elcome to this special edition of the Science of Soul as we (Reggie's friends) celebrate the life of Reggie Torian Senior
. I'm sure you are aware he passed away on the 4th of May, 2016, the news left those knew him in shock, Just a month earlier in Chicago where we spent a wonderful evening having dinner and exchanging stories, as only Reggie could, we made treasured memories that night at Pizza Capri in Chicago.
Present was myself, his long time publicist, the lovely Lynn Orman Weiss, along with noted journalist and music historian Aaron Cohen (see attached tribute) and his wife Lavonne - it was just one of those 'feel good' nights that last in your mind forever, and for all of us it would be sadly the last time we would see Reggie. Still hard to believe he is no longer with us. He was an integral part of thee post Mayfield Impressions, spending over 40 years with the group, and a time which saw them achieve great success with smash hits like; "First Impressions," and "I'm A Changed Man (Finally Got Myself Together)." Reggie had shared lead vocals with Ralph Johnson, but it was Reggie who was the main lead singer in their live shows. His sweet first tenor was not unlike the previous 1960's lead singer (Curtis Mayfield,) and his stage presence was as cool as a Chicago breeze. He was once described by Jerry Butler; "as the perfect addition to the group!" that's when Curtis had made his move to become the solo Icon that he then became.
Reggie was truly the definition of Old Skool, a man with style, charm and grace mixed with his warm personality, you couldn't help but love him. I count myself very fortunate to have been his friend and sharing beautiful memories ... Reggie Torian Snr was a fine man - and the world is poorer place for his passing" - Bill Randle
"When I think about Reggie Torian, there was, of course, his voice. All of us listening to this broadcast knows how beautifully controlled he was when he glided into falsetto on The Impressions’ great 1970s recordings. Finally Got Myself Together and Three The Hard Way are my favorites, but there are so many others. And the way his voice filled the parts that Curtis Mayfield created became all the more vivid when Reggie took a turn toward acting, starring as Mayfield in the Black Ensemble Theater musical biography a few years ago. But what may be my lasting memories of Reggie are not only about the way he sang, but how he perfectly embodied a sense of cool.
By “cool,” I don’t just mean confident, although there was no mistaking his unflappable self assurance. I’m also talking about more than his accomplishments—although as a singer, actor, minister and community healer, he created more than enough for one lifetime (and at the time of his passing, it seemed like he was just getting started). And I mean more than his sense of style, although his suits, shoes, hair and car were always impeccable. The way Reggie always defined cool for me was his outlook on life itself: For everything that he achieved, he never became complacent. Despite any setback, he could always come up with the right kind of joke. While his experiences were entirely his own, Reggie’s inviting way of talking about them always made me feel like a participant. And his stories always wanted me to hear and learn more. He was a man of great faith and during our religious discussions, he always came up with the right blend of the street and the spiritual. Nothing, and nobody, could be cooler.
Godspeed, Reggie. I know that you’ve got the sharpest linen jacket out of everyone up there." - Aaron Cohen
Playlist for 05-06-2016
Love, Love, Love (all Impressions
group unless marked)
A Fool Like Me (1973) (in the Enchanters group)
I'm A Changed Man (Finally Got Myself Together)
If It's In You To Do Wrong
Guess What I Got
Having A Ball
Sooner Or Later
Why Must A Love Song Be A Sad Song
How High Is High
Maybe I'm Mistaken
I Could Never Make You Stay
I Need You
All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You
We Go Back Away's
Same Thing It Took
Daddy Loves (as a solo singer)
You'll Want Me Back (solo)
Please Don't Give Up On Your Dreams (solo)
Serve Three (solo)
|Happier times with Lavonne, Lynn, Reggie & Aaron in 2016|
"When I met Reginald Torian, Sr., I was in a difficult place. I had grown up idolizing and internalizing the music of the Four Tops, and had entered my sixth year of working with them, starting as their archivist and eventually touring full time as their drummer and musical director. However, the sparkle-eyed blind love of the music had started to be replaced with a wariness of the future. How would I make a living in my post-Four Tops career? Could I continue solely making music full time, professionally, for a living?
As the Tops' organization had changed around me, and my favorite band had started me upon a path that seemed both difficult to surpass and difficult to maintain, I had the realization that I had to return to school. It was this realization, this succumbing to the realities of a future that may include a life outside of music, a full time job, and a less creative path that caused me to write the song "Please (Don't Give Up On Your Dreams)." I decided that it was best for me to step away from touring with my favorite band to finish my college degree and create a launching pad to allow for a long and sustainable career in avenues that included more than performance. Even if, at the time, there seemed like nothing in the world that meant more than performing with my favorite group. This song speaks of a "closet rocker, a weekend star, an office drone who works to hard," whose "song is fading" as time passes by. It speaks of a songwriter with a "storied life, and an empty page from nine to five." It urges those with a creative drive to continue to fan the flame, and not allow themselves to lose that spark. While I was writing the song, I was listening to an endless stream of music by Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions. Curtis' message of encouragement, enlightenment, equality, and honesty struck a chord with me, and helped me feel comfortable making what was sure to be a life-altering decision. Naturally, I began looking into The Impressions' present day career, and realized that they were still going strong with Reginald Torian as their velvet-voiced lead singer. I couldn't hear any other voice that was more fit to deliver the song's message.
I got bold. finding Reggie online, I sent him a message having never once met him. Reggie was a star. Touring the world with a legendary group, carrying on the legacy of Mayfield, recording hits that stretched all the way back to the early 70s, and still carrying on strong. He had no reason to give a fledgling sideman and songwriter like me the time of day. However, he did respond, and I was quick to send him a demo of the song. His reaction: "I don't often get to say this after listening one time but you my friend may have a smash on your hands. This is one I would like to record. If you have a practice track ..please send also. I will guard it with integrity." Not only did he guard the early version of the song with integrity, but he picked up my story and ran with it, delivering an impassioned recording that sounded as though it came straight from his own heart. He enthusiastically put his all behind the single, with 50% of profits benefiting the Chicago Public Schools' music programs. He sang the song at events, showcases, radio stations, stages, and studios. He championed the message and the cause, and at times seemed to believe more in the project than even I could. Reggie and I went on to record another single together, to perform together in his "All Things Mayfield" premier show, and to spend hours in the studio refining a recording of that live event intended for broadcast. Reggie was a perfectionist - for himself and for his team. He could see the strengths and faults of everyone around him.
He was wonderful at bringing the best out of his team, of calling on you for just the right job at just the right time, and making you feel like you were the only one in the world who could do it perfectly. Just being around him made you feel like you could conquer the world. Reggie saw me leave the Four Tops. He saw me struggle to finish college in New York City. He saw me leave New York to return to Detroit and pursue my love for Motown music. He saw me fight lean times and hustle for gigs, jobs, and opportunities. Each time I spoke to him about my own situation, he would drop the Mayfield-ism "keep on pushing," or tell me to "follow the yellow brick road." To put my head down and keep working, keep pushing towards my goals no matter what. He said that as I pushed, more doors would open in my wake. As he gave me this advice, he saw me slowly move from a former-sideman of a legendary group to a drummer, songwriter and producer for these legends, and a college instructor at the Detroit Institute of Music Education. His advice proved invaluable, and his confidence and un-shaking motivation helped me see first hand the value of staying the path. Reggie stayed the path from beginning to end, and he was always willing to lift while he climbed. I will forever be indebted to him for lifting me to another stage in my life, and I will forever miss hearing his voice telling me to "Keep On Pushing," and to never give up on my dreams." - Drew Schultz
"I'm the family historian on my mother's mothers side, but her father is a Torian. My mother said that she had a cousin who could surely sing and that he was famous. I wondered who out of Hopkinsville Kentucky could she be talking about. I set out to find Reggie. You know how old people are, and so they said I think he was with the Temptations. Lol. I searched and finally I said nope no Temptation with the name Torian. I finally ignored mother and searched for Reggie and I found him on Facebook. I explained who I was, and he accepted me. We inboxed each other, and I always shared his events. I had planned to travel to Chicago to meet him, and didn't have the chance. The rest is history. I am still in shock that he has gone home to sing in the heavenly choir. Such a great artist, and no one dressed better than he did. Thanks for doing this Bill. I know that you just lost your mom too. Reggie Torian brought a lot of people together because we each loved him" - Regina Dillard
"Woke up this morning with his voice in my head. Reggie brought voice, soul and spirit to life. His interpretation of a lyric was extraordinary, you listened to every note. His voice was exquisite on stage and his voice off stage in front of a congregation or group of formerly incarcerated youth, homeless youth, people going through rehab always brought tears to their eyes. He embraced so many. I am having a very difficult time with this. I am thinking of you and your loss at this time too. All my love. - Lynn Orman-Weiss
Messages of love and more information visit:- www.reginaldtoriansr.com