WAR’s Lonnie Jordan Talks History Of The Band, Meeting His Wife, Soulful Summer and More

Lonnie Jordan, one of the founding members of the group WAR stopped by The WAVE this morning on his way to the Greek Theater for this Saturday night’s concert #2 in The WAVE’s Soulful Summer Concert Series. It’s a good one. It reunites WAR with Tierra, Malo and Los Lonely Boys, reprising one of the most popular lineups of last summer. Lonnie spent some quality time with us in the studio and then hung out for an overtime conversation that included his wife Theresa and a truly unique story about how they met. You won’t believe this one.

Below is what we talked about on the air:

I’ve been bugging Lonnie about All Day Music, one of my favorite WAR songs. He says it was inspired by the Leon Thomas/Pharoah Sanders masterpiece “The Creator Has A Master Plan”. Last year the feeling of love at the Greek was alive and well when we featured the same lineup.

Lonnie says WAR was straight out of Compton, Long Beach, Watts, Harbor City and San Pedro and their experiences influenced them to write “Low Rider”. George Lopez had WAR do a couple of shows with him on tour. George uses “Low Rider” as his theme song for his comedy shows and it was also the them for his now defunct talk show. George isn’t the only fan of WAR; their music has been sampled by dozens of hip hop and rap artists and you can see a list of some of those hits on WAR’s website.

I asked Lonnie how a group that is so much about peace and love could be called WAR. He says what they were doing was actually waging war against WAR through music. Their musical instruments are their weapons. They also stand for racial harmony because of the multi ethnic composition of the group. Their music is multicultural too, combining elements of R&B, Latin, Jazz and the Blues.

Below is more of our conversation which you didn’t hear on the air:

Lonnie did a great job on the air this morning and he informed me that he is actually a DJ in his own house. His wife Theresa was with us in the studio so I invited her to come to the microphone and tell us the story of how she and Lonnie got together. I would never have guessed what she would say. Theresa was introduced to the group WAR when she was only 14 and her Mom took he to one of their shows. Little did Theresa know that later in life she would marry not one, but two of the members of the group. You’ll have to listen to hear the rest of this very interesting story.

If you’re wondering how BB, Theresa’s first husband and an original member of WAR, feels about Lonnie and Theresa, they are all great friends today. When they visit BB in the nursing home he lives in now, the three laugh and talk about old times and all is well.

Photo: Adam Bookbinder/94.7 The WAVE

Photo: Adam Bookbinder/94.7 The WAVE

Lonnie says there was no plan behind the multi-ethnic lineup of WAR, it just evolved naturally. In the late 60’s and early 70’s, they were writing music that they hoped would inform and inspire people. They couldn’t control the Vietnam War, which was happening then but they could do something about dissension between racial and ethnic groups here in America. We also talked about the evolution of WAR’s unique sound, fueled by driving bass, percussion and Lee Oskar’s harmonica. Lonnie says they were like a laboratory experiment where each band member brought totally different energy and ideas to the mix.

Lonnie told us the story of how the members of the band met Eric Burden of the Animals. The band was playing behind NFL Hall of Famer Deacon Jones. Eric came down to check them out and was convinced that this was the band he had been looking for. Spill The Wine was their first big hit as Eric Burden and WAR.

We reminisced about how uplifting the music of the 70’s was but we both agree that some of the artists who are creating the misogynistic music of today just might be changing a little. Some of it has to do with changes in the music industry but Lonnie believes that it’s because a lot of the members of the hip hop generation are getting older. We also discussed sampling of WAR’s music by many current performers.

Lonnie told us the famous story of how Jimi Hendrix sat in with WAR just before his death. The band was doing a stint at London’s famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Hendrix was a friend of Eric Burden and was introduced to WAR through Eric. Lonnie says they played an hour long version of the Memphis Slim classic ”Mother Earth” and the next day they heard that Hendrix had died. Recently someone gave Lonnie an old cassette taping of that performance.

Finally we talked about the cycle of life and dealing with loss, not in a morbid way, but just as a reminder that we don’t know when we’ll make our exit so we must value our time on earth. As communicators we need to share the joy and embrace the fellowship. Lonnie Jordan is a very cool guy. Hope you will come check him out along with WAR, Tierra, Malo and Los Lonely Boys this Saturday night at the Greek.

More from Pat Prescott

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