“One can only wonder what might have happened if he had gotten the attention he so richly deserved. A tragedy for sure...” (ALLMUSIC)
Fugi was a funk/soul band signed to Chess subsidiary, Cadet Records in the late 1960’s. The brains behind this outfit was singer-songwriter/producer, Ellington Jordan, a musician whose music may be out there in the grand spectrum of sound, but whose name remained relatively unknown. Their music was heavily influenced by the acid-rock side of Jimi Hendrix, with a sound that captured the spacey/druggy elements of Funkadelic!
Originally from Los Angeles, Ellington Jordan moved to Detroit where he met and collaborated with Black Merda, a Detroit group who were also signed to Chess (thanks to Fugi). He took on the moniker Fugi, and in 1968, with Black Merda’s backing, released the psych-funk track Mary Don’t Take Me on No Bad Trip. That same year they released their one and only album, which shared its name with their first single.
As a writer, one of his most well-known songs was Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind, for which he co-wrote with US singer, Billy Foster. In her autobiography, Rage to Survive, Etta James wrote that she heard the song outlined by her friend Ellington “Fugi” Jordan when she visited him in prison. According to her account, she wrote the rest of the song with Jordan, but for tax reasons gave her song-writing credit to her partner at the time, Billy Foster.
Regretfully, Fugi only released a couple more singles in the 1970’s, before fading into obscurity. By the 1990’s, Jordan had relocated to Fresno, where he was rediscovered by a young group of hip hop fans. His 1994 CD, released under the name Fugi (or Fuji depending who you ask), sold some 20,000 copies and featured what might be Fresno’s first rap anthem — which birthed the line “the cold-blooded city they call the ’No.” He returned to live performing in the mid-2000s when wider interest in both Fugi and Black Merda made a reunion possible!
Red Moon (Parts 1&2) was released as a single in 1971 on Detroit’s Grand Junction label and, with its perfect balance of tight funk and trippy psych-rock, is a groove well-worth sharing! Check it out above.