Curtis Mayfield released his landmark single “Freddie’s Dead,” this week (July 28, 1972).
“Freddie’s Dead” was the first single to be released off Curtis Mayfield’s masterpiece, the soundtrack to Super Fly.
Only a week earlier, the Curtom Record Co. purchased a new building in Chicago, with a 16-track recording studio in it.
The 7,000 square-foot building was set up so Curtis Mayfield could focus on his growing stable of artists, which included The Impressions, Gene Chandler, Fred Cash, June Conquest, Ruby Jones and others.
The label also signed Gene Chandler as an artist and formed a new boutique label with the singer.
The new label between Curtis Mayfield and Gene Chandler was dubbed MadTad and was distributed by Scepter Records.
The Naturals were the main artists on MadTad and they were produced by Curtis Mayfield.
While Super Fly came with a strong anti-drug message, Curtis Mayfield might not have been following his own advice.
According to Larry Harris, who wrote the book “And Party Every Day: The Inside Story of Casablanca Records,” he once delivered a package filled with Cocaine to Curtis Mayfield.
In 1972, Larry Harris was working as a promotional man under Neil Bogart at Buddah Records, which was handling the distribution of Mayfield’s label Curtom at the time.
The book tells one tale where Curtis and his entourage rolled a joint that was “3 feet long and 4 to 6 inches wide,” backstage, during a taping of an ABC special.
Another incident from “And Party Every Day” recalls Curtis Mayfield doing drugs that were more hard-core.
“He called me at the office one day and asked me to meet him at his hotel suite. When I arrived I found him in bed with several women,” Larry Harris recounted. “He called me over, handed me two thousand dollars, and gave me an address where I was to pick up a package for him. I went to this seedy part of town knowing full well that I had two grand on me and that the package was not going to contain a pastrami sandwich.
“Carrying around so much cocaine made me very paranoid. I returned to Curtis’ suite but this time I was not invited in. He open the door a crack, took the blow from me and slammed the door shut. No thank you – nothing. Probably shouldn’t have expected a gratuity either.”