SINGER / BASS GUITARIST / WRITER
Johnny Flippen was an intricate member of The Fatback Band.
The Fatback Band was known for our insidious grooves and funky rhythms, that’s all you would hear from the group. We were put in this box by the label. As a funk group, the company and radio didn’t want to hear anything else from us. In the group, we had two great singers, Johnny King and Johnny Flippen. The two worked together for years before Fatback. They spent many years with Bill Doggett (Honky Tonk).
I spoke to the record company about pushing a few of our vocal tunes, to no avail. I think they missed out on a few good tunes that got lost in the albums. When they did decide to push one, they went with the worst singer in the band. They chose the one person who couldn’t carry a tune, if he had to buy one. That was me. This time I was trying to tell them to go with the funky tune. They said, “We don’t want to step on any Dj’s toe. We feel that songs would be an intruding on their style of Dj’n. However, if you insisted on making this song it will not get any airplay, plus we won’t give you any promotional help,”(funds). That means, they would put it out and that’s all. The record company did not want to intimidate the DJs.” These were all the excuses they gave me for not putting “King Tim III” on the “A” side of the album but instead put “She is my Candy Sweet.” However, they did let me put “King Tim III” on the B side. I didn’t want to put a record out without any national push or promotion, and I wasn’t in the position to do it myself, so I went along with them. That’s how “King Tim III” got out, before the other rappers. It didn’t get any air play until after Sugar Hill. I was getting feedback on how we missed out by going with the wrong side from the promotion team and Dj’s a few of team was Flippeng it over. That’s history now! We are glad that we are part of it.
Johnny Flippen was Born and raised in Brooklyn, a real New Yorker. He was such a great bassist that it overshadowed his singing. One thing that festinated me was his singing and playing at the same time. It didn’t interfere with the groove, he kept that same funky drive all the time. I felt like Flip didn’t get credit as a Bassist that he should have. If you go back and listen to some early Fatback and hear some things Flip did with the bass that was adding funk that guys were not doing. He was the sound of Fatback. Any Bassist that came in the band had to be a duplication of Flip; if he wasn’t, then it wasn’t Fatback. Everything was built around the drums and Bass. Flip played a Melodic percussion bass. We were one of the few that put the bass in your face. I knew when I started this newsletter it was about the vocal songs that we recorded. As I began writing and looking back at what great talent we had in the band, I feel blessed to have been surrounded by them. Flip was not only a bassist, songwriter, percussionist, pianist, singer, composer and a lover, his life is music. His Father was a musician and instilled in him to be a well-rounded musician for all season. I don’t care what genre of music you wanted to play he could play it. A great human being to be around.
(Article courtesy of Bandletter.com, 10th September 2011)
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