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Minnesota Fats, Muddy Waters, and Etta James
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Minnesota Fats, Muddy Waters, and Etta James - 12-10-2008, 01:25 AM

Is the blues singer, Etta James, still alive? She's 70 years young today, and there's a new movie about her life, played by Beyonce, and the legendary blues singer, Muddy Waters, called "Cadillac Records" which just hit the movie theaters.

Etta James has often claimed that Minnesota Fats is her natural born father, and this movie includes that little tidbit in it.

She was born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles on Jan. 25, 1938, to her 14-year-old mother. Her mother reportedly claimed her father was a white man named Rudolph Wanderone, better known as "Minnesota Fats," though there doesn't seem to be any documentary evidence to support that contention.

Beyonce is beautiful in the movie. I'm not sure if this will be a big hit or not, but just listen to her wail this Etta James song: "At Last"

Now for the movie reviews: Alcohol, drugs, violence and chain-smoking seem to be as much a part of this record business as the music is. And with it brings its talented but volatile artists, lugging with them heaps of emotional baggage.

Continuing: The daughter of a child prostitute, James struggles to find acceptance from the man she believes is her father (pool player Rudolph "Minnesota Fats" Wanderone), but when that doesn?t come, she turns to drugs and alcohol.

Knowles takes no shortcuts here: her Etta is raw and frazzled. She's only taken out of character during three long music recording scenes, as Etta records classic tracks, such as "At Last."


Etta James has won three Grammys since 1994 and is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Recently, she has lost over 200 pounds and has a new slimmed-down look, and she still sure does look a little like Minnesota Fats to me: http://www.etta-james.com

Here's one interesting reviews of this flick: Cadillac Records chronicles the success of Chess Records owned by shrewd business man Leonard Chess and the rise and fall of its Negro blues recording artists with race, sex, violence and drugs as the backdrop. The film follows the exciting but turbulent lives of some of America's greatest Negro musical legends in Chicago during the 1950s and 60s and how the Blues shaped rock and roll music. It begins at a dive on the South Side of Chicago in 1947, where an ambitious young Polish migrant bar owner, Leonard Chess (played by Academy Award-winner ADRIEN BRODY), hires a talented blues ensemble that includes the booze drinking, guitar prodigy, Muddy Waters (played by my boy JEFFREY WRIGHT) and crazy gun slinging, trigger happy, city slicker, Little Walter, a harmonica player from the streets of Chicago (played by COLUMBUS SHORT). Fascinated by the sound of what was called "Race" music - and eager to cash in on the record business - Leonard Chess arranges to have his club burned down for the insurance money to start Chess Records where Muddy Waters' early recordings start moving up the R & B charts and receiving heavy radio play due to Chess' unscrupulous habit of sliding DJ's a little payola for radio spins. Chess treats his musicians like he is their "White Daddy" -- he buys them a fancy Cadillac when they record their first hit record - which is how the name Cadillac Records began. Chess' need to lie about profits and royalties causes much suspicion and conflict with his talented, popular and stable artists because they found themselves constantly broke and having to continuously come to him for the basic fundamentals of life...

...But it's not until 1955 when a Chess Records artist finally "crosses over" into the realm of mainstream "white" America - a skinny colored man with a big conk, from St. Louis named Chuck Berry (play by the smooth, MOS DEF), whose unique "duck walk" and catchy, fast paced tunes, mark the birth of rock-and-roll. Berry's affinity to under aged white girls lands him in jail at the height of his career.
Then Chess finds the rough talking, whisky swigging, smack shooting, but very talented cross over singer, Etta James (played by the uber talented, musical phenomenon, BEYONCE KNOWLES); the emotionally scarred and confused bi-racial colored girl. She is the Daughter of her white father, famed pool shark Minnesota Fats, who refuses to acknowledge her, which feeds her insecurities and exposes her vulnerability.

The roles that actor Eamonn Walker plays always makes me feel proud to be black. He is never no punk! He is always aggressive and confident. Just as the characters he played in Oz and Othello, he brought that same cockiness to his role as Howlin Wolf and it was very refreshing. Negroes didn't stand up to white folks much in the 50's and 60's but Howlin let Chess have it and did it fearlessly! I have to admit, I had no idea who the hell Adrien Brody was until his role in the Spike Lee hit film, Summer Of Sam. And that is when I decided that interracial dating was for me! Sexy! Sexy! Sexy! So when I found out he was playing Leonard Chess in Cadillac Records, I knew exactly what he was bringing. In order for Chess to be the lying, stealing, snake that he was, he had to endear himself to people. And Brody brought the levels to the role that were needed to show Leonard Chess' human side. You couldn't hate the man even though he was sleazy.


Full Article Review: http://www.nj.com/newark/index.ssf/2...ll_film_w.html

Movie Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QJyAXfG8NM

I think I am going to like this flick!
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12-10-2008, 01:37 AM

Here is the infamous article where Etta James claims that Minnesota Fats is her natural-born father, though he did deny it: http://edition.cnn.com/2002/SHOWBIZ/...mes/index.html
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12-10-2008, 01:45 AM

Here is one review from an African-American writer entitled "The Truth about Cadillac Records":

...Perhaps the answer lies in the most symbolically, powerful subplot of Cadillac Records. While the character "Lil Walter" refers to Leonard Cress as his "white daddy," Etta James is in a constant search for love from pool shark, Minnesota Fats whom she believed was her white, biological father.

Until black artists start believing that they can become self sufficient, they will forever be the music industry's little black bastards looking for a white daddy to take care of them.


http://www.lipstickalley.com/showthread.php?t=164756

She sure does look like Minnesota Fats to me!
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12-10-2008, 01:51 AM

Roger Ebert says: Given the number of characters and the time covered, Martin does an effective job of sketching the backgrounds of some of her subjects and doesn't go out of her way to indict Leonard's business methods (did the singers know their Cadillacs were bought with their own money?). There is a poignant scene where Leonard arranges the first meeting between Etta James and her white father (who was -- are you ready for this -- Minnesota Fats).

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/...IEWS/812039993

I wonder who plays Minnesota Fats in the movie!

Oh, Ebert gives it three stars!


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12-10-2008, 01:56 AM

A dna test would be a piece of cake.
  
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12-10-2008, 02:01 AM

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Originally Posted by $TAKE HOR$E
A dna test would be a piece of cake.
I have often wondered why that never took place. I wonder if there is any way that it can today.


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12-10-2008, 02:15 AM

Here is an interesting little snippet I found while Googling this flick: Start with your DNA. Children are a heritage from the Lord. They are not mistakes. As you know in many families, the identity of each parent may or may not be known or apparent. Before we heard earthy songs like At Last , Etta James, the famous blues singer was born out of wedlock. Her mother was a lady of the evening and the name of her father was unknown. During her journey of discovery in search of her father, many painful experiences occurred. Her pitch, tone and vocal range echoed the sorrow and lost she felt as a result of not having her father. It seems that her misfortune has become our gain. She was able to convert her suffering into music into financial success. Eventually, she believed the world famous pool stark Minnesota Fats to be her father. It seems by some form of divine providence she needed his DNA and not his training. The world is better off with Etta James the singer perhaps than the pool hustler. It seems that sometimes it's best that we inherit our parents genes and not their lifestyle.

WOW! Why does pool always get such a bum rap!?

Here is a GREAT pic of Rudolph Wanderone!
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12-10-2008, 02:21 AM

According to Taters, a man who traveled with Etta James and performed with her: Well Etta's sons are good pool players. Knowing her mom prior to her passing - and seeing a picture of Fats with her, perhaps a case can be made. As you know, Minnesota Fats was a hustler and did spend alot of time in LA's South Central during that time. Which, besides being a community - was also a heady world of jazz night clubs, after hours joints and assorted other activities. Bassist, composer, and jazz legend Charles Mingus chronicles this period excellently in an autobiography.

Etta believes it. I don't believe DNA testing was done. Dorothy was also her name and she was a hoot. She passed a few years back. I have a bathrobe she made for me.

Some of this info is available in Etta's bio, co written by David Ritz, called "Rage to Survive."


Article: http://www.noquarterusa.net/blog/200...nating-people/

Geesh, now I gotta buy that book and add it to my pool library, "Rage to Survive."

Some more interesting Etta James smut, according to Taters: Hi, my name is Bobby Murray, aka taters. I'm a musician and I play guitar. I've been with Etta James (whom I adore) for almost 20 years now, since '88. We just got off the road, we did Kansas City, Council Bluffs, Dallas, Chicago, Denver, San Diego, Anaheim a few others in SoCal & Northern CA. Then it was on to Oregon and Washington. Some of the dates included Al Green and pretty much all of them, we were with BB King. (Etta had her first hit record when she was fifteen and went steady with BB when she was sixteen. She says BB's "Sweet Sixteen" was about her.)

Picture of Taters below.
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12-10-2008, 02:33 AM

Well, here is what Etta James writes in her biography: "My heart told me that Minnesota Fats was my father. There was also evidence to back me up. But [in the 1970s]... I didn't have the courage or means to confront him.

Article source: http://www.musicianguide.com/biograp...tta-James.html

Picture (undated) of young Etta James and her mother.
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12-10-2008, 02:36 AM

Maybe it is coincidence, but she sure does look like Fats to my eye!
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12-10-2008, 02:49 AM

She sure does look like Fatty. I saw an interview of Beyonce on tele the other day and they said the movie is only going to limited screens, maybe 500-700, so some of us may have to wait for the dvd.


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12-10-2008, 02:53 AM

Rudolph Wanderone nicknamed himself "Minnesota Fats"' after the fictious character in the movie The Hustler. He even went as far as to tell people that the character in the movie was based on him (claiming that he had previously had the nickname New York Fatty). Walter Tevis, the author of the book, denied this.

Oh, the irony of it all!

Here's the ancestry -- first draft (LOL) -- of Etta James, according to William Addams Reitwiesner: http://www.wargs.com/other/james.html


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12-10-2008, 02:58 AM

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Originally Posted by selftaut
She sure does look like Fatty. I saw an interview of Beyonce on tele the other day and they said the movie is only going to limited screens, maybe 500-700, so some of us may have to wait for the dvd.
Wow, that sucks. It looks like a great movie.

Here's one review site I found: http://www.google.com/movies/reviews...t=reviews&cd=1

I think I will definitely buy the DVD. Beyonce should be a good draw for this movie, I would think! She's very talented, as is Etta James!
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12-10-2008, 03:04 AM

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Originally Posted by JAM
I have often wondered why that never took place. I wonder if there is any way that it can today.
It would be real easy. If he has any living relatives they could do it and it would be 100% positive. You have wonder that after all the years of claiming to be his daughter someone would have told her to get a DNA test, then again sometimes people are afraid of the outcome and choose not to do so.
  
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12-10-2008, 03:09 AM

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Originally Posted by $TAKE HOR$E
It would be real easy. If he has any living relatives they could do it and it would be 100% positive. You have wonder that after all the years of claiming to be his daughter someone would have told her to get a DNA test, then again sometimes people are afraid of the outcome and choose not to do so.
I was Googling as much as I could about this topic a few years ago, and Fats doesn't have any legitimate children on record.


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