It took Fontella 28 years to get paid
Biography and Guitar Lessons
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In 1965, Fontella Bass was the first female artist to sell over a million copies of her hit Rescue Me for the legendary label Chess. Only Chuck Berry had previously reached such figures for the label.
Chess was set in Chicago and a rival to Berry Gordy’s Motown label located in Detroit. Both labels competed for the white radio audience with Chess coming from a Blues recording background, Motown with its house band The Funk Brothers.
Naturally, Fontella was excited that her song, for which she had been assured she was going to be credited as writing, sold so many copies.
However, when it came time to get paid, she recalls “When it came time to collect my first royalty check, I looked at it, saw how little it was, tore it up and threw it back across the desk.”
She was told by her manager not to worry about it, of course, she would be paid, eventually…
When eventually never happened, Fontella started complaining again to no use. After not being able to let go of her unfair treatment, she realized that she had gotten a reputation as a trouble maker.
Getting tired of the music business, Fontella moved with her husband to Paris in 1969 to pursue a recording career in Europe instead.
During the 70s and 80s, Bass had little chart success with the few albums she appeared on.
In 1993 she heard her song Rescue Me on a TV ad by American Express. This was clearly too much to take for her as she sued American Express and actually won, collecting $50.000.
It had taken her 28 years to get a paycheck for the song she wrote.
Rescue Me – Step 1
Before we look at how to play each section in detail, let’s have a listen to the complete song and study a Bars and Beats chart.
Go to Rescue Me step 1.
Rescue Me – Step 2 (Free Preview)
To develop a good guitar part for it, you must ensure you can play these two chords anywhere on the neck. Let’s practice with the band.
Go to Rescue Me step 2.
Rescue Me – Step 3
Pair this with A and D and you have the complete progression for the verse of Rescue Me to play with the band on a loop.
Go to Rescue Me step 3.
Rescue Me – Step 4
To work out what chords we can play instead of just the melody, we must harmonize the A major scale.
Go to Rescue Me step 4.
Rescue Me – Step 5
I’ve made five custom-made exercises for this, see them as an introduction to learning the Major Pentatonic.
Go to Rescue Me step 5.
Rescue Me – Step 6
Remember this is still an exercise, keep exploring that fret board!
Go to Rescue Me step 6.
Rescue Me – Step 7
And don’t forget to play the turnaround both as a melody, as well as chords.
Go to Rescue Me step 7.
Rescue Me – Step 8
If you practiced well, you could do this in an improvised way, picking out different chord shapes as the song moves along.
Go to Rescue Me step 8.
Chords and Guitar Lessons
Improvising means to use pentatonic scales to build licks, slide into chords, add extra rhythms, as well as moving between chord shapes.
Go to Rescue Me lyrics.
Including detailed, but bite-sized explanations on how the music theory of each song is applied to the neck.
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