By T.H. Johnson
A young black man in Minnesota leaves the young adult prison at St. Cloud, around 1968 but against the advice of other long term inmates he doesn’t leave the sordid life of the streets behind and what he does virtually guarantees he’ll be back inside as a repeat offender. However, this young man who had recently returned from a prison term was a brilliant prodigy, endowed with exceptional qualities, for which everyone who encountered him was aware. Not long back on the block in the Twin Cities his actions are just one step from placing him back behind bars. He’s inspired to go in another direction by a friend who’s moved back from the other side of town and is arrested instead of him on a hot and humid evening in 1969. He goes to jail that night for interfering with the police by interceding on this young man’s behalf shortly after the city’s second riot.
His friend knew he was “carrying dirty” and knew he was scared silent by the likely possibility of being busted with some marijuana and being sent back to prison. But his friend also knew the brilliant young man was not the one taunting the police who’d turned around in the middle of the street that hot summer night and were now just pursuing the most convenient young black male walking down the street on Plymouth Avenue.
Before the brilliant young prodigy’s friend’s family moved away to the south side of town, both had resided during their Kindergarten years in the city’s near Northside projects where going to prison was it seemed another right of passage for many young black men as they grew up on the north side of Minneapolis. The blacks on the south side had become less volatile in their response to the power structure’s perceived insults upon their community, the north side on the other hand was more politically active at the grass roots level and quick to return an aggressive, often violent, response which resulted in the Governor calling out the National Guard twice in 1965 and 1966 to surround their community until hostilities settled back down.
But for now, and a few years later, one of the unlawful activities the prodigy engaged in was selling stolen books, rather expensive ones on business and finance that he’d pilfered as an avid reader; some of which were purchased by his friend. His friend, though, encourages him to apply his brilliance in a more productive manner to change his life.
Thus, in an attempt to pull himself up and out of his present circumstances, the prodigy is befriended by a veteran black broadcast lighting technician who helps him get an intern job behind the cameras at a local TV station. He trains him in the important aspects of lighting a studio for which over time he excels within the company. His brilliance in other areas is encouraged and even protected by others who recognize his potential and particularly by those who want to see him succeed who are still imprisoned inside. A few years later, around 1977, he comes to his friends office who is now involved as a radio advertising exec in an attempt to convince him to invest in an unlikely proposition. The brilliant young man wants him to invest in the music artists in the young man’s new management company. It was unlikely because his friend who’d gone to jail for him 8 years earlier now took few chances and financing temperamental creative artists in Minnesota could be a costly and uncertain venture. The only artists he said he was willing to invest in were those he paid the recording studio to edit into the advertisements he produced for the major record labels. Those artist relationships he had were directly with the financial department of the record labels and as far as he was concerned there was little gamble because they paid on time when he emerged from the studio with their final product for airing on about 150 stations across the country.
However, the young prodigy did not give up. One particular artist, he asserts, is going to turn the industry on its head due to his all-around talent, and because his tender yet handsome androgynous appearance as a late teen would begin to erode the racial barriers that still, his friend knew, plagued the music industry particularly in radio broadcasting. However, androgyny or not, his friend does not believe in his strategy enough to put his money behind him. Nor does he believe anyone in the music industry is interested in coming to the Minneapolis-St. Paul market to sign black recording artists to a record deal, so even though the artist developer makes an interesting argument his friend rejects his offer to invest in his artist development and management company.
This young man’s friend would still observe his work with great curiosity and they would remain friends over the ensuing years. The brilliant young black prodigy would go on to become an important figure in shaping and developing talent for the broader marketplace and redefining the emergence of the greatest music era from the city of Minneapolis, but who yet remains humbly unknown.
Yes, he is virtually unknown in the conversation in the wake of the artist known as Prince’s death; accept by those for whom he turned on the light in their brain, including his friend.
Since even his friend who was successfully on the periphery of the entertainment industry producing national radio spots for all of the major record labels, was still among those who felt they were of little concern and a forgotten community by the rest of this nation. Most blacks did not believe or rarely thought any black folk lived in Minnesota, others perennially mispronounced the name calling the city Minny-an-apolis, and presuming out of ignorance that its location was closer to Alaska than a 6 hour drive from Chicago. So, Minneapolis, the prodigy’s friend opined for all intent and purposes was out of sight out and out of mind, in this snow-bound, frigid, region of the country. However, the brilliant young prodigy of artist development knew Minneapolis-St. Paul had something brilliant to offer the world and with little money he set out with his little production company to prove it. He was driven and would drive his artists to strive for perfection to where some emerged looking like stellar performers even before being signed by a label. However, the more success he achieved the more attention from envious players he received who were constantly working to undermine and steal his legacy away from him.
His struggle to develop his stable of artists is an amazing story and how he, and others on the inside, fought to keep it from being stolen away from him in the end. The one thing for sure, his friend told him after what appeared to be a losing fight that his value in contributing to this community’s identity should not and would not be undervalued because he had enlightened not only those in power with the resources to steal it away from him in this potentially volatile struggle but everyone else too who were previously in the dark.
It was he, the young brilliant black prodigy from the projects that had proven to us this black community tucked away so far to the north, out of sight, out of mind, was not of little value and could and would have its own unique and prosperous identity for its residents to be proud in the years to come. When the young prodigy emerged months later walking alone down the street in the drizzle of a gray dismal day after the two year bitter battle seemed over in 1979 his friend who spotted him happened to see him while looking out the window of his third floor broadcast office. He ran past his secretary, without a jacket and down the stairs out into the rain to catch up to him. This was the same friend who initially didn’t believe in this preposterous enterprising journey of the brilliant young prodigy and who’d acted like a scrooge with his money but now was running down the street breathlessly trying to catch up. However, when he caught up to him the prodigy appeared drugged while walking in a stupor. With the rain drops camouflaging his own tears of joy and remorse for his own lack of faith he tucked a $20 bill down in his friend’s pocket and said to him, though others may possibly get the glory and go on to be known to the world it will be you that is remembered in music by those of us in this town who knew how it really evolved. It was you who made us see who we were and what this city could become for blacks. He would go on to say that the prodigy would be known as the father of the Minneapolis sound. So don’t believe the hype the next time you hear something about the music of this city, because it was this young brilliant black prodigy, Minnesota’s child, who in 1977 truly was THE MUSIC MAKER.
T.H. Johnson is an author of several books and a documentary associated with his tenure as the investigative team coordinator for OMIG (Ocean Medical Investigative Group) out of Los Angeles, in the O.J. Simpson Case.
20 thoughts on “The Brilliant Young Black Prodigy in Minnesota”
Prince’s father was a jazz musician playing in Minneapolis clubs in the 50’s and 60’s. During that era most of the live music clubs were owned by infamous mobster Kid Cann real name Isadore Blumenfield. They called the Kids gang the “Minneapolis Combination” and they robbed and murdered with impunity. John Nelson Rogers would have had to know these mobsters as they would be paying his salary. Kid Cann resided in what Twin Cities folks call the ‘Northside” and in the Kids heyday it was a neighborhood made up of mostly Jews. By the 1970’s African Americans lived in this area. It is my belief that the Minneapolis Combination was behind the Prince career. The first person to take Prince under his wing was a British man who is still alive today and profiles indigenous cultures for the British Empire.
Now back in Kid Cann and the days of prohibition; the Kid and the Combo took over a brewer called Bremer Brewery. They would take the profits from beer sales and used it to buy up bankrupt farm banks during the depression to launder the Kids illegal gains. You’ll notice upon the death of Prince Rogers his estate was taken over by Bremer Financial. After Bremer was done looting the Prince Estate then a Detroit company Comerica took over control of the estate. At one time the late head of Detroit’s most prominent gang “The Purple Gang” Max Fisher (his nephew owns the Miami Dolphins once owned by Minnesota mobster Joe Robbie) sat on the board of Comerica !
So the same Minneapolis mafia known as the Combination now have control of Prince’s estate.
Blacks and Jews have virtually lived side by side on the Near Northside of Minneapolis dating back to before the turn of the 20th Century. By 1970 much of the new generation Jewish community that still had businesses and Synagogs on the near Northside were in the process of moving those established businesses and religious centers to St. Louis Park. The race riots in Minneapolis in the late 1960s, generally broke up that long established Jewish/African American social and business relationship.
We don’t know to what degree Kid Cann had a relationship with the record industry, but if they did some of what you said it would make sense. Prince fell under the spell of a Jewish raltive and young businessman of the Heilicher Bros/Pickwick Record Distribution Company, named Owen Husney, by 1978 when Prince parted with the Music Maker, Eddie Anderson, and went with Husney who brought him to Warner Bros. Records. Heilicher Bros. was the largest independent record distributor in the US and owned the largest chain of retail record stores, i.e. Musicland, Sam Goody, Discount Records and Aura Sound. Another, Lieberman’s was the 4th largest independent record distributor and handled juke boxes and coin operated games, pool tables, etc. The old near northside Jewish community was strong in their solidarity, and were toughing it out with yards and horse drawn junk carts that people saw regularly on that side of town during the 1950s. I suspect that Kid Cann may have had his hand in alot of those industries but we know they had their hand in controlling the liquor licenses within the Twin Cities since they used to cost more than a building for those that could afford to attain one. They were rarely sold by the city so the limited number made them more valuably expensive on both sides of the Mississippi River, MPLS-St.PAUL. Kid Cann’s organization may have continued to flourish without him because by the time Prince came on the scene with his first album Prince For You and the single Sofft and Wet, Kid Cann (Isadore Blumenfeld) was not in good health and was almost 80 years old. He would die shortly thereafter before Prince really began to blow up by his second album around 1980.
That is great information and I am not suggesting Kid Cann personally promoted Prince Rogers only that his organization The Minneapolis Combination was behind his career and perhaps his death. Just like Bremer Brewery which was Combo owned would later like a slime mold morph into Bremer Financial taking hold of Prince’s estate the Combo itself has moved it’s money into legitimate businesses as you mentioned in your response. The late Irwin Jacobs the mega greenmailer and Minneapolis mobster , his brother the late Shelly Jacobs managed the career of Al Jarreau. Even Prince First Avenue was created by Elizabeth Heffelfinger (of the grain cartel family Peavy) and mobster son Alan Fingerhut. Minneapolis is a center of organized crime going back to prohibition and it just seems impossible that they didnt play a role in making Prince and nationally known music icon.
And the guy I was talking about wasn’t Owen but a Brit named Chris Moon who made the first moves in Prince’s career.
From his Linked in page
British born and educated, Christopher Moon has spent the last 30 years mastering numerous yet diverse fields of artistic expression. He is an accomplished painter of modern art, filmmaker in the jungles of Africa and New Guinea, producer and songwriter with over 12 million sales worldwide, fashion photographer having worked with top agencies, published poet, international explorer, co-founder of MIA Hunters and an accomplished international marketing expert with clients including IBM, Apple, Wells Fargo, Sharp Electronics, NFL/SuperBowl and the Olympics Festival, to mention a few.
Christopher Moon, a U.S. resident of over 40 years, is credited with the discovery of the artist and writing of the first hit song for “Prince” (Soft & Wet) as well as co-authoring a song on the #1 album of the year by MC HAMMER which sold over 12M copies. He is an accomplished writer and producer with over 20,000 hours in studio production. He was a significant force in launching the “The Minneapolis R&B Sound” in the mid ’70’s discovering and working with, then unknown artists that included, Jimmie Jam and Terry Lewis (Grammy Award winning producers for Janet Jackson), Alexander O’Neal, Morris Day and many others. He has been featured in Rolling Stone, Entertainment Tonight, People Magazine, BBC and countless other media stories worldwide.
Moon has been invited, at the request of the President, to the White House. An avid adventurer, he has wrestled sharks in Australia, lived with several tribes of head-hunters in New Guinea, engaged and flown in acrobatic dog-fighting, with famed conservationist George Adamson he has hand fed a pride of wild lions in the jungles of Africa, flown inside an erupting volcano, and currently spends his vacation time trying to locate missing in action (MIA’s) WWII airmen for their families, at no cost.
Specialties: Sales & Marketing, Music Engineering/Production and Writing, Hi_End Audio Sytems Design, Filmaking and Video Production, Computer Programming and Graphic Design, Exploration and Jungle MIA Recovery, Art, Writing and Poetry
In 1953 authors Lew Mortimer and Jack Lait penned a book they titled U.S.A Confidential which covered organized crime in the post Kefauver era and they covered Minnesota pretty good. They named Anthony Brutus Cassius as a Kid Cann confederate. The Kid created so called black clubs for black patrons of Minneapolis. They were doing this kind of thing before Prince was born.
And these internet revues are always great as they capture just how many clubs the Combination owned in the Twin Cities, many of the venues of this era feathered Prince’s father.
Giving you his age was simply for a matter of reference considering the popularity of his reputation and name, Kid Cann. Those heydays we suspect where he was personally involved in activity were long over by 1978 and as you state their may have by now been powerful organizations still under his influence from the past involved on the more genteel side of business by 1978. So, that may have been true in certain instances regarding Kid Cann’s involvement with a few clubs that catered to blacks, a very few however. Kid Cann was noted for handling the liquor licenses and splitting the proceeds with the DFL political party, the Democratic Party of Minnesota organized during its beginning period back in the late 1930s by Hubert H. Humphrey, Jr. and the Farmer/Labor party. Because unlike most other states the liquor licenses could run as high as $100,000 most black clubs in the Twin Cities, MPLS or St. Paul, never operated with a Liquor License. Most of them then and now operate by the city turning its head and allowing them to sell liquor thrrough state issued private bottle club (Consumption and Display Permits) where you are only supposed to sell set ups, i.e. ice, mix, beer, and wine. However, back in the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s black establishments which were predominantly speak easy after hours drawing as much white clientele as any other race functioned with no licenses at all. However, the money they added to the tax base and paying off to the DFL political powers that ran the city were as sufficient as the tax revenue in any part of the city. The near northside during the 1930s through 1950s was the place to go for entertainment along Olson Highway bustling with humanity after hours with a mixture of demographics, whites, blacks and others coming into a relatively non-violent black community. That was run by an extention of Bugsy Seagal’s gang who left a black man named Big Ben Wilson the “Black Mayor of Minneapolis” as the bag man collector paying off the politicians from downtown. I don’t know how much influence at that time that Kid Cann would have had since he was just getting in the game in the 30s and 40s while old 6th Avenue, the black owned after hours action between Glenwood and 6th Ave. (subsequent Olson Highway) was already flourishing for about 20 years since before the 1920, i.e. Club Delisa, 639 Club, the Dew Drop Inn, the Pitty Pat Club, Porter and Waiters Club, and so many more were already thriving enterprises where an abundance consisting of a sea of white humanity mingling with others came into action from around 10:30 PM until 4:OO AM every night along Olson Highway or the old 6th Ave. North.
A.B. Cassius for many years was the only black owned liquor license, and the only black establishment in Downtown MPLS. Out of the approximate 1500 On-Sale and Off-Sale licenses blacks owned about 2, one a piece and the same ration in St. Paul. Potentially the Lewis Brothers (Ira and Elmer’s) younger brother Tommy Lewis who owned the Blue Note Lounge on the near Northside got a license probably through their ties with Kid Cann. However, most of those licenses were in the name of white wome.
Tommy got his around 1950 when he returned from WWII. His brother Elmer Lewis was the tie to the political powerstructure and over all potential African American conscripts on the northside of Minneapolis to go to WWII as many of them were obligated to do all at one time in Oct. 1942. The population of African Americans was never above 5% of either Twin City so they were relatively few in numbers compared to other major urban metros back then. The Jews and blacks lived and worked closely together and went to school, at Grant and Willard elementary, Lincoln and ??? Jr. High, and most all went to North High School and some downtown to Vocational High School. Many Jewish families, prominant and otherwise, some who became very well to do can tell you who their black classmates were in those schools that was the common denominator because of the racial and ethnic discrimination that existed towards both blacks and Jews.
We did not know Chris Moon had an English or Australian background, However, your story regarding Moon is what I refer to as the vanilla version made for public consumption. I remember meeting him but did not detect any British accent back then. He owned Moon Studio next to the train tracks around 29th and 1st Ave South where I went there with Prince’s first manager, Eddie Anderson, to see what he was talking about regarding this alleged phenom. The train interrupted the session as I remember, and I did not see the talent that Eddie was alleging Prince had. Since Moon and Eddie Anderson were in competition to deliver Prince to the world and Eddie needed money that is why he came first to me. I was involved in handling all of the radio advertising and co-producing the programming with our staff for the R&B station in the Twin Cities at the time, KUXL 1570 AM. However, I was not impressed with an artist according to Eddie that played all the instruments and sing all the parts, when Eddie came into my office around the corner from his family, the Anderson family home on Russell Ave North right off Plymouth Ave where Prince was staying in their basement after allegedly being put out of his mother or father’s house on the southside. When Eddie came into my office, Gamble and Huff’s production of the O’Jays was airing on the station as I was counting commercials at the time, so given the major arrangements of Bobby Martin for the Philadelphia International Label featuring Don Rinaldo and his strings and horns, along with that tight Philly rhythm section making up their studio band MFSB, telling me about the all consuming new artist Prince was a non-starter for me to make an investment.
It was who Eddie went to next and got the first money of about $25,000 to really fix Prince up and make him look presentable as a cross between Rock and R&B rock star that is what won him the contract but the guy did not bother to sign Prince to a contract and Prince jumped ship and had decided to go with Owen. I told Eddie when he next came into my office with a long face, forget about it that’s free enterprise around 1977 but Eddie’s long face was due to the fact that he could not repay the black man that gave him the money since Eddie told him that Prince was cool as he was and hence no written contract was necessary. That betrayal almost got Prince wiped out beforre he was ever known, since the benefactor that gave up the money did not care about your age as long as you were old enough to know better. So, when I heard who it was me and a couple of others had to talk him out of doing something to Prince for the perceived betrayal, and he reluctantly backed down momentarily when I convinced him that it was his fault for failing to sign them to a contract. However, that was before Prince had a stage presence or a show of any kind. Playing at First Avenue was generally a myth, and simply part of the vanilla story for popular consumption. The real deal is more flavorful than most of the stories, including whatever Moon may have done. He did not have anything to do with introducing Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis or Alexander O’Neal. Those were off-shoots of Prince’s own organization and already better known local talents than Prince prior to his contract with Warner Brothers. The only reason I paid any attention to Eddie is because of what he said that was of interest and that was Prince’s andogenous look and his multiple instrument, arrangement, and production tallents made him a one man machine. Androgeny was what the Record companies could use to break down the musically segregated curtain in broadcasting, and the ability to produce music with synthesizers which Prince albeit not the first, was arguably the one that would make it wildly popular. His first album which my company produced the first national radio spot ad for, the album PRINCE FOR YOU and its single SOFT AND WET. I did not care for the album because it was all synthesized music but my company made a lot of money producing those commercials for Owen Husney’s uncles the Heilicher Brothers (Ira and Daniel) the largest independent Record Distributors in the US who owned the largest group of retail record stores, Musicland, Sam Goody, Aura Sound and Discount Records. They got bought out for about $10 million in 1976 by a subordinated publicly owned company they held shares in but suppressed called Pickwick, which became after buying them out Pickwick International Distributors.
Eddie would continue after losing Prince to Owen, by signing his own brother Prince’s bass player Andre Cymone to a hard core contract, and in order for him to jump ship to go with Owen after he was whispering into Andre’s sister and mother’s ears, to produce the Girls. Owen still continued his fued with Eddie, since the former wanted to be considered the Father of the Minneapolis Sound, but one of his actions almost brought the man with little patience for betrayal and a thirst for blood from such offenders back into ithe mix when Owen’s antics began to go beyond simply free enterprise competitiveness. That’s where the hidden Neopolitan flavor comes in to play, that tasty version that they don’t allow the public to taste, beyond giving them the generally palatable plain vanilla version. However, isn’t that the way it always is, truth is often stanger than what is provided for public consumption…….T.H. Johnson, author of the transcript and script, THE MUSIC MAKER
When the political white powerstructure of Minneapolis was orchestrating in the early 20th century where ethnic minorities and non-whites would be situated and allowed to live they choase the near northside for particularly Jews and blacks. Unfortunately, and notably, the near northside was not the best land since that area of Minneapolis, which in reality is near or within walking distance of the center of downtown, was largely swamp land. The land was impacted for many miles by the wandering uncontrollable Bassett’s Creek. In later years they would attempt to corral the creek and put in large underground concrete drainage pipes. However, after the winter melt they found that the creek was not emptying into the Mississippi River so they entered the underground drainage system and found it was dry, since Bassetts Creek had again become rerouted in another direction outside the drainage system. Yet, that is how the Jewish and African American community existed adjacent and intertwined together for about 70 years until after the riots occurred. The riots was not personally directed at Jews but towards the oppressive conduct by the police department and city officials that failed to reign them in causing the National Guard to be called in around 1965 and again in 1967. When the Jews pulled out of the near northside to St. Louis Park the city did not attempt to encourage commercial development within the African American community as many wanted. Instead they tore down the commercial buildings for about a half mile along the new central core which was Plymouth Ave, and over a short period of time replaced the commercial buildings with residential town houses for that half mile stretch on both sides of the street in the early 1970s. This, in my opinion, would lead to other predictable social problems a generations later. However, a lot of musical talent beyond just Prince emerged from close proximity to Plymouth Ave. Some of those include the Keyboard artist, Bobby Lyle, the bass player for Prince at times Jerry Hubbard, Jr. whose father was a great jazz guitarist who after parting ways with Bobby Lyle went on the road with Jazz organist Richard “Groove” Holmes. Jimmy Jam Harris’s father James “Cornbread” Harris lived off of Plymouth Avenue and we would see his self advertising name on his vehicle on his way to play somewhere in the city. Leonard “Baby Dew” Caston, a great Jazz keyboard artist and father of Leonard Caston, Jr. the Motown producer of Eddie Kendricks album KEEP ON TRUCKIN’. Prince was not in that category, his band members and he played for Highschool sock hops and church socials. Their was no demand for Prince or generally any other black artists to play at First Avenue. Black artists playing downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul was always a milestone because the prohibition was part of Minnesota’s de facto racial discrimination. Whenever, a white club decided to have a black act, like Dean Constantine who owned the license and leased space for his club, King Solomon’s Mine, caught undercover holy hell from the politicos for encouraging a meeting place for white women to meet black men, and hence the reason he had to be closed down. However, he had the real legitimate contenders as a potential nationally recognized R&B group, The Fabulous Amazers. They were hands down arguably the most talented singing group in the Twin Cities and were first signed to Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom Label around 1970. Their talent and loose lips would lead to their break up before their first release ITS YOU FOR ME was put out allegedly because the leader of the group slipped and said to Curtis Mayfield that the Amazers sounded better than Mayfield’s own Impressions. The Amazers white drummer Bill Lourdan went with Sly and the Family Stone, their bass player Willie Weeks went with Donnie Hathaway, and the rest of the band went their separate ways, but while together they were magnificent and everyone knew it. Not so initially with Prince, IMO, his signing was meant to break down the racial barriers that blocked good R&B type of music from attaining airplay on white Rock stations, with Minneapolis being arguably the most conservative. When I was tracking music in the trade magazines back then, Minneapolis-St. Paul rock stations were among the last to play Prince’s music, KDWB and WDGY, even though he was a local home town boy beginning to stir the market nationally.
That is a lot of information, thank you. Here is Prince drummer Bobby Z a Jewish kid from St. Louis Park MN. His brother was part of LIPPS (??) Funkytown.
BTW Mpls radio station KUXL that played R & B had a station manager and sales director Dorothy Dolphin the sister of banker Carl Pohlad. Carl took over the rackets from the Kid back in 1959 when he took over the Twin Cities bus line .
Another Kid Cann connected family member Sam Hyster a trumpet player for Buddy Rich and his band.
Kid Cann son in law and father to Bears coach Marc Trestman , and friend to Prince’s drummer Bobby Z, Jerry S Trestman.
Brothers Bobby and David Rivkin are two St. Louis Park-bred musicians, each distinguished in their own right. Their brother Stephen E. Rivkin is a film editor and producer with a long list of films to his credit.
David Rivkin was associated with three major Twin Cities bands. After three years in a folk duo called the Dynamics, he spent four years with the Chancellors, who had huge local hits with “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” “Yo Yo,” and “So Fine.” In 1965 David left the Chancellors to join the High Spirits. In late 1968, David moved to join Stillroven, which, by that time, had already recorded their hits “Hey Joe” and “Little Picture Playhouse.” He did record an album for A&M with the group, however, which may or may not have seen the light of day. David went on to prosper in the music business as a songwriter, session musician, record promoter, producer and engineer, both locally and nationally. (The link downloads a pdf that no doubt needs updating.) In 2008 David was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.
Born Robert Rivkin in 1956, Bobby Z (a childhood nickname) played drums for Prince and the Revolution from 1978 to 1987. Also a successful producer and songwriter, Bobby has worked with influential artists such as Boy George, Aswad, Manhattan Transfer, Alexander O’Neal, Eric Leeds, Colin Hay (Men at Work), Jonny Lang, George Thorogood, Wendy and Lisa, Garrison Keillor and others. Bobby has been a National Trustee with The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammys) in 2000. In 2008 Bobby was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.
Brother Stephen E. Rivkin is a respected film editor and producer, most notably on the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Read more about him on imdb and wikipedia.
The amazing Rivkin family grew up in St. Louis Park, and attended my grade school! Our city counts them among our most distinguished native sons.
BTW– Bobby Z started his music career with future Chicago Bear coach Marc Trestman. Now Marc’s daddy was related to Kid Cann and ran many of his bars and liquor stores. His name was Gerald Trestman. So we have a Kid Cann connected drummer for Prince and the Revolution.
I told you so.
The Star and Trib published a schematic or org chart of Blumenfield’s organization. Everyone mis spells his last name Blumenfeld but his birth name is spelled Blumenfield.
Look for the name Gerald Trestman middle left of the page
What do you mean with your statement I told you so?
Whether Kid Cann had relatives or connections to Prince and his band after 1978 would not be a surprise to me if that is the continuing theme of what you are trying to convey. However, by 1981 the Minnesota Management connection would radically change because that is when a Warner Bros. publicist informed me that now the Owen Husney management contract was being ended and Prince was being shifted over to an Italian management company, Carvallo, Rufalo, and Fargnoli from out east So, I don’t know how the Kid Cann connection you continue to assert played into the activities of Prince after 1981. My manuscript deals with the tug of war near the beginning 1977-78 before Prince had signed with anyone and was loosely associated with Mighty Midwest Entertainment, Eddie Anderson’s artist management company and living down in the basement of the talented Anderson’s home in 1977 and beginning of 1978. That struggle to attain Prince may have involved Chris Moon bringing Owen Husney to the table to back Prince, and Eddie Anderson attempting to gain financing from me, a disinterested party,, and subsequently another person who he attained the financing. He and Prince took the money, allegedly about $25,000, from that person and Prince then jumped ship and it could have cost him his life before you or the world would have even gotten the chance to know who Prince was or who he would later become. If it had of gone that way, neither Kid Cann, or anyone else could have saved him because by the mid-1970s you had new young black gangsters on the scened in Minneapolis, former Black Panthers, Viet Nam War Veterans that distrusted THE MAN. They were hostile towards a disingenuous government which had sent them to fight against other people of color that had done nothing to them, and to come back to nothing in the US, so they could care less about the Kid Cann organization. One of those type of guys was who gave Prince and Eddie the money and he was a deadly warrior that had a zero tolerance about excuses. The Jews knew it, at least the older ones did, because they knew the feeling of ambivalence directed towards them a generation before. It was some of the young Jews like Husney that maybe did not understand, or did not care, and with these black warriors who already faced death overseas they did not care either and they were organized too, especially the Chicago contingent of the Vice Lords that expanded beyond their territory in Chicago and stretched out now into Minnesota. As long as it was free enterprise competition they did not get involved but when blood shed became the threat that is when they became alert, and they knew Eddie and appreciated what he was trying to do. That was the atmosphere that was surrounding the emergence of the national recognition of the Minneapolis Sound as introduced by Prince, and later the Time, and Flyte Time’s Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis after their being fired by Prince. A national interest now in Minnesota since it had little except for Bob Dylan from Hibbing, MN and the local Trashmen’s BIRD IS THE WORD remake hit of that song around 1960. So, it was that serious competitive behind the curtain business activity between white and black around 1977-78 that THE MUSIC MAKER transcript is based upon.
Good luck with your book–I plan to buy it. I’m just saying Prince was promoted out of the North Side by organized crime known as the Minneapolis Combination. You take just a cursory look at the situation and you find his drummer , a no talent Jew kid from St. Louis park was directly connected to the Combo. Today his estate is held by that same Combination through Bremer Financial and Max Fishers Comerica
You can stop now , thanks
BTW Mpls radio station KUXL that played R & B had a station manager and sales director Dorothy Dolphin.
There was no Dorothy Dolphin as the Station Manager and Sales director of KUXL while we were there from 1975 through 1979. John_????_ was the Station Manager, and our program, hosted by Pharaoh Black aka Thornton Jones, bought the hours from KUXL for which we were on the air starting in the summer of 1975. That was different from how it had gone from 1964 until 1971. After 1971 R&B went away and there was none in the Twin Cities until Thornton Jones approached me and told me what he was planning to do by buying the hours on the daytimer, KUXL, a sun up-to-sun down on the Mexican clear channel priority frequency of 1570 AM. We bought the time directly from Universal Broadcasting Company, who owned the station, and interacted only with the manager, John__???_, or one of the owning partners, Howard Warshaw of Brooklyn New York City, the headquarters of Universal Broacasting. It became a threat in R&B goiing off the air again in 1977 and that is when my company stepped forward to work out the deal with Universal that we would underwrite the hours on a contingent basis and make sure they got their per centage of each dollar we took in. Our relationship with KUXL ended in 1979 when we prepared to sue the advertising industry for Sherman Anti-Trust violations of Restraint of Trade in their discriminative policies of boycotting spending any advertising revenue with us even though our rating numbers were among the top five stations during the hours of our broadcasting. Lawyers from the Advertising Agencies trade association counter attacked by threatening to go after KUXL’s license which unbeknownst to me was wavering and stepping on other station signals, an FCC No-No. So they were going to the FCC if Howard Warshaw (Universal) could not get my company, Ivory Tower Media Company, to stand down. When I got the call I told Warshaw he and I had discussed my plans and he was previously on my side, and now because of their engineering problem he had changed his attitude, however, I was not going to change my plan and stand down. Warshaw hung up by saying OK! and the next month doubled the price per hour they were charging us, and I knew we could not afford it, and was not willing to go into debt while attempting to relocate to a full time station anyway. So, we went out of business with KUXL in mid-1979. Since then a non-commercial station at 89.9 KMOJ FM has attempted to fill the void of R&B that we once provided for almost 20 years at KUXL 1570 AM.
Well, it is fascinating from this point, ComerAmerica, IMO, could advance their asset value in Prince unheard music if they were to interact with me and the narrative THE MUSIC MAKER and how it really started and went down. They have done the same thing that Prince has done and become extremely reclusive but that has been par for the course in terms of black and white business relations in Minnesota. All of this fake-ass tears about his death, and now rolling out the red carpet of his being a Minnesota icon after he’s gone is not impressive to me. They never gave that type of recognition to him or the other music producers, Jam and Lewis, Monte Moir, Ann Nesby and James Wright, Kenny Townes and others who brought attention to Minnesota during the 1980s and 1990s like it never had before when Prince was producing artists Shaka Khan and Sinead O’Connor, coming there to Paisley Park and Jam and Lewis who were producing Janet Jackson, New Edition, Patti LaBelle, and so many others riding around the Twin Cities while there to be produced. The City’s PR department did not handle it well, IMO, and so I am not impressed by them rolling out the red carpet now after the man is dead and gone, and Jam and Lewis has finally relocated and gone out of sight/out of mind in Los Angeles. However, I appreciate what you are attempting to do, but the Neopolitan Ice Cream and not the Vanilla took place before all of these other alleged revelations regarding Prince. That is what I promised Eddie Anderson I would attempt to do back in 1978, hough I did not see the value initially with Prince, soon after I got Eddie Anderson’s message and hence respected him for what he was attempting to do that no one else believed in, including me. I saw no major labels sending scouts to frigid ass Minnesota searching for R&B talent. If you became something from there you had to leave and go to either coast, Eddie Anderson told me no, that they were going to turn Minneapolis into a nationally recognized production center. Whether he gains the recognition or not, I have to acknowledge, that is what they did and everything in his orange note book of strategy as I can see came to pass. I just wish that he and Prince could have allowed their egos not to guide their relationship, if so, I think Prince might still be alive today based upon that strong family tie he had with the stable Anderson family. When that tie died Prince operated like a vehicle with a bent axel even though the public didn’t see it, many of us who saw where it began saw it though. If mother Bernadette was still alive, Mrs. Anderson, would have slapped the piss out of Prince for using those deadly drugs but he had no foundation to fall back on to tell him without being afraid of losing their position what was right and what was wrong. She loved Prince and he her, and she was a powerful guiding force to contend with. We all knew that, including Eddie.
Not to argue, that’s not my goal but writer Neal Karlen of Rolling Stone was a big promoter of Prince Nelson Rogers. Karlen wrote his best book Auggies Secrets in 2013. He even introduced the living nephew of Kid Twist Relles the top murderer of Murder Inc. Auggies Secrets was about all the mobsters that roamed through his Uncle Auggie Ratners club on Hennepin Avenue.
This is some personally fascinating mountain you are continually attempting to climb while providing these anecdotal morsels; however, what the ultimate theme or objective is I am totally clueless.
I know. Lets just allow it to die out.
When Prince intersects with the Minneapolis Combination or when doesn’t he intersect with the Combination? Like son like daddy.