1946 – 2013
Omnivore Recordings is saddened to report the passing of funk and soul icon Darondo from heart failure this past Sunday (June 9).
Born and bred in Berkeley, California, Darondo – given name William Daron Pulliam – first played professionally at the age of 18 in The Witnesses, a blue-eyed soul troupe resident at East Bay teen club the Lucky 13 in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until the early 1970s that the singer-guitarist hit his stride. He fashioned a unique blend of street soul, informed by Al Green, the Dells and others, but always identifiable by his own special delivery, sliding from gravelly baritone to wailing falsetto in the space of a measure.
By the late 1970s Darondo had left the music business and his subsequent adventures – cable video personality, globe-trotting entertainer, unorthodox therapist, and rebirth as a cult performer in the late 2000s – make for a colorful story that demonstrated the compassion and humanity of this unique individual.
Darondo’s recording career was sporadic originally stretching to just three self-penned singles, “How I Got Over,” “Legs,” and “Didn’t I,” the last named released on the Berkeley-based Music City label in late 1973. “Didn’t I” has subsequently become the artists signature tune, having been sampled and featured on soundtracks, and for many this heartbreaking downtempo ballad is their introduction to the intoxicating world of Darondo.
In 2008, reissue producer Alec Palao uncovered the tapes for two albums worth of material recorded by Darondo during his tenure at Music City in 1973 and 1974, which were subsequently assembled as Listen To My Song: The Music City Sessions, released on Omnivore Recordings/BGP in 2011. The appearance of a full set of Darondo in his prime, preening and pleading in equal measure on a brace of fantastic originals, was greeted with unanimous acclaim, not least by the artist himself, who had despaired of ever hearing the recordings again. His first reaction to hearing the dacades old masters was to excitedly proclaim, “This is the root, you got the root!”
For those who are not familiar with the idiosyncratic genius of Darondo, Listen To My Song: The Music City Sessions is indeed the root, and a fine tribute to the unique artistry of this one-of-a-kind individual.