The Ash Grove: Richard Dedeaux, Poet, Watts Prophet: R.I.P.

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———————————————————— http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=a3dd75ec6a&e=4f9ed2a7d1 The Ash Grove Richard Dedeaux, Poet, Watts Prophet: R.I.P. Richard Dedeaux, Poet, Watts Prophet: R.I.P. I’d like to add recollections of Richard Dedeaux to the fine obit, below. Richard performed at the Ash Grove individually at the Ash Grove, as did his friends Amde Hamilton and Otis O’Solomon before and after forming the Watts Prophets. If memory serves, Buddy Collette introduced Richard to the club. They were outstanding, individually, and incredible as a group; adding dynamic movement and ‘street’ acting, confrontational to love, in the performance. And they did, in fact, set the ground for hip-hop. I had the pleasure of producing shows with Gil Scott Heron, starting in the late 1970’s; in a benefit for the People’s College of Law. Gil is given that honor, but driving back from LAX, he asked to be introduced to the Watts Prophets, his idols. We spent an afternoon with them in Leimert Park, and Gil detailed just how much he learned from and loved what they did. And, of course, they were his and my guests at the performance, which they loved. The last time I saw Richard was at the Ash Grove 50^th anniversary, at UCLA, in 2008. He was already living in Washington, but still did the organizing for their appearance. It was great being with them, and their performance and a workshop were incredible. I’m sad, not only for the loss, but that this wonderful recognition didn’t come during the past two decades when these geniuses deserved and needed it. Ed Richard Dedeaux dies at 73; member of Watts Prophets spoken-word group The Watts Prophets formed in L.A. after the 1965 riots. Their improvisational word riffs are considered an early form of hip-hop. http://www.latimes.com/obituaries/la-me-richard-dedeaux-20131209,0,3368841.story#ixzz2n3iZkX78 By David Colker December 8, 2013, 7:47 p.m. The Watts Prophets performing group, formed by three young poets in the wake of the 1965 Watts riots, was known for hard-edged commentary. But perhaps the most feisty of the trio was Richard Dedeaux, who once challenged Muhammad Ali (http://www.latimes.com/topic/sports/boxing/muhammad-ali-PECLB000061.topic) to a poetry fight. “We were going to a reception after a performance at an event at the L.A. Convention Center, walking behind Muhammad Ali and his entourage,” said another member of the group, Amde Hamilton. Dedeaux ran up to the famed boxer and sometime poet and tapped him on the shoulder. “Richard said, ‘Hey man, you are the greatest fighter in the world, I’ll give you that. But you keep saying you are the greatest poet, and that’s not right. We’re the greatest poets,'” Hamilton said. With a crowd watching in a hotel lobby, they faced off — Ali did a poem, and the Watts Prophets answered with a medley of poems, punctuated by their improvisational word riffs that music historians now consider a forerunner of hip-hop. Ali threw in the towel, admitting that when it came to poetry, he had been defeated. “That was all Richard,” Hamilton said, “creating that little incident.” Dedeaux, 73, died Tuesday at his home in Shelton, Wash., after a 10-year battle with cancer, said his son, Steven. Hamilton said he and the other remaining Watts Prophet, Otis O’Solomon, would probably continue to perform as a duo. “But that third voice is gone,” Hamilton said. “A very powerful voice.” Richard Anthony Dedeaux was born Sept, 24, 1940, in DeLisle, Miss., and grew up in New Orleans. He came to Los Angeles when he was about 12, Hamilton said. After the destructive events in Watts of August 1965, many social, economic and cultural programs were started in the area. A lot of them fizzled, but the Watts Writers Workshop, founded by screenwriter and novelist Budd Schulberg, proved to be one of the more successful. It brought together the three men who began doing poetry performances as the Watts Prophets in the community and eventually across the country. Dedeaux wrote some of the more biting pieces the group did, including “I Remember Watts.” “To light up New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, New York and most major cities of the world,” the spoken poem begins, “it takes trillions, and billions and millions and millions of watts. To light up Los Angeles, it only took one.” The poem, which railed against police brutality, described officers “crackin’ our heads open whenever they choose, threatening us like we were fools. That’s what lit Watts’ fuse.” Although the group’s poems on nonpolitical matters didn’t get as much attention, they performed works on a variety of topics both as a group and individually. Dedeaux recorded several poems, backed by jazz musicians, about love and sex. The group never got a major recording deal. “When we started, we hoped that we could tell the truth and make a living at it,” Hamilton said. The three men took on other work — Dedeaux was an art framer, working out of his home — while performing and conducting workshops on occasion. When Dedeaux became ill, he didn’t tell many people. “He never wanted to be a burden,” Hamilton said. He moved away from Los Angeles to be near family but lived mostly on his own. And he kept writing, still combative. In his poem “Second Chance,” he spoke of his burial. Lock My Coffin but please leave a spare key inside. Because you see If there’s any way To cheat the Grim Reaper. It will surely be done by me! In addition to his son Steven, Dedeaux is survived by sons Jamal, Justin and Jason; daughters Angelique West and Felicia Darensbourg; sister Sheila Dedeaux ,and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His three marriages ended in divorce. david.colker@latimes.com (mailto:david.colker@latimes.com) Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/) ============================================================ Copyright © 2013 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. 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