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B. B. King

B.B. King was born Riley B. King in Itta Bena, Mississippi on September 16, 1925. His parents, Nora Ella and Albert L. King were sharecroppers on a cotton plantation. As a child, his guitar playing reverend introduced him to gospel music. After his mother's and grandmother's deaths left him on his own at the age of ten, Riley B. King began playing on street corners for dimes. He joined The Famous St. John's Gospel Singers as a singer and guitarist. However, he longed to visit Memphis, the home of his cousin and prominent bluesman, Bukka White.

The young Riley B. King hitchhiked to Memphis in the mid-1940s. His first big break came from WDIA radio in West Memphis, where he was given a weekly performance plugging the health tonic, Pepticon. In the early 1950s, King signed a contract with Modern Records and made his first recordings. The song, "Three O'Clock Blues," earned him a strong local reputation and he began touring nationwide. In 1956, his band played an incredible 342 one-night stands across the country. In the years following, King moved from the chitlin circuit of the south to concert halls, amphitheaters, and resort hotels. He played for audiences at the Howard Theater in Washington, the Royal Theater in Baltimore, and the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York.

Although he was widely respected by the blues community, and continued to play to large black audiences, B.B. King did not achieve the same mainstream success as some of his contemporaries. By the late 1960s, however, King received more widespread attention as many rock n' roll musicians such as Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy began citing him as a musical influence. With his 1966 signature hit, "The Thrill is Gone," B.B. King, for the first time, achieved success on the popular charts. He began to play for white audiences at theatres such as the Fillmore East. In 1969 he made his first network TV appearance on the "Tonight Show," and in 1971 he performed live on the Ed Sullivan Show.

B.B. King's music has taken him to the former Soviet Union, South America, Africa, Australia, and Japan, as well as numerous European cities. He has established his own unique and recognizable guitar style, borrowing from T-Bone Walker, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Lonnie Johnson, and using his own technique of trilling the strings with a left-hand vibrato. Songs such as "Rock Me Baby," "Nobody Loves Me But My Mother," and "How Blue Can You Get?" became popular with fans as B.B. King developed into a spectacular live performer.

B.B. King was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1984, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He also received the NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987, and has been awarded many Grammy Awards throughout his career. King has also been presented with honorary degrees from major academic institutions including Yale University, Rhodes College in Memphis, and Berklee College of Music, Togaloo College, and Mississippi Valley State. In 1990, he received the Presidential Medal of Arts. In 1991, he was awarded the National Award of Distinction from the University of Mississippi. In 1995, he received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors from President Clinton.

In the early 1990s, B.B. King opened B.B. King Blues Clubs on Beale Street in Memphis, on Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles, and in New York City's Times Square. Two more clubs opened at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut in January 2002. Most recently, in September 2003 he opened a B.B. King Blues Club in Nashville, Tennessee.

King passed away on May 14, 2015 at the age of 89.

Accession Number

A2003.257

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/24/2003

Last Name

King

Maker Category
Middle Name

B.

Occupation
Organizations
First Name

B.

Birth City, State, Country

Itta Bena

HM ID

KIN04

State

Mississippi

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Nevada

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/16/1925

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Las Vegas

Country

USA

Death Date

5/14/2015

Short Description

Blues guitarist B. B. King (1925 - 2015 ) is a world famous blues musician.

Employment

WDIA Radio

DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9672">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Funding for 'An Evening with B. B. King'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9673">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Introduction of B. B. King</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9674">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Isaac Hayes explains the importance of oral history</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9675">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - B. B. King's friends describe the 'King of the Blues'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9676">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - B. B. King describes his present life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9677">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - B. B. King and Isaac Hayes discuss King's hometown</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9678">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - B. B. King recalls his childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9679">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - B. B. King recounts meeting the pope</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9680">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - B. B. King remembers his childhood schooling</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9681">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Video about B. B. King's youth</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9682">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - B. B. King describes his environment in rural Mississippi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9683">Tape: 1 Story: 12 - B. B. King recalls being drafted and serving as a farm worker</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9684">Tape: 1 Story: 13 - B. B. King reflects on his early love of music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9685">Tape: 1 Story: 14 - B. B. King explains leaving Mississippi after wrecking a tractor at work</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9686">Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Video about B. B. King's experiences in Memphis</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9687">Tape: 1 Story: 16 - B. B. King discusses his guitar technique</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9688">Tape: 1 Story: 17 - B. B. King explains why he named his guitar 'Lucille'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9689">Tape: 1 Story: 18 - B. B. King recalls his early music career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9690">Tape: 1 Story: 19 - Video about B. B. King's first gig for a white audience</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9691">Tape: 1 Story: 20 - B. B. King remembers his first performance for a white audience</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9692">Tape: 1 Story: 21 - B. B. King performs 'The Thrill is Gone'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9693">Tape: 1 Story: 22 - B. B. King describes his experiences touring abroad</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9694">Tape: 1 Story: 23 - B. B. King describes his present circumstances and ponders the future</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9695">Tape: 1 Story: 24 - Closing of B. B. King interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9696">Tape: 1 Story: 25 - End Credits for 'An Evening with B. B. King'</a>

Reverend James Bevel

Civil rights activist Reverend James Luther Bevel was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi, on October 19, 1936. After a stint in the services, Bevel was called to the ministry and enrolled in the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee. While in the Seminary, Bevel joined the Nashville chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), then led by the Reverend James Lawson.

In 1960, Bevel and other black students trained by Lawson, including John Lewis, Dianne Nash, Marion Barry, and Bernard Lafayette, organized sit-ins against segregated lunch counters. Eventually Bevel and his colleagues won a hard-fought, nonviolent victory; soon after, as chairman of the Nashville student movement, Bevel participated in Freedom Rides to desegregate interstate travel and public accommodations throughout the South. In his home state, Bevel created the SCLC Mississippi Project for voting rights in 1962. In 1963, Bevel was compelled to join the desegregation struggle being waged by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth in Birmingham, Alabama. When King was jailed, Bevel organized black children and marched against Commissioner Bull Connor's fire hoses and police dogs. The "Children's Crusade," as the movement led by Bevel came to be known, turned the media tide in the favor of the desegregationists. Bevel helped in the brainstorming for the March on Washington in 1963, and the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965. Bevel also worked behind the scenes on the Chicago open housing movement in 1966; the anti-Vietnam War movement in 1967; the Memphis sanitation workers strike; and the Poor People's Campaign in 1968.

In 1969, Bevel left SCLC and created the Making of a Man Clinic in 1970. In the 1980s and 1990s, Bevel founded Students for Education and Economic Development (SEED). In 1992, Bevel ran for vice president on a ticket with Lyndon LaRouche.

Bevel served as pastor of the Hebraic-Christian-Islamic Assembly in Chicago; a board member of Chicago's Fulfilling Our Responsibilities Unto Mankind (F.O.R.U.M.); and chairman of the Camden, New Jersey, County Economic Development Board. Bevel also served as pastor and adviser to Chicago's Council of Mothers; the West Side Baptist Minister's Conference; WorkShip Coalition; and the Nation of Islam.

Bevel passed away on December 19, 2008 at age 72.

Accession Number

A2003.004

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/14/2003

Last Name

Bevel

Maker Category
Middle Name

Luther

Organizations
Schools

Palo Alto St. John's School

Rawlings Junior High School

East Technical High School

Leflore County High School

American Baptist Theological Seminary

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Itta Bena

HM ID

BEV01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Quote

He's on the case.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/19/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Avocado

Death Date

12/19/2008

Short Description

Civil rights activist and minister Reverend James Bevel (1936 - 2008 ) was the daring hero of 1963's Children's Crusade in Birmingham, Alabama. In addition to his activities during the Civil Rights Movement, Bevel were also an active force in interfaith dialogues, and several human and civil rights campaigns in the United States.

Employment

United States Navy

Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Students for Education and Economic Development

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:3608,87:23748,301:24113,307:24916,345:35472,490:35920,514:36816,539:41445,602:42805,624:43145,633:43910,650:49435,726:66624,903:71678,939:78786,1025:79634,1034:90872,1159:93532,1278:94064,1286:99916,1395:100676,1411:102044,1430:103108,1447:117200,1648:119410,1718:119735,1724:125418,1778:126248,1790:134126,1885:136789,1936:138031,1960:139273,1992:140239,2009:142047,2028$0,0:5695,171:6360,177:8355,199:9115,208:9970,222:10825,232:11205,241:11680,247:29022,438:31834,506:33050,515:50397,744:58400,869:60320,916:60960,925:67741,1057:75108,1141:84980,1265:88196,1353:88598,1360:92097,1404:92898,1445:105482,1551:105738,1556:106122,1562:113205,1659:113625,1664:118140,1744:128026,1954
DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3259">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Bevel interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3260">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Bevel's favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3261">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Bevel discusses his family's ethnic origins</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3262">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Bevel shares his family's philosophy on ancestry and ethnicity</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3263">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Bevel talks about his parents' backgrounds</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3264">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Bevel explains his father's influence and enlightenment</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3265">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Bevel discusses black land ownership</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3266">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Bevel remembers his childhood community of Itta Bena, Mississippi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3267">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Bevel remembers the social climate of his childhood community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3268">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Bevel describes his father's notoriety in Itta Bena, Mississippi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3269">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Bevel talks about childhood activities and his siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3270">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Bevel discusses his education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3271">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Bevel discusses his father's involvement with Mississippi Valley State University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3272">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Bevel explains his move to Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3273">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Bevel talks about attending school in Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3274">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Bevel recalls entering the U.S. Navy and experiences there</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3275">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Bevel talks about his reasons for leaving the U.S. Navy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3276">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Bevel talks about voluntarily leaving the U.S. Navy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3277">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Bevel remembers his music career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3278">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Bevel discusses being called into the ministry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3279">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Bevel recalls lessons learned at the American Baptist Theological Seminary, Nashville, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3280">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Bevel explains his evangelical belief system</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3281">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Bevel reflects on the open theater movement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3282">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Bevel discusses the organization and planning of the Civil Rights Movement in Nashville, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3283">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Bevel talks about his strategies for activism</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3284">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Bevel discusses strategies for sit-ins in Nashville, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3285">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Bevel recalls the outcome of civil rights activism in Nashville, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3286">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Bevel comments on the reactions of university faculty to civil rights activism in Nashville, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3287">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Bevel talks about the major players and disciplines of the Nashville Civil Rights Movement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3288">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Bevel reflects on the personality and influence of Ella Baker</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3289">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Bevel talks about SNCC's early actions</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3290">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Bevel explains his and SNCC's positive reaction to President John F. Kennedy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3291">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Bevel explains strategies for voter registration in Nashville and the outcome of the effort</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3292">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Bevel remembers his involvement with the Freedom Rides</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3293">Tape: 4 Story: 10 - James Bevel explains how serving jail time helped the cause of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3294">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Bevel discusses plans for ending segregation in Jackson, Mississippi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3295">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Bevel discusses his involvement in civil rights activism in Mississippi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3296">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Bevel explains the reasoning for launching COFO in Mississippi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3297">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Bevel talks about the goals of COFO</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3298">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Bevel remembers incidents surrounding the Medgar Evers murder</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3299">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Bevel details the Birmingham, Alabama Civil Rights Movement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3300">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Bevel talks about bringing the Civil Rights Movement into the national political arena</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3301">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Bevel explains his focus as a nonviolent activist</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

2$5

DATitle
James Bevel describes his father's notoriety in Itta Bena, Mississippi
James Bevel remembers incidents surrounding the Medgar Evers murder
Transcript
My daddy [Denis Bevel] was a marksman and he and a lady--name is Minne Nelfort--put on displays where he could strike a match that she would hold in her mouth. But people were afraid of my father and there was like a principle. Like he introduced me to all white people. He said, "Now this is my son. Don't bother him. If you got a problem, you come see me." So everybody referred to him as "old crazy Denis Bevel." So it was like they just wasn't going to bother. Now white people said, this is what they said, that if you bothered his children that a tornado would tap your place. Now he said that that wasn't truth and that was just a rumor, he said. But (laughs) I remember when Miss Fannie Lou Hamer got beat up and in jail in Winona [Mississippi]. The Mr. Green who owned the compress in Greenwood [Mississippi], he was over there. He says, "Hey, that's Denis's boy, don't bother him. Cuz we'll have problems." (laughs) But it was rumored that he could do this. Now he said he couldn't, but they would not bother his children because he was straight up about that, you know? He was straight up about it, "Do not bother my children."$$Did they suspect that he had supernatural powers or--or going to--$$(simultaneously) Yeah, yeah. Well, he actually did in relationship, because once, for instance, a tree was falling on my brother and he stopped it, and like I told you, if you study my history, you'll actually study the unfolding of the psychology of my father, see? The way I think strategically in terms of opening houses here in Chicago, or stopping the war in Vietnam, or continuing the Freedom Ride that developed in the Mississippi project, or organizing the children in Birmingham [Alabama], all this stuff comes from my daddy. That's the way he thinks and his position is that if you obey God, then when you ask God to do something, he's going to do it. Well, that's true. The problem with most guys, they don't spend time meditating on that definition, nature, and purpose sufficient to be about that purpose.$'63 [1963], you mentioned Medgar Evers, who was head of the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] in Jackson [Mississippi].$$Yeah, he was the State Director. He's on the national staff. That's different from the local President. See, they had field secretary. He was the Mississippi field secretary, see?$$In '63 [1963] he's murdered?$$Yeah.$$Was that a result of all the activity and --?$$Well, pretty much. That night he got murdered, three of us, four of us supposed to got murdered that night: me, Bernard Lafayette, a man named Reverend [Harvey] Cox, and Medgar. They had set up a situation in Birmingham [Alabama] for me because I had gone over to run the Birmingham movement. They had sent a woman down with cocaine and reefer [marijuana] and alcohol and all this stuff, and she'd invited me to a party, and I had planned to go. But what happened, the students got to arguing and fighting between Pearl High School [Pearl, Mississippi] and the other one--so I had to stay up all night refereeing a student war and didn't make it to my death trap (laughs). Next day, Medgar was dead. Bernard head had got busted, but I had missed my death trap. Well, I don't know what happened to Reverend Cox. They didn't get him. The only guy they got was Medgar, so. Their theory was, "If we can knock these four guys out, we can pretty much stop the movement," and the reason was that Medgar wasn't afraid of anybody. He would go everywhere. He worked and he was totally dedicated, see? And, you know, and so was Reverend Cox from South Carolina, Bernard and myself. Bernard, at that time, was stationed in Selma [Alabama], and I had just come over from Mississippi, from Greenwood [Mississippi], where I was directing that project to pull the SCLC [Southern Christian Leadership Conference] project out of hoc because they didn't know how to run a nonviolent movement. They didn't have nobody on that staff could run a movement.

Pervis Spann

Born in Itta Bena, Mississippi, on August 16, 1932, Pervis Spann distinguished himself as a broadcaster, exposing generations to the blues.

Spann worked hard from an early age, caring for his mother after she suffered a stroke. At age 14, he managed the Dixie Theater, a local all-black theater. In 1949, he moved with his mother and sister to Battle Creek, Michigan. However, Spann soon left to work in Gary, Indiana. Spann enlisted in the Army toward the end of the Korean War. After completing his service, he moved to Chicago and settled down. He became interested in broadcasting and attended the Midway Television Institute and the Midwestern Broadcasting School on the G.I. Bill.

In the 1950s, Spann was granted a four-hour overnight time slot on WOPA. In 1960, he organized his first concert, showcasing B.B. King and Junior Parker. In 1963, Phil and Leonard Chess bought the radio station, which became WVON, a 24-hour blues station. Spann became the "all-night blues man." He gained notoriety with an on-air 87-hour "sleepless sit-in," raising money for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Spann widened his sphere of influence during the 1960s, and began managing talented performers such as B.B. King. He booked major acts, including the Jackson 5 and Aretha Franklin. Spann also owned several South Side clubs in Chicago, including the Burning Spear.

In 1975, WVON was sold and changed frequency. Forming a business syndicate with Vernon Jarrett and Wesley South, Spann bought the license to the original frequency in 1979. Listeners to the new station, WXOL, heard an all-blues format and many of the same voices from the old WVON. The station reclaimed the old call letters in 1983. In the 1980s, Spann added another station to his radio empire, WXSS in Memphis. He later sold this station. His focus then turned to building WVON, with his daughter, Melody Spann Cooper, at the helm. He continues his career promoting the blues as the co-host of the popular cable t.v. program "Blues and More."

Accession Number

A2002.010

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

2/8/2002

Last Name

Spann

Maker Category
Organizations
Search Occupation Category
Archival Photo 2
First Name

Pervis

Birth City, State, Country

Itta Bena

HM ID

SPA01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Quote

Good blues to you.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

8/16/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Short Description

Broadcast chief executive and radio personality Pervis Spann (1932 - ) was the "all-night blues man" for WVON in the 1960s. Spann later bought the station with Vernon Jarrett and Wesley South. Spann was also a promoter, manager and club owner working with the likes of B.B. King, the Jackson 5, and Aretha Franklin.

Employment

Dixie Theater

WOPA Radio

WVON Radio

WXOL Radio

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:340,10:612,15:1768,56:31247,304:31856,312:35988,342:37260,357:40834,364:41402,373:41828,380:43812,393:64844,583:84647,730:91223,785:92291,799:100228,861:110998,970:111613,976:121832,1150:138040,1343:140844,1368:141208,1382:147030,1466:163366,1632:164950,1671:181895,1961:184631,1972:186560,1990:187200,2000:187600,2006:187920,2011:189530,2016:196415,2093:196910,2099:197999,2113:198890,2129:211118,2296:221065,2400$0,0:335,9:603,14:1139,24:2144,42:5226,139:12690,180:13065,186:13440,192:14115,203:16274,222:17014,234:25080,369:25746,380:26338,389:28040,422:30704,481:31148,488:32406,514:42122,630:42862,641:45674,698:45970,703:55377,788:56590,793:56992,800:57528,810:57863,816:59471,842:62445,866:70765,954:71180,960:71678,967:76936,1036:79081,1100
DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13324">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Pervis Spann interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13325">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Pervis Spann lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13326">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Pervis Spann talks about his parents and siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13327">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Pervis Spann talks about growing up in Itta Bena, Mississippi in the 1940s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13328">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Pervis Spann talks about meeting entertainer Tex Ritter</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13329">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Pervis Spann recalls his personality as a child</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13330">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Pervis Spann shares a story about being a job foreman at age sixteen</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13331">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Pervis Spann recalls the sights, smells and sounds of his childhood in Itta Bena, Mississippi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13332">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Pervis Spann details influential Southern radio programs from his youth</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13333">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Pervis Spann offers impressions of the South of his childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13334">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Pervis Spann talks about his job as a youth and his move to Battle Creek, Michigan</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13335">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Pervis Spann talks about his move to Gary, Indiana and his work in the steel mills with his father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13336">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Pervis Spann recalls his military service during the Korean War</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13337">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Pervis Spann details his education at the Midway Television Institute in Chicago</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13338">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Pervis Spann reflects on his enduring love for his mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13339">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Pervis Spann details his early days in radio broadcasting</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13340">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Pervis Spann talks about Al Benson and his years at WOPA radio in Chicago</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13341">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Pervis Spann discusses his arrangement broadcasting on WOPA and WVON radio simultaneously</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13342">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Pervis Spann shares anecdotes about the radio business in Chicago</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13343">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Pervis Spann recalls his start in the concert promoting business in Chicago</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13344">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Pervis Spann details his falling out with concert promoter and business partner, Big Bill Hill</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13345">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Pervis Spann talks about his relationship with WVON-AM's radio owner, Leonard Chess</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13346">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Pervis Spann talks briefly about promoting singer Sam Cooke's last concert</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13347">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Pervis Spann details his learning of the concert promoting business</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13348">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Pervis Spann shares stories about musicians he's promoted</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13349">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Pervis Spann recalls WVON-AM prmotions and events during the 1970s and 1980s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13350">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Pervis Spann talks about WVON-AM's promotion of 'The Good Guys'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13351">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Pervis Spann talks briefly about the risks of concert promotion</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/13352">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Pervis Spann discusses briefly why he bought WVON-AM radio</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

6$7

DATitle
Pervis Spann shares stories about musicians he's promoted
Pervis Spann recalls WVON-AM prmotions and events during the 1970s and 1980s
Transcript
Let's say with some of the talent. Do you have, do you have a favorite like B. B. King story?$$(Laughs) I got one--Johnnie Taylor. I've got some B. B. Kings too. But, you know, Johnnie Taylor. You always got Johnny Taylor. Johnny Taylor--I had a show in Detroit, Michigan. And I had the Dells, the Howlin' Wolf and Johnnie Taylor. And with them, you have a constant battle about who is going to go on stage last. The Dells, or Johnnie Taylor. So what I did, I had planned on putting Howlin' Wolf on stage last. But I hadn't told nobody. 'Cause, you know, it's up to me to send them. So I sent the Howlin' Wolf up before the Dells and Johnnie Taylor. The Howlin' Wolf goes up and little do they know, that the Howlin' Wolf is more popular than either one of them. He's in that what you call underground blues circuit. And they got in there. So a creative genius--"The Howlin' Wolf!" And I brought him on that stage. And he came out on the stage. Every white person in there stood up when the Howlin' Wolf hit that stage. Every white--then the black folks started (laughs) looking around at them. All these white folks. Then they began to get up. "Well maybe these white folks got something going here." They began to get up. And the Howlin' Wolf, from the time he left that stage, everybody in the entire--I had 10,000 people there standing up with, "More! More! More!" Well, we gotta get them off the stage. I went back and I asked them other guys, I says, "Y'all sure you wanna go on?" (laughs) 'Cause everybody was standing up applauding, having fun. And after the Howlin' Wolf left the stage, the show was over. Who ever just went up, just went up. You know, just--The folks didn't pay them no attention no way. So that's the thing you got to look at when you're putting on a lot of shows. And take a lot of them old blues artists, you think, "This ain't nothing. We're gonna run over him." No. I've seen it happen too much. Too much. They wanna close the house down when people like the Wolf sing, Muddy Waters. Oh Muddy Waters, Muddy Waters. If Muddy Waters get up before you, you might as well not go on stage. 'Cause he done took the house. He done tore the house up. Muddy Waters will do that.$$Now what about James Brown? You have a famous James Brown story?$$No.$$No. You've known James Brown a long time.$$(Simultaneously) You've got enough.$So let's talk about the importance of the station [WVON-AM, Chicago, Illinois] during that period. Why was it--What was it doing that was important?$$Well, it was just doing what black folks thought it should do. It was playing the music folks and hearing the music that they wanted to here. They were dancing and--Herb Kent was giving all the hops and things every Friday and Saturday night. Herb Kent giving hops at different places. Pervis Spann and [E.] Rodney Jones were giving concerts all around. And then Rodney a lot of times would just do--I'd be doing something at the Regal [Theater, Chicago, Illinois]. Rodney would do a record hop on the West Side. We--the city [Chicago] was just opened up for whatever we were doing. You know, what really stopped the--stopped us from really doing all these things, through the radio station, that old music that they put out there. That old disco stuff. That old disco stuff. That killed the black record sales more or less. If they ever wanna tell the truth about it. If they don't wanna tell the truth about it, then go on back there.

The Honorable Marion Barry

Marion Barry was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi on March 6, 1936. From an impoverished family, he went on to become a vigorous civil rights activist and served four terms as Mayor of the District of Columbia. Barry grew up in Memphis, where he attended Booker T. Washington High School. During the City's 1958 bus desegregation drive, Barry received his first taste of public confrontation and media notoriety. Subsequently, he abandoned his doctoral studies in Chemistry at the University of Tennessee to join the civil rights movement full-time. Barry was elected the first chairman of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and moved to Washington, D.C. in 1965 to open a local chapter. He never left.

Barry quickly became a formidable politician in the nation's capital. In 1971, he was elected to serve on the city's first school board. Three years later, when Congress allowed local elections, Barry won a seat on the District of Columbia City Council. As the second elected mayor of Washington, D.C., Barry was known for building coalitions with marginalized populations, including African Americans, women and the LGBT community. Barry held that office for twelve years, until a misdemeanor drug conviction forced him to step down. After a brief hiatus, Barry made a triumphant return to political office when he won back a seat on the City Council. In 1994, enthusiastic supporters reelected Barry as mayor in a landslide victory. Barry resided in Washington, D.C. with his wife Cora.

Barry passed away on November 23, 2014 at age 78.

Accession Number

A2000.005

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

8/7/2000

Last Name

Barry

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Booker T. Washington High School

LeMoyne-Owen College

Fisk University

University of Tennesee

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Marion

Birth City, State, Country

Itta Bena

HM ID

BAR04

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/6/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Seafood

Death Date

11/23/2014

Short Description

Mayor Marion Barry (1936 - 2014 ) was a Mayor of Washington D.C., a member of the Council of the District of Columbia, and the first chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Employment

District of Columbia Government

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

District of Columbia

Favorite Color

Burgundy

DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3038">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marion Barry interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3039">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marion Barry's favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3040">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marion Barry describes his mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3041">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marion Barry talks about his family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3042">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marion Barry talks about losing touch with his father at an early age</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3043">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marion Barry talks about his siblings and their families</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3044">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marion Barry describes growing up in Itta Bena, Mississippi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3045">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marion Barry explains why he moved to Memphis as a child</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3046">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marion Barry describes living in Memphis as a child</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3047">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Marion Barry talks about odd jobs he worked in his youth</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3048">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Marion Barry talks about how his personality changed as a youth</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3049">Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Marion Barry talks about how Scouting influenced him as a youth</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3050">Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Marion Barry describes his educational experience</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3051">Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Marion Barry says his mother complained about her domestic work</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3052">Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Marion Barry talks about some of his friends from high school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3053">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marion Barry describes his leisure time during high school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3054">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marion Barry talks about his decision to attend LeMoyne College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3055">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marion Barry says his family supported his decision to attend college</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3056">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marion Barry recalls becoming an activist at LeMoyne College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3057">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marion Barry describes the segregation in Memphis, Tennesse during the 1940s and 1950s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3058">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marion Barry is unsure why he became active at LeMoyne College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3059">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marion Barry describes speaking at a rally headed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3060">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marion Barry talks about his admiration for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3061">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marion Barry talks about the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3062">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Marion Barry describes working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3063">Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Marion Barry discusses the philosophy and strategies of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3064">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marion Barry gives his first impression of Washington, D.C. on his arrival in 1965</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3065">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marion Barry talks about his social work with African American youth in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3066">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marion Barry talks about his work as president of Washington, D.C.'s Board of Education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3067">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marion Barry talks about making social improvements while serving on the City Council of Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3068">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marion Barry talks about appointing minorities to city government positions when he was mayor of Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3069">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marion Barry explains why he ran for the Washington, D.C. school board</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3070">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marion Barry says that his mathematical aptitude and good memory helped him as a politician</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3071">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marion Barry describes how his belief in the political system changed over time</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3072">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Marion Barry talks about being shot in the chest in 1977</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3073">Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Marion Barry talks about his past endorsements from the 'Washington Post'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3074">Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Marion Barry describes his first successful mayoral campaign</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3075">Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Marion Barry explains that his politics are based on empowerment</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3076">Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Marion Barry talks about his relationship with the black middle class</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3077">Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Marion Barry talks about coping with the difficult nature of political office</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3078">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marion Barry talks about his relationship with white voters</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3079">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marion Barry talks about the influence of African American politicians</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3080">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marion Barry shares some regrets about his time as Mayor of Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3081">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marion Barry discusses Washington D.C's relationship with the federal government</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3082">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marion Barry says he never stopped working hard as Mayor of Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3083">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marion Barry discusses the Ivanhoe Donaldson embezzlement scandal</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3084">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marion Barry reflects on sex and drug scandals during his time as Mayor of Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3085">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marion Barry describes how incarceration helped him overcome his drug problems and continue in politics</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3086">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Marion Barry talks about his last term as Mayor of Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3087">Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Marion Barry talks about his future career plans</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3088">Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Marion Barry discusses political and economic empowerment for African Americans</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3089">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marion Barry talks about his hopes and concerns for the black community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3090">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marion Barry does not regret his decision not to pursue a career in science</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3091">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marion Barry disagrees with those who have called him an embarrassment</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3092">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marion Barry sympathizes with President Bill Clinton</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3093">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marion Barry discusses his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3094">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marion Barry says what it means to be black in America</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3095">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marion Barry explains the uniqueness of African Americans</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3096">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marion Barry explains why he favors reparations for slavery</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3097">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marion Barry talks about the importance of the HistoryMakers project</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3098">Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Photo - Marion Barry at his mayoral inauguration parade in Washington D.C., January, 1979</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3099">Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Photo - Marion Barry's mother, Mattie Cummings, 1994</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3100">Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Photo - A young Marion Barry supporter, 1992-1994</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3101">Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Photo - Marion Barry in a Martin Luther King Day parade, Washington, D.C., January, 1993</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3102">Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Photo - Marion Barry at a rally in Nigeria, 1992-1993</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3103">Tape: 5 Story: 15 - Photo - Marion Barry with firefighters at his city council inauguration, Washington, D.C., January, 1993</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3104">Tape: 5 Story: 16 - Photo - Marion Barry with son Christopher and friends</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3105">Tape: 5 Story: 17 - Photo - Marion Barry with fellow city council members, Washington, D.C., January, 1993</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3106">Tape: 5 Story: 18 - Photo - Marion Barry with his son Christopher with rap artist M.C. Hammer, ca. 1993</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3107">Tape: 5 Story: 19 - Photo - Marion Barry, his wife, Cora, and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton at the White House, Washington, D.C., 1994</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3108">Tape: 5 Story: 20 - Photo - Marion Barry with President Bill Clinton at the White House, Washington, D.C., 1993</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3109">Tape: 5 Story: 21 - Photo - Marion Barry meeting with local businessmen Washington, D.C., 1996</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3110">Tape: 5 Story: 22 - Photo - Collage made by a neighborhood group of Marion Barry with his son, Christopher Barry, Washington, D.C., ca. 1995</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3111">Tape: 5 Story: 23 - Photo - Marion Barry, Jerry Rawlings, President of Ghana, and their spouses, Washington, D.C., 1997</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3112">Tape: 5 Story: 24 - Photo - Marion Barry shaking hands with Judge Eugene Hamilton at his mayoral inauguration breakfast, Washington, D.C., 1995</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3113">Tape: 5 Story: 25 - Photo - Marion Barry presenting Dorothy Height of the National Council of Negro Women with a key to the city, Washington, D.C., 1996</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3114">Tape: 5 Story: 26 - Photo - Dorothy Height speaking at the opening of the National Council of Negro Women headquarters, Washington, D.C., 1996</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3115">Tape: 5 Story: 27 - Photo - Marion Barry and his wife attend a luncheon at the South African Embassy with Nelson Mandela, Washington, D.C., 1994</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3116">Tape: 5 Story: 28 - Photo - Marion Barry is sworn in as a member of the City Council, Washington, D.C., January, 1993</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3117">Tape: 5 Story: 29 - Photo - Marion Barry interviewed by radio host Tom Joyner, 1996</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3118">Tape: 5 Story: 30 - Photo - Marion Barry being greeted during his visit to the Ivory Coast, 1997</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3119">Tape: 5 Story: 31 - Photo - Marion Barry being greeted during his visit to Guinea, 1997</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3120">Tape: 5 Story: 32 - Photo - Marion Barry speaks while his mother, Mattie Cummings, and sister Gloria look on, 1995</a>