Sunday, July 04, 2010

Dr. John Blair.. Respect  

An unusual boogie rap record by an unusual and brilliant man. You could write a book on Dr. John Blair, also known as Master John Blair, a weird unsung renaissance man with a background that you couldn't make up. I was lucky enough to come across a record pool promo copy of 'Respect' that not only had a printed bio write up included in the sleeve, but also this amazing signed photo of Dr John Blair himself, saying a thankyou to the record pool in question. Sadly I can't read his handwriting that well (he is a Dr after all, they all have bad handwriting), and can't make out the message or the name of the record pool this record was sent to.

The good Dr's main claim to fame was as the inventor of the Vitar, which features on all of his later works, a type of electric violin. He had a handful of credits on recordings by major jazz funk artists of the early seventies and released a couple sought after psych funk albums on Mercury, Columbia and CTI. He was a powerful academic, holding degrees from Eastman and Curtis conservatories and founding a school (The Universal Natural System) in hippy lifestyle type stuff that was popular at the time, as well as being an 8th degree 'red' belt as awarded by the 'American Institute of Martial Artistry'. The list goes on and on.

Sadly he disappeared off the map during the eighties, some saying he was homeless for many years, but eventually, after the turn of the millennium he reappears on the radar. His musical comeback was never to be, as an obituary, perhaps written by his daughter, tells news of his passing in 2006, which I have included below:

June 3, 2006 -

Obituary by: Joyce E. Blair

New York, NY

June 3, 2006

Singer and violinist John Franklin Blair passed away on June 3, 2006 of heart failure. A song and sharing memorial service was conducted at the VA Medical Center Manhattan on Thursday, June 8, 2006. John is buried at Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, NY. John was born in Toledo, Ohio on November 8, 1943, and is the eldest of nine children.

His mother was a classical pianist and he grew up in California and began taking violin lessons as a child, graduating with honors from Lincoln High School in San Diego in 1961.

He attended the Eastman School of Music for two years, and joined the Air Force as an instrumentalist in the orchestra. In the 1960's he began further developing his musical talent and accompanied many well-known artists eventually producing two vinyl albums, "Southern Love" and "Mystical Soul."

The song entitled "Sometimes a Man" did very well with jazz stations. In the 1970's he co-developed an instrument called the "Vitar," an acoustical combination violin and guitar.

Two vitars are in the possession of his family and display requests are being considered. Most recently John was attempting to renew his career by cutting another CD. He volunteered this year at the VA Medical Center Manhattan and performed for disabled veterans there.

Dr. John Blair - Respect

Dr. John Blair - Respect (Instrumental)

Posted by Black Shag | 4 comments

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