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War

One of the most popular funk groups of the '70s, War were also one of the most eclectic, freely melding soul, Latin, jazz, blues, reggae, and rock influences into an effortlessly funky whole. Although War's lyrics were sometimes political in nature (in keeping with their racially integrated lineup), their music almost always had a sunny, laid-back vibe emblematic of their Southern California roots. War kept the groove loose, and they were given over to extended jamming -- in fact, many of their studio songs were edited together out of longer improvisations. Even if the jams sometimes got indulgent, they demonstrated War's truly group-minded approach: no one soloist or vocalist really stood above the others (even though all were clearly talented), and their grooving interplay placed War in the top echelon of funk ensembles.

The roots of War lay in an R&B cover band called the Creators. Guitarist Howard Scott and drummer Harold Brown started the group in 1962 while attending high school in the Compton area, and three years later, the lineup also featured keyboardist Leroy "Lonnie" Jordan, bassist Morris "B.B." Dickerson, and saxophonist/flutist Charles Miller (all of them sang). The group had an appetite for different sounds right from the start, ranging from R&B to blues to the Latin music they'd absorbed while growing up in the racially mixed ghettos of Los Angeles. Despite a two-year hiatus following Scott's induction into the service, they released several singles locally on Dore Records (their first, "Burn Baby Burn," was with singer Johnny Hamilton), and backed jazz saxophonist Jay Contreli, formerly of the psychedelic band Love; they also went by the names the Romeos and Señor Soul during this period. In 1968, the band was reconfigured and dubbed Nightshift; Peter Rosen was the new bassist, and percussionist Thomas Sylvester "Papa Dee" Allen, who'd previously played with Dizzy Gillespie, came onboard, along with two more horn players. B.B. Dickerson later returned when Rosen died of a drug overdose. In 1969, Nightshift began backing football star Deacon Jones (a defensive end for the L.A. Rams) during his singing performances in a small club, where they were discovered by producer Jerry Goldstein. Goldstein suggested the band as possible collaborators to former Animals lead singer Eric Burdon, who along with Danish-born harmonica player Lee Oskar (born Oskar Levetin Hansen) had been searching L.A. clubs for a new act.

After witnessing Nightshift in concert, Burdon took charge of the group. He gave them a provocative new name, War, and replaced the two extra horn players with Oskar. To develop material, War began playing marathon concert jams over which Burdon would free-associate lyrics. In August 1969, Burdon and War entered the studio for the first time, and after some more touring, they recorded their first album, 1970's Eric Burdon Declares War. The spaced-out daydream of "Spill the Wine" was a smash hit, climbing to number three and establishing the group in the public eye. A second album, The Black Man's Burdon, was released before the year's end, and over the course of two records it documented the group's increasingly long improvisations (as well as Burdon's growing tendency to ramble). It also featured War's first recorded vocal effort on "They Can't Take Away Our Music." Burdon's contract allowed War to be signed separately, and they soon inked a deal with United Artists, intending to record on their own as well as maintaining their partnership with Burdon. However, Burdon -- citing exhaustion -- suddenly quit during the middle of the group's European tour in 1971, spelling the beginning of the end; he rejoined War for a final U.S. tour and then left for good.

War had already issued their self-titled, Burdon-less debut at the beginning of 1971, but it flopped. Before the year was out, they recorded another effort, All Day Music, which spawned their first Top 40 hits in "All Day Music" and "Slippin' Into Darkness"; the album itself was a million-selling Top 20 hit. War really hit their stride on the follow-up album, 1972's The World Is a Ghetto; boosted by a sense of multicultural harmony, it topped the charts and sold over three million copies, making it the best-selling album of 1973. It also produced two Top Ten smashes in "The Cisco Kid" (which earned them a fervent following in the Latino community) and the title ballad. 1973's Deliver the Word was another million-selling hit, reaching the Top Ten and producing the Top Ten single "Gypsy Man" and another hit in "Me and Baby Brother." However, it had less of the urban grit that War prided themselves on; while taking some time to craft new material and rethink their direction, War consolidated their success with the double concert LP War Live, recorded over four nights in Chicago during 1974.

Released in 1975, Why Can't We Be Friends returned to the sound of The World Is a Ghetto with considerable success. The bright, anthemic title track hit the Top Ten, as did "Low Rider," an irresistible slice of Latin funk that became the group's first (and only) R&B chart-topper, and still stands as their best-known tune. 1976 brought the release of a greatest-hits package featuring the new song "Summer," which actually turned out to be War's final Top Ten pop hit; the same year, Oskar released his first solo album, backed by members of Santana. A double-LP compilation of jams and instrumentals appeared on the Blue Note jazz label in 1977, under the title Platinum Jazz; it quickly became one of the best-selling albums in Blue Note history, and produced an R&B-chart smash with an edited version of "L.A. Sunshine."

Yet disco was beginning to threaten the gritty, socially aware funk War specialized in. Later in 1977, the band switched labels, moving to MCA for Galaxy; though it sold respectably, and the disco-tinged title track was a hit on the R&B charts, it fizzled on the pop side, and proved to be the last time War would hit the Top 40. After completing the Youngblood soundtrack album in 1978, the original War lineup began to disintegrate. Dickerson left during the recording of 1979's The Music Band (which featured new female vocalist Alice Tweed Smith), and not long after, Charles Miller was murdered in a robbery attempt. After The Music Band was released, the remaining members attempted to refashion their image to fit the glitz of the era, and added some new personnel: bassist Luther Rabb, percussionist Ronnie Hammon, and saxophonist Pat Rizzo (ex-Sly & the Family Stone). The Music Band 2 flopped, and the group was thrown into disarray; Smith exited, and the follow-up took an uncharacteristic three years to prepare. Released in 1982, Outlaw was a moderate success; the title track was a Top 20 R&B hit, and "Cinco de Mayo" became a Latino holiday standard. Yet it didn't restore War's commercial standing. Rizzo left later in the year; Harold Brown followed in 1983, after Life Is So Strange flopped; and Rabb was replaced with Ricky Green in 1984. In the years that followed, War was essentially a touring outfit and nothing more. Papa Dee Allen collapsed and died on-stage of a brain aneurysm in 1988, leaving Jordan, Hammon, Oskar, and Scott as the core membership (Oskar would finally leave in 1992). Interest in War's classic material remained steady, however, thanks to frequent sampling of their grooves by hip-hop artists. 1992's Rap Declares War paired the band with a variety of rappers, paving the way for the 1994 comeback attempt Peace Sign; for that record, Brown returned on drums, and Jordan (now on bass), Scott, and Hammon were joined by saxophonists Kerry Campbell and Charles Green, percussionist Sal Rodriguez, harmonica player Tetsuya "Tex" Nakamura, and Brown's son, programmer Rae Valentine (plus guests Lee Oskar and José Feliciano). The album failed to chart, however, and the group returned to the touring circuit. Brown and Scott left the lineup in 1997. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

holmanjewele r s
Somebody thinks Santana is from Puerto Rica? Buuahahaha
holmanjewele r s
somebody thinks Santana is from Puerto Rican? Buuuuhahahah a h a
To ew12189, what are you, a time traveler or what? How can you have seen war in june 2014 when as of this posting, it is currently APRIL 2014?
plight4
The BEST Band Ever.I'm a huge fan.Just saw them in N.O. Have had the oppurtunity to see them and meet them several times.They are so personable and friendly. I especially like talking to Harold Brown He tell great stories on how music originated.I love listening to him.My daughter and I took pictures with them. We are super fans.SMILE HAPPY.
Just saw War @ Westbury Music Theatre in June, 2014. They performed with Tower of Power. Tower of Power was funky. War was unbe-freakin g l y FUNKY. I almost couldn't stand it!!! Great Performance!
All my friends know the low rider I loved this is dazed and confused
Used to listen to them in the lunchroom at school in junior high! Those were great times back then in NYC and Long Island!
i love so by war
mha.83gp
He is from Jalisco, Mexico
mha.83gp
Carlos Santana is not Puerto Rican
tamyabonet2
MY God one of the best groups in the entire world!
saw them in 1980 in atlanta, great concert
Low. Ri...der.
Pass that........ . .
carlos santana is the puerto rican jimmy hendrix.
HARBOR CITY SUR13 ..L.A..
LLLLLLLLLLLL O W RIDERRRRRRRR R R R
WAR has the beats that'll always make me smile. I was with my high school sweetheart when I got the opportunity to meet them up close. Thanks for signing my ticket Stub!!!!!
#allday
City Country City 14y 2m
Follow for a follow
henniepennie
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 day. Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will come on the screen in big letters. This is so scary because it actually works
WAR was, is, & always will be special to me!!! 1 of the GREATEST BANDS EVER!!! God bless em all.
Played World is a Ghetto every morning during 8th grade. Made me feel like the coolest student at Hamilton Middle School. Love War!
My heart aches from the loss of past loves! This tune puts me right back in that special time when ANYTHING was possible! I miss it sooo.Is love still possible? Time will tell.
My x use to jam with war ...talented
Low rider....... . m y fave........ . . .
Was fortunate to see these Vato's live firme group
Nice
The f**king best band I gave ever got meet so many times <3
WAR LIVE is one of the most under-rated live albums or any genre!
joeeagle13
This is America. American, yeah mexican, yeah funky ( check the bass).... "take a little trip".. take a little trip w/ mee... sure tell me that ain't white. America people. E effen plurbursss unummm.
Nice
omg i hate when people call this the George Lopez song!!! like NOO N**GA!!! ugg but yeah anyways, love this song!! ❤️
This is REAL, FEELGOOD MUSIC!!
those were the good ole days'
I've always loved this Group!
Don't read this because it really works. You will be kissed by the love of your life on the nearest possible Friday. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. But if you don't post this you die in two days. Now you have started reading so don't stop. Put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will come on the screen in big letters this is scary because it works! Don't read this because it really works
War jams all day u no ....THE WORLD IS A GHETTO ...WILMAS WEST ...HARBOR AREA ...SUR13 ....L.A
Great. Music brings back the days
Monifah jammed to the beat of this song! Her fast and slow version of I Miss U is still the JAM!! ♥
And you can't deny AZ rapping on the remix!! ♥
For Art Laboe on HOT 92.3 Fm you can get it free on the puter and anyone in the nation can call in.

Phone: (live during the radio show M-F 7pm-Mid and Sun 6pm-Mid PST) 800-681-2121 (all calls we can answer get their dedication on the air)
Mail: Art Laboe Connection, 7120 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90046

Is your station desirous of saving money while adding more listeners and bigger ratings?
Contact: Dale Berger 323-851-2500 x 1 8 or email
I LOVE THIS SONG. TONIGHT IS ART LABOE SO I WILL BE REPLYING TO ALL OF YOU EITHER TONIGHT AFTER ART LABOE OR TOMORROW EVENING. DEPENDING ON HOW TIRED I AM. I'M EXTREMELY TIRED RIGHT NOW. PROBABLY BECAUSE I FINISHED MY MID TERM AND IT FRIED MY BRAIN. HOPEFULLY MY PROFESSOR LIKES IT. ART LABOE ON HOT 92.3 TONIGHT FROM 7PM TO 12AM ON THE WEST COAST CST 2 HOURS LATER EAST COAST 3HOURS LATER I THINK. LISTEN AND MAKE SOME LOVE DEDICATIONS WITH ME. LOVE YOU GUYS. PEACE
There are no groups today that come close to War. Thankfully, their music is timeless.
dogtina2003
ELA all the way Baby !!
BRINGS BACK MEMORIES OF ELA BABY!!!!!!:^ >
War, what can I say about them......th e y are so great I would take a lifetime to describe them on their musical talents, hey man pass me that joint, now!!!
vic_dlg
Love that movie this song comes on
All Day Music_A Classic
vic_dlg
Love low ride love the 70s
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