Classics: Curtis Mayfield – Freddie’s Dead (Theme From Superfly) (Curtom)
‘Freddie’s Dead’ is the first single from Curtis Mayfield‘s 1972 soundtrack album for the film ‘Super Fly’. It hit the streets before the ‘Super Fly’ album. And, as a matter of fact, before the film itself was in theaters.
‘Freddie’s Dead’ appeared in the film only in an instrumental arrangement, therefore without any lyrics. This explaining why the jury considered it ineligible for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Built over a rumbling bassline and wah wah guitars, its typical string orchestration added much to the melancholy of its theme. With Mayfield reachin’ one of his absolute peaks back then. Its lyrics depicting the story of Fat Freddie, a character in the film who is run over by a car.
‘Freddie’s Dead’, but also the album title track are quintessential in the history of Soul. With the album along with Marvin Gaye‘s ‘What’s Going On’ pioneering the concept albums in the genre. Meanwhile MFSB gave it a cover version the year after as the opening cut to their self titled debut-album. Tony Wilson eventually echoing to it 4 years after on ‘New York City Life’, from his ‘I Like Your Style’ album.
One hardly got any better than these since. Don’t you think?
Curtis Mayfield left an unvaluable legacy, both musically and lyircally speaking. He most likely stands as one of the most influential artists in the history of Soul Music, with a repertoire fuelled with social and political content.
He first got to recognition along with The Impressions during the Civil Rights Movement in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Way before starting a solo career in 1970. He eventually scored one of his biggest classics ever with ‘Move On Up’, taken from his ‘Curtis’ album…
He wrote and produced the soundtrack to the 1972 directed Gordon Parks, Jr.‘s blaxploitation film ‘Super Fly’. A package that features gems such as ‘Give Me Your Love’ which The Sisters Love eventually covered soon after. But also ‘Pusherman’, the title track and ‘Freddie’s Dead’. As many themes which mostly evoke inner city minorities’ problems such as poverty, crime and drug abuse.
Although he tragically got paralyzed from the neck down after lighting equipment fell on him during a live performance at Wingate Field in Brooklyn, NY on Aug. 13, 1990, he kept on recording. Eventually releasing a final album (‘New World Order’) on Warner in 1996.
He sadly died 2 years after from complications of diabetes on Dec. 26, 1999 at the North Fulton Regional Hospital in Roswell, GA at the age of 57…
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