Born in Jackson, Mississippi
on April 27, 1940
Frederick Douglas Waits attended both high school and college in his hometown,
yet his real musical education began
influence of Jackson
's local rhythm
It was during high
school that Waits familiarized himself with the flute as well as the
Eventually he chose the drums
as his principal vehicle of artistic expression.
Upon graduating from Lanier
, Freddie Waits traveled
to New York
with Little Willie
John to perform at Smalls Paradise.
would be one of the first major experiences to lead Freddie on his path.
Waits' professional career began while still in college. It
was during this time that he had the priveledge
accompanying two of the great Blues
singers of the
time: Ivory Joe Hunter and Percy Mayfield.
Later on, Waits became 'house drummer' for Motown Recording Studios when
he finally moved to Detroit, Michigan
This gave him the opportunity to work with
such legendary artists as The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Marth
Reeves and The Vandellas
, The Supremes, and Stevie
Wonder (Waits recorded on Stevie
Wonder's Finger Tips
, which was used in the soundtrack of the film Cooley
. These experiences represented a most exciting introduction for one of
the innovators of the Blues Rock
sound. On one of his many trips to New
he played with Choker Campbell's band at the
Apollo theatre. As a member of the Paul Winter sextet, Waits also performed on
the college circuit and on two occasions toured Brazil
where he first began to explore Samba and other South American musical forms
After moving to New York
Freddie Waits became a member of the original New York Jazz sextet, which
featured Jimmy Owens, Benny Golsen
, John McIntosh,
Roland Hanna, and Barr Phillips. Some of the other Jazz greats he accompanied during
this time included Donald Byrd, Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner,
and Johnny Hodges.
With the high recommendations of Bob Cranshaw
Grady Tate, Mickey Roker
, and Billy Taylor, Waits
was soon asked to accompany the world renowned "First Lady of Swing", Ella
Fitzgerald, on an extensive tour encompassing the U.S.
East and West Germany
Upon returning to the U.S. Freddie rejoined
the McCoy Tyner trio and accompanied Joe Williams, Novella Nelson, Betty
Carter, Ray Bryant, Hubert Laws, Rhoda Scott, Lena Horne, Pharaoh Sanders, The Bridgewaters
, Nancy Wilson, Billy Taylor, Grady Tate, and Carmen McRae. Thus,
by this point, Waits' performing and recording abilities had been well-documented.
Freddie Waits also devoted a great deal of his time and
energy to the versatile percussion group M'Boom
which featured Max Roach, Omar Clay, Roy Brooks, Joe Chambers, Warren Smith, Dr. Fred King, and Ray Mantilla, all of whom were contributing to a tremendously wide range of
ideas and influences to the overall situation.
Freddie Waits was also very strongly committed to
He spent a significant
amount of time teaching through Jazzmobile and Rutgers University.
Much of his passion towards
music was expressed in the sharing of precious knowledge to younger generations
He states: "If you see
someone hungry and you have a piece of bread, you are going to give it to
them." And of his experience at Rutgers
, he quotes: "I came here
to teach, but I also came here to grow".
Freddie Waits was a phenomenal musician whose legacy is
survived in full by his numerous recordings, compositions, students, and
perhaps most significantly by his sons, Nasheet and Sharif Waits. He was devoted to the
development of America
most sophisticated art form, Jazz, and to the growth of the human spirit
through the musical experience. Throughout his many travels he sought to
incorporate new influences into the music that he created, making it a very
personal, while also universal, expression of the most humane qualities that
one should possess.
"Wherever I have traveled, I felt a connection with the people, and that
connection was manifested in the music.I want to experience by playing and
traveling." His artisitc approach embodied a blending of cultures,
but possessed a distinctive purity of its own and, because of this, his legacy will live forever.