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“The world’s first all black rock band signed to a major label”, was “Sound Barrier”! Signed to MCA records in 1982 with the freshman release of their debut album in 1983 titled “Total Control”, the band went on to critical acclaim while eventually recording three albums that captured the imagination of the entire rock world.
The band was formed by vocalist/trumpeter/songwriter Bernie K. and guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Spacey T., in 1980. They met while playing in a R&B funk band, where Bernie was writing the songs and singing and Spacey was the guitarist. Bernie was a music major at Texas Southern University before he decided to start his journey in the music business, and Spacey T. had already made his mark in the business by playing guitar with a few notable musicians. The combination was explosive! Spacey’s love for Jimi Hendrix, R&B, and progressive rock music, and Bernie’s love for Jazz, EWF, and progressive ideas melded into a new and exciting format that could not be defined! They explored hard rock music with odd time signatures that had serious grooves and catchy hooks! The title song (Total Control) from the first album is a perfect example. They began auditioning drummers and ran across a young jazz drummer named Dave Brown. Dave studied music at USC, but was also looking to venture out into a new direction. Once they solidified the band with the addition of Stanley E. on bass, who brought the bottom and the heavy feel to the band, they were off and running! While playing gigs around Los Angeles they became somewhat of a notoriety and began garnering the attention of The L.A times, Music Connection, and all the hard rock fan mags at the time.
Sound Barrier owes their initial success to a chance meeting with the then VP of A&R at MCA records, Leon Tsilis. As the story goes, Tsilis was attending “Madame Wongs”, (a popular L.A. club at the time), with the interest in signing another band, but was not impressed, and he heard Sound Barrier on his way out the door and came back to see what he did not expect to see. “An all black hard rock band”! The rest is history!!!