Curtis Mayfield: A Musical Journey

Curtis Mayfield first came to my attention as part of the vocal group, The Impressions.

I was only twelve years old when I heard their song Talking About My Baby. I was very taken with the distinctive voice on the track, which I later found out belonged to one Curtis Mayfield.

That inspired me to get one of their albums on vinyl, and the following year I became the proud owner of their latest release, ‘People Get Ready’
The title song was about civil rights, and showcased the voice of Curtis Mayfield perfectly.

By 1970, I was 18 years old, and Curtis had left The Impressions to embark on a career as a solo artist. From his first album, he released the excellent ‘Move On Up’, and I was sure from the start that his new venture was going to be a winner.

1971 brought us his second album, ‘Roots’. This also provided a world-wide hit, with the song, ‘We Got To Have Peace’.
That track showed his distinctive voice at its best.

One year later, he created the award-winning soundtrack for the popular Blaxploitation film, ‘Superfly’, starring Ron O’Neal, with a role in the cast for Curtis playing himself. This was Funk music at its best, and became a huge hit both as a single release, and a soundtrack album too.

Over the next decade, he released an album almost every year. Then in 1987, he collaborated with the English band The Blow Monkeys, on the anti-Margaret Thatcher song, ‘(Celebrate) The Day After You’.
You can see and hear his distinctive contribution in this official video.

He continued to release records, and perform live to sell-out audiences. Then in 1990, he was seriously injured when a lighting rig fell on him during a performance. Paralysed from the neck down, he still managed to record his final, album, with all the vocals sung whilst lying on his back.
Seriously ill with Diabetes, he died in 1999.

Curtis Lee Mayfield. 1942-1999

34 thoughts on “Curtis Mayfield: A Musical Journey

  1. I read that Curtis Mayfield had ten children. I’m 99% sure that this is one of the ten, Bishop Mayfield. He has been a fixture along the west coast in the USA. I’ve seen him perform many times as he used to live in our city. Thought you might like to hear a sampling of his music, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I found this about Bishop.
      ‘Bishop Mayfield was born in N.Y.C and has been singing since the age of 5. He has been a fixture up and down California & Canada since 1966. Bishop is currently appearing with noted guitarist & songwriter Dave Storie in the powerfully dynamic “Bishop Mayfield & Friends Band” (Original, R&B, Funk, Blues-Rock, Fusion) based in Southern Oregon. He has toured with, jammed with, or open for such greats as Albert Collins, B.B. King, Al Wilson, Martha Reeves & The Vandella’s, Tower Of Power, Jr. Walker & The All-Stars, Charlie Musslewhite, Ike & Tina Turner, Sugar Pie Desantos, John Lee Hooker, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Jose Feliciano, James Brown, Graham Central Station, Bo Diddley, Etta James. Barbara Morrison, Crackin’, Neal Schon, Sonny Terry & Brownie Magee, The Neville Brothers, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, Norton Buffalo, Steel Pulse, Pato Banton, Burning Spear, Esther Phillips, & many, many more’.

      Curtis Mayfield was born and raised in Chicago. He had eleven children from three marriages, eventually settling in Atlanta.

      If he has been on the scene since 1966, it is unlikely that Bishop is the son of Curtis, but may well be a relative.

      Many thanks for the link to his music, as I hadn’t heard of him. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.


  2. I loved Mayfield. For some dumb reason when my first husband and I split in 1978 he kept all the soul and I kept all the folk. I also love Isaac Hayes and was just listening to Hot Buttered Soul while I cooked dinner Friday night. On Apple Music, since I no longer have the album.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t know Curtis, Cindy? He was incredibly popular at one time. 🙂
      Perhaps it was when you were in the service, with other things on your mind.
      Or you might just have been too young.
      Best wishes, Pete. x


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