I was working on a new track when I heard music coming from another part of my home. It was the SOS Band, Kleer, Kurtis Blow, and others. That’s when I got inspired to write about an epic encounter with Vaughan Mason and Crew and Hip Hop.
I toured the country with Vaughan Mason during the hit 12” single entitled Bounce, Rock Skate. I was a fortunate teenager attending university at the time when I got a call from a talented keyboard player named Danny Girlando to meet with Vaughan. The audition was the following day in a Brooklyn, New York loft.
He needed a drummer, and I was grateful for the opportunity. For some reason, the European tour I was counting on with Joe Bataan fell through. But since I was working with the Norby Walters Agency - I was able to rebound with a new gig and hit record.
There were plenty of groups on the road. They called it the chitlin circuit. My first gig with Vaughan was opening up for Parliament-Funkadelic in Dayton, Ohio. We also opened for many of the superstar groups like Prince, Rick James, Fat Back Band, and the Bar-Kays for months, but one night in Cincinnati, Ohio, we opened for Kurtis Blow. His hit song at the time was “The Breaks.” When I think about it, that’s when I met King Tim III.
We would jam with him as a live backup band. It was my first experience mixing hip hop with an RnB group. It all made sense at the time. Our lead singer, Jerome Bell. He was a backup vocalist for Van McCoy on the record “Do the Hustle.” So, in a small way, it was disco music too.
I’m writing about hip hop music because all through that time, the art form of hip hop was considered illegitimate. It has always intrigued me as to how many expressions of music are dogged at first – then go mainstream – like hip hop in today’s music.
Vaughan Mason was ahead of his time because he intuitively knew the pulse of the streets. He was a roadie for the group BT Express as well as a credentialed recording engineer and musician. Hip Hop artists like LL Cool J, De La Soul, Heavy D & the Boyz, Daft Punk, Grand Master Flash, and Redman sampled Bounce, Rock Skate on over 162 recordings.
Rest in peace brother