Saturday, September 15, 2007

Wilson Turbinton (1944-2007)

Such is the hard march of time that we are losing more and more of the folks who created the great music of the 1960s and ‘70s.

This week, in addition to losing Joe Zawinul and Bobby Byrd, we lost the New Orleans singer and songwriter Wilson Turbinton, who performed as Willie Tee.

Funk fans are indebted to Turbinton for one track alone: “Smoke My Peace Pipe (Smoke It Right),” a mid-’70s monster jam by the Wild Magnolias. Turbinton wrote it and played some nasty electric piano. Click here to spin it on my Vox blog.

As Willie Tee, he had one R&B hit in 1965: “Teasin’ You.” Turbinton quickly released a sequel, “Thank You John,” which didn’t chart but was a jukebox hit throughout the South. Today “Thank You John” is considered a “beach music” classic. I’m steaming that one, too – here – because of its oddly cruel sense of humor and old-school hipster attitude and slang.

Here is Mr. Turbinton’s obituary from the New York Times.

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