Having records and being famous don’t always go hand in hand.
You’ve almost certainly heard the infectious “Low Rider” bell, bassline, and horns at a sports match or on TV. You’ve probably heard the campy chant of “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” Many times. But if you hadn’t read the title of this story, would you have known that these hits were made by the band War?
War belatedly celebrates its 50th anniversary with a tour, including a stop at Spotlight 29 on Saturday, November 6.
“Back then, a lot of people didn’t identify War with our songs,” Lonnie Jordan, founding member of War and lead singer, said in a recent phone interview. “They knew the songs, but they didn’t know the band. It is crucial to me that people come out and see this notice board outside that says “War”. They hear all the songs, and I let them know that these are our songs. That’s what got us here, including them. … This is how we all came together as one. Our fans and us are one.
Jordan said when the group started, the members didn’t even know how to read music.
“Our music is raw, and that’s how people identify us,” he said. “Back then, the guys who made the records with me were really working in the rough. That’s why if you spell gross backwards, you get “War”.
After 50 years of touring, Jordan said the thing that changed the most was “the faces”.
“I can tell these faces are grandchildren or children of parents who saw us in the late 60s, early 70s,” Jordan said. “Younger people who are curious, they Google and say, ‘Wow, I thought that was George Lopez’s song. I thought it was Cheech and Chong’s song. Now I know who War is. Let me tell this to my parents, who really didn’t know it until we had the technology. … We didn’t have access to a lot of information back then, except newspapers, and a lot of that information wasn’t what you can get on Google, or Facebook, or Instagram, half a century. gram or other.
Jordan said he had a deep appreciation for his audience.
“I always say, ‘What you have to do is play for people, and when you play for people, just remember that they’re your Rock and Roll Hall of Fans, and they’ll reflect everything to you. that you give them. Be happy because that’s what you love to do, and let them know, and they’ll give it all back to you, “Jordan said.” I’m just really proud of my fans. brought in here, and they could take us out. They are my hold. They maintain power.
Turning 73 in November, Jordan sounds and moves like he’s 23.
“I’m going until the wheels fall off,” Jordan said. “The word ‘end’ is like the word ‘retiree’. Take out the ‘re’ and you are ‘tired’. I don’t want to go this route because I love what I do too much, and it’s about entertaining and making people happy. I have the impression of being a minister or a troubadour; it’s important for me to make people happy through music, which is also a healing power. Like James Brown, I’m not going to stop until I fall.
Jordan’s mention of Brown led to an in-depth conversation about Brown’s influence on War and a story about how attending a James Brown show almost led to Jordan’s arrest.
“I grew up in Compton, and James Brown happened to come to town,” Jordan said. “It was performing in South Central LA, which was also a great place to go, because there were a lot of clubs that we called the ‘Chitlin’ Circuit. ‘ There was a really cool place called the 5-4 Ballroom, and James Brown performed there for a few nights. I begged my mom to go, but I was too young and she wouldn’t let me go, so I snuck out of the house and went anyway. I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to face my mom, so I ended up sleeping in the upscale Compton neighborhood of Compton Boulevard in a burger stand. I fell asleep and woke up in the morning and saw all these unmarked cars and guys in suits, and people taking my fingerprints, because someone broke into the burger stand and they thought it was me. They thought I was stupid enough to break in and then fall asleep. My fingerprints weren’t on anything, but they could have just accused me.
James Brown was the driving force that made Jordan want the war to be different: “Because of James Brown, I felt I could be. this.
“We brought our own sound with our sound engineer Chris Huston and producer Jerry Goldstein because they didn’t know what to do with us either. Chris left it all dry, and we just recorded as is, and that’s how we got raw – raw sound, raw music, raw lyrics, everything. I have been influenced a lot by Latin music, pure jazz and gospel, as I grew up in Compton playing in church. … How we got to be able to record our music was just to get creative: Don’t read; do not write anything; let it flow.”
An indefinable genre and an open approach to music has been both a blessing and a curse for Lonnie Jordan and War.
“Even if you could go to a music store, like Tower Records, and find us in so many different categories, we couldn’t win any awards – Grammys and all that – because they didn’t know where to rank us,” Jordan noted. “They didn’t know what genre we were in, so they went with the bands that they knew the genre. That’s okay, because the other side is that it keeps us working all the time. At this age, it is too late to start over. All we can do is just do good with what we have and make people happy, because that’s all that matters. All they want is to be happy, to have fun and to remember – to have their flashback. For a lot of people, we’re definitely their 8-track flashback.
War will perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 6 at Spotlight 29, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella. Tickets are $ 40 to $ 85. For tickets or more information, call 760-775-5566, or visit www.spotlight29.com.