If they [the crowd at The Apollo Theater] don't like you, they will let you know. When you didn't have any talent, they would let you know about it -- and not kindly. There'd be things like "Get off the stage!" and certain expletives we won't say here. It was a rough audience.

— Don Alias

The most jittery Don Alias quotes that will inspire your inner self

We're talking about an extremely prolific poet and songwriter and lyricist.

That stuff comes off the top of her head. She [Joni Mitchell] will write exactly what she lives. If she puts some money in the soda machine, she'll write about putting money in the soda machine. "Dry Cleaner from Des Moines," on the Shadows & Light album, was about sitting next to a dry cleaner from Des Moines, playing a slot machine.

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I grew up learning this stuff on the streets of New York.

My brother and I used to play in the subway for money.

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Mom did not want me to have anything to do with playing music.

Being from a middle-class Black family in that particular era, everybody wanted you to have a profession -- a doctor, a lawyer, and so forth. So she sent me to school to study medicine.

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I grew up in New York. We were all diversified, as far as music was concerned. I grew up liking just about everything. So I tried to incorporate that into my playing, although the original school where I came from was Afro-Cuban music. But I liked all kinds of music -- I tried to bring that into everything.

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Then, on my way to California, I decided to stop in New York to do some research. I couldn't leave, because that's where the music was!

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