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CURTIS KNIGHT (& THE SQUIRES)


Pictures

 

Publicity pictures
The publicity pictures of Curtis Knight & the Squires were taken by Maurice Seymour. The studio "Maurice Seymour" originally consisted of two brothers, Moise and Simche Zeldman 1. The brothers moved to the USA from Russia in 1920 5 and adopted the first names Maurice and Seymour. They originally worked in Chicago but on the 3rd of August 1953 4 Seymour Zeldman opened a studio in New York City at 1619 Broadway, The Brill Building, and from then on both brothers worked under the name "Maurice Seymour". The pictures taken in different cities can be indentified by the signatures, under the name "Maurice Seymour" either "Chicago" or "NY" / "New York" can be found in small print 3.

The pictures of Curtis Knight & the Squires were taken in New York City by Maurice Seymour (aka Seymour Zeldman aka Simche Zeldman) at his studio in the Brill Building at 1619 Broadway. Unfortunately "most, if not all" (according to Ron Seymour) of the New York City negatives have been lost so the Squires negatives are unlikely to exist any longer 2.

I'm aware of three shots, one group shot of the Squires together, a portrait of Nate Edmonds and a portrait of Curtis Knight:

The groupshot
Probably taken in late 1965. Available from Getty Images in several differently cropped versions. The Getty Images print does not have a visible "Maurice Seymour" -credit but there's another print in existence that does have it.
With: Jimi Hendrix, Marion Booker (back), Curtis Knight (front), Ace Hall
The most complete version comes with a title "CURTIS KNIGHT and the SQUIRES" under the picture and contact info in smaller print:

Personal Management:
Ed Chalpin
PPX Enterprises
N.Y.C. CI 7-6010

The Nate Edmonds portrait:
The exact date of the Nate Edmonds (keyboard player with the Squires) photo is unknown. Photo courtesy of Sharon Soul & Nate Edmonds Jr.
Titled "NATE EDMONDS" under the picture with contact info next to it smaller print:

Direction
KA-COLE ENTERPRISES
1674 Broadway
New York, N.Y. 10019
Phone 2?? 2326 - 2?5-95?4

publi

The Curtis Knight portrait:

The portrait of Curtis Knight is dated 1963 on the Curtis Knight Foundation -website. As this is a solo Knight picture with a RSVP-label credit it most likely was taken close to the date that he signed with RSVP, the first two releases on the label being credited solely to Curtis Knight and only the 3rd single to Curtis Knight & the Squires. So a 1963 (or 1964) date seems likely. The picture has the title "CURTIS KNIGHT" under it and the following contact info:

Personal Mgt.
BETTY SPERBER
(516) 536-7887
?? NY

Maurice Seymour picture links:
Ron Seymour's website has a selection of Maurice Seymour photographs
Chicago Photography Collective sells prints
Google's image search

 

SOURCES:
1 Ted Seymour blog: http://explorationsoftruth.com/2009/08/things-weve-handed-down-family-roots/
2 emails from Ron Seymour 30 september 2012
3 general info from various sources:
- http://www.picturedujour.com/2009/05/07/maurice-seymour-pt-3-the-plot-thickens/1437
- http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1993-10-09/news/9310090166_1_mr-seymour-advertising-photographer-performers
4 ads in Billboard magazine issue 1 August 1953:
- page 4: "Maurice Seymour of Chicago announces the opening of his New York Studio at 1619 Broadway on August 3rd. For Appointments phone: PL 7-1527"
- page 7: "James J. Kriegsmann N.Y. welcomes to new york the dean of theatrical photography, maurice seymour of chicago, on the occasion of the opening of his new york studio."
- email from Sydney Seymour Fingold 5 october 2012
5 email from Ted Seymour 4 october 2012

CURTIS KNIGHT (& THE SQUIRES)

Interviews - Mike Rashkow
This isn't really an interview. Mike Rashkow worked as an engineer at Studio 76 in 1966, and while I did call him 16 February 2005 I didn't have the opportunity to tape the conversation, and Mr. Rashkow said that everything he knows about Studio 76 and Ed Chalpin was already in the article that he wrote for Spectropop, so we settled for a rather nice general chat. While it's not entirely true that he had nothing to add (he did give me some valuable info during the call, included at relevant spots elsewhere on the site) the article he wrote is extensive, and better yet fun to read. So follow this link:
http://www.spectropop.com/SamChalpin/

Mike Rashkow says he never met Hendrix, he worked at Studio 76 for about 6 months, and this would seem to have been just before or right after (more likely) the period that Hendrix recorded there. Studio 76 personnel at the time included Rashkow, a tech guy taking care of the equipment ("George"), a secretary and at night Chalpin leased the studio for sessions to Latin producer Vincent Cartagena.

 

 

CURTIS KNIGHT (& THE SQUIRES)

Interviews - Sharon Soul
During the year 2001 I had the good fortune to get into contact with Nate Edmonds Jr. and Sharon Soul, son and wife of Nathaniel Edmonds Sr.(28 August 1941 - 7 June 2000), keyboard player with Curtis Knight & the Squires. They were kind enough to answer to my questions and allow me to use photographs, so as a result I can now present an "Interview" with Sharon Soul & Nate Edmonds Jr.:

Nate Edmonds Jr. & Sharon Soul:
Most of those guys worked on Broadway between 72st to 80th st. and in the Bronx also. See, good musicians played in the best clubs on Broadway because that was where the money and contacts were. So, you'll notice that they all seem to know each other. Also, many of the artists worked for a booking agency called "KaCole Enterprises". Musicians found many gigs through this company. My mom thinks Alan Lerner and Honey Yates owned the company and dealt with many musicians and artists.


SHARON SOUL AND NATE EDMONDS SR.
ON THEIR WEDDING DAY IN JULY 1968

Mom said Don Covay was a big songwriter/recording artist on Broadway. She remembers Johnny Brantley while working with my dad. She also remembers Benard Pretty Purdie. He was a studio musician for lots of Broadway recordings.

On the pictures that I have, she thinks this guys name is Henry Henderson on bass and the drummer looks like a fill in. Curtis, Youngblood, Purdie, Harry hendrickson and them alternated between each other and worked together often. So the "Squires" had a number of "members".
Mom says Curtis Knight was nice but he showed off a lot and was too greasy (hair :) )

She knows Billy Guy from the Coasters well. He wrote and produced sessions for her in the 60's--that's the only one she knew pretty good beside Pretty Purdie and Lonnie Youngblood and Curtis Knight.

Mom said Jimi used to act crazy on the stage and she couldn't stand it. She said he played this "twangy music"--jumping around, playing the guitar behind his back, biting it. He was not considered an R&B guitar player--but he played it because that's what the bands were playing but when he got a solo he would really go off into the stuff you know him for.


1960'S PUBLICITY SHOT OF NATE EDMONDS SR.

Don't get her wrong she liked him, he was a little quiet off stage. Most people thought of him as an excellent guitar player but was not popular like he became in Europe. Nevertheless, people really dug him in NYC. She really liked Hendrix as a person--she said he was always a complete gentlemen to her...not like some of the other guys around that scene. She just didn't care for his style of guitar--he was too "far out" for her.

Mom confirmed just now that he did wear real tight pants in that you could see his little flat butt cheeks bouncin' when he walked--hahahahahhahahahahah--this is getting too much for me

Q: Did Nate and/or Jimi play in any other groups in addition to Curtis Knight & the Squires?
No not really-Nate was mainly a studio musician and for-hire type of gigs-before moving on to arranging and producing records at All Platinum Records in New Jersey. From what my mom knows, Jimi was kind of doing the same thing. The Isley Bros. And little Richard used him as guitarists also. Now, my dad told me a story that Little Richard “loved to watch”. Jimi told my dad that Jimi used to pick girls up after shows with Little Richard and take them to his hotel room and Little Richard used to sneak and watch him and then scream out “Tear it up Jimi”. I know that sounds raunchy but that’s what my dad (Nate) told me one day.

Q: Are there any other recordings that you think might feature Hendrix?
He might be featured with Little Richard and/or the Isley bros. Because he played with both these groups.

Q: Were Nate and Jimi trying to "make it" with the Squires, or was it just something that paid money or was fun?
The Squires were a “house-band” type of group at the Cheetah club (among others) where they had to work 4 nights a week. Jimi and Nate didn’t star there or anything, they just played music that people that were into R&B music were into. Any recordings that they did may have been an attempt to make it, but the group was formed to earn money consistently as a house-band. House-bands provided a steady income for musicians while they worked on projects like recording.

Q: Some of the "live" recordings aren't actually live, but with an audience overdubbed on a studio take.The presence of introductions between songs on studio recordings has led to a theory that these might be rehearsal tapes that the Squires did in order to pace the sets, make them flow nicely with the between song chats etc. Is this something that a band would have done back then?
No, they had to pay for that studio time and so it would seldom be used for rehearsal. They may have been recording a demo that could be used to shop the nightclubs for future gigs as the housebands-because housebands provided steady income for a New York musician. If they audition the tape for a nightclub and it appears that they knew how to work the audience, then they had a better chance of getting the job.

Q: I've been very curious about the "live" Curtis Knight tapes, as 95% of the songs are covers. The squires did record originals in the studio, any idea why they apparently didn't play any of those live?
Probably because,as house-bands do, they entertained the crowd with familiar songs as the house-band was the “bread and butter” for the members in the group. I’m positive that they played an original during the gigs.

Q: Were Nate and Jimi paid for playing with Curtis, or was it a "band" where whatever money they earned was split evenly?
Curtis was a musician but more business minded. He formed the group and paid the guys a salary by the week. Curtis would generally set up the gigs and handle money collection-and then pay the guys on “payday”. I’m not sure who made more money though.

Q: How did you get gigs those days in general, did you ask around yourself or did people come to you? Did you play mainly clubs or also parties and the like?
Most of the jobs that a musician got on Broadway were from word to mouth among musicians. But there agencies such Ka-Cole Enterprises that would book gigs for musicians and bands. Ka-Cole also had a photographer who would give the artists a professional picture to use to promote their artists. Now nightclubs would often contact a booking agency to get an artist or band for whatever music needs they had. Nate Edmonds used Ka-Cole to find work as a supper club pianist-etc. in addition to word-of-mouth gigs.

Q: When the squires played live, how long did a gig generally last, were they required to play certain music etc?
Most shows were about 4 sets of 45 minutes each. So they would perform and then take a break. So they would generally start at 9 or 9:30 into the morning. They worked hard for the little bit of money they were paid. It really didn’t make a “good” living but it kept an income coming in between out of town gigs and recording sessions. The played what was popular-what the crowd wanted to hear.

Q: Where the members of the squires also hanging out socially, or was it strictly business?
Occassionally, they would have a drink or two between sets or after rehearsal. But in those days in New York, if you weren’t working you were either at home or keeping your eye open for more work. The atmosphere in New York as a musician was this - they generally didn’t just hang out because they got their fill of the scene from working. Unless they were attending a show to learn something new or improve theirselves. So the answer by and large is NO.

Q: How did Nate end up joining Curtis Knight's band? What was he doing before?
He probably met Curtis or one of the guys from a gig or studio session and they invited him in. But Nate did the same thing in the group that he did before the band - that was playing in recording sessions and doing supper clubs (pianist) in Long Island (where there were a lot of supper clubs).

Q: Did Nate ever play in the studio or live with Jimmy Norman, Billy LaMont or Lonnie Youngblood?
Nate played frequently with Lonnie Youngblood. In fact, Lonnie and Nate formed a production company together at one point after the Squires and actually made records.

Q: Did you know Ed Chalpin? Was he well known among the musicians in New York?
The name sounds familiar, but I don’t remember who he is or what he did.

Q: Did you know Johnny Brantley? Was he well known among the musicians in New York?
The name sounds very familiar but I..I think he was a record producer or had something to do with a recording. I think he recorded Nate and Jimi live in the club(s) and then take them to the studio and clean them up.

Q: What kind of a label was RSVP records that released the Curtis Knight singles?
I don’t remember that label-unless it was Curtis’ label.

Q: Did you know Jerry Simon, the head of RSVP?
No, not without seeing a face.

Q: What is KA-COLE Enterprises, the firm name appering in the bottom of the promotional b&w picture of Nate Sr.?
A booking agency and management firm that Honey Yates and Alan Lerner owned. She managed me (Sharon Soul) but they booked Nate at a lot of long Island supper clubs and also in the Bronx. I’ve been trying to get a hold of either one of them, but no luck. Let me know if you come up with something on them. I bet Jimi used them to find work at some point. Many musicians used booking agencies and clubs depended on them because they wouldn’t have to run ads in the paper and the booking agency took care of some screening and auditioning also. A booking agency would be a great place to find buried info on an artist.

Q: Did Linda Jones and Hendrix know each other, how did you end up working
with Linda?
At All Platinum record company owned by Sylvia and Joe Robinson (Mickey and Sylvia, Pillow Talk, etc.) She was an artist for All Platinum and Nate and I wrote songs for the company. Linda and Jimi may have known each other as Linda had the hit or two out. It was quite common to meet celebrities and good musicians when you are involved with a hit record.

Q: Did Nate Sr. keep any tape archives, there wouldn't be any unheard tapes with Hendrix lurking anywhere (always have to ask this:)?
Not that we are aware of. Nate does have masters that Nate jr. now has possession of, but they are from a group called Positive Force that made a hit in 1980.