Is R&B On Life Support? Nelson George Weighs In

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Nelson: Of course that would be the O’Jays though you could make the argument for Harold Melvin as well. “Love Train,” “For the Love of Money” “Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby,” ” the hits go on and on.

Tom: What popular Philly group of the 70′s repertoire included soul, R&B, doo-wop and disco?

Nelson: There are a lot of Philly groups who do all those things but the most famous would probably be Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. They had the great doo-wop harmonies, they had Teddy Pendergrass with the great lead vocals, they had so many amazing tracks that they expanded the entire spectrum of what was going on in Black music at the time.

Tom: Who was the greatest artist of all time?

Nelson: If you’re talking about jazz, it would have to be Miles Davis, if you’re talking about R&B, Stevie Wonder, and if you’re talking about rock and roll, Jimi Hendrix. Those would have to be my top 3.

Tom: My #1 is James Brown.

Nelson: He may be the most influential. When you look at what goes on in dance music, his ideas about the 1, his ideas about syncopation, those things are still relevant. He’s still sampled to this day.

Tom: Every generation from his generation up until now knows James Brown’s music.

Nelson: I’m doing a documentary for VH1 called “Finding the Funk” which will be on in the fall. Obviously, James Brown will be a big part of it. The foundation of funk is James Brown.

Sybil: You wrote the book “The Death of Rhythm and Blues.” Is it dead or is there still life there?

Nelson: It’s around. It ain’t super healthy. If you have an insurance policy, you’re due to collect.

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