Newport News native, Willie
Kirby, started in a singing group with friends Daniel Goldstone, Al Watkins,
and Nelson Daniels called The Collegians, back in 1963 while attending Dunbar
School in Newport News.
The Collegians got their
name when preparing to compete in a talent contest in a small venue near the
school and were sharply dressed with handkerchiefs around their necks looking
Kirby, like some of his
fellow singers, also sang with The Persuaders, or formed other groups like
Shadow Proof, or performed with pioneers like Charlie McClendon.
When fellow Collegian and
record label owner, Daniel Goldstone, wrote and produced the first song about
AIDS (listed in the Library of Congress) called “Control the Aids,” Kirby was
one of the vocalists.
Willie Kirby was a key
part of the music scene from the area, not only as a singer, but also as an
organizer, mentoring, leading, and assisting numerous others.He will be greatly missed.
It is with profound sadness that the family of Willie A. Kirby, Sr., announces his passing on Monday, January 9, 2017.
Daniel “Danny Gold” Goldstone has been a recording artist since 1966. Since that time he has fronted several singing groups, including Peace, Justice, & Equality; The Deceptions; Royalty; Danny Gold & Co., and other groups. His records, including, "Of All the Hearts," are sold all over the planet and are collector’s items in Japan, Italy, France, England, and other countries around the world. He has been a drummer, a performing singer, a songwriter, a producer, a manager and more.
Goldstone has written and produced for a number of artists.
Goldstone and his music has been on a number of compilation CDs, such as: Dirty Edits Vol.2 - A Collection Of Dirty Classics Selected By Dirty Sound System Edited By Pilooski, which includes artists like Elvis Presley, and Del Shannon.
Goldstone has also launched 4 record labels:
Stone Gold Records
8th Avenue Records
Daniel has also owned and operated several record stores under the banner of “Rings and Things,” had a One-Stop, and been an independent record promoter for some of the biggest names and hottest acts in the country. He was mentored in the music business by two of the greatest record promoters to ever live, Joe Medlin, and Leroy Little, Sr. If you didn't know "Danny," you weren't in the music business.
Indiana University's AAAMC BLACK RADIO COLLECTIONS includes "Danny Gold" along with other luminaries such as Jack Gibson, Michael Jackson, Earth Wind & Fire, Ice Cube, Phyllis Hyman, Rugus Thomas, Muddy Waters, Jackie Wilson, Mtume, B. B. King, and more as part of the Jack Gibson Collection.
Currently this versatile entrepreneur is involved in real estate, coordinates a web based store, is operating a record label and developing new talent.
Al Johnson Jr.
VMSoul mourns the passing of
Newport News born Al Johnson was the lead singer for The Unifics on hit songs like, "Beginning of My End," and "Court of Love." Johnson graduated from Huntington High School, class of 1965.
Al Johnson was also known as a writer, arranger, producer, and orchestra leader, working with such great artists as Peabo Bryson, Roberta Flack, Tata Vega, Lloyd Price, Jerry Butler, Ben E. King and Gene Chandler.
Victor Wooten and his brothers Regi, Rudy, Roy, and Joseph, had a band known as The Wooten Brothers since Victor was 5. The brothers attended Denbigh High School in Newport News, VA. They were a phenomenal band which toured locally and nationally, working with artists such as Curtis Mayfield and acts like War.
Victor is often cited as one of, if not the, best bass player in the world. Bass Player magazine awarded him the title, 3 years in a row. Wooten won two Nashville Music Awards for Bassist Of The Year. He has recorded and performed with a wide variety of artists like Branford Marsalis, Mike Stern, Bruce Hornsby, Chick Corea, Dave Matthews, Prince, Gov’t Mule, Susan Tedeschi, Vital Tech Tones (with Scott Henderson and Steve Smith), the Jaco Pastorius Word Of Mouth Big Band, and the soundtrack of the Disney film Country Bears.
He is also known for his role as a founding member of Bela Fleck & The Flecktones.
“Wooten utilizes one of the most unique and complex approaches ever devised in the electric bass guitar's short history. He visualizes his thumb as a pick and through a series of rapid-fire up-and-down strokes, uses it to punch out some of the most intricate and eloquent sounds ever heard from the instrument. By comparison, most bassists only hit strings on the downstroke. Wooten's technique enables him to perform solo on his bass exactly the same way a guitarist would—with all of the same flexibility, subtlety, warmth and lyricism.”
In 2008, Wooten joined other bass legends, Stanley Clarke and Marcus Miller, to form SMV.
Watch for the Steve Miller-Kenny Chesney episode of "Crossroads" later
General Jo has been involved with various aspects of the music business since 1978. He has been a bodyguard, DJ, writer, producer, performer, manager, consultant and more. In 1984, he started Dangerous Jams Records with Larry Bolin of DJ’s Records & Tapes. There he wrote and produce a number of songs for various groups such as Virginia’s Precious Metal featuring Lina Brown, Tripple B Co., plus his own group, General Jo & the Intergalactic Empire.
A pioneer in Electro music, his records are treasured collectors items in Europe and the United States with vinyl collectors and club DJ’s. The ballad, “Never Fall In Love Again,” was a regional hit and was on radio station, WRAP’s, Top 6 at 6, for 6 weeks straight. 20 years after it was released, “The Base Rock,” was a hit in German dance clubs.
At the age of 7, he was assisting his father in recording favorite songs off the radio, on an early model reel to reel tape recorder. At this young age, he developed an eclectic taste in music. Blues, Country, Jazz, Gospel, Soul, Classical, Pop, Rock, Musicals, and Latin music were all favorites. Never realizing categories existed until much later in life, music was, and is, just music to enjoy. A career as a freelance journalist and photographer, led to writing a series of articles about various personalities in martial arts, when Blount became a student himself, and earned black belts in Karate and Tae Kwon Do.
The black belt opened the door for him to becoming a night club manager, which led to him becoming a DJ. As a DJ, he found opportunities to do bodyguard work for a number of concerts that came to town. The bodyguard work also got him in the door of concert promoting, where he became the personal assistant of the area's top independent promoter. This gave Blount the opportunity to learn the business aspect of performing.
As a DJ for one of the area's top Disc Jockey crews, Josiah started recording his own music, and developing his own acts. He would take his keyboards on the road with the Djs and play along live, giving Big Bad Base & Co. a decided advantage in the DJ battles that used to fill major venues. Live playing in bingo halls, skating rinks, small clubs, schools, rec centers, and anywhere else you could fit a party, helped develop Josiah's (now General Jo), ear for what people liked to hear.
The owner of the top independently owned record store in Norfolk, VA, was introduced to General Jo, took him into a recording studio, and the two of them started their own label, DANGEROUS JAMS Records. The General, now was releasing records that were getting major airplay on local stations in the Hampton Roads area of Southeastern Virginia, and Northern North Carolina. The success of the label and its acts, all written, produced, and managed by General Jo (Josiah Blount), got numerous bookings for them in the area, opening and headlining with major national acts that performed on the stages of Hampton Roads. Acts like, Run DMC, LL Cool J, Fat Boys, Solomon Burke, Ready for the World, Egyptian Lover, MC Hammer, New Edition, and many more.
The General was also a much in demand bodyguard and personal escort for many more acts, personal managers, production managers, and concert promoters during this time. This allowed him to see much of the behind the scenes part of the business that takes place in the offices, dressing rooms, and backstage area.
Some of his favorite memories involving him on both the business and security aspects of the business, include: Luther Vandross, Patti Labelle, Bobby Womach, Phyllis Hyman, Stevie Wonder, Third World, Ziggy Marley, Prince, Cheryl Lynn, the Whispers, Millie Jackson, Najee, Ramsey Lewis, Cameo, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelics, Barkays, Jonathan Butler, Ray-Goodman-and Brown, Beastie Boys, Full Force, UTFO, most of the early rap pioneers, Janet Jackson, Ashford & Simpson, Chuck Mangione, the Dells, Stylistics, Chi-Lites, and more.
He is currently writing and producing for Stone Gold Records.
Lenis Guess was one of the pioneers in the Norfolk recording scene. This self-taught vocalist and musician was cranking out records from his 35th Street studio in Norfolk for many artists, including his own and himself. This, producer, singer, musician, performer was at the forefront of the Norfolk sound.
With songs like, “I was Born to Be A Drummer,“ his Funk band, The 35th Street Gang, were mainstays of the 70s in and around the Hampton Roads area. Lenis himself had hits like, “I Keep Coming Back for More,” and “Working for My Baby.”
Lenis live in Europe,
Guess moved to the heart of New York and opened "Lenis Guess Productions” located in Manhattan, 612 8th Ave. There he got busy writing, recording, producing, and performing R&B, Gospel music, plays, TV shows, while also directing and starring in movies for video/DVD. He has adoring fans who seek him out, even from across the ocean in the United Kingdom.
35th Street Gang "Dance of Love"
35th Street Gang "I Was Born to Be A Drummer"
Lenis Guess is still going full force.
Dorsey Brockington the talented and versatile performer and recording engineer who used to also co-own and operate a recording studio Brockington & Guess on 35th Street in Norfolk, VA with Lenis Guess. Dorsey D. Brockington BORN: June 16, 1935 DIED: September 11, 2011 RESIDENCE: Leesburg, VA