing, the Butlers were doing a fair amount of recording but not achieving much success. The group's recordings sold regionally but never had the promotion to make an impact on the national scene. After the single with Phila, the Butlers moved to the Fairmount label (part of the Cameo-Parkway family) and released a handful of singles, some being reissued singles of the past. The Butlers were with Fairmount for 1966-67 and then moved to Sassy Records. Sassy released the group's greatest single (in my opinion) "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" b/w "If That's What You Wanted." A copy of that 45 sold for just under $500 last summer on eBay. Even though that isn't that much in the world of record collecting--it's still a hefty sum. The Butlers released another single on Sassy ("She's Gone" b/w "Love Is Good") that appears to be even 
harder to come by then the "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" single.


The true history become a bit blurred here as the AMG biography states that the Butlers last record was released on C.R.S. in 1974 (". However, between 1971 and that single, Frankie Beverly formed a group called Raw Soul and released a number of singles. Some of the songs recorded by Beverly during this period are "While I'm Alone," "Open Up Your Heart," (both on the Gregor label) and "Color Blind." "Color Blind" was released by the Eldorado label and rerecorded by Maze. Beverly's big break came when Marvin Gaye asked Raw Soul to back him on a tour. Gaye helped Beverly/Raw Soul get a contract at Capitol. Beverly decided to take the group in a different direction, a name change occurred, and Maze was created. 

The above isn't the most complete history of Beverly but hopefully someone will know a way to get in touch with the man or his management because a comprehensive pre-Maze history needs to be done on Frankie Beverly (his real name is Howard, by the way). Below you'll find every Frankie Beverly (pre-Maze) song available to me right now ("Color Blind" will be up soon). 

If you have a song that is not included below, shoot it over to funkinsoulman (at) yahoo.com and it will go up in the next Frankie Beverly post (later this week--highlighting Maze). Also, if you have any more information please share your knowledge. The Butlers material has been comp-ed sporadically (usually imports) but the entire Maze catalog has been reissued and is available. 

Enjoy.  "She Kissed Me" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967) 
 "I Want To Feel I'm Wanted" (not sure which label or year) "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" (Phila, 1966) "Because Of My Heart" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
 "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" (Sassy, 1967)
 "If That's What You Wanted" (Sassy, 1967)

Frankie Beverly is one of those cats that has lasting power. He started in the music business doing a tour with doo wop group the Silhouettes and then formed his own group called the Blenders. The Blenders never recorded a single, Beverly wouldn't appear on wax until forming the Butlers a few years later. Along with Beverly, the Butlers included Jack "Sonny" Nicholson, Joe Collins, John Fitch, and Talmadge Conway.

Beverly would later enjoy great success fronting Maze and Conway would become a
well-known penning Double Exposure's
"Ten Percent" and the Intruders' "Memories Are Here To Stay." 
 While Maze is a phenomenal group, Beverly's work before that group will always stand out as his best (imo).

The Butlers produced tunes that most Northern Soul fans would kill for and Raw Soul gave the funksters something to pursue. If, by chance, you know of a way to get in touch with Frankie Beverly or his management, please drop me an e-mail. It would be absolutely great to do an interview with him about his pre-Maze work. He's still playing out, most recently doing a New Year's Eve show in Atlanta.
:: Funkinsoulman ::

Power...Through Simplicity ♪♫♪



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