Auspicious news from the Rev. Jenner J. Hull!
Since even the vaguest form of the Church began congregating regularly and realized our Funky Mission, we’ve known of the existence of someone who could, quite possibly, be considered the single Most Funky man to ever walk the Earth.
At first, there were only rumors. Old men in seedy bars (who would probably be half-senile even if they hadn’t drank themselves into a constant stupor), arguing about the best musicians they’d ever seen, would periodically mention a guy named "Fat Back" who they saw somewhere back in the seventies, maybe. "Course, it coulda been someone else."
The claims were sundry and tended to differ from teller to teller. Kinda like the chupacabra, if the chupacabra was a guitar prodigy and musical visionary.
Sometimes, he was a street performer in New York City in the late sixties (when he would have been but a teen). Sometimes, he was playing brief sets in between dancers at an illegal, all-male, all-nude revue outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. A close friend of the Church even swears he saw a young Fat Back jamming with Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin’s hotel room during their first American tour.
The Church has been moving along steadily despite the frustration of not being able to pin down a legend, a virtual Zeus of the music scene. We’ve been revering our Esteemed Funk Masters, canonizing those who have moved along, having Jam Sessions whenever we can, and, generally, doing our damndest to promote, popularize, and proliferate all forms of Funk.
Then, in the span of just a few months, we had several huge breaks.
A man named Gerald ("Call me Jerry") Walker contacted Your Humble Reverend after meeting one of our Deacons, Reginald P. Weatherford, at a Blues Festival and told an amazing story. He claims to have met and befriended the Funky Savior Himself when he was living in North Carolina in the late sixties. Mr. Walker, as it turns out, was close friends with some local musicians, notably the jazz/rock drummer "Turbo" Terry Walsh (St. Turbo), who jammed with Fat Back during his Carolina days.
Later, Mr. Walker sent me the first of the Holy Journals; a series of sporadic diary entries written by Fat Back during his travels across the U.S., left with Turbo Terry’s family at some point, and given to Mr. Walker several years ago. Within a few days, Turbo’s daughter, Linda, sent me Turbo’s own recently-found diaries, which detail many shows, practice sessions, and intimate conversations with the FSH.
These two diaries prove, beyond a doubt, that Fat Back Jackson was speaking of "the Groove" and "the Funk" years before that particularly amazing genre of music graced the American musical scene.
Several weeks after these momentous discoveries, three more individuals contacted us with verifiable first-hand accounts of Fat Back. Bassist Rufus Kennedy (St. Rufus) and guitarist Jake Coen (St. Jake) each contacted the Church independently; though they’ve grown apart over the years, both men played, briefly, in a band with Fat Back. Ellery (St. Jonesy) Jones, a multi-instrumentalist and still spry at 85, also wrote to the Church and told his story of his involvement with Fat Back in the seventies funk scene. Jonesy, unfortunately, was also witness to the events that forever forced Fat Back from the musical world.
Some snippets have been revealed (see the previous posts) but the mission of the Church of the Everlasting Groove’s Official Online Ministry is to disseminate the most important of these materials in their entirety so as to benefit the entire global community.
Your Humble Reverend and his minions are busy combing through these and other volumes to find the truth among the legends. We have constructed a fairly comprehensive time-line of Fat Back’s life and music; hopefully, within the next few weeks or so, we’ll be telling his story in installments and discussing the Funky Disciples who were lucky enough to Jam with him.
If you, Dear Reader, have not yet felt the Funk, check in from time to time and we’ll try to remedy that as best we can.