A Tribute To Clyde Stubblefield & Dr. Lonnie Smith (cont’d)
… I was already a fan of the Doctor (Lonnie Smith) when I went to go hear him at a club in Chicago for the first time but only had the funky/boogaloo records from the late ’60s. I had no idea how much he could SWING! He had it all, and I was blown away! He had a magical presence to him, as anyone who went to his performances can attest, wearing his turban and mischievous twinkle in his eye. I HAD to ask him for a lesson after the gig which he graciously accepted to do! I learned through this lesson that he was also self taught but knew the music inside and out as any master of the music does. That meeting became the beginning of a wonderful friendship that included time spent in New York and Florida hanging out at his crib playing duets or simply watching movies. He was a gracious and giving man. I think that everyone who had met him probably left their encounter feeling good and special about themselves. He had that effect on people and LOVED to joke and mess with everyone he knew. His playful spirit came out in his music too, and that is an element of music that later generations of musicians forget about too often.
I knew his MS was getting the best of him but was still shocked to hear he passed the night before we were to record. We all felt his presence while we were playing and are sure he was around smiling and digging it while adding a few constructive pointers I’m sure!
What strikes me about these two musical geniuses is the similarity in their spirit of love and joy. They shared it effortlessly to those around them not only in the music, but in the way they interacted with everybody they were around. How fortunate I have been to have had them in my life!