TIR 87: Ronnie Laws Lays Down His Rules of Musical Engagement


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in TIR Episode 87 (2 Parts): One of the most prominent, successful and tasty jazz-soul-funk saxophonists to arrive on the scene since the mid-1970s — Ronnie Laws. Coming from a musical family that includes jazz flautist Hubert Laws and singers Eloise and Debra Laws, and growing up in Houston around the block from The Crusaders, Ronnie got his professional start with Earth, Wind and Fire in 1972. Leaving to pursue a solo career, he performed with Hugh Masekela and did session work until Donald Byrd helped him land a recording deal with Blue Note Records that resulted in his stellar debut album, 1975’s Pressure Sensitive. That record took off on the strength of the funky instrumental hit, “Always There.” Through the years, he would release more than 20 of his own albums, with seven of them cracking Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart.

Some of his other hits included “Friends and Strangers,” “Saturday Evening,” “Something Special,” “Every Generation,” “Stay Awake,” “In the Groove” and “City Girl.” He also appeared on dozens of other artists’ works, including his siblings, Wayne Henderson, Patrice Rushen, Miki Howard, Ramsey Lewis, Deniece Williams, Jeff Lorber, Sister Sledge, Larry Dunn and Maurice White.

In this interview, recorded nearly a year after technical issues preempted Laws’ initial TRUTH IN RHYTHM appearance, the sax master talks about his amazing musical family and upbringing, the thrill of playing with heroes like B.B. King and Quincy Jones, why he left Earth, Wind and Fire, how his hit albums and tracks were created, why he feels shunned by the smooth jazz movement, how his son is following in his woodwind footsteps, a recent lifetime achievement honor, and the excitement of imminent new music and ongoing live performances. It’s time learn the laws of soulful and funky jazz according to one of its principal architects, Mr. Ronnie Laws.




Scott Goldfine

As a fervid lifelong music & film enthusiast / student, I grew up in and around the Los Angeles entertainment industry. I have worked and held many positions in various media realms, since 1998 serving as Editor-in-Chief and now Associate Publisher for Security Sales & Integration, a trade publication serving the electronic security industry. I love several genres of music & film. The former includes funk (Parliament-Funkadelic, Prince, Ohio Players, etc.); blues (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Eric Gales, etc.); rock (Jack White, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young, etc.); hard rock (AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc.); jazz (Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Crusaders, etc.); R&B (Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Gil Scott-Heron, etc.); and more. I was a club disc jockey and ran a mobile DJ company (Musical Moods) for more than 15 years, which is where the name Dr. GX originates (Doctor Good Times). Fave film genres include horror (Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, etc.); science fiction (Aliens, Terminator, 2001, etc.); action (Warriors, Road Warrior, Die Hard); westerns (Outlaw Josey Wales, Showdown at OK Corral; Wild Bunch, etc.); suspense (Jaws, Inception, Silence of the Lambs, etc.); drama (Apocalypse Now, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, etc.); and comedies (Life of Brian, Superbad, Ruthless People, etc.). I have attended many hundreds of concerts and movies (in theaters or screenings). I may as well also throw in a few favorite TV shows to give an even broader taste of my sensibilities. A handful would be Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Lost, Justified, Fargo, Seinfeld, Sopranos, South Park, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Key & Peele, Monty Python, Inside Amy Schumer, Louie, Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Last Man on Earth, Bob Newhart Show, All in the Family and The Office. Fave authors are Stephen King, Clive Barker and Michael Crichton. I am also a big sports fan and lifelong supporter of the Dallas Cowboys (NFL), Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB). Also enjoy my family of course, electronics/computers/AV gear, and animals, nature and outdoor activities. Graduate of Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica College and California State University Northridge (Radio-TV-Film, Psychology minor). Also studied at UCLA for kinesiology/psychology and earned post-grad Certificate in Accounting from Santa Monica College. Present main occupation is as Associate Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Security Sales & Integration (SSI), which I joined in 1998. I am responsible for overseeing all editorial content in print. online, electronic, in-person and any other media or products for the electronic security industry's leading business-to-business trade publication. SSI is part of Framingham, Mass.-based Emerald Expositions.