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Black Merda

Black Merda: yet another one of Detroit’s ahead-of-their-time bands, long overlooked, only to be re-examined by fresh fans in a new century. A generation ago, they emerged from an odorous haze of marijuana smoke to become some of the baddest, most “psyched-out” musical trailblazers known to the music world today. In the last 15 years, much has been written about Black Merda. Suffice it to say that, in the early to mid-1960s, the musicians were part of a group called the Impact Band and Singers, players who’d perform covers at parties. The adolescent musicians were pulled out of their R&B trajectory after band member VC L Veasy spent some time in the military and discovered Jimi Hendrix while stationed in the Pacific Northwest. The band quickly renamed itself the Soul Agents and adopted a psychedelic style, and even released the first known cover of “Purple Haze” in 1968. And, unlike the rest of Detroit’s late 1960s acts, the Soul Agents didn’t wear ties and blazers. As Veasy puts it, “We was all dressed psyched-out” with Afros and denim, at a time when even Parliament was still wearing matching suits and slicked-down hair. “We didn’t care what people thought about it,” Veasy says. “People thought the way we dressed was cool, you know. We were so tight, we influenced George Clinton.”

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