Bili Sparrow ~ Funk/R&B Recording Artist Special Guest On 10/11/2022
In the early 1970s, Bili Sparrow and Chip Allen embarked on a ride for the ages.
Meeting through a mutual friend shortly after graduating from high school in 1972, keyboardist Allen invited guitarist Sparrow to join his band, Blood, Earth and Man. Now a fully-formed unit, the band became began achieving some notoriety,charging onto the New England chitlin circuit.Despite the strength of Blood,Earth and Mans music,the band eventually began to crumble- largely,accor-ding to Sparrow, from the disenfranchisement he experienced from the band's leaders,both in terms of musical input and business dealings.So at the age of 17,Sparrow packed his bags and left for San Francisco. Allen soon followed.The two worked tirelessly to perfect their crafts and gain exposure,but they failed to gain traction.
There was a lot of competition,including Graham Central Station(led by former Sly & The Family Stone bassist Larry Graham), Malo and the newly-formed group Journey.Feeling frozen out of the San Francisco scene, Sparrow and Allen returned to Massachusetts and took a new moniker, one originally bestowed by Sparrow's aunt The Black Sheep (of the family).
They recruited Sparrow's childhood friend Scott Davis to be the drummer in the band, and after a revolving door of ill-fits, brought Forest Terry Jr. in as bassist.They created their own brand of funk,unleashing it on crowds throughout the region.The music, written by Sparrow was distinct, possessing both funk and psychedelic qualities.But it while Sparrow was largely the force behind the music made by The Black Sheep(of the family), it was a song that Forest inspired accidentally that helped the band achieve perhaps their best material. At a practice in 1974 the band noticed that Forest would keep playing the same riff not the one he was trying to play, but rather one Sparrow describes as a %%u201Cslowed down, disturbed beat.So he beganwriting lyrics to the song, eventually dubbing it .In The Forest play on the bassist's name and his laid-back demeanor, which could be described as Clost.
Unfortunately, In The Forest wouldn't make it out of the woods, at least not in its original form. Sparrow and Allen split after a disagreement over a record deal, and Sparrow took the song, completing it with a new band called The Ransom Record All Stars. He started his own record label Flock Rock Records to put it out the 45 four years later, but it never achieved the success it seemed destined for.
Fast forward to the late 90s... Funk 45s are in heavy demand worldwide, with collectors and DJs unearthing the sounds that once ruled local clubs in small towns throughout the U.S.A Boston record shop, turns up a copy of the only record by The Original Black Sheep (of the family). Enamored by the record In The Forest / Love Song (so long) the store owner shows it to renowned collector/DJ PJ Gray, but refuses to sell it to him.From there, the hunt was on. Gray host of WFMO-FM's Galactic Fractures eventually unearths a copy of Forest Terry's Branch-In-Out/Satellite Love on Lost In The Forest Records. PJ tracks down Forest, and subsequently hosts him on his radio show. In the interview, he mentions the names of the other members of The Original Black Sheep Bili Sparrow and Chip Allen.
PJ is able to track down Bili and Chip, and in August 2007, he brings them onto Galactic Fractures.There, they play a disc that includes the group's unreleased 1970s recordings. Upon hearing the recordings, a local collector makes arrangements to issue a 45 containing two of the group%%u2019s unreleased songs: Heaven Must Have Made You and Do You Wanna Dance? Five-hundred copies were pressed.Ultimately, however, the partnership between Bili and the DJ dissolves unsatisfactory Bili received what he called an Cinsulting advance,along with a few hundred copies to sell himself, while the DJ deems nothing else worth reissuing.
Jump to late 2009, when Providence-based collector/DJ Mike Curtis better known as DJ Save is contacted by Sparrow, who was looking to purchase a guitar amp Mike had for sale. The two set up a meeting in Sparrows Chelsea home, where Curtis is less concerned about the amp and more concerned about securing a few copies of the In The Forest 45 (They would eventually worked out a trade).As the two, Curtis expresses interest in doing a proper reissue of the In The Forest 45 not for monetary gain, but because there were not enough copies left to satiate the appetite for this in-demand funk gem. Sparrow agrees, and Curtis begins gathering info.While doing so, he comes into contact with Kenny Dope, a world famous DJ, collector and reissuer. Curtis plays
Kenny the record, who wants to know if there is any other material that can be released. Luckily, Sparrow still had the original 8-track reel for In The Forest, as well as 20 other Black Sheep recordings.With Sparrows blessing, the two make plans to reissue the 45 on Dopes Kay-Dee Records. On June 28, 2011, Curtis and Dope meet at the Chelsea Hotel in New York. Curtis hands over a suitcase with all The Original Black Sheep (of the familys) recordings. A couple weeks after receiving the masters, Kenny Dope phoned Mike and tells him to check his email he had finished the Black Sheep mix. Now its time for you to hear it, on this record. Enjoy.Unfortunately, In The Forest wouldnt make it out of the woods, at least not in its original form. Sparrow and Allen split after a disagreement over a record deal, and Sparrow took the song, completing it with a new band called The Ransom Record All Stars. He started his own record label Flock Rock Records 3 to put it out the 45 four years later, but it never achieved the success it seemed destined for.
Produced by Blil Sparrow for Mary's Little Lamb Prod.
Mixed by Kenny Dope at Kay-Dee Studios,N.J.
Fathership Connection Music,Inc,K-Dope Music(Ascap)
Project Coordinator:Mike Curtis
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