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Profile: War

By

War

War

source: myspace.com

Formed:

1969 (Long Beach, CA)

Genres:

R&B, Funk, Latin, Soul, Pop-Soul

Principal Members:

Howard E. Scott (b. March 15, 1946, San Pedro, CA): guitar, vocals
Harold Brown (b. March 17, 1946, Long Beach, CA): drums, vocals, percussion
Lee Oskar (b. March 24, 1948, Copenhagen, Denmark): harmonica, vocals
B. B. Dickerson (b. Morris Dickerson, August 3, 1949, Torrance, CA): bass, vocals
Lonnie Jordan (b. November 21, 1948, San Diego, CA): keyboards, vocals
Charles Miller (b. June 2, 1939, Olathe, KS; d. June 13, 1980, Hollywood, CA): saxophone, flute, clarinet, vocals
"Papa" Dee Allen (b. Thomas Sylvester Allen, July 18, 1931, Wilmington, DE; d. August 30, 1988, Long Beach, CA): percussion, vocals

Contributions to music:

  • Their 1975 hit "Lowrider" has become an anthem of sorts for the Latino custom car community
  • One of the era's finest funk bands
  • Merged funk with Latin music to create a potent cultural hybrid
  • A leading voice of musical protest in the early Seventies
  • Harmonica player Lee Oskar is considered one of the instrument's great innovators

Early years:

War began with founding members Harold Brown and Harold E. Scott's creation of a high-school R&B cover/jamband called, ironically enough, the Creators. By 1968, with most of the original members off to Vietnam, the Creators became Nightshift, and got a job backing L.A. Rams tackle Deacon Jones at a local club. It was here where they met veteran record producer Jerry Goldstein, who renamed them War (for shock purposes) and got them a gig backing ex-Animals singer Eric Burdon on his next solo project. With him, Burdon had brought Danish harmonica player Lee Oskar, later to become an integral part of the septet's sound.

Success:

The result was 1970's "Spill The Wine," a major hit that spotlighted the group's Afro-Cuban groove. After another Burdon album that failed due to poor distribution, War regrouped as a standalone act, and their second album (released in 1972) yielded two hits: "All Day Music" and the harrowing tale of insanity "Slippin' Into Darkness." Their next album, The World Is A Ghetto, cemented their rep as sociopolitical funk players with the flavor of their native Los Angeles slums. Disco, however, soon appeared to pave the way for a more streamlined form of dance music, which gradually ate away at the band's popularity.

Later years:

The band soldiered on in the R&B market, however, despite the loss of Papa Dee Allen to an onstage brain aneurysm and the murder of Charles Miller in 1980. Their dwindling success led to several members decamping by the mid-80s; as their legend grew, the band reunited for the somewhat successful 1994 album Peace Sign. Today, manager Goldstein retains the right's to the group's name, with only keyboardist Jordan remaining; the remaining four members formed the Lowrider Band. Both groups continue to tour and occasionally record today.

Other facts:

  • War was offered a spot as Otis Redding's backup group in the mid-Sixties, but declined because their keyboard player was still a minor
  • "Spill The Wine" came about in part because a member of the band had spilled wine on a recording console, forcing a move to a different room in the studio
  • Bob Marley reportedly based his song "Get Up, Stand Up" on "Slippin' Into Darkness"
  • Papa Dee Allen collapsed onstage while playing "Gypsy Man"; the group has since refused to play the song live
  • Harp player Lee Oskar sings the "I may not speak right" verse on "Why Can't We Be Friends" because he was Danish and still learning English

Recorded work:

#1 hits:
R&B:
  • "Low Rider" (1975)
Top 10 hits:
Pop:
  • "Spill The Wine" with Eric Burdon (1970)
  • "The World Is A Ghetto" (1973)
  • "The Cisco Kid" (1973)
  • "Gypsy Man" (1973)
  • "Low Rider" (1975)
  • "Why Can't We Be Friends?" (1975)
  • "Summer" (1976)
R&B:
  • "The World Is A Ghetto" (1973)
  • "The Cisco Kid" (1973)
  • "Gypsy Man" (1973)
  • "Low Rider" (1975)
  • "Why Can't We Be Friends?" (1975)
  • "Summer" (1976)
  • "L.A. Sunshine" (1977)
  • "Galaxy" (1978)
#1 albums:
Pop:
  • The World Is A Ghetto (1973)
R&B:
  • The World Is A Ghetto (1973)
  • Deliver The Word (1973)
  • War Live! (1974)
  • Why Can't We Be Friends? (1975)
Top 10 albums:
Pop:
  • Deliver The Word (1973)
  • Why Can't We Be Friends? (1975)
  • Greatest Hits (1976)
R&B:
  • All Day Music (1972)
  • Platinum Jazz (1977)
  • Galaxy (1978)
Jazz:
  • Platinum Jazz (1977)
Other important recordings: "All Day Music," "Slippin' nto Darkness," "Me And Baby Brother," "Ballero," "Outlaw," "Lonely Feelin'," "They Can't Take Away Our Music," "Heartbeat/Leroy's Latin Lament," "City, Country, City," "Youngblood (Livin' In The Streets)," "Good, Good Feelin'," "You Got The Power," "Tobacco Road," "Sun Oh Son," "Get Down," "Where Was You At," "Deliver The Word," "Don't Let No One Get You Down," "River Niger," "This Funky Music Makes You Feel Good," "The Music Band," "Cinco De Mayo," "Life (Is So Strange)," "Peace Sign"
Covered by: Phish, Smash Mouth, Gary Hoey, Exodus, George Benson, Ramsey Lewis Trio, Willie Nelson, Los Lonely Boys
Appears in the movies: "American Music: Off the Record" (2007)
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