Black Merda — “The Original Man”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — May 30, 2022


467) Black Merda — “The Original Man”

“The first black rock group” (see #134). This stuff is intense. It’s the truth!

Steve Huey:

Black Merda were a funky rock combo with a significant debt to Jimi Hendrix, mixing fuzz-toned, psychedelic blues-rock with folky acoustic passages and contemporary late-’60s soul. . . . [T]he group got its start in the late ’60s after [three members] had spent time in a band called the Soul Agents, backing Edwin Starr and Gene Chandler. Despite some interest around their Detroit base . . . [they] signed to Chess, thanks in part to the psychedelic soul eccentric Fugi (aka Ellington Jordan) who they also backed on his Mary, Don’t Take Me on No Bad Trip LP for Chess.

Danny Veekens goes deep:

As backing band The Soul Agents they played Motown-esque R&B/soul, going national from their home turf of Motor City. . . . Getting dirtier and funkier as Black Merda, the [band] . . . . essentially consist[ed] of four “funked-out, psyched-out, bad-ass black guys,” as bassist, guitarist, vocalist, and founder VC L. Veasey jokingly puts it in a rare radio interview in 2005 . . . . [T]he[y created a] hybrid monster of funk, psych, wah-wah’s, voodoo blues, and rock-and-roll . . . .

The story goes that, back in 1967, VC L. Veasey and his friends bought Jimi Hendrix’ Are You Experienced for fun’s sake, after seeing a picture of him playing the guitar behind his back, which they thought was ridiculous. “They bought the record just to have a laugh, and it refused to leave their turntable for a whole month,” tells Sylvain Coulon . . . . Other mentioned prime influences for their switch from their Soul Agents to the “funked-out” Black Merda are Electric Mud by Muddy Waters, Sly Stone’s first few albums, and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band . . . . The often-coined description of “First Black Rock Group” might raise eyebrows . . . . [b]ut Black Merda was doing something different. Something much more psychedelic and rock-based. “These other [black] groups were kind of going into funk-rock then they switched to playing funk-dance music, but we were into doing psychedelic music,” VC [said] in 2004. “We’d play shows around the Detroit area and we used to do the psychedelic dress before Funkadelic were doing it, when they were still the Parliaments and still dressing like The Temptations. We dressed like that off the stage as well. Our dress, those clothes, we used to live like that every day.” . . .

[T]hey [named themselves] Black Murder . . . following the 12th Street Riot in Detroit in 1967. That later changed to Black Merda for a more original spelling. A name in line with their lyrical content on racism, poverty, freedom, hypocrisy, and in VC’s own words: “all of the bad shit that was befalling black people and others on the everyday street level of experience.”

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