The roots of Kinsman Dazz lie in Cleveland, OH, where they formed in 1976. "Kinsman" is taken from both the street and the name of the lounge where they worked as the house band -- the Kinsman Grill, located on the corner of East 128th and Kinsman Rd. "Dazz" sounds like "Jazz," which they liked to play, and which also was the buzz word of a hit by Brick
, entitled Dusic. Loosely, they were the mergers of two groups: Bell Telephunk and Mother Braintree. Loosely, of course, because from 1976 to 1978, when their self-titled debut LP dropped, the band had gone through nearly 30 lineup changes. Neither Telephunk nor Braintree ever recorded, though the latter toured with Edwin Starr
for over a year as his road band. Larry Ross, the leader of Mother Braintree, was never a part of Kinsman Dazz, or the later Dazz Band
. The brothers Wiley, Michael
and Issac, were members though, and another ex-Braintree member, Pierre Demudd
, joined when they signed with Motown, but was not with them when they recorded for 20th Century. Despite what you may have read elsewhere, neither was Sennie Skip Martin (Let It Whip), a San Francisco native. He didn't join until they signed with Motown. Martin was plucked from Mighty Generation, a group from Youngstown, OH, who had gigged all the way to San Jose, CA, where Martin joined them. When they returned to Youngstown, Skip came along and met the members of Kinsman Dazz when they came there to play a gig.
Bobby Harris served as the group's defacto leader, while Earth, Wind Fire's Philip Bailey acted as Kinsman Dazz's mentor; he co-wrote songs, arranged, sung backing vocals and produced the two 20th Century LPs. The lineup of Kinsman Dazz was ever-changing -- even as their first LP hit the streets, the revolving door swung back and forth. By the time Dazz came out, guitarist/songwriter Michael Calhoun had vanished. He later surfaced on a couple of obscure 45s, released on tiny labels in his native Cleveland, OH, before disappearing. ~ Andrew Hamilton, Rovi