Today’s club member is Arlester “Dyke” Christian.
“Dyke” Arlester Christian was born in Buffalo, New York in 1943. In 1965 he sang and played bass guitar with the O’Jays’ backing band, The Blazers. Dyke and some of the Blazers were left in Phoenix, Arizona after the O’Jays found that they couldn’t afford to bring the band back to Buffalo. In order to raise the money needed to get home, the stranded musicians decided to continue working as a group.
Bass player Dyke became the lead singer, they added some local musicians and started playing the local clubs. The band was soon discovered by local producers Art Barrett and Austin Coleman who released “Funky Broadway” , a tune Dyke had written to go with a dance he had invented. The record was first released on the Phoenix-based Artco label towards the end of 1966. A local disc jockey, Tony Evans, started playing the record which rapidly picked up airplay on other stations in the Southwest. It was licensed in December 1966 by top Los Angeles “Oldies but Goodies” DJ, Art Laboe for his Original Sound label. The rest is history.
On Original Sound 64, it reached number 65 on the Top 100 and number 17 on the R&B chart in 1967. Dyke’s recording of “Funky Broadway” went on to sell almost a million records and was later covered by several other artists, notably Wilson Pickett, who had a hit with it on the Atlantic label. Dyke and the Blazers went out and toured heavily on the back of their hit, appearing at most major venues including the legendary Apollo Theatre in New York. Between tours, Dyke recorded with the Blazers at Audio Recorders Studio in Phoenix, where the classic “The Wrong House” and “So Sharp” were cut. Arlester Christian (Dyke) returned to Phoenix whenever he could, dispite his success, and it was here that he was shot dead by a deranged man in the street where he usually hung out. He died on March 13, 1971.
Dyke and The Blazers were inducted into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (AMEHOF) on April 17, 2005 at the Dodge Theater in Phoenix, AZ.
Here’s Dyke and the band with some of that James Brown funk sound. Have a good one!
“I never loved another person the way I loved myself”. – Mae West