|Birth Day:||July 4, 1943|
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During the 1960s and 1970s he was a pivotal member of James Brown's bands, playing on many hit recordings including "Say it Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud," "Mother Popcorn" and co-writing tunes such as "Hot Pants." His slippery riffs and pungent, precise solos, complementing those of saxophonist Maceo Parker, gave Brown's R&B, soul, and funk tunes their instrumental punch. In the 1970s he also served as band leader and musical director of Brown's band the J.B.'s and did much of the composing and arranging for the group. His name was credited on 'Fred Wesley & the J.B.'s' recording of "Doing It to Death," which sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in July 1973. He left Brown's band in 1975 and spent several years playing with George Clinton's various Parliament-Funkadelic projects, even recording a couple of albums as the leader of a spin-off group, The Horny Horns.
Wesley became a force in jazz in 1978 when he joined the Count Basie Orchestra. He released his first jazz album as a leader, To Someone in 1988. It was followed by New Friends in 1990, Comme Ci Comme Ca in 1991, the live album Swing and Be Funky, and Amalgamation in 1994.
Wesley's 35-year career includes playing with and arranging for a wide variety of other artists including Ray Charles, Lionel Hampton, Randy Crawford, Vanessa Williams, The SOS Band, Cameo, Van Morrison, Socalled and rappers De La Soul, to name a few. Many other artists have sampled his work. In 2002 Wesley wrote Hit Me, Fred: Recollections of a Sideman, an autobiography about his life as a sideman. Also in 2002 he recorded an album entitled Wuda Cuda Shuda.
In 2007, Wesley accepted an invitation to contribute to Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino (Vanguard). He participated with Lenny Kravitz, the Rebirth Brass Band, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, Pee Wee Ellis and Maceo Parker to contribute their version of Domino's "Whole Lotta Lovin'."
In 2010, Wesley contributed to Kings (Freestyle Records), the fourth album by Israeli funk and groove ensemble, The Apples. Specific sessions on the album were dedicated to working with Wesley, one of the group's heroes.
Currently, Fred Wesley is 78 years, 3 months and 22 days old. Fred Wesley will celebrate 79th birthday on a Monday 4th of July 2022.
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