Gene McDaniels

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Gene McDaniels
Gene McDaniels.jpg
Gene McDaniels, 2010 (Photo by Frank Beacham)
Background information
Birth nameEugene Booker McDaniels
Also known asEugene McDaniels, The Left Reverend McD
Born(1935-02-12)February 12, 1935
Kansas City, Missouri, United States
DiedJuly 29, 2011(2011-07-29) (aged 76)
Kittery Point, Maine
Genres Jazz, Pop, political
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, producer
InstrumentsVocals, saxophone, trumpet
Years active1960–2011
Labels Liberty, London, Columbia, RCA, Atlantic, Ode

Eugene Booker McDaniels (February 12, 1935 [1] July 29, 2011) was an African-American singer and songwriter. He had his greatest recording success in the early 1960s, and had continued success as a songwriter with songs including "Compared to What" and Roberta Flack's "Feel Like Makin' Love".

A songwriter is a professional that writes lyrics and composes musical compositions for songs. A songwriter can also be called a composer, although the latter term tends to be used mainly for individuals from the classical music genre and film scoring, but is also associated writing and composing the original musical composition or musical bed. A songwriter that writes the lyrics/words are referred to as lyricist. The pressure from the music industry to produce popular hits means that songwriting is often an activity for which the tasks are distributed between a number of people. For example, a songwriter who excels at writing lyrics might be paired with a songwriter with the task of creating original melodies. Pop songs may be written by group members from the band or by staff writers – songwriters directly employed by music publishers. Some songwriters serve as their own music publishers, while others have outside publishers.

"Compared to What" is a composition, with lyrics, by Gene McDaniels. It was recorded by Roberta Flack in 1969, but became better known following a performance by Les McCann and Eddie Harris at the 1969 Montreux Jazz Festival, which appeared as the opening track on their album Swiss Movement. The album was certified Gold in sales in the United States. The song has been recorded by more than 270 artists, including Ray Charles.

Roberta Flack American singer

Roberta Cleopatra Flack is an American singer. She is known for her #1 singles "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", "Killing Me Softly with His Song," "Feel Like Makin' Love"; and "Where Is the Love" and "The Closer I Get to You", two of her many duets with Donny Hathaway.



Born in Kansas City, Kansas, United States, [1] McDaniels grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. As well as singing gospel music in church, he developed a love of jazz, and learned to play the saxophone and trumpet. After forming a singing group, the Echoes of Joy, later known as the Sultans, in his teens, he studied at the University of Omaha Conservatory of Music before joining the Mississippi Piney Woods Singers, with whom he toured in California.

Kansas City, Kansas Consolidated city-county in Kansas, United States

Kansas City is the third-largest city in the State of Kansas, the county seat of Wyandotte County, and the third-largest city of the Kansas City metropolitan area. Kansas City, Kansas is abbreviated as "KCK" to differentiate it from Kansas City, Missouri, after which it is named. It is part of a consolidated city-county government known as the "Unified Government". Wyandotte County also includes the independent cities of Bonner Springs and Edwardsville. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 145,786 residents. It is situated at Kaw Point, which is the junction of the Missouri and Kansas rivers.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe, which is 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Omaha, Nebraska City in Nebraska, United States

Omaha is the largest city in the state of Nebraska and the county seat of Douglas County. Omaha is in the Midwestern United States on the Missouri River, about 10 miles (15 km) north of the mouth of the Platte River. The nation's 40th-largest city, Omaha's 2018 estimated population was 466,061.



There, McDaniels began singing in jazz clubs, achieving note with the Les McCann Trio, and came to the attention of Sy Waronker of Liberty Records. [2] [3]

Les McCann American musician

Leslie Coleman McCann is an American jazz pianist and vocalist.

Liberty Records American record label

Liberty Records was an American record label started by chairman Simon Waronker in 1955 with Al Bennett as president and Theodore Keep as chief engineer. It was reactivated in 2001 in the United Kingdom and had two previous revivals.

After recording two unsuccessful singles and an album, McDaniels teamed with producer Snuff Garrett, with whom he recorded his first hit, "A Hundred Pounds of Clay", which reached number 3 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1961 and sold over one million copies, earning gold disc status. [1] Its follow-up, "A Tear", was less successful but his third single with Garrett, "Tower of Strength", co-written by Burt Bacharach, reached number 5 and won McDaniels his second gold record. [2] "Tower of Strength" reached number 49 in the UK Singles Chart, losing out to Frankie Vaughan's chart-topping version. [4]

Thomas Lesslie "Snuff" Garrett was an American record producer whose most famous work was during the 1960s and 1970s. His nickname is a derivation of Levi Garrett, a brand of snuff.

"A Hundred Pounds Of Clay" is a song written by Kay Rogers, Luther Dixon, and Bob Elgin and performed by Gene McDaniels. The song reached #3 on the Billboard chart and #11 on the R&B chart in 1961. The song appeared on his 1961 album 100 Lbs. Of Clay!

<i>Billboard</i> Hot 100 Song chart in U.S

The Billboard Hot 100 is the music industry standard record chart in the United States for songs, published weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on sales, radio play, and online streaming in the United States.

In 1962, McDaniels appeared performing "Another Tear Falls" in the movie It's Trad, Dad! , directed by Richard Lester. He continued to have minor hit records, including "Chip Chip", "Point Of No Return" and "Spanish Lace", each in 1962, but his suave style of singing gradually became less fashionable. In 1965 he moved to Columbia Records, with little success, and in 1968, after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, he left the US to live in Denmark and Sweden, where he concentrated on songwriting. He returned to the US in 1971, and recorded thereafter as Eugene McDaniels. [2] In 1965 "Point Of No Return" was recorded by the British R&B band Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames on their EP Fame At Last.

<i>Its Trad, Dad!</i> 1962 film by Richard Lester

It's Trad, Dad! (1962), known in the U.S. as Ring-A-Ding Rhythm, is a musical comedy featuring performances by a variety of dixieland jazz bands and rock-and-roll singers. The film was one of the first put out by Amicus Productions, a company known predominantly for horror films. It was director Richard Lester's first feature film.

Richard Lester American film director

Richard Lester Liebman is a retired American film director based in the United Kingdom. He is known for his work with The Beatles in the 1960s and his work on the Superman film series in the 1980s.

Chip Chip 1961 song performed by Gene McDaniels

"Chip Chip" is a song written by Jeff Barry, Clifford Crawford, and Arthur Resnick and performed by Gene McDaniels. The song reached #10 on the Billboard chart in 1962. The song reached #2 in Australia.

After the late 1960s, McDaniels turned his attention to a more black consciousness form, and his best-known song in this genre was "Compared to What", a jazz-soul protest song made famous (and into a hit) by Les McCann and Eddie Harris on their album Swiss Movement , and also covered by Roberta Flack, Ray Charles, Della Reese, John Legend, the Roots, Sweetwater and others. [3] McDaniels also attained the top spot on the chart as a songwriter.

Soul music is a popular music genre that originated in the African American community in the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s. It combines elements of African-American gospel music, rhythm and blues and jazz. Soul music became popular for dancing and listening in the United States, where record labels such as Motown, Atlantic and Stax were influential during the Civil Rights Movement. Soul also became popular around the world, directly influencing rock music and the music of Africa.

A protest song is a song that is associated with a movement for social change and hence part of the broader category of topical songs. It may be folk, classical, or commercial in genre.

Eddie Harris American saxophonist

Eddie Harris was an American jazz musician, best known for playing tenor saxophone and for introducing the electrically amplified saxophone. He was also fluent on the electric piano and organ. His best-known compositions are "Freedom Jazz Dance", recorded and popularized by Miles Davis in 1966, and "Listen Here."

In 1974, Roberta Flack reached number 1 with his "Feel Like Makin' Love" (not to be confused with the Bad Company song of the same name), which received a Grammy Award nomination. McDaniels also received a BMI award for outstanding radio airplay; at the time of the award, the song had already had over five million plays.

In the early 1970s, McDaniels recorded on the Atlantic label, which released his albums Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse and Outlaw. Writing in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), Robert Christgau dismissed Outlaw as "a cultural ripoff", consisting of "vaguely left doggerel plus a few jazzy harmonies". [5]


In the 1980s, McDaniels recorded an album with the percussionist Terry Silverlight, which has not yet been released. In 2005, McDaniels released Screams & Whispers on his own record label.

In 2009, it was announced that McDaniels was to release a new album, Evolution's Child, which featured his lyrics, and a number of songs composed or arranged with pianist Ted Brancato. Some of the songs featured jazz musician Ron Carter on concert bass and Terri Lyne Carrington on drums. McDaniel's "Jagger the Dagger" was featured on the Tribe Vibes breakbeat compilation album, after it had been sampled by A Tribe Called Quest.

McDaniels also appeared in films. They included It's Trad, Dad! (1962, released in the United States as Ring-A-Ding Rhythm), which was directed by Richard Lester. McDaniels also appeared in The Young Swingers (1963). He is briefly seen singing in the choir in the 1974 film Uptown Saturday Night . He was the original voice actor for "Nasus", a champion in the computer game League of Legends . [6]

In 2010 he launched a series of YouTube videos on his website, featuring his music and thoughts on some of his creations.

Personal life and death

McDaniels lived as a self-described "hermit" in the state of Maine.

McDaniels died peacefully on July 29, 2011, at his home, survived by his third wife and six children. [7]



YearAlbum Record Label
1960In Times Like These Liberty Records
Somestimes I'm Happy Sometimes I'm Blue
1961100 Lbs. of Clay!
Tower of Strength
1962Hit After Hit
Gene McDaniels Sings Movie Memories
1963The Wonderful World of Gene McDaniels
1966The Facts of Life
1970Outlaw Atlantic Records
1971 Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse
1975Natural Juices Ode Records
2004Screams and WhispersGenepool Records

As Universal Jones

YearAlbum Record Label
1972Universal Jones Vol. 1 MGM Records


YearTitles (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Peak chart positions Record Label Album
1960"In Times Like These"
b/w Once Before" (Non-album track)
Liberty Records In Times Like These
"Green Door"
b/w "The Facts of Life"
Sometimes I'm Happy Sometimes I'm Blue
1961"A Hundred Pounds Of Clay"
b/w "Come On Take A Chance" (Non-album track)
311100 Lbs. Of Clay!
"Take Good Care Of Her"
b/w "Are You Sincere"
"A Tear"
b/w "She's Come Back" (Non-album track)
31Tower Of Strength
"Tower Of Strength"
b/w "The Secret"
"Chip Chip"
b/w "Another Tear Falls" (Non-album track)
10Hit After Hit
b/w "Chapel Of Tears" (Non-album track)
99Tower Of Strength
"Point Of No Return"
b/w "Warmer Than A Whisper" (Non-album track)
2123Hit After Hit
"Spanish Lace"
b/w "Somebody's Waiting" (Non-album track)
31Spanish Lace
1963"The Puzzle"
b/w "Cry Baby Cry" (Non-album track)
Golden Greats
"It's A Lonely Town (Lonely Without You)"
b/w "False Friends"
6430Non-album tracks
"Anyone Else"
b/w "The Old Country" (from The Wonderful World Of Gene McDaniels)
1964"Make Me A Present Of You"
b/w "In Times Like These" (from In Times Like These)
100 Lbs. Of Clay!
"(There Goes The) Forgotten Man"
b/w "Emily"
Non-album tracks
1965"Walk With A Winner"
b/w "A Miracle" (Non-album track)
The Very Best Of Gene McDaniels
"Will It Last Forever"
b/w "Hang On (Just A Little Bit Longer)"
Non-album tracks
1966"Something Blue"
b/w "'Cause I Love You So"
Columbia Records
1967"Touch Of Your Lips"
b/w "Sweet Lover No More"
1971"Tell Me Mr. President"
b/w "The Lord Is Back"
Atlantic Records
b/w "Ol' Heartbreak Top Ten"
MGM Records

As Universal Jones

YearTitles (A-side, B-side)Peak chart positions Record Label Album
b/w "Feeling That Glow"
11537 MGM Records Universal Jones Vol. 1
"We All Know A Lot Of Things But It Don't Never Show"
b/w "Tuesday Morning"


YearArtistAlbum Record Label
1969 Bobby Hutcherson Now! (Bobby Hutcherson album) Blue Note

Produced by Eugene McDaniels


Video game roles

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  1. 1 2 3 Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 136. ISBN   0-214-20512-6.
  2. 1 2 3 Biography by Bruce Eder at
  3. 1 2 Richard Williams, Obituary, The Guardian, 15 August 2011.
  4. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 338 & 583. ISBN   1-904994-10-5.
  5. Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: M". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies . Ticknor & Fields. ISBN   089919026X . Retrieved March 7, 2019 via
  6. Peel, Jeremy. "League of Legends champion Nasus' voice to be switched after death of original actor". PCGamesN. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  7. "GENE MACDANIELS PASSES AWAY | Cashbox Magazine Canada". Retrieved 2012-03-25.