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Rich Cason
Formula Five 1973
The Galactic Orchestra
On the Key´s
Formula Five 1979
Rich Cason, Lucius Parr, Tony Davis

RICH CASON A WEST COAST LEGEND - PASSED AWAY TOO SOON

Born: May 5, 1945
Died: March 20, 2007
Real Name: Charles Richard Cason
Artist Name: Galactic Orchestra


Rich Cason is R&B history! To say that he’s past, present and future is more than an understatement. “I can't remember not being interested in music,” Rich says, almost overwhelmed by the countless music production and songwriting achievements in a career that’s spanned 4 decades of R & B history.
 
“Google” Rich Cason and you’ll get links from Mr. T to Ray Charles, Casablanca Records to pop, blues, soul and R & B. You can’t find a producer, writer, musician who shows up more intricately involved in so many projects when you do the Google thing. If you think that his bio is a short read, think again, settle down, get comfortable and read.
 
Born Charles Richard Cason, May 5, 1945, his first instrument was the guitar, but he was drawn to the keyboard, when at age 11 his parents bought a piano. This self-taught musical R & B visionary, found his niche with the keyboards, learning songs by ear, like Ray Charles’ “What I Say”. Rich had no idea that his future would include being the first synthesist contracted to work for Charles in the early 90’s. Here begins an amazing history of a career producer, writer, and keyboard player.

As a young teen in the early 60’s, Rich gigged with several do-wop bands, until he met guitarist Pete Cozy and joined his band as the piano player.  In 1963, at only fifteen, this Phoenix, Arizona native’s professional career was launched when Pete’s band, Big Boy Pete and the Crusaders, won band of the year in a talent competition. The prize was a guest spot on the popular Emmy winning local Phoenix TV show, Wallace and Ladmo, a show which itself made news as being the longest running kids show in TV history from 1954-1989.

When Pete Cozy left the group to join Miles Davis in Chicago, Rich worked at perfecting his writing, arranging and performing skills and started his own band. 
It was unfortunate when Arlester “Dyke” Christian, bassist and singer in the O'Jays back up band, the Blazers, and some if its personnel found themselves stranded in Phoenix. Fortune came from raising fare back for their trip home (Buffalo. New York) and merging with Rich’s band. The group  was discovered while working the club circuit. The band merger, which became Dyke and the Blazers, was catapulted into the limelight, making history and trivia with their hit “Funky Broadway”.
 
The song, Dyke’s creation, sold over a million units, based on a dance move that he’d pioneered, and was the first groove to use the word “funky” on vinyl. When James Brown saw the group play a concert at the Apollo, in 1966, he acknowledged the phrase “Funky Broadway” in his hit Cold Sweat. The song held its longevity when several artists covered it; including Atlantic records star Wilson Pickett.

Dyke and the Blazers continued to tour with their catalyst hit. Rich stayed with the band for two years and followed his success by forming a new group called “The Odd Squad” which garnered a large loyal fan base in the South. Their popularity proved to be a challenge for James Brown when he toured the south, because The Odd Squad were not just music, but show; and that was a big draw.

In 1970, Cason moved to Los Angeles, to pursue his songwriting goals. While breaking into the Los Angeles music scene had it ups and downs, Cason made it easy. He landed a song on Jermaine Jackson’s debut solo album with  “If You Don’t Love Me”.  Following his big break with Jackson, Rich went on to write for Leon Haywood, The Temptations, The Fifth Dimension, The Dramatics, Al Wilson, Sam and Dave, The Soul Children, The Fiestas, Formula V, Garland Green, Jimmy Lewis and ZZ Hill. We won’t say here, “to name a few”, as there is so much more. We’re still at the beginning!

The 70s was dominated by disco, which permeated the music market and gave every artist a chance to cash in on the wave. Rich, seized the opportunity and wrote, Gotta Keep Dancin’ for Freda Payne’s album “Hot”, thus expanding his style base even more.  His song, Lay Some Lovin’ On Me, was a single on Jeannie Reynolds’ album, (sister of Dramatics lead singer L.J. Reynolds) on the Casablanca label. Casablanca, offered Rich a deal for his group Formula IV if they would be the back-up band for their new up and coming artist, Donna Summer. Exhausted, from just coming off the road with Al Wilson (his hit single Show & Tell), Formula IV declined. “A decision, “ Rich says, I regret to this day.”
   
Toward the end of the 70s, as disco approached its demise, Rich, totally immersed in the LA music scene, continued to gain success as a songwriter and producer. Because he didn’t limit himself to one particular genre of the contemporary music scene, his versatility covered every element of the popular styles in the music market. In 1977 he worked at The Record Plant at a private jam session, playing keyboard with John Lennon, Mick Jaggar, Billy Preston and Mickey Dolenz from The Monkees.

Disco legitimately died by 1979, and the 80’s brought with it, musical exploration, an adventure into new styles, and a pioneering spirit through the energy of synthesizers. By this time Rich was prime in the electronic music game on the west coast, creating a union of blues, funk and r & b. On the new electronic music frontier, he integrated everything that he had learned in formal study at El Camino College, LA City College and Eubanks Conservatory. Rich also adds that he attended the school of hard knocks.
 
He was a successful scholar from each of his Alma Maters with several club hits on the west coast. He started a record label,
Write On Records with his best friend, and blues legend Jimmy Lewis. The label released a huge hit in 1983 when Rich wrote and produced "Killer Groove" and “Street Freaks” for Leon Kittrell & Formula V. The product was barely pressed when MCA and Malaco Records commissioned these dance grooves. This was the decade of the 12-inch single and vinyl was everywhere.
 
Many of Rich’s club hits were produced as Rich Cason and the Galactic Orchestra, and released on
Rappers Rapp Records. The songs on the west coast label included Space Connection 2012, Radio Activity, When Doves Cry Rap, Magic Mike Theme and a track still playing on the airwaves, “Bad Times”.  co-produced with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.The hook-up with MCA landed Rich the gig where he produced Mr.T’s  rap record, “Be Somebody”, under Jheryl Busby, former president of Motown.

The connection with Malaco was the marriage made in heaven for Cason, when execs at the label realized that Rich was not just a track master, but a seasoned lyricist and songwriter.  When he wrote “Still Crazy” for Johnnie Taylor, it was the paving stone to his future success with the company. He was commissioned to write and produce their acts on the southern circuit and was the proven spark that ignited their traditional soul roster to chart toppers. Among their artists: Latimore, Shirley Brown, Denise La Salle, Dorothy Moore and The Rose Brothers.

The Rose Brothers reached Billboard’s Top Ten with hits, “I Get Off On You” and “Easy Love”. They became the biggest selling R& B act on Malaco, touring with Anita Baker and working The Apollo. “I Get Off On You”  sold 40, 000 units in one week with Rich at the helm. 
While still a very strong presence into the 90’s with Malaco, Rich used his synth and worked for Ray Charles. Brother Ray, impressed with Cason’s songwriting talent, recorded “I Need A Good Woman Bad” on Quincy Jones’ label Qwest. Charles also teamed with Peggy Scott to record, Rich’s tune  “Back To Love.”
Friend Jimmy Lewis, started his own southern soul label Miss Butch where Rich tracked primarily all of the tunes, including the national hit “Bill” by Peggy Scott Adams, that was featured on Oprah.
 
Rich’s spicy street flavor continued to enliven
Malaco’s  southern soul artists: King Floyd, Stan Mosely, Marvin Sease, Carl Sims, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Tonya and the great Johnnie Taylor. 
When Rich wrote “Good Love” for singer Johnnie Taylor, Taylor wasn’t initially enthused with the tune. It was quite a departure from the work he’d done. Cason recalls of
Malaco’s premier artist, “He actually said to me, ‘I don’t like that song, that’s for Prince.”  Rich laughs at the memory, “He wasn’t giving me no love at first and he’s the premier artist.”

In his subliminal effort to persuade Johnnie and hook his interest, Cason added some Sam Cooke runs with it, knowing that Taylor was from the Sam Cooke era. It worked and “Good Love” was Malaco’s biggest selling single in their history. It reached #15 on Billboard’s R& B charts, hit gold and remained on Billboard’s blues charts for over 52 weeks at number one!
“Soul Heaven” earned Rich a Grammy nomination and became Johnnie Taylor’s farewell anthem after his death.  To continue the Taylor legacy, Floyd, Johnnie’s son was added to the artist roster at Malaco. When Floyd Taylor sang in his father’s style, it was a chilling reincarnation of the late singer.

To keep his hip-hop chops on track, Rich produced a CD on his own label Original Groovesta. HBO heard a song from the CD, and “Baby Can You Lap Dance” landed on HBO’s TV magazine series, Real Sex.
In the 90’s, Rich produced, vocalist Mel Waiters, a huge southern soul artist, as well as Chuck Strong and Billy Ray Charles.
Cason’s strategy in the music game is his style, a unique hybrid of R & B, Southern Soul and hip-hop. That way,” Rich says, “ you get prime stations on the list as well as the secondary, and I’m really happy about that.” 
Cason’s many accomplishments include Jackson Music Awards for International Song Writer of the Year, Producer of the Year, as well as being inducted into the Arizona Music Hall of Fame for his work with Dyke and the Blazers’ Funky Broadway.
 
Currently, Jazz sax player, James Tobin made the list of artists produced by Rich on Foot Stompin’ Records as well as local LA artist, Zuri on Rasiah Records.
As we look towards the decades yet to come, we can see that Rich Cason will definitely be an integral part of the future history of contemporary music.  Charles Richard Cason grows with each decade and each ground swell of music style, always looking forward, always developing and continuing to be the foundation in much of the contemporary soul/blues music of our times.

After a long battle with cancer Rich Cason died on March 20, 2007. We did the last interview with him shortly before he passed away. We keep him in mind as an outstanding musician and a very helpfull man. Thanks Rich for your great music and your inspiration.
 

Rich Cason Interview June 2004

What was your inspiration for the futuristic space sound back in the 80´s?
I´ve been influencend by New York Electro Style at that time, especially Planet Rock and the Tommy Boy Electro Sound. I already played Keyboard so I came quickly on this line and caught to produce at even this Electro Style.

Can you list the projects you worked on at that time?
I made many Productions. 
Galactic Orchestra, Year 2001 Boogie, Space Connection, Bootie Whip and many more.On many different Labels.

What was your greatest success in those days?
My biggest success were “Funky Broadway” and my own label “Write On”,
but I think I made the most money in the 90s

Can you describe like a track like
“Radio Activity” was made?
Radio Activity was original by Royalcash. I heard the song and decided to make an Electro Street Rap Version. I went in the studio and made the sound. Some rappers which were already known at this time came by and added the vocals to the track.The Track were released on and Independent Label from Oakland California. Than I came in touch with Duffy. He wanted to release this song on his label, because he loved the sound. I gave Duffy the tracks and he released them. On
Magic Mike Theme I did the complete song. Magic Mike was a nice young boy at this time and he needed this record for a DJ Contest.

Who were the members of the “Galactic Orchestra”?
It was only me, because there were so many elements in this production all played by myself I choose this name.

Is it right that you worked with 
Roger Clayton and Egyptian Lover on Yes, Yes, Yes?
Yes, I worked with
Roger Clayton together at his Freak Beat Productions. I played the Keyboard part. In 1984 I also worked once with Ice T, for the album of Mr.  T.

How did
Macola or other Record companys worked with you and do you know how many copies of your releases were pressed?
Macola decided if they release a record. They gave a lump sum to the interpreter and then they pressed the record as often as they want. Therefore I can not say  how often my productions.

How much were you involved in the Saturn releases?
At Kimberly Balls / Captain Rapp I only  made the Sounds and did otherwise never came in touch with any Artist.  This Track was the most successful publication of Saturn. It was pressed over 100,000 times. 

Which High School you graduate?
HighSchool Cal. Heaton, Phoenix Arizona

Do you have any unreleased material from those days?
As far as I know, all my productions were published

Can you explain your musically way and why you now do the Gospel and Miami Bass Records?
I started 1976 with Funk and the Group funky broadway. At this time the music style changed and I went with time. As the Keyboard Player of Formula V it was at hand to use my skills for that Electrosound.I like the sound and I use influences of that style in my current productions. The hole spectrum of Blackmusic is mine, so I didn´t want to do only one style. Also to be FLEXIBEL  to do business I started Gospel R&B.

Do you think that the Electro/Techno Hop Music can make a comeback in the mainstream and what needs to be done in order for that to happen?
I believe that the Electro sound has for sure a chance today, but it must be a modern producing.

Interview with Rich Cason 12/2006

What was your first music project?
My first musical project was in Phoenix, Arizona with a group called
Dyke and the Blazers, we recorded "Funky Broadway''

Who was  the first artist that inspired you?
I was influenced by James Brown. While performing at a local nite club in Los Angeles as an organist

Can you describe the Los Angeles Electro Scene in the 80´s?
The early West coast music and rapp scene was wide open and free , we had no peers but each other.

What was your first production you used a vocoder?
I believe the first production I used a vocoder on was
"radio activity rapp''

Can you name the sound equipment you worked with during your electro period?
My only equipment at the time was a Poly Six synth by Korg, Roland 8000 drum machine and a mono Moog.

Can you describe how Killer Groove was produced and who had the idea for the title name?
After success with
Rappers Rapp and Saturn my friend Jimmy Lewis and I started our own lable 'Write On records. We were longtime best friends and we called it Write On 'cuz we were both writers.The song was called it 'Killer Groove'' because that beat at the time was tearing up the clubs.

How did you came to the Rappers Rapp label ?
I was approched by Duffy Hooks III, owner of
Rappers Rapp label and asked if i could do a similar eletro track like Planet Rock. My first effort on Rappers Rapp was " 2001 boogie" emulating "Planet Rock". Duffy came up with the title since 2001 semmed light years away.

How and when did you first meet Mc Fosty and do you know what happened to him now?
I met M.C. Fosty thru Duffy Hooks III at
Rappers Rapp Records records, he was ahead of his time. I don't know what happen to him but I hear some of his rhymes in Snoop.

Can you tell us something bout your work for
Magic Mike Theme?
Stations like KJLH had supported my records so I recorded a theme song for Majic Mike radio show. He was also the musical director for the station at he age of '19'. He loved it and after his death KJlH hired me to make it a 12' disk.

Why is
Space Connection puplished on Saturn and Rappers Rapp label?
Cletus Anderson owned
Saturn and Duffy owned Rappers Rapp, they were friends and sometimes shared artist. Since '2001 boogie' was a club instrumental hit, Cletus wanted to do a rapp version of the song. He used Jimmy Jam and Terri Lewis for additional bass and rhythm, rapp by Captain Rapp and vocal by Kimberly Ball. Space Connection probably was a joint venture by Cletus and Duffy.

Can you tell us some details for your work on "Radio Activity Rapp''?
"Radio Activity Rapp'' was big in the bay area and Duffy wanted a L.A. version.

How did you get in contact with
Roger Claytons Uncle Jamms Army for the production to Yes-Yes-Yes?
Uncle Jamms Army had a huge following and i believe Roger approched me to do some keys on his project Yes-Yes-Yes.

Did you ever played live with Uncle Jamms Army ?
I never played live with the 
Army.

Did you met Daniel Sofer, Unknown DJ, Egyptian Lover, Ice T or other West Coast Pioneers?
I never met
Daniel Sofer or the Unknown DJ but the Egyptian Lover, Ice T and I met a few times.

Most of your productions are recorded on LA based labels, why is “Tear down the Rock House” puplished on Sugarhill Records (a New York Label)?
KDAY HAD A RAPP contest and the winner had a record deal with Sugar hill. The winners were R.C. and Reggie known as 'Park Ave".

What was your part for the title
J.S.A. Society Rap?
J.S.A. was CHRISTIAN rapp groop out of PASEDENA,Ca.Who hired me for my beats.

Can you describe you work for the
Mr. T record?
Mr. 'T' was compleating an album on MCA records but they were missing a song he wanted about his mother, I was contacted, I wrote it he liked it and we did it in one session.

Did you ever visit one of the famous discos like
"Radio" or “Eve after Dark” back in the days?
The
"Radio club" was the place I liked.

How would you rate your influence on the early electro music?
There  werent a lot of people on the west coast doing what i did so in that scene you can say I was a great influence, I just know i had a lot of  fun. I've been making music thru the 60's 70's,80's.90's and now the 2000'sand I am ever trying to grow.

What was your greatest musical success?

My biggest song has been Good Love by the great Johnnie Taylor.

What do you think bout the electro revival nowadays?
Arabian Prince is doing some new stuff, Egypt is really big here in Europe and we heard even Unknown is planning some new stuff.
If Europe wants some of my Electro...I'm ready.

What are you doin now?
Right now I am back in R&B.

Formula V
Killer Groove
Write On
WO-012
1983
Chaz Jackson Band
Wolfman
Lauren
CJ-102
1983
Rich Cason and the Galactic Orchestra
Year 2001 Boogie
Saturn
SAT 2001
1983
Captain Rapp
Bad Times
Saturn
SAT 2003
1983
Magic Mike Crew
Magic Mike Theme
Rappers Rapp
RR 2003
1983
Tony Davis
Bootie Whip
 U-Tone
UT-102443
1983
Jimmy Lewis and the L.A. Street Band
Street Freeks
 Write On
WO-013
1984
 Uncle Jamms Army
 Dial-a-freak
 Freak Beat
UJA 1001
1984
M.C. Fosty and Lovin´C
Radio Activity Rapp
Rappers Rapp
RR 2001
1984
M.C. Fosty and Lovin´C
When Doves Cry Rapp
Rappers Rapp
RR 2002
1984
Mr. T
Be Somebody Album
MCA
36014
1984
Rich Cason and the Galactic Orchestra
Space Connection
Rappers Rapp
RR 2003
1985
Formula V
Determination Earth
Malaco
MAL 7427
1985
Formula V
On the Rise
Malaco
MAL 7433
1986
Fashion by Norma Kamali. Street Wear from the year 1983. On the decks Chris "the Glove" Taylor spinning Magics Mike Theme produced by  Rich Cason. Boogaloo Shrimp and Shabba Doo breakin. The Videoshot was done in the legendary disco "Radio".