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Charlie Whitehead

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  • Years Active: 1970s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

An obscure but fascinating figure in American soul music, Charlie Whitehead was a protégé of songwriter, producer, and professional eccentric Jerry Williams, Jr. (aka Swamp Dogg). Whitehead cut a handful of powerful sides that dealt with political and social topics in no uncertain terms, and while the strength of his message prevented him from reaching the upper reaches of the sales charts, he left behind a striking body of work during his short recording career. Born in 1942 in Virginia, Whitehead made his first inroads into a career in music in the early '60s as a member of a Norfolk, VA, vocal group called the Rocking Charmers. In 1968, Whitehead relocated to New York City and caught the attention of R&B singer Charlie Foxx, who helped Whitehead land a deal with Dynamo Records. Dynamo hired Williams to produce Whitehead's sessions, and while Dynamo dropped him after only one single, Williams took the singer to Canyon Records (who had recently released Swamp Dogg's epochal Total Destruction to Your Mind) and cut an LP with Whitehead under the name Raw Spitt. The Raw Spitt album featured such uncompromising songs as "Call Me Nigger," "The Freedom Under Certain Konditions Marching Band," and "I Dig Black Girls," and failed to chart despite the strength of the music. After Canyon Records folded, Williams started his own label, the short-lived Stone Dogg imprint, which released three singles on Whitehead, this time recording under his own name. Whitehead cut an album under the rubric Charlie Whitehead & the Swamp Dogg Band for still another label run by Williams, the memorably named Fungus Records, but it also failed to attract significant sales or radio play. In 1975, Whitehead finally hit the R&B singles charts with "Love Being Your Fool," but his next album, 1977's Williams-produced Whitehead at Yellowstone, proved to be his last. In 2006, a collection of Whitehead's work with Jerry Williams, Jr., Songs to Sing: The Charlie Whitehead Anthology, 1970-1976, was released by the respected British R&B archivists at Ace/Kent Records.