Again, I am late to the Wake. I just learned, via chronicling the unprecidented number of music star and celebrity deaths in 2016, that my friend and sharer of some great stages in metro New York back in the 1980s, Colonel Abrams passed away twenty days ago, on Thanksgiving Day, 2016. Wow. Another one on the list, and as they say on the radio, “And the Hits just keep on coming…!”
I met Colonel Abrams (Colonel was his real name, by-the-way) by dint of getting records as a DJ when I made my rounds, from Michael Halley, then of MCA Records Promotions and because I was a DJ in clubs and mobile parties and on WBLS FM, New York, the WBLS FM Promotions Department, under Janie Washington (“where are they now” candidate) I think, who assigned me as the driver of one of the “Juicemobiles” (promotional vans dressed-up) to dove-tail his appearances in Westchester County’s New Rochelle and a club called “The Palace!”, which must have been a huge account at the time.
The Colonel was a large, tall, strappen Franken kind of a presence. Almost larger than life but not pretentious, he loved the spotlight with a kind of humility that is rare. He was very demonstrative on stage.
Actually, my first Colonel Abrams vinyl is a 45rpm, “Leave A Message Behind The Door” on Streetwise Records. I think I received it while the Program Director of WBAU FM, Garden City, N.Y. – but don’t quote me on it! Somehow it got mixed-in by dint of my many record comapny door-knocks. As a ballad, it went largely unplayed at first on the commercial radio stations. I like it to end my show, “last call”-style, late at night.
This dance track is one of my favorites from him and was a wickedly huge hit record!
Behind the scenes, Colonel Abrams and I plotted to hang out and catch some ladies. Once he asked me to be his Manager but I had no clue as to how to do [it]. He was just a gentle giant with talent of the times in House Music that really fit on stage and over the airwaves. Long, tall and lanky he was party coordinated and positively infectious! The Colonel Abrams I knew is in this Soul Train video form 1986! He became part of the House music party, not a standoffish performer, but one of the most energetic party people of those great ole days of the eighties!
I am really chagrined that I never again got to run into him per chance, and even more deeply shaking my head at the news that he went out homeless, ill and broke. Nobody told me there was a Crowdfunding campaign for him – I am good at that and would have helped. Why do our connections in this physical life become so distant and trite?
2016 has been a very depressing year because of the many superstars we have lost. From David Bowie to Prince, Florence Henderson and Robert Vaughn, to Vanity and another friend, Mr. Billy Paul, this past year is one for the kind of Record Books which we do not want to celebrate.
As you know if you know me (or NOT) I am a House Music junkie and DJ since the Larry Levan days and this next video, “Speculation” (“do-do-do-dooo”) is classic jammin House music from Colonel Abrams:
It is so scary to read of how he ended up because I am only a stones-throw from such a fate, IMO. Those of us who totally committed to show business, no matter it singing, radio, television or other glamour professions, are all at the mercy of “here today, gone tomorrow” because of “How Soon We Forget” [our heroes and stars]. Once your health fails and if you have not saved nor have insurance, one can be on the streets in a heartbeat.
I love the little keyboard-scraping piano or synth intro to that one the best of all of his super jams. I do not understand why he died broke and I pray that MCA Unversal did not rip him off in typical Artist versus big record label with tricky contract-fashion!
I searched him and found this image…is this what he looked like at the end?
Want to know the POWER of Colonel Abrams’ music? Listen to how this track (below) samples his riffs:
“I’m So In Love!” is Colonel Abrams.
‘So sorry we didn’t get to reconnect, my friend. This is yet another fatal blow to my life of missed reconnections. Colonel, I know that you would have smiled, in that genuine way that you always did,we’d have hugged big ole manly bear-hugs upon seeing “Jimi Bruce” again. Your albums and 12″vinyls are cherished classic “children” in da krates, among My Vinyls collection. Cheers.