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Forums > Music: Non-Prince > R.I.P. Charles ''Skip'' Pitts (1947-2012) Famed Guitarist
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Thread started 05/01/12 8:03pm

Identity

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R.I.P. Charles ''Skip'' Pitts (1947-2012) Famed Guitarist

May 1, 2012

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R&B, soul and funk guitar architect and Bo-Keys member Charles "Skip" Pitts-whose signature riffs are forever immortalized in the Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing" and the wah-wah on Isaac Hayes' "Theme From Shaft"- died May 1st in Memphis.

He was 65 and had suffered from lung cancer.

Pitts' pioneering skill with the wah-wah pedal is one of the focal points in the 2011 documentary "Cry Baby: the Pedal That Rocks the World," alongside Buddy Guy, Slash and Eddie Van Halen.

In addition to his collaborations with the Isleys and Hayes, Pitts performed and recorded with several other R&B and blues legends, including Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, Rufus Thomas and Albert King. He first learned to play guitar in his native Washington, D.C., getting tips from neighbor Bo Diddley. Pitts' first recording was as a 15-year-old on the Gene Chandler hit single "Rainbow 65."

The former Stax Records session player's more recent credits include performing with the Bo-Keys on the score for the film "Hustle and Flow" and Cyndi Lauper's 2010 album Memphis Blues.

Featured prominently on the Bo-Keys' 2011 release Got to Get Back!, Pitts also appeared in such films as "Wattstax" and with the Bo-Keys in "Soul Men" starring Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson. Pitts' guitar riffs were sampled by a host of hip-hop artists from Dr. Dre and the Beastie Boys to Eazy-E.

Pitts, who died at Memphis's Methodist Hospital, is survived by his wife Beverly.

Burial services are being planned in Washington, D.C.


[Edited 5/2/12 14:48pm]

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Reply #1 posted 05/01/12 8:06pm

Timmy84

Rest peacefully. If I recall correctly, many of his licks were sampled in some hip-hop songs...

Like this one for instance:

[Edited 5/1/12 22:03pm]

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Reply #2 posted 05/01/12 8:15pm

Identity

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Charles ''Skip'' Pitts Dies

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Longtime Memphis musician and Stax Records veteran Charles "Skip" Pitts -- the guitarist known for his signature wah-wah sound on Isaac Hayes' "Theme from Shaft" -- died at Methodist Hospital on Tuesday morning. He was 65.

Mr. Pitts had been battling health issues, including cancer, for the last couple years. He had been in hospice care for the past two months, before returning to the hospital last week. In late April a star-studded musical benefit event was held in his honor at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

Though nominally a "sideman," Mr. Pitts was a star among fellow musicians and dedicated fans of R&B.

"His guitar style was very unique," said producer/musician Scott Bomar, Mr. Pitts' band mate in Bluff City R&B group the Bo-Keys.

"He took a little bit of the Bo Diddley rhythm, the Northern soul of Curtis Mayfield and the Memphis sound of Steve Cropper and Reggie Young and somehow came up with his own thing, a style that no one had."

A Washington, D.C., native who grew up in the shadow of the city's famed Howard Theatre, as a child he rubbed shoulders with musical royalty, getting friendly with Marvin Gaye (who dated his sister) and Bo Diddley (who was a neighbor).

Mr. Pitts got his start professionally in the mid-1960s. As a teenager he backed up R&B stars the Coasters, Gene Chandler (he played on the live hit "Rainbow '65") the Isley Brothers, Sam & Dave and Wilson Pickett.

But it was a move to Memphis and a nearly 30-year collaboration with Isaac Hayes that yielded his greatest legacy, including the immortal guitar riff on the Academy Award-winning "Shaft" soundtrack.

Mr. Pitts' use of the wah-wah effect pedal on "Shaft" resonated for several generations. His work would be sampled by numerous hip-hop and rap acts over the years including Dr. Dre and the Beastie Boys, among others.

Deeply identified with the effect, Mr. Pitts is featured in the new documentary film "Cry Baby: The Pedal That Rocks The World" alongside guitarists Slash, Buddy Guy, and Eddie Van Halen.

A pivotal player during Stax Records' latter years, Mr. Pitts would perform at the famed WattStax concert, as well as back other artists including Albert King and Rufus Thomas. But it was his relationship with Hayes -- with whom he performed until the singer's death in 2008 -- that remained closest.

"Isaac had a lot of guys in and out of his band over the years, but there wasn't anyone who he had that bond and longevity that he had with Skip," said Bomar. "What they had together was very special."

Over the past decade, Mr. Pitts continued to do soundtrack ("Black Snake Moan") and session work (for Al Green and Cyndi Lauper). His gravelly tones were also familiar from his voiceover work and acting appearances in Memphis-based film productions such as "Forty Shades of Blue" and "Soul Men."

He was also active in working with the students of the Stax Music Academy. "Anytime we ever asked Skip to doing anything for the museum or the academy, he did it without hesitation," said Stax communications director Tim Sampson. "I would go do these Stax presentations at Memphis City Schools with Skip and it was always amazing. The kids, the teachers, everyone just loved him."

Starting in the mid-'90s, Mr. Pitts also was a member of Memphis show band Elmo and the Shades, and later joined the multigenerational soul group The Bo-Keys, who released several albums, including last year's critically acclaimed Got to Get Back!.

"Skip didn't have to stay in Memphis, but he loved Memphis and Memphis musicians," said Bomar. "He loved the people here and being a part of this music community."

[Edited 5/2/12 18:02pm]

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Reply #3 posted 05/01/12 8:23pm

HuMpThAnG

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rose

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Reply #4 posted 05/02/12 1:04pm

smoothcriminal
12

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R.I.P. sad

My new album is available HERE: http://itunes.apple.com/a...mpt=uo%3D1
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Reply #5 posted 05/02/12 2:37pm

SPYZFAN1

For the longest time I always thought that Wah Wah Watson played the Shaft guitar licks.

R.I.P. to a great guitarist.

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Reply #6 posted 05/02/12 2:45pm

Identity

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''The Shaft part was created because Isaac needed something driving for the beginning of the movie, when (actor) Richard Roundtree is coming out of the subway and walking through Times Square," Pitts told Guitar Player in an interview regarding the song. "I was checking my pedals. I tested my overdrive, my reverb, the Maestro box, and then I started in with the wah. Isaac stopped everything and said, 'Skip, what is that you are playing?' I said, 'I am just tuning up.' He said, 'Keep playing that G octave.'"

http://www.spinner.com/20...haft-dead/

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Reply #7 posted 05/02/12 2:45pm

Timmy84

SPYZFAN1 said:

For the longest time I always thought that Wah Wah Watson played the Shaft guitar licks.

R.I.P. to a great guitarist.

I thought so too until like four years ago... after I bought an Isaac best-of, I realize Skip was all over Isaac's stuff. It's his riffs hip-hop sampled. cool

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Reply #8 posted 05/02/12 2:54pm

Identity

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"Skip'' added funky guitar licks to this Isley classic.

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Reply #9 posted 05/02/12 3:04pm

Identity

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Issac Hayes, ''Skip'' and the band live @ Montreux 2005.

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Reply #10 posted 05/02/12 3:07pm

Timmy84

Identity said:

"Skip'' added funky guitar licks to this Isley classic.

Sure did. I think he did three albums with them before Isaac hollered at him for Hot Buttered Soul. By the time he was done with the Isleys, it was for the Get Into Something album. They replaced him with Ernie Isley, who had been playing bass.

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Reply #11 posted 05/02/12 5:27pm

errant

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famed? really?

R.I.P. rose

"does my cock look fat in these jeans?"
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Reply #12 posted 05/02/12 5:32pm

Timmy84

errant said:

famed? really?

R.I.P. rose

I'm guessing people who are into music know who he is. shrug Or those who are in the know who provided the riffs. Just my belief.

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Reply #13 posted 05/02/12 5:48pm

errant

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Timmy84 said:

errant said:

famed? really?

R.I.P. rose

I'm guessing people who are into music know who he is. shrug Or those who are in the know who provided the riffs. Just my belief.

I know who he is. But "famed" is stretching it. As is a sticky.

"does my cock look fat in these jeans?"
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Reply #14 posted 05/02/12 5:56pm

Identity

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'Stretching it'' is overhyped, largely ignored MDNA album still having Sticky status since...March.

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Reply #15 posted 05/02/12 6:00pm

errant

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Identity said:

'Stretching it'' is overhyped, largely ignored MDNA album still having Sticky status since...March.

there's that cutting wit of yours again. try to stop reeking of desperation for something to say. stick to copying and pasting articles. that's your level.

"does my cock look fat in these jeans?"
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Reply #16 posted 05/02/12 6:03pm

Identity

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Commenting on threads you pretend to care nothing about is absolutely your pathetic level.


[Edited 5/2/12 18:04pm]

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Reply #17 posted 05/02/12 6:05pm

errant

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Identity said:

Trolling on threads you pretend to care nothing about is absolutely yours.

[Edited 5/2/12 18:03pm]

I cared. That's why I opened it and posted "R.I.P." You're just embarrassed that you got ugly about it.

"does my cock look fat in these jeans?"
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Reply #18 posted 05/02/12 6:09pm

Identity

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The only regret I have is that ''Skip'' is no longer with us. The thread is about him...not me and surely not you.

[Edited 11/22/12 17:32pm]

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Reply #19 posted 05/02/12 7:04pm

theAudience

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A couple of other tracks featuring Skip Pitts licks.


Isaac Hayes...



...Hung Up On My Baby


Rufus Thomas...



...The Breakdown Pts 1&2




Recent work with the Memphis band The Bo-Keys...



...90 Days Same As Cash & Work That Skirt



...Spanish Delight & Hi Roller



Music for adventurous listeners


tA

peace Tribal Records

"Ya see, we're not interested in what you know...but what you are willing to learn. C'mon y'all."
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Reply #20 posted 05/02/12 9:06pm

Identity

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1970

Do the Funky Chicken

Rufus Thomas

Guitar

1971

Black Moses [Deluxe Edition]

Isaac Hayes

Guitar

1977

New Horizon

Isaac Hayes

Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm)

2006

Jardin Secret

Axelle Red

Wah Wah Guitar

2009

Isaac Hayes Sings For Lovers

Isaac Hayes

Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm)

2010

Essential 3.0

The Isley Brothers

Guitar

2010

Memphis Blues

Cyndi Lauper

Guitar

2010

Memphis Blues

Cyndi Lauper

Guitar

2011

Got to Get Back!

The Bo-Keys

Guitar

Above is a partial list of some of his credits.

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Reply #21 posted 05/02/12 10:27pm

StarMon

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இڿڰۣ-ڰۣ— Rest In Peace Charles "Skip" Pitts இڿڰۣ-ڰۣ—


I was just listen to some of his latest work with the Bo-Keys about a month ago. One song in particular feat. Otis Clay kinda buzzed the ear.

The NFL...frohornsNational Funk League
hornsI think I'll multiply, and do it 2 U from all sides horns
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Reply #22 posted 05/03/12 9:23am

Graycap23

R.I.P.

sad

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Reply #23 posted 05/09/12 10:26pm

woogiebear

Sleep In Heavenly Peace Mr. "Skip" Pitts!!!!! Ur Guitar licks are One of a kind!!!!!! And FUNKY!!!!!

cool cool cool

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Forums > Music: Non-Prince > R.I.P. Charles ''Skip'' Pitts (1947-2012) Famed Guitarist