But how do you get somebody as popular and as busy as Stevie Wonder to write a tune especially for you? It seems Stevie was so pleased with the first Rufus album that featured his 'Maybe Your Baby', that when Bob Monaco, producer of Rufus, approached the people at Motown for more 'Wonder Material', Stevie expressed interest in writing a tune especially for the group.A meeting was set and Stevie presented the song. Rufus loved it and cut it. So presently, the group is riding high on the waves of a chart breaking hit record across the country.
I asked Rufus what they could say to those who desire to make music, and become famous. How do you become a star? Andre' stared across the conference table at me, locked his hands, and started rappin'.
"The first thing is to understand yourself in relationship to what your doing.In other words, to find that the only glory behind it is made by other people.It's not glorious.It's self-satisfying.There's a lot of gratification in it, if that's your profession.You see, we do it as living, but we also do it as a profession".
Chaka chimed in, her dark eyes flashing. "We love it! We really love it!" She spoke emphatically and with dedication.
Bobby, the quiet but dynamic bass player, spoke for the first time. "To coin a phrase, 99.5% don't get it! You've got to be 100% into it, and then things will unfold in front of you". He looked at me with sincerity. "I'll tell you what I'm gonna do if Rufus makes me famous". There was a sensitvity in the room; a hush, as we waited for this soft-spoken man to share his secret with us. "I'm gonna help all the people I can..., because I was so poor..., and I was..." He swallowed hard remembering that poverty as he spoke about it."I have been on the road and I have paid some heavy dues.I know what it is! And if I can just help anybody.If I can just help as many young musicians as possible".
There were examples of what Andre' said right in the group. Take Tony Maiden, A Gemini, and most quiet member of Rufus during the interview. He hid beneath a large, floppy hat, but towards the end of the talk session, he told me that in addition to guitar, he plays several other instruments including drums, bass, and piano. At twenty-five, Tony has been playing guitar for nearly twenty years. He can cross easily from a hip, jazz style into acid rock that could easily be compared to the musicianship of Grand Funk. His first guitar recalled images of the one my grandfather made us one summer, with his cigar box, and a bunch of rubber bands. That was Tony's first inspiration and he is till studying guitar, and perfecting his art form.
Nate Morgan has been pounding keyboards since elementary school. Until age twelve, he was heavily involved with rhythm & blues with gospel chord changes. Suddenly, he became a disciple of McCoy Tyner, John Coltrane, and Cecil Taylor. He discovered jazz.His work background encompasses a list of greats to name a few:Pharaoh Sanders, Gato Barbieri, and Willie Hutch on the soundtrack album for Pam Grier's 'Foxy Brown'.
Kevin Murphy has more than fifteen years of professional experience and training at the piano, and has played with The Crystals, Del Shannon, and Brian Holland, in addition to seeing Rufus through every one of it's personnel changes.
Bobby Watson, another new member, is just twenty-four and has played with several local Los Angeles bands in addition to touring Europe with Rhythm Rebellion & session work with High Voltage and Billy Preston.
Andre' Fischer not only is an impressive drummer, but his associations in the music industry cover a wide variety of artists, including O.C.Smith, Curtis Mayfield, Jerry Butler, Clark Terry, James Moody, and The Impressions.He too plays several other instruments including the piano.
Rufus is a refreshing example of music makers who know where they came from, remember where they've been, and are sure about where they're going. This funky explosive group is definitely on the rise, but stardom & fame will have a new meaning, a special satisfaction for Rufus because their joy and substance is born out of a deep & genuine need to share their creativity. It is not always the dollar bill or the diamond rings & things that motivate success.It is often a deep commitment and loveat what one is doing, and a certain dedication to that purpose.
Rufus believes in people, and realizes they can not be successful without the people's support. Those people who make the music feel good making it, and the people who buy the records, buy them because the music makes them feel good too! Rufus finds it's biggest reward in that exchange.
Perhaps Chaka Khan summed it all up when she sang "Tell Me Something Good, Tell Me That You Like It!.