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ENTERTAINMENT NEWS:

1. Rapper Fabolous shared two stories regarding dipping out of celebrity parties:

 

He then shared two stories from prominent figures: Diddy and Mariah Carey.

 

"I told Diddy I was going to the bathroom & slid once," wrote Fab. "It was 7am & this n*gga was still turnt!!! [crying laughing emojis]." In a separate story about a studio session, Carey seemed to party just as hard. "I told Mariah I was going to move my car cuz it will get towed & skrrrrrrrrrr [car emoji][smoke emoji][crying laughing emoji]."

 

"It was 6am & my verse been done we was just drinking wine & telling stories." Many couldn't believe that Fabolous would slide like that, but Diddy's shindigs have been long talked about by his industry friends, so it is believable.

 

2. Clarence Avant is a very powerful and connected man and won’t stop until the person who murdered his wife is apprehended. May she RIP.

 

3. Halle Berry has signed a multi-picture contract with Netflix following the success of 'Bruised'.

 

4. Motley Crue have sold their entire catalog to BMG for around $150 million.The 'Girls, Girls, Girls' rockers - comprising Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, and Mick Mars - have struck a major deal with the publishing arm of the label.

COMMENT

BLACK UNDERWORLD:

I always assumed that Chester Wheeler Campbell (center-above) was the most prolific black hitman/assassin that the world has ever seen but Gennero "Meatball" Arthur (1st pic above) surpassed Campbell by committing 70 murders.

SEATTLE -- An 'enforcer' suspected of killing 70 people for New Orleans' biggest and most violent drug ring was ordered held without bail after police found him hiding out as a dishwasher at a Seattle restaurant.

 

Gennero 'Meatball' Arthur, 28, was arrested as he came to work, authorities initiated extradition proceedings to return him to Louisiana to face charges of murder and cocaine distribution.

 

Arthur is accused of being an enforcer for the Glenn Metz ring, described by authorities as the largest and most violent drug smuggling ring in New Orleans history.

 

Ten people were named as co-conspirators in the original indictments in November 1990. With the arrest of Arthur, nine are now in custody. Still at large is Danielle 'Boo' Bernard Metz, the wife of the alleged ringleader.

 

A spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service said Arthur is believed to have been hiding out in Seattle for two or three years.

 

In his role as an enforcer, marshals say Arthur is believed to have machine gunned to death three people and wounded two others in the so- called 'Earhart Expressway Ambush.'

 

On another occasion, marshals claim Arthur confronted a government witness in a housing project and machine gunned the man in the legs, leaving him as an example to others who might consider testifying against the Metz group.

 

U.S. Marshals with the assistance of Seattle police posed as restaurant equipment sales people in order to get close to the fugitive while he worked as a dishwasher in the kitchen of Canlis, one of Seattle's oldest fine restaurants. Authorities said Arthur had worked there since April.

 

Deputy Marshal Ron Johnson of New Orleans came to Seattle to assist with the investigation.

 

'We wanted to get as close to him and move as quickly as possible so as not to allow him to get to a weapon,' Johnson said. The arrest was made peacefully.

The Metz Gang was a notorious drug ring founded by Glenn Metz (above-3rd pic) and his brother Cordell "Jethro" Metz; Glenn Metz is currently serving life in prison. From 1985 to mid–1992, The Metz Gang distributed approximately 1,000 kilograms of cocaine in the New Orleans metropolitan area and, in furtherance of the conspiracy, committed murders, attempted murders, and other violent crimes. In 1993, Metz, his wife, and several of his henchmen were convicted and charged in a 22 count indictment with various charges arising from a narcotics conspiracy. In 2016, President Barack Obama commuted the life sentence of Danielle Metz, wife of Glenn Metz.

 

When crack cocaine took root in New Orleans in 1987, it seemed to spawn a pattern of crime as hyperkinetic and unpredictable as the drug itself. Dealers moved on to street corners as fast as others were arrested or killed. Alliances formed and dissipated from one big sale to the next. Profits evaporated in the thin smoke of an overnight addiction. Glen Metz's crew was the first organized drug gang the city has had besides Sam Clay's crew. After Sam "Sculley" Clay was gunned down in the Calliope Projects in 1987, the drug market in New Orleans exploded with violence and mayhem. Metz's crew had dominated narcotics sales in several public housing complexes since 1985, maintaining power by killing anyone who dared to compete. In the early 1990s, NOPD began to crack down on gangs, arresting over 150 members and enforcers.

 

In 1992, enforcer Derrick Mahone broke out of the Louisiana Training Institute in Monroe. During the time he was free, he was arrested and released six times, four times on weapons charges. In 1993, he was gunned down in Algiers and barely survived. 

 

According to the Times-Picayune, Mahone was shot 17 times by three men who opened fire on him with submachine guns in a parking lot.

 

Following a trail of tips through rural Mississippi, in January 1993 federal authorities tracked down and arrested the last fugitive, Danielle Metz, at an apartment complex in Jackson, Mississippi. Metz was tracked down after information led U.S. marshals to Yazoo City, Mississippi, where several residents recognized photographs of the suspect, a deputy marshal said. Metz apparently had contacts in Yazoo County, said the marshal. On December 15, 1993, Danielle Metz was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute cocaine, continuing criminal enterprise, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and laundering of monetary instruments. U.S. District Judge A.J. McNamara sentenced her to mandatory life in prison.

COMMENT

UNDERCOVER & MISSING AT THE AGE OF 12:

Records show Marialice Clark became part of a federal investigation at the age of 12. 

 

She vanished two years later.

 

The disappearance of a Black teenager in Nebraska, against the backdrop of historical racial tension and protests in the 1970s, is getting new attention. 

 

Marialice Clark, 14, vanished sometime in August 1972 in Omaha, Nebraska, according to police reports obtained by Oxygen.com. The girl’s mysterious disappearance and loose ties to the Black Panther Party is now the focus of "The Vanished Podcast."

 

The podcast documents the "outrageous" tale of a teenager who became an informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms two years before her disappearance. 

 

In 1970, a then-12-year-old Marialice had an older sister who dated a man named Ed Poindexter, a “prominent member of the Omaha group sometimes known as the Black Panthers or the United Front Against Facism [sic], or the United Coalition Against Facism [sic],” according to a District of Nebraska affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.

 

The ATF named Poindexter as a leader in the group.

 

ATF Special Investigator Thomas John Sledge claimed Marialice attended Black Panther headquarters with her sister and Poindexter on several occasions. While there, Marialice allegedly witnessed, “[10] boxes that she observed to be machine guns,” according to the affidavit. The young girl also allegedly observed boxes of dynamite.

 

Ed Poindexter, along with David Rice, was convicted in 1971 for luring Omaha police officer Larry Minard to a suitcase filled with explosives. According to the Omaha World-Herald, the explosives detonated and killed Minard when he touched the suitcase. Last March, former Nebraska Gov. Bob Kerrey asked current Gov. Pete Ricketts to grant Poindexter an early release. 

 

“I, to this day, never knew what the real relationship was between Marialice and [Poindexter and Rice],” Marialice’s cousin, Dennis, told the "The Vanished Podcast."

 

The affidavit lists numerous weapons in intricate detail, much to the skepticism of relatives, who questioned how a seemingly average pre-teen knew so much about firearms and explosives.

 

“She wasn’t a militant,” her brother, Ed Clark, told the podcast. “She was a schoolgirl. How would you feel if this happened to your sibling?”

 

Family members wonder if Marialice’s involvement with the ATF led to her 1972 disappearance.

 

“Police used her,” said Ed Clark. “They ignored her then and ignore her now. The podcast tells the story of a missing little girl. It also shares the story of people of color and their inequitable treatment by the people hired to protect them.”

 

Marialice’s mother, Mary Clark, reported her daughter missing on Sept. 27, 1972, saying she last saw her daughter at their Omaha home in August, according to a missing person report obtained by Oxygen.com. When asked why it took so long to report the teenager missing, her mother said she thought she’d return in a couple of weeks. 

 

“A girlfriend of Mary’s by the name of Beatrice said she saw her getting into a car near the Bali-Hi Lounge,” wrote the reporting officer. “The license plates were from Chicago, Illinois.”

 

According to the podcast, Marialice wasn’t entered into a database such as the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), or the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS) until 2020, all at the request of media and civilians. 

 

Relatives claimed they didn’t know Marialice was a federal witness until 1997, when Marialice’s mother received a copy of the affidavit.

 

"The Vanished Podcast" began investigating Marialice Clark’s disappearance more than a year ago, noting that there exists little about the story online. To the family’s surprise, the podcast’s creators also uncovered a police report that documented the rape of Marialice in 1970.

 

“We need answers,” Marialice's grandniece, Jennifer, told the podcast. “We need answers from the police department. We need answers from whoever is still alive from the ATF. We need those answers… I’m not stopping until I get those answers.”

 

Marialice’s mother passed away before getting those answers. 

 

“I know my great-grandmother left this earth wanting to know what happened to her daughter,” continued Jennifer. “Who knows? If she was alive, she could have been at my great-grandmother’s funeral. ... I could walk past her and not know what she looks like or who she is.”

 

Marialice was 5’2” and weighed 130 pounds at the time of her disappearance, according to NAMUS. She has a birthmark on her right hip and a scar on the back of her head. 

COMMENT

TINSEL CONFIDENTIAL:

By: Eric Snider

 

It was 1:15 a.m. when Anita Baker accompanied us to one of the Sun Dome's exit doors, nearly three hours after she had finished her triumphant bay area concert debut. "This place is dead!," she exclaimed. "Where is everybody?" We exchanged final pleasantries. For a second, I thought Baker was going to walk my wife Bonnie and me to our car.

 

During an hour's visit in her dressing room, Baker had given us no indication that we should leave. She talked and talked and talked. She listened, too. It was not an interview. There were no tape recorders or notebooks.

 

It hit me. Here's a singing star who likes to hang out. She was a ball of pent-up energy. A private plane was ready to take her home to Detroit. But she was in no hurry. Most of the time, one of her aides said, Baker stays at the venue until about 2 in the morning, burning off that post-show hyper feeling.

 

This is not the way of most stars. With some justification, they are wary of encountering a legion of backstage hangers-on. Want a glimpse of Diana Ross? You better have X-ray vision to see through about a dozen walls. Cher? Forget it. Unless you are an industry heavy, she is not available. These days, many of the bigger stars leave the stage and walk directly to a waiting limousine, the bay door opens and off they go to the plush confines of a hotel suite.

 

Not Baker. She wanted to hang.

 

But she does so with caution. Baker's road manager Jackie Reeves _ dressed brass-tacks chic in black shorts, black golf shirt and black baseball cap _ stalked the large Sun Dome hospitality room, casting a stern eye toward the groups of people waiting for the "meet-and-greet" with Baker. Reeves was making sure the crowd was okay. She took exception to one man who she felt was a little too effervescently drunk for the occasion. She started to lecture him. He decided to leave.

 

It was a mixed lot waiting for Baker: a handful of Tampa Bay Bucs and the usual retinue of radio and retail folk. Baker entered after about 20 minutes, looking much smaller than she had on stage. She was dressed simply in a black top and black stretch pants.

 

She greeted everyone warmly, working the room to perfection. Meet-and-greets are not natural social situations. The star tries to exchange personalized pleasantries with a sales manager from a regional record distributor while 50 people in the room look on and eavesdrop. Baker excelled. Posing with several groups for photos, she took charge of arranging people. "You're tall, you stand here, I'll go over here; trust me, this'll turn out good," she'd say.

 

I had gone back-stage to procure Baker's autograph on the Weekend magazine that features her face on the cover. I produced a pen, and she said in hushed tones, "Oh no, honey, I can't sign that or I'll have to sign everything." She had a security person take us back to her dressing room, a large space appointed with a couple of simple couches.

 

We waited. We waited some more, passing the time by chatting with Baker's personal assistant Martha, who makes the singer's dresses using only Baker's verbal description.

 

Finally, I returned to the hospitality room, where the crowd had shrunk to just the group of the Tampa Bucs and their friends.

Back in Baker's dressing room, we chatted about a lot of stuff, music mostly. She'd been invited to sing with jazz stalwarts Herbie Hancock and Stanley Turrentine. But she's concerned about holding them back, she doesn't feel ready. I said I thought she was, and the only way she's going to find out is to try. She listened.

 

Baker expressed frustration about some negative reviews she'd received for one of her earlier albums, “Compositions.” 

 

"I'll tell you why you got those bad reviews," I said, by now feeling very comfortable. She cocked an eyebrow, took a sip of champagne and leaned in. "Well, go ahead," she said with a grin.

 

I felt that, because the album contained several tracks that were recorded live in the studio, and it was detailed as such in the credits, critics allowed themselves certain expectations. Finally, something that's not completely canned.

 

When the live tracks turned out to sound virtually no different than the more conventionally overdubbed songs, the writers were disappointed.

 

It was as if I affirmed what Baker already knew. She beckoned her sound engineer and repeated the theory to him.

 

The singer admited that she was not happy with the way her producer had "sweetened" the live tracks. She promised to send a tape of the original out-takes.

by: Craig Jenkins

 

At 81, Detroit soul icon Smokey Robinsonhas been a presence in music for over six decades. He started singing with the band that would become the famous Miracles at 15 in 1955, and later helped Berry Gordy make Motown Records a powerful force in Black music and American music at large, writing for acts like Temptations (“The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “My Girl,” “Get Ready”) and Marvin Gaye (“Ain’t That Peculiar,” “One More Heartache,” “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game”); collaborating with the likes of Stevie Wonder; and bringing artists like Diana Ross into the Motown fold. All the while, Robinson sang with angelic grace on inimitable love songs like “Who’s Loving You,” “Ooh Baby Baby,” and “Tracks of My Tears,” and, as a solo artist, invented “quiet storm,” the smooth, sultry R&B radio format named after Smokey’s 1975 solo album and single.

 

The story of the Motor City legend’s rise from dreams of stardom to his tenure as a prolific Motown songwriter and, later, the label’s vice-president is the subject of the new Audible Original Smokey Robinson: Grateful and Blessed, out this week, where Smokey revisits his highs and lows in words and song. I spoke to the man in early November about a life spent blazing trails. He’s feisty and funny, thankful for the opportunities he’s been given in life and also protective of his legacy.

 

I’m curious what made you want to tell your life story now, this year?

 

Audible. They called me and asked me if I wanted to do it and I said yes. So that’s what made me do it.

 

You were a teenager at the very beginning of the Miracles’ run in the ’50s. Did you have to grow up quickly to adjust to the music business?

 

No. I don’t think I have yet. I’m serious when I say that. I still have a bunch of childlike [energy] in me. I still feel young and vibrant. I don’t ever want to lose that. I still feel that way. I’m 81, but I feel like I’m 30. I really do, physically and emotionally. I was a kid, and I was getting a chance to embark upon a life that I had thought was my impossible dream. Where I grew up, I didn’t think it was going to be possible for me to actually be in show business, to write songs and sing and make records, and all that. But that was my dream. It was what I wanted to do with my life, if possible. And I didn’t think it would be, so no, I wasn’t tripping like that.

 

In the early ’60s, you helped Black music evolve from doo-wop to soul. Were you actively working toward change in those days, or was everyone in the right place at the right time?

 

No. Let me tell you about changing music. On the very first day of Motown, Berry Gordy borrowed $800 from his family to start [a label]. There were five people there. There was Berry. There was his then-wife Raynoma. There was Brian Holland, a lady named Janie Bradford, and me. He sat us down and said, “I borrowed this money from my family, I’m going to start my own record company. We are not just going to make Black music, we’re going to make music for everybody. We going to make music for the world. We’re going to make sure that our stories mean something.” That was the plan, and thank God, that’s what we accomplished.

 

You were writing your own songs at a time when singers weren’t expected to do that. Nowadays, you’re kind of expected to at least keep one foot in the writer’s room if you’re a singer. Sometimes that makes for music that isn’t so great. Do you miss the Motown model?

 

I miss Motown, period. As far as I’m concerned, Motown was a once-in-a-lifetime musical event. Nothing like that happened before. I seriously doubt anything like that will ever happen again. So, I miss Motown just because of missing it. I go back to Detroit; I have one niece who is still alive who lives there. Most of my family has moved out here to Los Angeles. A lot of them passed on. I go back to Detroit mostly when I’m working — once every two, three years or so to do a concert, either at Music Hall or at a place outside Detroit called the [DTE Energy Music Theatre]. When I go to Detroit, I go to the museum. Hitsville is a museum now, and I go in that museum, and I’m looking at all the artifacts and all the pictures and stuff like that, and at least 80 percent of those people are gone. So it brings back the thought of, Hey, we were all here together, we were all brothers and sisters. These people are gone, but it was a wonderful ride for them.

 

You retired for a year, starting in 1972, and that’s a stretch where Stevie Wonder put out Talking Book, Al Green put out I’m Still In Love With You, and Aretha Franklin put out Young, Gifted and Black. How badly did you miss making music that year?

 

I didn’t miss it that year. When I retired from the Miracles, my real, true thoughts were, I’m done, that’s it. The Miracles and I had been on the road since I was 16 years old, right out of high school, basically. We’d been traveling around the world. Everything a group could possibly do, we’d done it two or three times. My then-wife, Claudette, and I had suffered seven miscarriages as a result of her being on the road with the Miracles, when she was singing with the group. She finally retired from that. And then our oldest son, Berry, named after Berry Gordy, was born through a surrogate mother. And then we had our daughter through Claudette, but she had to be in a bed most of the time. So my kids were here, and they were precious, and they were just little kids at that time. I didn’t want to have to be absent from their lives all the time and when I come home, they don’t know whether to say, “Can I have your autograph?” or “Hi, Daddy.”

 

The group and I were gone 90 percent of the time at that time. So I retired with the thinking that I’d probably produce records for some other artists, and write songs for them, but as far as being an artist, being on the road, and making records for myself, I wasn’t going to do that anymore. I’m done. I’ve had it. That was my thought at the time. I wasn’t [missing it]. I was happy. I was vice president of Motown. We moved out to Los Angeles. I was going to an office every day, doing my vice-presidential thing, doing corporate stuff, and all that. I was cool for the first two and a half years. I didn’t start missing show business until after that. After the first two and a half years, I started saying, Wait a minute, now. Something’s missing in my life. I am missing something here. I started to long for it, to crave it.

 

After about three years, one day Berry, who’s my best friend to this day, came to my office. He said, “Hey man, I want you to do something for me.” I said, “What?” So I’m thinking he’s going to tell me something corporate. He’s gonna tell me he wants me to go to New York or Chicago to make a deal with somebody, because I did that kind of stuff as vice-president. This guy sits me down, and he says, “I want you to get yourself a band, I want you to make a record, and I want you to get the fuck out of here.” I said, “What did you say to me?” I said, “What are you talking about, Berry?” He said, “Every day you come into this office, you are miserable.” Now I’m trying to hide this from everybody, Craig. I’m thinking I’m doing a great job of hiding it. He said, “When I see you miserable, it makes me miserable, and I don’t want to be miserable. So I need you to get the fuck out.” I could not believe this guy could see through me like that. I hugged him, I hugged him so tight. So I wrote “Quiet Storm.”

 

I got a chance to go back into show business. I’m a quiet singer, but I’m going to take it by storm. And I thought to myself, That’s a great idea, “quiet storm.” I started that song, and I gave it to my sister, who was a great writer, and she finished it up, and I recorded it and did an album around it, and it became a radio format. I didn’t expect that, but that’s what it became.

 

That’s still flourishing to this day! Was it something else competing with your old group on the charts when you came back as a solo artist?

 

The Miracles are my brothers. Ronnie White, who passed on, I knew him since I was 10 years old. Pete Moore, I’ve known him since I was 11 years old. Bobby Rogers, I knew him when I was 14 years old. I grew up with those dudes. I wasn’t into competition with them. When I left the group, in fact, I promoted them. I got them with the new lead singer, Bill Griffin, and took them around to Soul Train and all the TV shows. I was for them; I wanted them to make it. I wasn’t thinking about competing with anybody but myself. I wanted to just do myself. I listen to everybody, everybody you can think of. I listen to Billie Eilish. I want to know what kids are listening to, what everybody’s listening to, so when I go and do my music, I can put some of that in there that’ll make people say, “That’s Smokey, but that’s cool.”

 

You left Motown in 1990 after a number of years being vice-president. Was it bittersweet stepping away from that movement?

 

Yeah. We were kind of dismantling it at that time, though. It was the beginning of the ending, just before Berry sold Motown. I was kind of disgruntled with the new regime that we had in Motown, so I went and signed with SBK, out of New York.

 

In 1991, you put an album out on SBK, Double Good Everything, your first outside of Motown. But then you didn’t release much else until the end of the decade. What kept you out of the public eye in those years?

 

I was unsettled. I didn’t have a record company home, which I was used to.

 

You’ve written for a lot of other artists over the years. Are there songs you regret giving away?

 

Not a one. Those artists were my brothers and sisters, and we were family, and whatever I could do to enhance their careers was an honor. It was a pleasure for me. I get this question about “My Girl” all the time. As a songwriter, “My Girl” has become my international anthem. I play “My Girl” in my live concerts, and we can be in a country where they don’t even speak English, 60 percent of the people in the audience don’t even speak English, and as soon as they hear [hums the opening bassline from “My Girl”], they know what’s getting ready to happen. They start cheering. Had it not been for the Temptations, I probably would have never, ever written “My Girl.” All the guys at Motown had been using Eddie Kendricks to sing lead since “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” the first hit that I wrote for them. If you had a good song, and you were a producer or writer at Motown, you had access to all the artists. It didn’t matter who had the last hit record. If they liked you at all, you had the opportunity. I wanted to write something sweet for David Ruffin to sing, which became “My Girl.” And he sang the shit out of it, so it was contagious. I don’t regret that whatsoever.

 

Who are your other favorite singers to write for?

 

Everybody at Motown. I would like to write for everybody in the music business right now.

 

I wish that happened. Do you have a favorite cover version of a song that you wrote, where you feel like someone else really put their own spin on it?

 

I think the most popular one is “Who’s Loving You,” because that’s become Michael Jackson’s song now. I wrote “Who’s Loving You” [nearly] before Michael Jackson was even born. And it was on the flip side of “Shop Around.” In those days, the disc jockeys, if you had a good record on the flip side of your hit, they’d flip it over and play it. They played “Shop Around” to death, then they flipped it over and started playing “Who’s Loving You,” which was a mild hit for the Miracles and me. I was about 21 years old [at the time]. Nine years later, here comes Michael Jackson. He was 11 years old when he recorded “Who’s Loving You.” There’s no way in the world, at that point in his life, he could have possibly even known what “Who’s Loving You” is about.

 

“Who’s Loving You” is about a person who had somebody they really loved but did that person wrong and took them for granted, so that person left. And they’re sitting around later, grieving, thinking about the wrong that they did to this person, and who’s loving that person now. There’s no way an 11-year-old child could know that. But this dude sang that song like he had written it, like he knew all about it. It became his song. If I sing it somewhere now, if I even sing a part of it, young people in the audience come to me and say, “Why are you singing a Michael Jackson song?” That’s the most popular cover that’s ever happened with one of my songs. You know what’s my most covered song? “Get Ready.”

 

Over the last decade, there’s been a powerful struggle against racism, and I wonder if you, as someone who saw the ’60s civil-rights movement unfold, see parallels between the then and now.

 

Yeah. I’m glad that the last four years are over. [Racism] came in more powerful in the last four years than it had in the last 20. It became prevalent because our leader was almost like a promoter of it. The last four years have been fucked up, and it’s caused a lot of tension between the races here in the United States, because we had a bigot in the White House.

 

Is it disappointing to see that kind of animosity resurface after all these years?

Yes, it’s disappointing for the people who are still of that frame of mind to be in that place where they think that people are different. The only difference between people is the texture and the color of our skin. If you skinned everybody alive, you wouldn’t know who anyone was. All our hearts are in the same place, our organs, our everything is in the same place. We all have red blood. We’re all human beings. It’s almost 2021. It’s a damn shame that all this time’s gone in life, and people still don’t get that. I’ve wished many times that we would get attacked by some outer-space planet or something like that so we can all come together as earthlings and help each other. See, there’s evil, and there’s good, and people who adopt evil, that’s who they are. It ain’t got shit to do with the color of their skin or where they live. And young people are seeing through that shit. Young people are saying, “Hey, wait a minute now. I like so-and-so and so-and-so, and they’re Black,” or “I like so-and-so and they’re white or Chinese.” Young people are pulling their shit together, and I’m very happy about that. You got your old diehards who are trying to carry it on and keep the prejudice and tension going, but I think young people are seeing through it.

 

Scores of performers have come and gone, but you’re still here. What’s kept you going all these years?

 

My respect and my love for show business, Craig, and the fact that I don’t think I started it, and I know that I’m not going to finish it. I have my place in it, and I’m going to cherish that place. It’s a gift. I’m not going to squander it.

 

How have you been managing this year?

It’s been the roughest year that I can remember since I really started in show business, because show business has come to a screeching halt. No concerts. Most of the recording studios were closed for a while. No gatherings. That’s all stuff we need to function. So it’s been rough, but they finally reopened the studios, and I’m in the studio now. I’m recording two CDs, one in Spanish and one in English. I’m very happy to be back in the studio working because the concerts … I’ve done a couple things on Zoom, but other than that, it’s at a standstill.

 

You discuss your friendship with Aretha Franklin in Grateful and Blessed. Were you involved or consulted at all about the Aretha biopic coming out next year?

 

No. I was involved while she was alive. In the last conversation that we had, and it had to be maybe two weeks before Aretha died, she called me. She said, “Smoke, they’re getting ready to really go for it and do my movie. Now, who do you want to play you?” “I don’t know, I don’t care, baby,” I said. “Whoever you get to play me is fine with me. That’s up to you to pick that.” She said, “No, but I thought maybe you might have had a choice.” But I didn’t, so that was it. [Ed. note: Lodric D. Collins will play him.] That was one of the things we talked about in my very last conversation with her. But I’ll say this: I hope they did a great job of it, and I love Jennifer [Hudson].

CULINARY DELIGHT!

Top pic: Blackened fish with grits and butter.

2nd pic: Pancakes and an assortment of sausage, fruit and an muffin.

3rd pic: Deep fried lobster tail stuffed with crab meat.

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PURPOSELY ERASED FROM HISTORY:

By: Jen B. Larsen

In 1983, the Seattle band Bam Bam, fronted by a talented, elegant Black woman named Tina Bell, created a sound and lyrical foundation for a genre that white men with knit hats and plaid shirts would later make famous as “grunge.” Bell was backed by husband Tommy Martin and lifelong friend Scott Ledgerwood (“Scotty Buttocks”). Jen B. Larson digs deep into the archives to give Tina Bell, who died in 2012, her props as the uncrowned “Queen of Grunge.”

 

In a 2015 episode of Welcome to the D, Jack Endino and Chris Hanzsek– the acclaimed godfathers of grunge– weigh in on the early Seattle sound during an hour-long episode.  They list off seminal bands in the scene such as The Accused and Green River. In a moment of uncertainty, Jack names the band Bam Bam, but then concedes, “No one’s gonna remember Bam Bam!” A photo of the band flashes on the screen; a stunning, young short-haired Black woman stands among an entourage of three mischievous, goofball guys– one of whom is Matt Cameron, eventual drummer of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. Jack and Chris concur, “but they’re part of Seattle’s history.” The men nod in agreement and enthusiastically switch gears to discussing another little-known band named Dismal and noting Green River’s connection to Pearl Jam.

 

You probably already know the cultural reproach to some extent, but did you know that before Nirvana, before Alice in Chains, before Stone Temple Pilots, a Black woman fronted (what is likely) the first grunge band? If not, the reason you wouldn’t know that is in no way your fault; the story has been kept off the record and out of print.

 

It is not a coincidence that in rock, R&B, and jazz (to name a few genres), Black women, often uncredited for decades, stand at the helm. In general, in most histories, women’s participation has been disregarded from the get-go or cut from the narrative after-the-fact. Though women have played key roles in musical innovations over time, we tend to notice them in hindsight, and only if dedicated crate-diggers are meticulous in excavating the past.

The motif is especially apparent for Black women.

 

Tina Bell was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, the eldest of 10 siblings. She got her start as a singer by singing at the Mount Zion Baptist Church in Seattle, and her first experience on stage was performing with the Langston Hughes Theater, also in Seattle.

 

In 1983, Bell contributed foundational material for the earliest incarnations of a genre white men with knit hats and plaid shirts made famous when she co-founded the forgotten post-punk, proto-grunge and sludge metal Seattle band, Bam Bam, with her husband Tommy Martin and lifelong friend Scott Ledgerwood (“Scotty Buttocks”). Bam Bam was christened when Tina Bell and Tommy Martin combined their surnames into an acronym (Bell And Martin). The two had met a few years earlier when Tina answered an ad for a French tutor to help her with the lyrics of “C’est Bon Si” for a production by the Langston Hughes Theater with Mt. Zion Baptist Church. They married, had a son named T.J. (who won an Oscar in 2012 for co-directing the documentary Undefeated), and naturally, formed a rock band– the order of events is up for debate.

 

Bam Bam began as a three-way union among Tommy Martin’s lecherous guitar scales and Scott Ledgerwood’s thunderous bass strokes, both submerged under Tina Bell’s polished delivery of transcendental poetic doom. The documentation of Bam Bam (their recordings, photos, and videos) capture the essence of the band every punk wish existed. The irony is… they did exist, loudly, while everyone looked the other way.

 

As evidenced in videos captured at the time, her presence as a front person was striking, moving, and energetic. Over email, Scotty told me, “Tina had an inspirational aura about her that was absolutely regal, but without arrogance. Even when she was ‘raging’ on stage, her movement was so fluid and graceful. She had such confidence on stage; I’d feed off her strength. If a crowd didn’t know us or respond well, she’d lead us on with more ferocity!”

 

Though a precursor to the grunge movement (and one who outlasted other early bands), Bam Bam, is hardly recognized even by music highbrows or historians. In Catherine Strong’s 2011 essay Grunge, Riot Grrrl and the Forgetting of Women in Popular Culture, a critique of the invisibility of women in grunge, Bam Bam are not even named. For context, after several years of exploring women in early punk, I had never come across Bam Bamuntil my friend (a righteous record collector) recently mentioned them to me. I spent weeks researching Bam Bam and Tina’s legacy (strangely, there isn’t much on the Internet) and talking with her ex-bandmate Scotty, who has archived press for the band on his website.

 

Turns out, in the ‘80s, Bam Bam performed at big Seattle fests, shared bills with popular bands, created videos that made it to TV, and were twice-honored as Best NW Band by listeners of KCMU/KEXP.  Although they were dedicated, fiery, and played to big crowds who loved them, the scene didn’t want to embrace them. There may be more than one answer to this, but more than certainly…

 

The story of Bam Bam and their fierce front lady Tina Bell has been slighted more than once.

 

In the book Everybody Loves Our Town: A History of Grunge, subjects recollect Bam Bam as a “three-piece,” entirely leaving out Tina Bell.  In 2015, a Wikipedia entry on Tina Bell was reported for “a lack of sources” and deleted on Christmas Day.

 

Toying with off-kilter timings and slow, sludgy rhythms nearly ten years before the Seattle sound hit the mainstream, Bam Bam not only provided reference material for the movement, they were the first Seattle band to lay down tracks at Reciprocal Recording– the location of Nirvana’s famous demo session for songs featured on Bleach and Incesticide.

 

Evidently, the “right people” had heard them, enjoyed them, and even recorded them! The Melvins even opened for them when Kurt Cobain went on tour as their roadie! The band’s recordings are solid, they’re attractive and talented, with a bombshell lead singer, so, why wasn’t Bam Bam included on Deep Six, the 1986 C/Z Records Seattle showcase compilation that featured Reciprocals’ early grunge recordings?!?!?

 

Sadly Tina, who fronted Bam Bam until 1990, died in 2012. So, although she isn’t here to share her memories or feelings, people close to her continue to fight for visibility of her legacy. “Fight for” might even be an understatement. Scotty actually risked his life in 2017 to save Bam Bam’s master recordings from a house fire (a story for another day).

 

Recognizing social and political motivators for the collective gatekeeping of  Tina’s work, he adeptly points to racism and misogyny as probable suspects. “America was certainly fucking not ready for a Black girl up front in a hard band let alone as a media sweetheart no matter how gorgeous she was,” Scotty laments.  “As far as Bam Bam being suppressed? There’s probably several reasons, but race and gender clearly played a major role. The continued reluctance by Seattle to accept her is maddening. Part of it is people are uncomfortable around the race issue… it’s like ‘kill the messenger’ when I try to talk to folks about it.”

 

He says exhaustedly, “So yeah I’m pissed and puzzled by it all.”

 

What confuses me most is: Not to mention Tina’s talent and beauty, how can anyone miss the significance of a Black woman fronting a hard rock band in the ‘80s?

 

In a 2012 article in The Stranger, Jen Graves writes, “Bam Bam struggled, in part because audiences weren’t on board with an African American female punk singer. ‘The press compared her to Tina Turner, as if that made any sense,’ Tommy (Bell’s husband) says.”

 

Though Bam Bam has mostly been glossed over, Scotty realizes that a handful of people (both new and from the time) do respect Tina’s legacy and are comrades-in-arms in averting her memory from obscurity. “Matt Cameron publicly speaks highly of her and he even wore his Tina Bell T-shirt on the cover of Pearl Jam Anthology,” he mentions eagerly.  In the last few years, a few writers have used their platforms to shed light on Tina’s story, as well. Brazilian journalist Tânia Seles has authored a handful of stories. American solo artist and founder of AC/DC cover band Hell’s Belles, Om Johari, has blogged about Tina Bell and at one point, considered singing with Bam Bam as tribute to Tina. The Sonic Mosquito Soup–a site out of Bucharest, Romania–published a juicy interview with Scotty and Tommy in 2019. Mike from The Accused also mentioned Bam Bam in a 2007 interview, saying “Man, they were total punk.”

 

“Tina used to frequently call me in the middle of the night and we’d talk for hours about the old scene, family, and life in general. I’m still very close to her family,” Scotty tells me. “At the time of her death, we were working on what would have been her ‘come back’… a documentary film, a memoir (working title was Conversations with the Grunge Queen),” Scotty told me. “Her and I were writing together again, her son T.J. Martin was to direct.” Sadly, that project ended with her passing.

 

Nearly 40 years have gone by and neither the talented band nor their one-of-a-kind frontwoman Tina Bell have garnered the respect they deserve–even in retrospect by important figures in their own city– for their role as early architects of grunge. After recognizing the injustice, to me, the verdict is quite clear: Tina Bell, the brilliant frontwoman, stunning vocalist, lyricist, and performer, is overdue for her crown. In order to get the facts straight, music historians must honor her, posthumously, for a title she more than rightfully earned.

 

After not receiving the local recognition of the other emerging "Seattle Sound" bands, Bell and the band left Seattle for London in the late '80s, hoping for success in Europe. This, unfortunately, did not garner the intended recognition and resulted in deportation back to America during an immigration enforcement dragnet in the Netherlands.

 

Bell left Bam Bam in 1990, and eventually quit music entirely. Bam Bam chose not to replace her, and instead continued as a 3-piece instrumental band.

 

After her personal split from Martin, Bell filed for divorce on April 12, 1996. She eventually moved into assisted living and was an occasional volunteer at a local church. A planned reunion of the original Bam Bam members was cut short in 2012 with the passing of Bell. 

 

Bell died in her Las Vegas apartment of cirrhosis of the liver at age 55 on October 10, 2012. Bell had struggled with alcohol and depression. Her son TJ Martin said the coroner estimated her time of death as a couple weeks before her body was found.

 

 When Martin arrived at his mother's apartment in Las Vegas, all of her belongings — except for a DVD player, a poster, and a chair — had been thrown away. All of her writings such as lyrics, poems, diaries, along with Bam Bam music, videos, and other memorabilia went in the trash without her family even being notified.

 

It’s more than time to crown Tina the Queen of Grunge, and not as a woke PR move, but because it’s the Truth.

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