June 3: The late Curtis Mayfield was born in 1942

Photo: David Reed
Photo: David Reed

June 3: The late Curtis Mayfield was born in 1942

Curtis Mayfield is one of those artists that sounded cool no matter what he sang, he was a master songwriter and a tremendous guitar player.

Freddie’s Dead (live, early 70s?):

Curtis Lee Mayfield (June 3, 1942 – December 26, 1999)  is best known for his anthemic music with The Impressions during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and for composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Super Fly, Mayfield is highly regarded as a pioneer of funk and of politically conscious African-American music. He was also a multi-instrumentalist who played the guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, and drums.

Curtis Mayfield’s songwriting and his distinct guitar playing have influenced a lot of artists.

Bob Dylan played Mayfield’s People Get Ready , and it is obvious he liked Curtis Mayfield’s work . The Impressions’s Keep On Pushing, the album, is on the Bringing It All Back Home cover.

Paul Weller interviewing his hero, the late Curtis Mayfield, most likely before Mayfield’s gig at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz club in the Soho area of London on 31st July 1988:


Curtis Mayfield is a winner of both the Grammy Legend Award (in 1994) and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (in 1995), and was a double inductee into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted as a member of The Impressions into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, and again in 1999 as a solo artist. He is also a two-time Grammy Hall of Fame inductee.

Curtis Mayfield in concert Montreux 1987 (full concert):

Curtis Mayfield died in 1999 at age 57, nine years after he was left paralyzed from the neck down by a tragic accident during a concert in Brooklyn.

Awards and legacy

Mayfield has left a remarkable legacy for his introduction of social consciousness into R&B and for pioneering the funk style. Many of his recordings with the Impressions became anthems of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and his most famous album, Super Fly, is regarded as an all-time great that influenced many and truly invented a new style of modern black music.

  • Mayfield’s solo Super Fly is ranked #69 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
  • The Impressions’ album/CD The Anthology 1961–1977 is ranked at #179 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of all time.
  • Along with his group The Impressions, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.
  • In 1999, he was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist making him one of the few artists to become double inductees.
  • Posthumously, in 2000, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
  • He was a winner of the prestigious Grammy Legend Award in 1994.
  • He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995.
  • The Impressions’ 1965 hit song, “People Get Ready”, composed by Mayfield, has been chosen as one of the Top 10 Best Songs Of All Time by a panel of 20 top industry songwriters and producers, including Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, Hal David, and others, as reported to Britain’s Mojo music magazine.
  • The Impressions hits, People Get Ready and For Your Precious Love are both ranked on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, as #24 and #327 respectively.

People Get Ready / Move on up:

Album of the day: Spotify haven’t got many of Mayfield’s albums, so we chose a good compilation, Beautiful Brother – The Essential:

– Hallgeir

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