Joe Tex / Aug 8, 1935 - Aug 13, 1982

Born on this day in 1935 was the great Joe Tex! (later known as Yusuf Hazziez). From Texas, he played bari sax in a high school band and sang in church. He developed a style of part-preacher, part-rapper and made some funky, funky tunes (nasty ones like "I Gotcha!" and "Give The Baby"), and made a lot of "answer" songs to add to the fun.

After some amateur-contest success at the Apollo Theater, he signed to King in '55 but struggled for a decade to make any hits. He garnered a big rep as a crazy live act. James Brown stole some of his stage moves, and they developed a nasty, even personal, feud involving insults, plagiarism, diss records, censorship and wife-stealing.

"Hold What You've Got" was his first big hit in '64, released on the Dial label (which was started for Joe Tex). He hit his stride in the mid-'60s with Dial/Atlantic, recording a string of hits. One of them, "I Believe I'm Gonna Make It" ('66), was possibly the first pop song about the Vietnam war, told from a soldier's perspective. After the huge hit with the mega-funky "I Gotcha!" in '72, he quit music for a few years to pursue the ministry of Islam, returning after the death of Elijah Muhammad to make more hits. After joining the reunion of the supergroup the Soul Clan, he retired to his ranch in the early '80s.

Tagged: Celebrate Icons, Joe Tex, soul!, soul/funk

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