Throwback Thursday: Chicago’s Founder, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, Settles in Illinois

Though many have traveled through these lands known today as Chicago, there is one regarded as the first permanent settler. Europeans have been exploring North America’s since the 17th century, and one of the first to be on record to explore the land, rivers and portages go by the name of Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette. Others have since visited or posted up for a time including Renee Lasalle, Henri Tonti and Father Francois Pinet for the Mission of the Guardian Angel. It was Jean Baptiste Point du Sable that held permanent residence here and laid a foundation to expand upon.

There is not much documented history on the early life of Jean Baptiste, however there are many accounts and theories that lead to a general idea believed to be accurate. Baptiste Point Du Sable is known to be born in Haiti, and later studied in France, before returning to Haiti to sell coffee, and then travel up to New Orleans, Louisiana, by the account of Joseph Jeremie; who claims to be his great grandson. Historian Milo Milton Quafe found a French immigrant in Canada with the title Sieur de Sable, with descendants titled Du Sable living around the Great Lakes. Quafe speculates Jean Baptiste father is from this family, while his mother was most likely an enslaved woman.

Land acquisitions would place Baptiste to own land in Peoria in from March 13th, 1773 to 1783, prior to his settlement at the Chicago River, while other records placed him in Michigan. In 1779, British officers arrested Baptiste on suspicion of being an American sympathizer. He then worked for British lieutenant-governor Michilimackinac in a pinery in what is now St. Clair, Michigan. Jean Baptiste was married to a Native Pottawatomie woman, Kitihawa AKA Catherine, and had two children, Jr. and Suzanne. The marriage was recognized by a Catholic priest in Cahokia, Illinois in 1788.

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable was not recognized as the founder of Chicago at first however. Many believed the first settler to be Scots-Irish trader John Kinzie, who bought Du Sables property in 1803. During construction of the Century of Progress Internation Exposition or Chicago’s World Fair, the fair recognized the construction of Fort Dearborn as the historical beginning of Chicago. Several African American groups campaigned for Baptiste to be recognized at the fair, and succeeded. Today we recognize the founder of Chicago in many different ways, with marking is home-site in 1976 as a National Historic Landmark, a memorial at Pioneer court and a renaming Michigan Bridge to Du Sable to name a few.

Jean Baptiste spoke Spanish, French, English, and several Native Dialects. He had established his home and trading post at the mouth of the Chicago River in early 1779 or early 1780’s. It included huts for employees, bake, poultry, dairy and smoke houses, two barns, an orchard and plenty of space. He served Natives, French and British as frontier trader and settler during the American Revolution and thereafter. He sold his farm in 1800 to John Kinzie‘s front man Jean La Lime. He died on August 28, 1818 in St. Charles Missouri, formerly French Louisiana, buried in an unmarked grave in St. Charles Borromeo Cemetery, where Illinois Sesquicentennial Commission erected a granite marker. His entry in the parish burial register does not mention his origins, parents, or relatives; it simply describes him as nègre, French for negro. He was often regarded as a big, handsome, wealthy and well educated!

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Throwback Thursday: Chicago’s Original Guitarist Terry Kath Accidentally Shoots Himself

A legend somehow not so well known to fans of music, but guitarists and rock artists revere him as one of the greatest. Even the man we all idolize as the greatest guitar player of all time, Jimi Hendrix, is known to have uttered that Terry Kath is better than him. Born in Chicago and one of the original founding members of the band Chicago, he is in deserving of some more recognition and we are here for it.

Terry Kath was born in Chicago January 31st, 1946 and was inspired to music by his mother and father who ran a lodge and enjoyed entertaining people, according to Michelle Sinclair, daughter of Terry Kath. He learned how to play the keyboard, accordian and banjo, it was the Ventures and George Bensen that inspired Kath to pick up guitar. Getting older he would play in local band Jimmy Ford and the Executives, where he would begin to meet his future Chicago band mates.

It seemed to be natural for him to get people together as his parents did. Connecting with sax player Walt Parazaider and drummer Danny Seraphine, they would the join the Missing Links. That is when they would meet Lee Loughnane, who would be noted saying that he never saw Kath withouth his guitar. The four would finally link up with trombonist, Jimmy Pankow vocalist, Robert Lamm and bassist, Peter Cetera by 1967 and call themselves the Big Thing. The would play an amazing fusion of Rock N Roll and Jazz and Blues.

Coming to the attention of James Guercio, he signs them to a production company and changed their name to Chicago Transit Authority. CTA would later start recording for Columbia Records to produce their first LP. Their first release was actually a double LP, a rare and bold move by most musicians. It included Kath’s FREE FORM GUITAR, where you can hear where Jimi Hendrix could possibly have gotten his influence. Kath Told Guitar Player magazine one time in an 1971 interview that Jimi was playing all the stuff he had in his head, when he first heard him!

The band actually promoted their album by opening up for Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin in 1969. Walt Paradaizer would recall Jimi Hendrix quoting “Your guitarist is better than me” upon their first encounter with each other. Kath would inspire many artists like Eddie Van Halen who used a style heard in FREE FORM GUITAR. He was a great leader musically and his originality and innovative work on the guitar may be more recognized than we think, but not enough yet!

Chicago Transit Authority would change their name to Chicago after the actual CTA threatened lawsuit. The band then split off with James Guercio as manager. After six albums with Chicago, Kath began taking heavy use of drugs, parties and developed a liking for guns as well. One night while cleaning his guns with at his friend Don Johnson‘s apartment, Kath did not realize a bullet in the chamber. Johnson noted to be careful and Kath said ro him without the clip it’s harmless. He would wave his pistol around, his last words as told by Johnson being “What do you think I’m going to do, blow my brains out?” Accidentally releasing the trigger by his head, he died instantly January 23th, 1978, just shy of his birthday.

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Throwback Thursday: The Punk Poet Laureate, Patti Smith

In a time where men dominated the rock music industry there was Patti Smith pioneering her own sound in the 70’s. Born in Chicago in 1946, she started being influenced by music at an early age. She would first start listening to artists like Patience and Prudence, Harry Belefonte and Bob Dylan. Moving from Chicago to Philadelphia, then New Jersey before finally leaving Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) and moving to Manhattan, New York on her own. This is where things start to take off!

In Manhattan Patti Smith met photographer Robert Mapplethorpe while working at a bookshop with American poet Janet Hamill. Becoming romantic with Mapplethorpe, in a book she later wrote called Just Kids, she considers him one of the most important people in her world and “artist of her life”. In ’69 she would go to Paris to perform in the street and in theater, later returning to live with Mapplethorpe at Hotel Chelsea. Getting more deeper into creativity this time around.

The same year Patti Smith would provide a spoken word soundtrack to ROBERT HAVING HIS NIPPLE PIERCED, an art film by Sandy Daley starring Mapplethorpe. She starred in FEMME FATALE, a play by Jackie Curtis with Wayne County and also Tony Ingrassia‘s play, ISLAND. Smith would be spending much of early 1970 painting, writing and performing as part of St. Mark’s Poetry Project. In ’71 for one night she performed in COWBOY MOUTH, a play she co-wrote with Sam Sheppard, who she wrote a few poems about.

Getting into more music, Patti was briefly considered to be the vocalist for Blue Oyster Cult, who she wrote several songs for like, DEBBIE DENISE, BABY ICE DOG, CAREER OF EVIL, THE REVENGE OF VERA GEMINI and more. She would also be romantically involved with on the the bands members as well. In the midst of all this she also wrote rock journalism pieces for Rolling Stone and Creem. By 1974 Patti Smith would become a rock star in her own right.

In 1974, Patti Smith would form Patti Smith Group originally with Lenny Kaye, Ivan Kral, Jay Dee Daugherty and Richard Sohl. Financed by Sam Wagstaff, the band recorded their first singles HEY JOE and PISS FACTORY , which included a spoken word piece about fugitive heiress Patty Hearst for the A-Side and time in a factory on the B-Side. Signed by the Clive Davis of Arista Records, the Pattie Smith Group recorded their first album HORSES, fusing poetry, spoken word and punk rock. While touring, on January 23, 1977 as she was dancing on stage, Patti Smith fell 15 feet into a concrete orchestra pit, breaking several neck vertebrae. They would produce a few more albums before the 70’s end, including RADIO ETHIOPIA, their most famous EASTER and WAVE.

Patti Smith would return to music in 1995 briefly touring with Bob Dylan. The next year she would work on a Kurt Cobain tribute record GONE AGAIN, following up with two albums, PEACE AND NOISE and GUNG HO, that would receive Grammy nominations for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. After TRAMPIN, another album release, in 2005 Patti Smith would be named Commander of Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. After closing out the legendary CBGB music venue in a tour de force, 3 & 1/2 hour set, in 2007 Smith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She continues to be a force in the music industry to this day!

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Throwback Thursday: Chicago Blues Native, Paul ButterField

Chicago lay claim to many great music renaissance, blues being one of them. Great icons have been inspired by Chicago Blues style, most notably the Rolling Stones, that was crowned by artists such as Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and more. While many of those men lived in Chicago for a significant portion of their music careers and had great influence in cementing the Chicago blues sound, they were all born in either Mississippi, St Louis or Louisiana. This Throwback in mid December we celebrate one blues artist native to Chicago born on the 17th in 1942.

It the big names, Muddy Waters, Berry, Dixon, Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, that get credited mostly with Chicago Blues style. Paul Butterfield on one hand, had his own influence on the genre as well. Growing up in Hyde Park he had an early musical influence with an associate of the Chicago Symphany Orchestra and an inclination towards the Blues. A knee injury that kept him from a sports scholarship would steer Butterfield towards a career in Blues.

Paul Butterfield would start to attend Chicago Blues clubs where he would be directed by Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf and Otis Rush themselves. He would move onto create is own authentic style of Blues with his harmonic instrumentation as key tool in his influence. Butterfield in many ways opened the door for white audiences, rock and country fans, to be more connected with blues; not by replicating the blues culture sound but making his own. His would create the racially integrated Paul Butterfield Blues Band, accumulating a couple of successful albums and playing Woodstock 69, following up with Better Days band and solo work afterwards. Towards the end of his life he would be playing alongside Muddy Waters and Better Days, accidentally overdosing at the age of 44 in 1987. His legacy would earn him a spot in the Blues Hall of Fame in 2006.

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Throwback Thursday: Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet First Europeans To Explore Chicago

Many of us already know about the first man to permanently settle in Chicago at the mouth of the river. Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable is credited to be first non-native settler and founder of this great city, but there were a couple of previous European settlers to come to be the first to explore it. About a hundred years before Jean Baptiste would reside on the river, Jacques Marquette from France and Louis Jolliet from Quebec traveled through the territory and recognized its significance.

Jolliet left Quebec after coming back from studying in France to trade with Native. Following a year he meets Marquette, a Jesuit missionary and the two begin work together. In 1673 they both gather a group of men and head to explore the Mississippi towards the Golf of Mexico. At Arkansas, they turned back toward the Great Lakes fearing a run in with Spaniard Colonists after finding many Natives with European trinkets.

On their way back they found their way to the Illinois River where they learned of a shorter route to the Great Lakes. They reached the Great Lakes at what today is Chicago, by way of the Chicago Portage. Later the Jolliet and Marquette would split and Marquette would head back to Illinois with his men. In 1674 they would be the first to spend a winter in what would be Chicago today. Marquette would die a year later near Starved Rock at the age of 37 from dysentery acquired by illness from the Mississippi travel.

Discoveries made in 1673

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Throwback Thursday: BeatrixKiddo and TechStyles Pen A Heartfelt Memoir in Emily

BeatrixKiddo and TechStyles released a quite personal song over one of the most famous Mac Miller records ever put out, BEST DAY EVER. That was a gutsy but ultimately good decision. If you are going to pay homage as well as speak about personal memories and tribulations that you have overcome, why not trying your hands at an instrumental from one of the late greats? The name of the track is EMILY, which is BeatrixKiddo’s real first name. 

TechStyles starts out a with a verse focusing on BeatrixKiddo and her struggle with depression and how he views her strength amidst her tribulations. “I made a lot friends, families, and enemies, but I never met someone, quite like Emily!” The ending to his verse leads into BeatrixKiddo’s 32 bars about her battle with loneliness, her ex partner and wanting to give her daughter the best life she can. “Never thought I would end up, holding my bags, at the front door, reminiscing every day, having all these flashbacks.

The loss of someone via breakup is always a painfully ripping emotion that will tear anyone apart. The will to then creatively express yourself about that experience can even be harder. BeatrixKiddo does not hold anything back about the relationship that gave her a daughter and also influenced her to rap and pursue her craft and career. Even through all the hate she receives and the people that do not think she should be rapping, she does it anyway. For herself first and if it spites others, so be it. This is her life to live and lead, no one else’s. Personal and painful music can be the most difficult to put out into the world, for this we recognize and respect!

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Throwback Thursday: North Side Gang Leader Dion O’Banion Killed in Chicago

Chicago is well known for the notoriously infamous Al Capone and his bootlegging syndicate during the Prohibition Era of the United States. Formerly working under crime boss Johnny Torrio who steps down after a fight with the North Side Gang in 1925 to give power to Capone, he expands the bootlegging business, adding onto the many gang wars and battles with police. It was before Al Capone’s rise and fall that Charles Dean O’Banion, popularly known as Dion (in the media), met his fate in which Johnny Torrio may or may not have had some part in.

Gatherer’s line up in front of Schofield flower shop, where Dion O’Banion was murdered.

With the arrival of alcohol prohibition in the 1920’s, O’Banion saw opportunity and organized a bootlegging operation. He started with arranging shipments of Canadian beer and acquiring whiskey and gin distributors. He gained notoriety in the crime underworld after he schemed Chicago’s first liquor hijacking in 1921. Eliminating all his opposition, O’Banion took control of the North Side and Gold Coast, becoming known as the North Side Gang. In his height he would be raking in 1 million a year, famously stealing 100k worth of Canadian Whiskey and 1,750 barrels of whiskey from Sibly Distillery. He would open up a flower shop where as to manage his criminal operations thereafter.

Johnny Torrio, heading the much larger Chicago Outfit with Al Capone at his side, divided up Chicago bootlegging territories among the gangs, leaving O’Banion satisfied with his side of the city, but not for long. O’Banion wanted cut of South Side action and was given some of Cicero’s beer rights and a casino called the Ship, but it was not enough for Dean. He aggravates a potential bootlegging war when he convinces South Side speakeasies to work on his strip. Tensions grew as the Genna Brothers of Little Italy in Chicago cross North Side boundaries and O’Banion steals from them, as Torrio does nothing about the problem. The Genna’s attempted to gain approval to place a hit on O’Banion but their crime boss Mike Merlo denied the request.

More so, O’Banion does more to create hostility towards himself leading up to his assassination. In 1924 after learning of a police raid on Sieben Brewery, where he and Torrio held investments in, O’Banion convinced Torrio to buy his share in the brewery. On the night of the raid, the two were arrested and Dean refused to return Torrio’s money, who learned he had been double crossed. Later that year O’Banion took a visit to Colorado, where he purchased a shipment of weapons, including some Thompson submachine guns. He would come back to Chicago but not long enough live and use his new toys on his enemies. However the first recorded use of the Tommy Gun in Chicago is credited to O’Banion’s purchases.

Frankie Yale, John Scalise, Albert Anselmi

In November of 1924, Dean got into a heated argument with one of the Genna’s over the phone. He threatened Angelo Genna over a debt at the Ship, demanding he pay it within the week. However it was Al Capone that raised to waive the debt in professional courtesy before the phone call even happened. Genna held no more restraint after the insult and with Mike Merlo, who denied the hit earlier, out of the picture due to illness, the Genna’s were free to move on O’Banion. On November 10, Frankie Yale caught Dean clipping chrysanthemums in the back room of Schofield (O’Banions flower shop). As Frankie shook his hand, he held his grip firm and gunmen John Scalise and Albert Anselmi fired two bullets into O’Bannion’s chest and throat. One of them firing a final shot in the back of his head as he lay on the floor. He Is buried in Mount Carmel Cementary in Hillside, Illinois.

Dion O’Banion’s funeral

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Throwback Thursday: WGN and WTTW Hijacked by Max Headroom

Introduced in 1984, Max Headroom is a fictional AI character as the Worlds 1st Computer Generated TV Host, who was portrayed by Matt Frewer; chosen for his improvisation skills. The character originally appeared in the British cyber punk film Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into The Future, with a background story coming from a dystopian near-future dominated by television and large corporations. He was known for his wittiness and his stuttered, distorted electronic voice and was intended as a satire of disingenuous and vainglorious TV personalities. One of his creators, Rocky Morton, describes him as a “very sterile, arrogant, Western personification of the middle-class, male TV host” as well as “media-wise and gleefully disrespectful.” He would also be referenced in pop culture by directors and artists, like in Eminem portrayal in the RAP GOD music video.

On Saturday Nov. 22 1987 Max Headroom would make a reference that was all too real! During the evening hours in Chicago, at two separate times, a couple of television stations would be hijacked. At 9pm during the sports cast segment on WGN 9 News, for about 25 seconds an unknown man sporting a Max Headroom helmet and sunglasses took over the broadcast signal, fit with a rotating background. Then again around 11pm during the Doctor Who serial Horror of Fang Rock on WTTW Channel 11 he appears again this time ending with a slap to a naked puppet butt with a fly swatter. The unknown hijacker was only able to achieve this by gaining a close proximity to WGN’s transmitter located on the Hancock Tower with his own transmitter. The culprits never caught or identified.

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Throwback Thursday: Igor Stravinsky’s “Symphony In C” Premieres in Chicago.

Today in 1940 on the 7th of November Igor Stravinsky had his famous SYMPHONY IN C premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall.

Igor Stravinsky, born June 18th 1882 in Oranienbaum, Russia and died on April 6th, 1971 New York City. Stravinsky’s recognition first arrived because of his ballet scores such as PETRUSHKA, THE FIREBIRD and RITE OF SPRING. But in 1920 he took up composing orchestras, namely “SYMPHONIES OF WIND INSTRUMENTS” and was later commissioned (reportedly $2,500) by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss and Mr. John Alden Carpenter to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra during the 1940-41 season.

SYMPHONY IN C consists of three flutes and a piccolo, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones and tuba, timpani, and strings. Performance time is approximately twenty-eight minutes. During the time of its composition Stravinsky went through the most horrific times of his life. His daughter Ludmilla passed away from Tuberculosis, his wife Catherine and his mother also passed on from tuberculosis within three months that same year. To say that SYMPHONY IN C was the only thing keeping Igor Stravinsky alive and composing during that period, is no exaggeration.

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Throwback Thursday: When Chicago Ruled Baseball

It would be 1906 when Chicago gets their first play in the World Series of baseball. It is Chicago’s game in every sense of the word since the teams versing each other are exclusive to the city. The Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox face off in what is a first championship series for both teams. What would end with the White Sox defeating the Cubs in game 6, would start a cross town rivalry unmatched by any other!

There are a few more significances to this game aside from being our cities first championship. For the Cubs it will be the first of 3 games in a row and while the White Sox returned later in 1917, the Cubs fail to win the championship, famously, for well over 100 years. During the series, the first 5 games of, for the first time had the road team take the win. This would not be duplicated again until 1996, exactly 90 years later. Finally, being early in the baseball history, the games were held at both West Side Grounds and South Side Park, before Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park became home to each team.

West Side Grounds

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