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April 14, 2008

My interview with Carole King

I was treated to some fine singing while doing a skit for "The Colbert Report." None other than Carole King was the lady at the piano, and it was a treat to hear her perform some tunes from her venerable songbook. "Tapestry" was album of the year in 1971 and was awarded three other Grammys that same year. “You’ve Got a Friend” was song of the year.

I was immediately struck by the fact that the years have accumulated so quickly. It really did not seem like 37 years have passed by with such speed, but here we are.  After the show I got a chance to talk to Carole for a few minutes and had a fun time strolling down memory lane; back when I got traded to the Lakers from Milwaukee, I had the pleasure of sharing dinner with Carole and some mutual friends.

Carole has moved from Southern California to Idaho but still has an intense passion for the issues that she supports. She was very pleased to see how Herbie Hancock’s disc "River" was album of the year this year at the Grammys. We both agreed that Herbie had escaped a “label dungeon” that sometime limits a recording's reach because of the way it is labeled and marketed. We both hope a day will come when no label can interfere with a recording's success.

Carole King's website.


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matty wegehaupt

Mr. Abdul-Jabbar:

thanks for sharing this nice scene with us. I don't mean to change the topic, but since you brought it up a little, I wanted to ask you more. . .

Could you talk a little bit more about what it was like coming to Milwaukee as a young man? I'm a Wisconsinite, but am too young to know more about the circumstances of your coming and leaving. Sure, I've read about it, but I would really be curious to hear about your memories directly, and also maybe some thoughts you have on the whole period many years removed. Do you still feel any connection (good or bad) with Milwaukee?

Like I said, your time in Milwaukee was before mine, but I'm sure I can speak for many of a younger generation in saying how very thankful we were to have such a towering superstar such as yourself as part of our sports history, even if we could only experience it through history. Together with Hank Aaron, you stand as two towering figures of sport in general, but certainly also as particular heroes for the African-American community. Given how white our state is, this is a rather ironic quirk of history (kind of like how we now have two Jewish senators! but a very small Jewish population overall).

Thanks for blogging - the yoga, meditation, black history, music, and sport - what a combination! You're our nation's premier renaissance man.


It's always so nice and refreshing to read your blog.
I truly think you have many great histories to share with us, please keep them coming.


Good interview. Not to put the pressure on you, but you should do one of these on camera interviews with Herbie Hancock as well.



you should a talk show!!

chuck johnson


On your special day be sure to listen to the music you love.
I'll be keeping you in mind while I listen to some hard-bop to celebrate your debut on this planet.

Keep swingin'.



Hi Kareem,

What a special treat! Thank you for sharing your interview with Carole King. It was very enjoyable and MUCH TOO brief! You should do more of them. While listening to the two of you exchange thoughts about music, and being aware of your passion for our history (“Black Profiles In Courage” and “On The Shoulders of Giants”) as well as your love of jazz, it occurs to me that you might be interested in learning about another “giant” on whose shoulders many have stood. He is a Cleveland man by the name of Winston Willis who, in 1962, at the tender age of 21 opened a jazz club called The Jazz Temple in a racially restricted area of Cleveland called University Circle and dared to become outrageously successful. All the jazz greats appeared there. John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Cannonball Adderly, Dizzie Gillespie, Dinah Washington, Horace Silver, Wes Montgomery, Art Blakey etc. and a host of others. (Please see the following Links):


The club was bombed just a couple of years after it opened, and because Winston was a fearless, wealthy, militantly outspoken young Black man who went on to purchase properties and build a first of its kind Black real estate empire, in doing so, he unwittingly set into motion an enmity that begat a vicious conspiracy that ultimately led to his economic destruction.

Winston is my brother, so I have intimate knowledge of the details of his life. He is a former altar boy from a strict Catholic home who struck out on his own at the age of 17 and went on to become a self-made millionaire land baron/real estate mogul in Cleveland during the turbulent, riot-torn ‘60s. From 1963 until 1985, his vast real estate holdings included several city blocks fronting Euclid Avenue in the University Circle area and soon blossomed into an inner-city Disneyland. Often referred to as “The Black Howard Hughes” and “The Pied Piper of Euclid Avenue” among other things, he was also militant and fearlessly outspoken. As a result he was targeted for decades by a racist corrupt city government and local judiciary for having had the audacity to purchase land and establish wildly successful businesses, and to their way of thinking, defile their upper-class sanctuary. The powers-that-be in the city of Cleveland have literally stolen millions of dollars worth of my brother’s lands and businesses without a penny of compensation – just or unjust.

The limitations of time and space do not permit me to provide further details, but my sense of you leads me to believe that you will be interested in learning more about Winston. And trust me, this is a very compelling story worthy of your time. I am a writer by profession, and after too many years of struggle in the entertainment industry, little did I know there was a compelling and powerful story developing right in my own family. My task now is to tell my brother’s story.

"Until lions have historians, hunters will be heroes." --- Kenyan Proverb

A couple of other facts that might interest you:

• My brother and I were both born in pre-civil Rights movement Montgomery Alabama and lived there until 1954 when our parents joined in the great migration North.

• Our father was one of Joe Louis’ sparring partners in preparation for the Max Schmeling re-match that Louis won.

• Mrs. Rosa Parks and our mother were high school class mates and life-long friends.

• Our mother and uncle were the first Blacks hired at Maxwell Air Force Base when President Truman ordered that military bases be de-segregated.

• Our cousin, Bernard S. Lee was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., road manager and personal aide. Bernard is the guy in all the King footage with the horn-rimmed glasses.

Thank you for your time, Kareem. I will be happy to send further details in care of your manager if you are interested. Continued success with your passion. I have read all of your books and look forward to many more.

Aundra Willis
South Pasadena, California

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Captain Kareem

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is considered by many fans and sportswriters to be the greatest basketball player of all time. The 7-foot-2 Hall of Fame center, famous for his indefensible skyhook, dominated the NBA for 20 years, first with the Milwaukee Bucks then with the Los Angeles Lakers. Before that he was the star of the UCLA Bruins teams that won three consecutive NCAA championships. Kareem was the NBA's MVP six times, a 19-time all-star and set the NBA all-time records in nine categories. He is the NBA's all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, a record that may never be broken.

Since retiring as a player in 1989, Kareem has balanced his love of basketball with his love of history. In 2002 he led a USBL team, the Oklahoma Storm, to a championship. Since 2005, he has been the special assistant coach for the Lakers, working with Andrew Bynum.

In 2008 he was chosen The Greatest Player in College Basketball History.

Kareem also remains intellectually active, authoring six bestselling history books intended to popularize the contributions of African-Americans to American culture and history. His books include "Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement"; "Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes"; "A Season on the Reservation," which chronicles his time teaching basketball and history on an Apache Indian reservation in White River, Ariz.; and the current New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller, "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance."

His audio adaptation, "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Audio & Musical Journey through the Harlem Renaissance," is a four-volume compilation read by Bob Costas, Avery Brooks, Jesse L. Martin, and Stanley Crouch, and features private and fascinating conversations with dozens of icons, including Coach John Wooden, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Samuel L. Jackson, Maya Angelou, Quincy Jones and Billy Crystal. He has also been written to L.A. Times, under the Sports section.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been appearing on various radio stations and TV shows, as well as the most relevant websites talking about his life and his new audio book, On the Shoulders of Giants.

All images are property of www.iconomy.com unless otherwise stated. All info copyrighted and owned by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not replicated without permission.

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