Leon Haywood is one of those artists whom I’ve heard about here and there over the years. And all the same have spent all that time paying no attention to any of his music. Through his 1975 hit “I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You”,his music became part of the rhythmic and melodic pattern of the slow grooving G-Funk sound in the 90’s on songs by Dr.Dre. What’s important to emphasize though is Haywood’s influence on music in his time. While seemingly not known as a great innovator,this Houston Texas native came straight out of the organ based blues as a backup player for Guitar Slim. He later played organ on Shuggie Otis’s debut album and keyboards for Carl Carlton in the early 80’s.
Just an hour or so before writing this,I learned that Mister Haywood had passed away at the age of 74. He was basically the same age that Earth,Wind & Fire founder Maurice White was when he passed away a few months back. Since the latter Silent Generation soul/funk/jazz musicians were such important leaders for the younger baby boomer artists,losing many of this individuals to time and the river has set me wondering what musical legacy people of my basic generation will leave to the future of music. Hayward apparently had this somewhat in mind in 1996 when he released an album entitled Legacy. This album featured a very telling song entitled “Life Goes On”.
A fan-faring horn chart gets the song moving along. The main part of it has a steady,stomping dance beat with the horns maintaining the sunny melodic theme. The wah wah guitar and the pumping slap bass keep it all super propulsive while Haywood sustains the melody organ. On the choral breakdown,the bass takes on the revving of a motor and Haywoods organ shoots higher into the mix. The instrumental bridge of the song hasa high pitched synthesizer solo before again repeating the chorus the starts the song off. The song ends with an elongated gospel/soul breakdown showcasing Haywood vocally heading call and response style with his backup singers as the song fades out.
This Legacy album from which this song comes was a conceptual project based on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King. During the time this album came out,the soul/funk community was somewhat on pause when it came to showcasing instrumentally oriented albums with hugely positive messages for the people. By utilizing music released through his own Evejim Records label,Haywood was able to keep the humanistic “people music” sound of 70’s funky soul going strong. This particular number has a strong Sly & The Family Stone flavor about it-with the prominent melodic horns and organ. And as for Leon Haywood’s pwn musical legacy,this should be a big part of it.