Saturday, June 27, 2009


Arlester "Dyke" Christian was born in Buffalo, NY, in 1943, and by the mid-'60s was singing and playing bass with the O'Jays backing band, the Blazers. After a tour in 1965, the band was left stranded in the unlikely--and not altogether funk-friendliest city--of Phoenix, Arizona after the O'Jays could not afford to bring them back to Buffalo.

Relocating in Phoenix, the newly minted Dyke & The Blazers began to come together as a group, with Dyke taking role as the lead singer. The group were discovered by local producers Art Barrett and Austin Coleman of Artco records. The label put out a tune that Dyke had written to go with a dance he had also created called "Funky Broadway". The record had a rapid play in South west and was licensed by DJ Art "Oldies But Goodies" Laboe for his Original Sounds label in Los Angeles in 1966. Many of the musicians on the Blazers sessions would later play in the Watts 103rd Street Band (guitarist Al McKay would later be in Earth, Wind & Fire). According to Original Sound producer Art Laboe, most of the singles came from 15-to-20-minute jams that were edited down to a length that could fit on the 45 RPM format.

After Dyke signed with Original Records, he churned out hit after hit on the label. "Funky Broadway" was so popular that even Wilson Pickett released a cover version of the song and took it straight to the R&B and Pop charts in the summer of 1967. By 1969, Dyke & the Blazers had Top Ten R&B singles with "We Got More Soul" and "Let a Woman Be a Woman -- Let a Man Be a Man," and smaller sellers with "Uhh, " "You Are My Sunshine," and "Runaway People." Dyke Christian, sadly, was fatally shot on the street in Phoenix on March 13, 1971 over a reputed drug debt. Understandably, the band never recovered.

When Dyke & The Blazers sang "We Got More Soul," they MEANT it--you can hear it in their fiery performances. (Biographical information courtesy of Wikipedia and Allmusic)

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