Saturday, August 18, 2018


Something else has come up in the aftermath of Aretha Franklin's untimely passing. Namely, sloppy journalism. Some of it is major, and some of it relatively minor. In the major department, Fox news displayed a photograph of the very much alive Patti LaBelle in their tribute to Franklin. You can read the whole story here. This is simply unforgivable. To mess up on a tribute of a major star like this, not to mention all the racism it implies ( it's interesting to note it was Fox, and not, say, the BBC that made this error ) especially with all the racial tension currently going on in the states, is unacceptable.

The minor case of lack of due diligence comes up right here in the blogosphere. In course of discussing Franklin's career, a fellow blogger brought up Bernard Purdie. He's certainly a legendary drummer and an important musician in her musical life. Unfortunately, this blogger then brought up several hit songs as examples of Purdie's playing that he definitely did not play on! 
I see this as problematic in several ways. Firstly, in this day and age, in takes mere minutes to verify facts, as they are now at our fingertips. Secondly,  we are dealing with Purdie, whose talent for exaggeration and myth building is second only to his massive musical talent. ( Remember, this is the man who for decades has been claiming he played on over a dozen Beatles tracks without offering any proof, or even tune titles! ) So, when writing about and/or quoting Purdie, I'd say an extra amount of due diligence is required. Finally, I think there is a tendency through both hero worship as well as laziness to present the musical world as one in which a small number of players (e.g Gadd, Purdie, Porcaro ) did everything and no one else is worth talking about. I feel this approach leaves out many important but lesser known figures. ( Update: The blogger corrected the error, and was quite gracious about it. )

Okay, my latest rant is almost over, but I'd like to conclude by sa theying that large right-wing broadcasting conglomerates may be beyond reach as far as affecting change to responsible journalism, but for those of us mere mortals on the ground, we have a responsibility to get the facts as accurate as we can, and to acknowledge when we goof. ( To see an example of me eating crow around this, see my post on Paul Motian's death when I claimed he didn't play with many pianists after Bill Evans! Oops! )
Anyway, keep practicing, writing, and looking for the truth.

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