Three legends pass – Faye Treadwell among them

Entertainment manager Fayrene “Faye” Treadwell who as The Drifters’ manager was one of the first African-American female managers in show business, died last week in Burbank, Calif. She was 84.
AP Photo/Treadwell Entertainment
AP Photo/Treadwell Entertainment

Fayrene (Faye) Treadwell, one of the first female African American entertainment managers in history, died last week in Burbank, CA where she lived with her daughter. She was 84.

The entertainment pioneer passed away after a lengthy illness, according to her daughter, Tina Treadwell, president of Treadwell Entertainment and former VP of Talent and Music Specials at Disney Channel.

After the death of her husband George Treadwell, the legendary manager of the late Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington, Ruth Brown, Billie Holiday, and Sammy Davis, Jr., Treadwell bought out her late husband’s former business partners and assumed management and control of The Drifters.

The historic deal ultimately resulted in Treadwell becoming one of a handful of women entertainment manager’s in the late 1960’s, and one of the first Black female managers.

She was not only a tenacious manager, but a steadfast trailblazer with a keen legal mind.

Her successful civil action suit to protect the integrity of The Drifters trademark from unauthorized use in commerce set a precedent in the field of trademark and intellectual property law, and generated lively debate and reflection among leading experts all along the way.

According to her daughter, one of the highlights of her mother’s illustrious career was when her mother and the group were invited to the White House to perform at a special event during Bill Clinton’s first term.

I will always remember Faye’s gracious and generous attitude towards the late manager Don Taylor and I when we visited London many years ago.

Treadwell is survived by her 107-year-old mother Sara-Mae Johnson.

RIP Gil Scott Heron

Poet, griot and prolific writer died on May 27. His life was celebrated during numerous tributes — first at the Riverside Church where celebrities including Kanye West lauded his exemplary contribution to enhancing the Black cause. The following day at Frank E. Campbell Funeral home which filled with friends, family and celebrated names revered his lifelong message.

Radio stations throughout the nation paid tribute to the influential writer and musician “whose marriage of politically charged spoken verse, propulsive rhythm, and blues and soul textures paved the way for hip-hop.”

That’s what the New York Times said in a laudatory obituary to the visionary who died at age 62. Reportedly Scott-Heron had recently returned stateside after a European trip.

Scott-Heron was a devotee of the poet and novelist Langston Hughes. Born in Chicago, Illinois, he studied at Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University, the same institution Hughes had matriculated. It was there that Scott-Heron wrote two early novels, “The Vulture” and “The Nigger Factory.”

Reportedly he published the first one when he was only 19-years-old. He also formed the band Black & Blues.

Music aficionados will recall his telling commentary on “Johannesburg,” “The Bottle,” “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and “Whitey On The Moon.” His “Winter in America” composition is now classic.

During a radio tribute aired on WBA-FM, Imhotep Gary Byrd, host of the Global Beat Experience announced that a tribute concert will be held later this month. The GBE personality said he spoke to pop wizard Stevie Wonder who committed to and public salute to the wunderkind.

Thespian Taylor – Cosby’s Mom On TV Show Passes

The life of American stage, film, radio and television actress Clarice Taylor was celebrated June 7 at Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem.

Taylor, best known for her recurring role on “The Cosby Show” as Anna Huxtable, mother of Bill Cosby’s character Dr. Heathcliff “Cliff” Huxtable, died of heart failure at her home in Englewood, New Jersey on May 30. She was 93.

Her stage credits include the hit musical “The Wiz” as Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North. She won the prestigious Obie award for a touring production of her own one-woman show “Moms” (based on the life of stand-up comedienne Moms Mabley).

Her many career highlights include playing Harriet on the television show “Sesame Street” and roles in such films as Otto Preminger’s “Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon,” Clint Eastwood’s “Play Misty For Me” and Oscar Williams’ “Five On The Black Hand Side.”

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