Black Merda were formed in Detroit in 1968 with Anthony Hawkins on guitar and vocals, V. Veasey on bass, guitar and vocals, Tyrone Hite on drums and vocals, later adding Anthony’s younger brother Charles Hawkins on guitar and vocals. Essentially they were session musicians in the R&B scene playing with Edwin Starr (He named them The Soul Agents) and other Motown acts as well as other labels that signed singers and needed experienced bands to make their records. Ellington ‘Fugi’ Jordan’s, Mary Don’t You Take Me On No Bad Trip from 1968 for example). See In Deep post below:
But originally they were more Soul and R&B orientated, regularly appearing with bands from the Sixties scene in Detroit. Later they played with The Temptations but at some point they got the Hendrix bug, started listening to Cream and The Who and changed direction – they have become known as the first all black Rock band.
This band probably lacks the songwriting prowess of the bands that influenced them, but they have that sound from then and happily being lesser known, you probably haven’t heard many songs by Black Merda before. Sadly it’s hard to hear Purple Haze, Strange Brew or Magic Bus AGAIN and however mind-blowingly brilliant these songs might have been they are so overplayed – finding bands from that era, that have that feeling and that sound is a real delight. Black Merda slot in somewhere between Psychedelic Soul, Hendrix and Cream, Sly and the burgeoning Funk scene that exploded into the seventies. It was an era of changing times as black and white music fused together – Sly And the family Stone were a black and white band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience were a black and white band, Love were a black and white band and later Rufus were a black and white band (and even later Prince).
Their two albums, Black Merda released on Chess in 1970 and Long Burn The Fire released on Chess subsidiary, Janus in 1972 are extremely hard to find. They were re released by Funky Delicacies in 1996 and as usual with obscure reissues they too have become hard to find. So venture out, find their records and send them to me (Ha Ha) because I don’t have them in the archive, but please make sure you keep copies for yourself.
In recent years they have reformed releasing two albums, Renaissance in 2006 and Force Of Nature 2009. Sadly Tyrone Hite died in 2004.
By the time they came to record their second album they decided to change their name to Mer-Da. Tyrone Hite had gone and session drummer Bob Crowder played on the album.
The Folks From Mother’s Mixer is a compilation CD that features all the tracks from their first two albums.
This is their first album:
Prophet (A. Hawkins, V. Veasey) – 2:52
Think of Me (A. Hawkins, V. Veasey, C. Hawkins, T. Hite) – 2:31
Cynthy-Ruth (V. Veasey) – 3:03
Over and Over (A. Hawkins, V. Veasey, C. Hawkins, T. Hite) – 5:29
Ashamed (A. Hawkins, V. Veasey) – 3:50
Reality (V. Veasey) – 1:59
Windsong (A. Hawkins, V. Veasey, C. Hawkins, T. Hite) – 4:12
Good Luck (A. Hawkins, V. Veasey) – 3:45
That’s the Way It Goes (V. Veasey) – 3:15
I Don’t Want to Die (A. Hawkins, V. Veasey, C. Hawkins, T. Hite) – 3:51
Set Me Free (A. Hawkins, V. Veasey) – 0:28
Before they became Black Merda and as The Soul Agents they released a single of Hendrix’s Foxy Lady collected here on a Funky Delicacies rarities compilation.
01. Black Merda — Cinthy-Ruth 00:00
02. Linnie Walker With Black Merda — People Let Me Know 02:59
03. Soul Agents* — Foxy Lady 6:13
04. VC L. Veasey — Got Me Running 9:48
05. VC L. Veasey — As Sisters And Brothers 12:36
06. VC L. Veasey — We’ve Got The Power 17:16
07. Black Merda — Reality 23:42
08. Linnie Walker With Black Merda — DArn Well 25:42
09. Soul Agents* — Foxy Lady (Instrumental) 28:56
10. VC L. Veasey — Do Nothing Wrong 32:09
11. VC L. Veasey — The Original Man 35:55