Hit Me Fred

Hit Me Fred


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Wesley is a virtuoso storyteller, whether describing the electric rush of performances when

the whole band is in the groove, the difficulties of trying to make a living as a rhythm

and blues musician, or the frustrations often felt by sidemen



Hit Me, Fred

Recollections of a Sidemanby Fred Wesley Jr.



With Hit Me, Fred, sensational side man Fred Wesley Jr. moves front and center to tell his life story. A legendary funk, soul, and jazz musician, Wesley is best known for his work in the late sixties and early seventies with James Brown and as leader of Brown’s band, Fred Wesley and the J.B.’s.

Having been the band’s music director, arranger, trombone player, and frequent composer, Wesley is one of the original architects of funk music. He describes life working for the Godfather of Soul, revealing the effort and sometimes frustrating discipline behind Brown’s tight, raucous tunes. 

After leaving Brown and the J.B.’s, Wesley arranged the horn sections for Parliament, Funkadelic, and Bootsy’s Rubber Band, and led Fred Wesley and the Horny Horns. Adding his signature horn arrangements to the P-Funk mix, Wesley helped make funk music even funkier.

Wesley’s distinctive sound reverberates through rap and hip hop music today. In Hit Me, Fred, he recalls the many musicians whose influence he absorbed, beginning with his grandmother and father—both music teachers—and including mentors in his southern Alabama hometown and members of the Army Band. 

In addition to the skills he developed working with James Brown, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, and the many talented musicians in their mileau, Wesley describes the knowledge picked up playing trombone with the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, Hank Ballard, and Count Basie’s band. He also recounts learning about the music business, particularly through his work in Los Angeles recording sessions.

Wesley is a virtuoso storyteller, whether describing the electric rush of performances when the whole band is in the groove, the difficulties of trying to make a living as a rhythm and blues musician, or the frustrations often felt by sidemen. Hit Me, Fred is Wesley’s story of music-making in all its grit and glory.—Duke University Press, Publisher

Before hip-hop, there was soul and funk, which gave rise to such highly influential bands and popular stars as Ike and Tina Turner, George Clinton, Parliament, Funkadelic, and, of course, James Brown. Trombonist Wesley has been associated with all of these and more, serving as Brown’s bandleader for many years and through his personal sound, compositions, and arrangements contributing immeasurably to the fabric of American popular music. 

Wesley has written a thoroughly engaging memoir of his life in music, using frank, opinionated, sometimes colorful language that reads as if he were sitting across the room reminiscing. Readers will be fascinated by his insider descriptions of working with the volatile Brown and by his vivid descriptions of the vicissitudes of life as a professional musician; musicians at all levels will find his comments on life on the road particularly compelling. 

Chapters on his tenure with the Count Basie Orchestra, his struggles with the L.A. music scene, and playing jazz in Denver after brother Ron helped him overcome a cocaine habit round out the picture of Wesley’s musicianship and humanity without lapsing into “behind the music” cliche. Recommended for all collections, a real gem for music collections.—Library Journal


This book is straight up! Fred Wesley, he’ll tell you like it is, even if your feelings get hurt, but coming from Fred, for some reason it makes you wanna do better. The book is the bomb!!! Stories are stories but this is real life. Write on, Fred.—Bootsy Collins


Very informative reading! I’m glad and lucky to be part of this legacy. We took it to the bridge. Fred, thanks for the memories.—Maceo Parker, saxophonist


A MUST read for musicians and people who want to know the truth about being on the road. Fred Wesley is hands down one of the greatest.—Christian McBride, jazz bassist


“Hit Me, Fred is very enjoyable and funny. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”—Freddy Cole, pianist and singer


A soulful memoir abundant with all the warm humor, joyous passion, and insightful irony that flavors his music. Fred Wesley is funk’s first-string quarterback and an American treasure.—Allan Leeds, tour manager for James Brown and the J.B.’s, 1969-74

In his autobiography, Hit Me, Fred: Recollections of a Sideman, Fred Wesley Jr., trombonist extraordinaire, architect of the infectious grooves that defined the James Brown sound and self-confessed jazz snob (specifically, “bebop snob”), relates his lifelong struggle with this dilemma. In telling his story, however, he does much more. Narrated in a thoroughly entertaining, conversational tone, Hit Me, Fred is first an insightful examination of the vibrant jazz/blues culture of his hometown, Mobile, Ala., in the 1950s. Son of a revered high school choral director and jazz bandleader, young Fred was immersed in the music early on. 


His experience is not unlike that of musicians who came of age in the rich jazz culture of New Orleans of yesterday. Playing in at least four different kinds of jazz bands simultaneously, he was nurtured by musical mentors who, for the most part, “kept their day jobs,” but were dedicated jazzmen by night. . . .


Despite a few minor annoyances such as a rather frustrating hit-and-miss index, occasional lapses in memory (the Hi-Five Band, for example, referred to as the Hi-Fi’s), a tendency toward exaggeration (the overly generous use of “great” to describe almost every musician with whom Wesley worked), this book is a highly significant addition to the literature on the jazz/blues continuum.—Henry C. Lacey is the Presidential Professor of English at Dillard University.


*   *   *   *   *


Hit Me, Fred

Recollections of a Sidemanby Fred Wesley Jr.



List of Illustrations ix Foreword xi 1. A Musical Upbringing 1 2. Higher Education 31 3. Uncle Sam’s Army 55 4. James Brown 84 5. California 115 6. James Brown Again 132 7. Bootsy’s Rubber Band and Parliament/Funadelic 190 8. Count Basie 211 9. Hollywood, Hollywood 228 10. Mile High in Denver 263 11. JB Horns 285 12 Star Time 301 Selected Discography 313 Index 317

Fred Wesley Jr. is an accomplished trombonist renowned for his contributions to funk and jazz music over the past several decades. Working for James Brown from 1968–75, he was instrumental in the production of such milestone recordings as “The Payback”; “Doing It to Death”; “Get on the Good Foot”; “Super Bad”; and “Say It Loud: I’m Black & I’m Proud,” as well as the scoring of the soundtracks to “Black Caesar” and “Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off.”  In the 1990s 

Wesley toured extensively with Pee Wee Ellis and Maceo Parker, before forming his own band. Wesley continues to tour and play music. He also writes, lectures, and conducts workshops on jazz and funk music. Wesley lives in South Carolina.

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011  


#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

The Price of Civilization

Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity

By Jeffrey D. Sachs

The Price of Civilization is a book that is essential reading for every American. In a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, he offers not only a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills but also an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Sachs finds that both political parties—and many leading economists—have missed the big picture, offering shortsighted solutions such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to address complex economic problems that require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalization’s long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. America’s single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities. Sachs describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. . . . Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around. He argues persuasively that the problem is not America’s abiding values, which remain generous and pragmatic, but the ease with which political spin and consumerism run circles around those values. He bids the reader to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and one another.

*   *   *   *   *


Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. “Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”—Lisa Adkins, University of London

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *






update 28 November 2010




Home  Music & Musicians

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.