"I was born in New Orleans, in the heart of the French Quarter, the very hub of Cajun, Blues and down-island rhythms. My mother told me that whenever music was played, I kicked really hard in her womb. I was born to be a drummer! Probably 'cuz of that exotic Creole and Dominican blood coursing through my veins..."As a toddler, Connor was drawn to marching parades and the "second-line funeral bands" playing Dixieland jazz through the streets of New Orleans and loved to hear his father, home on a three-month leave, sing Calypso songs around the house. Imitating the drums, Connor banged on pots and pans all-day and cried hard when his mother had to take them away to cook family meals.
"[Black] musicians back then didn't have Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Jesse Jackson to motivate them. We had to find inspiration from our faith and within our hearts.Connor was 20 when Little Richard's band toured the United States in 1955. They played all the major theaters, including such prestigious venues as the Turner Arena and Howard Theater in Washington, D.C.; the Royal Theater in Baltimore, Maryland; the Apollo Theater in Harlem and the Paramount Theater with Alan Freed in Brooklyn.
Little Richard was an ingenious promoter. To draw attention to his band and ensure they could perform on stage, he had to show bigots that the band wouldn't threaten their way of life. Little Richard promoted the band and avoided racial prejudice by insisting the musicians wear thick pancake makeup and act effeminate!"
"The Civil Rights Act may have been passed in 1964, but Rock 'n' Roll music brought young people and the world together a decade earlier. We got respect and power; our popularity cut across racial lines."When Little Richard "retired" for the ministry in 1957, legendary performer Sam Cooke took over The Upsetters and Connor again toured the United States. During breaks between bookings, Connor toured with other talented artists like Jackie Wilson, the original Coasters, and "Big" Joe Turner. He recorded with "Champion" Jack Dupree, Professor Longhair, and Dee Clark. His drumming can be heard on Clark's classic hit, "Hey Little Girl (In the High School Sweater)."
"I favor school literacy and after-school programs. I tell young people they don't need drugs, alcohol or cigarettes to live or perform. They just need to connect with God to "turn-on" their natural gifts, then live with honor and integrity. I also encourage people of color to exercise their hard-won civil rights. There's no excuse now. Instead of complaining what they don't like about government, they need to say what they do want by voting in every election! If I hadn't become a drummer, I would have been a preacher."Well, Connor, you're Rockin' and Rollin' again; Keep on Shakin' and Keep-A-Knockin'
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