In a senseless act, legendary saxophonist King Curtis, born Curtis Ousley, is stabbed to death in front of his New York City brownstone on Friday August 13, 1971, during one of New York City’s nastiest heat waves. King Curtis was carrying an air conditioner into his apartment at 50 West 86th St. when he got into a scuffle with a group of men standing on the stoop doing drugs. He asked them to move, but during the subsequent argument one of them, Juan Montanez, pulled out a six-inch dagger and stabbed Curtis in the heart.
The attack was witnessed by Aretha Franklin and Sam Moore who were meeting Curtis to discuss a recording session he was to produce. Curtis was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, but was dead on arrival. Four days later the funeral was held, Jesse Jackson performed the service. Curtis' band, The Kingpins, played an hour long version of 'Soul Serenade' and Aretha sang the spiritual 'Never Grow Old.' Here are some of the hits he played sax on:
Hang up My Rock and Roll Shoes - CHUCK WILLIS - (highest charting) #24
The Stroll - DIAMONDS - #4-
What Am I Living For - CHUCK WILLIS - #9
Yakety Yak - COASTERS - #1
Along Came Jones - COASTERS - #9
Charlie Brown - COASTERS - #2
I Cried a Tear - LAVERN BAKER - #6
Little Egypt - COASTERS - #23
Tossin’ and Turnin’ - BOBBY LEWIS - #1
Peppermint twist - JOEY DEE - #1
Respect - ARETHA FRANKLIN - #1
I Heard It Through The Grapevine - GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS - #2
Some of King Curtis’s solo singles:
Soul Twist - #17
Memphis Soul Stew - #33
Ode to Billy Joe - #28
In 1990 Curtis Mayfield, best known as the lead singer for The Impressions and for composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film “Superfly,” is paralyzed from the neck down in an onstage accident after high winds cause a 600 pound lighting rig to fall on him at a concert in Brooklyn, New York at the Martin Luther King Music Festival. Eyewitnesses described the moment as “A small twister of some sort tornado-like, just came out of nowhere.” He was 48 years of age at the time of the accident.
But one great earth shaking event did happen on this day, though it would go unnoticed for years and years, Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton records the original version of "Hound Dog" in 1952.