Very sad news that funk and jazz icon the saxophonist, bandleader, arranger and composer Pee Wee Ellis who made history with James Brown has died at the age of 80. More to follow. The news was posted on Pee Wee's official Facebook page earlier today.
Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis co-wrote and arranged for James Brown 'Cold Sweat' and 'Say It Loud-I’m Black and I’m Proud.' He was born in Bradenton, Florida on 21 April 1941 and in his teens moved to Rochester New York State and began gigging with Chuck Mangione, later studying with Sonny Rollins. He joined James Brown's band in 1967. One of his most popular compositions 'The Chicken,' on The Popcorn was later covered by Jaco Pastorius.
Ellis founded the band Gotham in 1972 and Pass the Butter was highly sought after by hip-hop artists later.
As an arranger and saxist for Van Morrison he achieved a lot of acclaim and in The J.B. Horns, the Pee Wee Ellis Assembly and tenure in Ginger Baker's Jazz Confusion new generations of fans found him. This blog enjoyed him play on several occasions over the years, most memorably at the Subtone in Cheltenham, at the Rhythmic on Chapel Market in Islington interviewing him there briefly and most recently with the Jazz Heads at Ronnie Scott's. Such nights. Hearing him no matter how many times made you feel brand new. RIP