IN THE BEGINNING

 


"The legend of The Pharaohs starts at Crane Junior (Malcolm X) College on the West side of Chicago. Under the tutelage of James Mack a student band is formed- The Jazzmen, which in 1962 wins the best band category at Chicago's annual Harvest Moon Festival. The band featured a front-line of Charles Handy (trumpet) Louis Satterfield (trombone) and Don Myrick (alto sax) backed by Maurice White (trap drums), RAMANANA (Fred Humphrey) (Piano) and bassist Ernest McCarthy. At the time Chicago based Chess Records was fast becoming America's premier forum for progressive Black music and Jazzmen: White, Satterfield and Handy became prominent session players at the label joining an illustrious group which already featured guitarist Pete Cosey, arranger /pianists Phil Wright and the late great Charles Stepney.

At the time Chicago based Chess Records was fast becoming America’s premier forum for progressive Black music and Jazzmen White, Satterfield and Handy became prominent session players at the label joining an illustrious group which already featured guitarist Pete Cosey, arranger /pianists Phil Wright and the late great Charles Stepney.

 

 

FONTELLA BASS, LOUIS SATTERFIELD, MAURICE WHITE AND MINNIE RIPERTON

 

 

The song was released in October 1965. It hit the R&B charts and stayed in the top 40 for 19 months and went gold in two months. "Rescue Me" was not only popular but had a style all of its own with some talented people behind it who helped make it a success:

"The song featured a crack horn section led by soul tenor Gene Barge. It boasted heated call-and-response vocals, with Minnie Riperton among background singers. And it was driven by a crack rhythm section including drummer Maurice White (pre-Earth, Wind and Fire) and bassist Louis Satterfield (April 3, 1938), whose monster riffs are frequently credited with the song's success."

 

 

THE LEGEND OF THE PHAROAHS

 

 

It was during this formative period in life that the evolution of Earth, Wind and Fire began to develop. In 1965, while at Chess Records, Charles Handy assembled a group of his buddies to record his tune Hot Tacos. The and consisted of Charles Handy, Louis Satterfield, Pete Cosey, tenor player Oscar Rivers, drummer Morris Jennings, and Master percussionist Henry Gibson.  The group eventually merged with the Artistic Heritage Ensemble to form The Pharaohs. At various points between 1965-1973, horn players Louis Satterfield (trombone), Don Myrick (saxes), Rahm Lee (trumpet) performed with the Pharaohs. They would soon form the nucleus of the Earth, Wind and Fire horn section.

"After a while these musicians moved over to the South Side to the fledgling Afro Arts Theater where they joined the Artistic Heritage Ensemble, under the leadership of Phil Cohran. As the name suggests The Afro Arts Theater was more than just a music venue, offering free concerts and tuition in music, yoga, dance and art with an afrocentric perspective to the local community. Presently Cohran left to teach at Malcolm X Junior College and Chuck Handy and The Pharoahs and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble merged to form The Pharaohs; "that's how," narrates Handy "the group grew in size from a six piece group to an orchestra".

"It was this version of the band: Satterfield (1962-1970), Handy, ‘Big' Willie Woods (Trombone), Oye Bisi (African drums), Shango Njoko Adefumi (African Drums), Black Herman Waterford (Quinto drum, alto sax), Don Myrick (saxes), Yehudah Ben Israel (guitar, vocals), Alious Watkins (trap drums, tuba), Derf Reklaw Raheem (percussion, flute), Aaron Dodd (Tuba); that in 197I recorded ‘The Awakening'. By 1972 when ‘In The Basement' was recorded the unit had expanded to include Derrick Morris (trap drums), Warren Bingham (guitar), Rahm Lee (trumpet) and Sue Conway (Vocal). For too few years the Pharaohs ruled but by 1973 it was all over.

"What happened to the Pharaohs? In the early seventies Maurice White who had found considerable success with Ramsey Lewis' third important trio, gathered together many of his Chicago chums (including Handy, Myrick and Satterfield) to record a demo, on the strength of which he inked a deal with Warner Bros. and returned to Chicago to assemble a band. In the process he changed name, basing the new one on the astrological signs of the three founding members: Earth Wind and Fire.

 

THE PHENIX HORNS

 

For his early recordings (such as the soundtracks to Melvin Van Pebbles ‘Sweet Sweetback's Badass Song' and the first Earth, Wind & Fire album ‘The Need of Love') White approached Pharaohs Myrick, Satterfield and Yahudah (Yakov) Ben Israel.  After scoring a major hit with the live recording of ‘Reasons' Myrick and Satterfield joined Rahm Lee and Michael Harris to form The Phenix Horns, Earth Wind and Fire's permanent horn section.

Earth, Wind & Fire, followed the trail of gold West trod by so many mid Western musicians and by Motown itself, moved out to Los Angeles while Charles Handy preferred to remain in Chicago, continuing his studies in Egyptology at the Field Museum of Natural History. The Pharaohs as a band were effectively gone but their influence was undiminished: Earth Wind and Fire's Egyptian iconography (from the Sphinx/Pyramid laden album art to the musical references to Sun Goddesses and Serpentine Fires) owes as much to The Pharaoh's philosophy as their horny percussive bass heavy groove does to The Pharaohs musical innovation (it was Louis Satterfield who taught Verdine White to play bass, and Maurice the Kalimba!). Earth Wind and Fire in turn have profoundly influenced popular music.

 

 

THE PHENIX HORNS

Michael Harris - trumpet, flugelhom

Rahmlee Michael Davis - trumpet, flugelhom

Louis Satterfield - trombone

Don Myrick - saxophones

Elmar Brown - trumpet – (1979)

 

 

 

LOUIS SATTERFIELD

 

 

 

 

DONALD MYRICK

 

 

THE PHENIX HORNS AND PHIL COLLINS

 

Maurice loaned Earth Wind & Fire's signature Phenix Horns - Don Myrick on saxophone, Louis Satterfield on trombone, Rahmlee Davis and Michael Harris on trumpets - to his other production projects, the Emotions, Ramsey Lewis and Deniece Williams. Then, on a tour of Europe, somebody else took interest in the famed horn section. "We used to tour so much," said Maurice, "we used to tour Europe. Phil Collins had an opportunity to see us. He would recruit our horn section whenever we weren't using it."

Sure enough, Collins imported the Phenix Horns into Genesis tracks like "No Reply At All" and "Paperlate," and on his solo hits like "I Missed Again," "Sussudio" and "I Cannot Believe It's True." "I sometimes had to call and make an appointment to see my own horn section," said Maurice. "They even toured with Genesis and Phil Collins for a while."

 

DEATH OF DONALD MYRICK

 

On July 30, in the summer of 1993, former 53 year old Phenix Horns member Don Myrick, whose saxophone could be heard not only on Earth Wind & Fire's albums, but also on albums from Bobby “Blue” Bland, The Dells, Regina Belle, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Heaven 17 and Phil Collins (it's Myrick's emotional sax on Collins' hit "One More Night"), was shot to death in Los Angeles, under circumstances that still remain a mystery to this day. Donald Myrick was shot by the LAPD when his home was raided by mistake. It seems that a police officer mistook a lighter Donald was holding for a gun. 

"Don hadn't worked with us in almost ten years," said Philip Bailey, "and so we were on to other things, we had a new Earth Wind & Fire horn section. I was in Los Angeles, and somebody called me and told me what happened. We were all very shocked and hurt that that had happened. He hadn't worked with the band in quite some time. He did a solo for me on one of my projects, and wasn't really feeling up to doing what I was used to hearing him do. But later I learned that he was back and playing really well and everything, so it was a real shock to us. He had been real sick one time and close to death, we were thinking he was bouncing back. It’s still shocking today.”

Donald is laid to rest at the Inglewood Cemetery across the street from the Great Western Forum, home of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Donald Myrick is buried at:

Inglewood Park Cemetery
Inglewood
Los Angeles County
California, USA

 

LAWSUIT SETTLED IN DONALD MYRICK’S DEATH

On August 4, 1995, Lawsuit settled in Donald Myrick’s death according to the Associated Press & the Union-Tribune.  In Santa Monica, the family of a rock musician Donald Myrick, who was shot to death during a 1993 police raid, settled a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city for $400,000, an attorney said yesterday.  The settlement came Monday on the eve of trial, ending litigation
brought by Myrick's mother, wife and three daughters.

Myrick, a saxophonist who performed on the Phil Collins hit "One More Night" and performed with such acts as Earth, Wind and Fire, was killed July 30, 1993, while police were serving a search warrant.  Police said Officer Gary Barbaro fired one shot after mistaking a butane lighter in Myrick's hand for a weapon.

 

HENRY THREADGILL REMEMBERS DONALD MYRICK

Henry Threadgill, composer, ensemble leader, reeds player, interviewed July 24, 1996 by Ted Panken, host of jazz and new music programs on the Columbia University/New York City radio station WKCR.FM. 

I was leading up to ask you to tell us about the music program at Englewood High School. It was like all the high school programs, pretty much. It was a band program, and sometimes there would be small group rehearsals to work on Dance Band music or Jazz Band music. We called it Stage Band, besides being in the concert band... In other words, the concert band, the marching band, and then the stage band where we would play big band arrangements. There were a lot of great players at that school when I got there. Roscoe Mitchell, a great saxophone player Donald Myrick, Steve McCall had gone there, Oscar Brown, Jr., Satterfield, the trombone player. There were a lot of good players there. Who were some of the people who connected you into extending your research into music? Was Roscoe Mitchell one? No, I met Roscoe very late. The first saxophone player around that I really was influenced by that always was there with encouragement was Donald Myrick. Donald was older than I was, and he was a very fine saxophone player, very gifted when he was very young. There were band and solo city competitions, and he had won several of these for a couple of years. I was kind of following behind him to go to these contests, and play in the different groups. He would take me around to different sessions on Monday nights and Wednesday nights around the city.

 

ROSCOE MITCHELL DEDICATED A CD TO DONALD MYRICK



 

It's hard to believe that 30 years have passed since Delmark issued "Sound" in 1966, the first recording of 26-year-old Roscoe Mitchell. This CD you hold in your hand, "Hey Donald" was not intended as a commemorative release, but a more exciting merging of musicians could not have been pulled off even if that had been the plan.

This CD is dedicated to Donald Myrick, the late saxophonist and one of Mitchell's fellow founding members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians who, among many other things, was an original member of Earth, Wind and Fire.

Song List:

1.      Walking In the Moonlight

2.      Dragons

3.      Jeremy

4.      The El

5.      Hey Donald

6.      Keep on Keeping On

7.      The Band Room

8.      Englewood High School

9.      Zero

10.  Song for Rwanda

11.  58th Street

12.  See You At The Fair



 

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Mr Justice Jonathan Parker ruled that Collins had overpaid Louis Satterfield 63, and Rahmlee Davies 51, a total of £244,000 in royalties.

But he made it clear the duo, once part of the group Earth, Wind and Fire, will not have to repay any of the money, and halved the amount the Oscar-winning musician had demanded from them.

The judge said it was "highly regrettable" the matter could not have been resolved before it went to court, and criticized Collins' company for its handling of the affair.

   

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EARTH, WIND & FIRE