Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Remember Teena Marie.... Square Biz!


It was the Night after Christmas.... I was chilling with the twins watching Toy Story Two.... Phone rings... Drae begins the conversation asking about the boys and our holiday.... I could tell though by his voice though something was not right. He seemed troubled.... I listened closely. "Yo G.... I need you to check something out for me..." "sure thing.. I replied... "what's going on??"

"Word is that Teena Marie passed"

"What??!! are you serious??"
"yeah man.... can you check it out??" "I know you know some folks.. can you call someone?"

"I'm on it..." I called some people and looked in my emails.... yes. it was true... Teena Marie dead at 54....

Dag... Teena Marie.... What a shock..... an R&B icon dead.... Official causes have not been determined at this writing but the news is that she recently suffered a Grand Mal seizure.... and perhaps that is the connection.... one thing is sure, it is news that has rocked the entire R&B world to its core....

My first reaction was to think of her daughter... the love of Teena's life. It was she who found Teena in their Los Angeles home. She'd just turned 19 on Christmas Day. Man what a ride life is.... I can only imagine how it was in that household... one day celebrating the joy of Christmas and a birthday.... the next day, unmitigated tragedy... I pray for healing in her soul as she deals with this sudden and tragic loss.

Compton Juneteenth Festival 2010 - photos by Mac Alexander


I then began to think about what Teena Marie meant to the urban music world... Her voice was timeless. Ever since her explosion onto the scene as a protege' of Rick James, she has been the center of countless classic hits. The fact that she was a white girl who sung with the vibrato, soul and essence of a deep soul sista was a novelty at first but then a non factor as she sung and wrote her way into the fabrical DNA of modern R&B.

I remember the first time I had ever heard her. I was in the Marine Corps then and had just rotated back from a year long stint at Iwakuni Japan. I came home on leave and one of my homeboys who knew of my unmitigated love of music was bringing me up on what was new... He turned me on to this new sound called "Punk Funk" lead by this party animal named Rick James. His band was tight and the music definitely slammin', but what was outstanding from first listen was this little white girl who sang with the conviction of a super soul sista... Teena Marie on "I'm just a Sucka for your Love" was one of the first twelve inches I would acquire upon my arrival back into the "World".

The hits are timeless. Her voice unmistakable. And among my many industry memories, I remember after many attempts, we finally got her onstage at the 2001 Stevie Wonder's House Full of Toys Benefit Concert. It was in the Fabulous Forum. Can I just tell you she rocked that building to the rafters... I remember being in the wings and looking across the audience and up to the cheap seats... EVERYONE was out of their seats rocking dancing and singing.....

I remember Teena Marie at the Greek Theater with Rick James..... wow....
A couple of years later at the same venue co-headlining with the Whispers.... I had second row seats that night and got a chance to talk to Teena at length backstage.... what a cool lady....

I remember Teena coming to our live music series called "Lush Lyrics, Live Music"... at the now extinct BB Kings Blues Club on Universal CityWalk. she came out to hear the music on a couple of occasions. But the night we had Howard Hewett as our headliner, she came armed with her guitar. It was a rare, glimpse at Teena at her finest... an impromptu acoustic set that still gives me goosebumps even as I watch it for the umpteenth time.



I remember Teena Marie when she visited the station. Once with Stevie Wonder and other times with Tammi Mac and others.... she was gracious. cool. awesome and spiritual....


I remember her at the Gibson Amphitheater. That was a bad experience for her because the Amphitheater's audio guys kept messing her up. I mean it was horrific.... I hope somebody got fired for that night. But never fear, she played at the Compton Juneteenth Celebration and RIPPPPPPPPPED IT!!!

I remember the 2010 Jazzfest West.... This is one of my favorite festivals.... she rocked that huge crowd on a level that I will never forget. I mean, she sung every song. This festival is in the brutal heat of mid summer but nonetheless everyone was on their feet. She was the Ivory Queen of Soul in every sense of the word...


photos by Mac Alexander

I would be remiss if I did not make note that in most, if not all of these performances, particularly the most recent ones, I realize she took the time in her show to give reference to God and her personal savior Jesus Christ. She strongly professed her faith and implored her fans to do the same.... she ministered from her funky disposition. She loved on her following. She remained humble and open.... She was an angel here on earth.

I am forever grateful for Teena Marie. I am deeply saddened at the news of her passing.... nonetheless, I love her music and am honored to have met her... to have spent time with her.... and to have had her grace the stage of shows and promotions of which I have been a part. I will cherish her music. Her legacy. Her memory. Her life.

Rest in Peace Teena. Square Biz.



1 comment:

greg j (hannibaltharadio) said...

There will never be another LAdy T.