Over the last couple days I've been Walking on Planet C with Paul McClean of BBC Radio
Over the last couple days, I've been Walking on Planet C with Paul McClean of BBC Radio, and my Jack-of-all-trades assistant Rich Hilton. Planet C is a term I've coined for life once cancer strikes. Walking is the main part of my therapy that I can control. It helps with my overall fitness and it's the peaceful time of the day that I have to myself. On my walks I never carry a music player because music is always inside my head - that music is always inspired by the sights and sounds I encounter on my walks.
In twenty-one months, this is only the second time I've walked with anyone else. Paul McClean has read my book Le Freak and interviewed me in Belfast. He wanted to see scenes from my freaky past life and it's ongoing chapters. I told him before we started our walk, "I promise you will not be able to keep up with all of the sights and sounds - because I have a Rock-n-Roll story about every street in New York City."
We started on 125 Street - at the Apollo Theater. In the 70's as a member of the house band, I'd backed an endless list of heavyweights: Parliament Funkadelic, Betty Wright, Aretha Franklin, and Screaming Jay Hawkins to name just a few. Then we walked east when I suddenly remembered seeing Jimi Hendrix perform for the last time just ahead on Randall's Island. As we approached President Clinton's offices on the corner of 125th St. & 7th Avenue, we'd been told we'd just missed Paul Simon by about an hour. Paul and I have been friends for years and have worked together a number of times.
We rounded the corner and made our way down 7th Avenue to the site of the old Black Panther Party Harlem branch office. Along the way I was greeted by a police officer by name and we shook hands and talked about music. Back in the 60's when I was a Black Panther I'd also been "greeted" by police officers called the Tactical Police Force or TPF. They've since been disbanded and The Black Panther office is now a beauty shop. (To be continued: Walking on Planet C With the BBC.)
He wanted to see scenes from my freaky past life and it's ongoing chapters
We started on 125 Street at the Apollo Theater
I gigged with Betty Wright at the Apollo
I gigged with Screaming Jay back in the day
I jammed with Funkadelic at the Apollo
Jimi Hendrix - When I saw him play Randall's Island it was just a few months before he died
President Bill Clinton in Harlem
Paul Simon & me performing at my Foundation's gala
Academy Award nominated director/author Jamal Joseph at 16 yrs old in front of The Black Panther Party office
I was greeted by a police officer in Harlem by name and we shook hands and talked about music
Greeted by police - I'm 16 yrs old and the 5th dude down - Metal framed glasses on my nose - Jamal was in jail - Panther 21
What was once the Black Panther Party office is now a beauty shop