Connect with us

Entertainment

Bill Pickett Rodeo Founder Dies At 76

Published

on

Lu Vason, the founder and producer of 31 year old Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo (Courtesy of The Chicago Defender)

Lu Vason, the founder and producer of 31 year old Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo (Courtesy of The Chicago Defender)

Lu Vason: Visionary and Producer

Special to the NNPA from The Chicago Defender

Best known for the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, founder and producer Lu Vason who grew up in Berkeley, California. He moved to Denver in 1977.  Vason, who lived in Aurora and had just turned 76, died early Sunday of a heart condition, said Les Franklin, a close friend of Vason’s and the founder of the Shaka Franklin Foundation for Youth.

Like many successful people Lu Vason had a varied life, with each experience leading him to his destiny. He had established himself as an innovative leader in special events marketing. had over 40 years experience as a producer, media impresario and marketing consultant.

Before Vason got into show business, he was a beautician and barber. When he began a career as a promoter and producer, the legendary rock music promoter Barry Fey became his mentor.

Lu Vason, promoted musical artists and is credited with creating the Pointers Sisters and managing various other artists. He formed Aries Concerts and the Jazz Lives Series promoting various concerts and concert tours. He promoted performances by stars like Prince and Stevie Wonder.

Eventually, he realized that the music industry was being taken over by bigger corporations with deeper pockets and he couldn’t compete with that.

He continued to promote smaller concerts, and was working until shortly before he died.

In 1977, during Wyoming’s Cheyenne Frontier Days, Vason’s interest turned toward rodeo. His curiosity was inspired when he noted that there were no Black cowboys participating that day. He then Were people aware of the role that the Black cowboy had played in this country’s history?

At the Black American West Museum, in Denver, Vason learned of Bill Pickett, a black cowboy who created “bulldogging,” now called steer wrestling, according to the rodeo website. Pickett would ride alongside a steer, jump on its shoulders and bring the animal down by digging in his heels.

Lu Vason was convinced that the time had come to uncover the cultural past of the Black cowboy. In 1984, he created an all Black rodeo named after legendary Black cowboy, Bill Pickett, who originated “bulldogging”. Some 25 years later the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is now a popular series, which reaches over 130,000 spectators annually across the United States..

“People knew the name, Will Rogers, but who they hadn’t heard of was Bill Pickett, and if they had, they didn’t know he was Black,” Vason said, according to the website.

The first Bill Pickett Invitational was held in 1984 in Denver.

“Lu was an incredible creative conceptionalist and organizer.  The Bill Pickett Rodeo is proof of his vision to see what is sustainable and  far reaching. His legacy will continue through the Bill Pickett Rodeo,” said Margo LaDrew, LaDrew & Associates who worked as a consultant for over 20 years with Mr. Vason.

Committed to the black community, especially to helping black youngsters, Vason was always around youth and children making a difference.

On Sunday, Vason’s Facebook page was filled with condolences and tributes from friends.

A funeral service is set for Friday at Shorter Community AME Church in Denver at 11:30 a.m.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Cars

Lions Hold Car Show in Corte Madera

The Corte Madera Lions Electric Vehicle and Classic Car Show was held last Sunday, September 12, at the Village shopping center’s overflow parking lot next to Nordstrom’s. 

Published

on

From top, left to right: Chloe Nolasco selling the 2021 Electra Meccanica Solo, 1968 Shelby GT, 1972 Citroen 2cv, 1957 Rolls Royce, 1967 Morgan, 1993 Dodge Viper. Bottom photo from left: 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C MKIII, 1959 Shelby Cobra, 1959 Chevy Corvette (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

The Corte Madera Lions Electric Vehicle and Classic Car Show was held last Sunday, September 12, at the Village shopping center’s overflow parking lot next to Nordstrom’s. 

The latest electric vehicles from Marin Luxury Cars — Mercedes, Mini, Ford, Electra Meccanica, and more than 75 pristine pre-1975 classic cars were featured at the show, including a fire truck and a farm tractor.

The event featured food from the The Pig in the Pickle, beer, wine, and live music from three local bands.

The Corte Madera Lions presented this community wide event. All proceeds will benefit local charities.

“The Marin Post’s coverage of local news in Marin County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.”

Continue Reading

Black History

Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie: First Black Grammy’ Winners

Two Black performers left the event that night with Grammys in hand: Ella Jane Fitzgerald (1917–1996) for Best Vocal Performance, Female, and Best Jazz Performance, Individual; and William James “Count” Basie (1904–1984), for Best Performance by a Dance Band and Best Jazz Performance, Group. Recognition for the pair was well overdue as their roads to the Grammy were storied.

Published

on

Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie, the first two African Americans to win Grammy awards, 1958. Photo courtesy of 9gag.com/gag/aQREN3K

It was the late spring of 1959. The music industry’s elite converged inside the Grand Ballroom of Los Angeles’ Beverly Hilton. Others were gathering at a function held simultaneously in New York City.

That night, the Grammy Award’s first show took place, and no one knew then that it would become a historic event for African-American performers.

Two Black performers left the event that night with Grammys in hand: Ella Jane Fitzgerald (1917–1996) for Best Vocal Performance, Female, and Best Jazz Performance, Individual; and William James “Count” Basie (1904–1984), for Best Performance by a Dance Band and Best Jazz Performance, Group. Recognition for the pair was well overdue as their roads to the Grammy were storied.

Fitzgerald was a teen when her mother died. Her aunt then took young Ella from her home in Yonkers, N.Y., back to Newport News, Va. Shortly after, Ella’s stepfather died. These events brought on depression. Ella began failing school and frequently skipped classes. After getting into trouble with the police, she was sent to a reform school. There she endured beatings by the caretakers. The brutality forced her to escape.

At age 15, she was alone and struggling to make a life for herself. But things would change when she was in New York City about five years later.

In 1934, young Ella performed at the Apollo’s Amateur Night. The crowd booed her; shouted “What’s she going to do?” A frightened Ella decided to sing. She asked the band to play Hoagy Carmichael’s “Judy,” one of her mother’s favorites. Her voice silenced the audience, and by the song’s end they begged for an encore.

Two years later, Ella made her first recording, “Love and Kisses,” under the Decca label. The rest was music history.
Later dubbed “The First Lady of Song,” Ella was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century. On June 15, 1996, she died in her Beverly Hills home. She’d taken home 14 Grammys throughout her career.

Basie, born in Red Bank, N.J., was one of the all-time great jazz band leaders. Dubbed the “King of Swing,” his career started in clubs and speakeasies in Asbury Park and Long Branch, N.J., then New York City (1924) and later Kansas City (1927).

His music served as inspiration for artists including John Lewis, Thelonious Monk, and Oscar Peterson. Along the way, he faced discrimination but overcame barriers to become one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.

“Every day, we used to say, ‘Not one drop of my self-worth depends on your acceptance of me,’” musician and producer Quincy Jones said of the racism that he and Basie experienced back then. “It was horrible. It ain’t much better now.”

Basie wrote in a letter: “I can’t remember when I did not experience discrimination … And I didn’t let it bug me.”
The Count won nine Grammy awards over the course of his career. He died on April 26, 1984, in Hollywood, Fla.

Continue Reading

Community

Fillmore’s Great Jazz Era Featured in Book Talk, Concert at S.F. Botanical Gardens

Authors Elizabeth Pepin Silva and Lewis Watts will talk about their book, “Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era” at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park on Monday, September 20. 

Published

on

Sam Peoples Jr. in the Fillmore./ Photo Courtesy of Lewis Watts

Authors Elizabeth Pepin Silva and Lewis Watts will talk about their book, “Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era” at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park on Monday, September 20.  It will be followed by a mini-concert by the Sam Peoples Trio. The event, co-sponsored by the garden, Bayview Opera House, and the San Francisco African American Historical & Cultural Society will run from 4:00-5:00 p.m. It is part of the garden’s critically acclaimed “Flower Piano” program, where 12 grand pianos are placed around the garden and musicians are invited to come and play them. 

Sam, whose father was a highly regarded, Fillmore-based musician in San Francisco back in the heyday of Harlem of the West, will be performing music that celebrates the great jazz and cultural heritage of the Fillmore District in San Francisco which is described Silva and Watts book.  

The fourth edition of the book, released by Heyday Books in 2020, will also be on sale at the garden. For more information, go to: https://www.sfbg.org/flowerpiano

The San Francisco Post’s coverage of local news in San Francisco County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending

Entertainment

Bill Pickett Rodeo Founder Dies At 76

Published

on

Lu Vason, the founder and producer of 31 year old Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo (Courtesy of The Chicago Defender)

Lu Vason, the founder and producer of 31 year old Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo (Courtesy of The Chicago Defender)

Lu Vason: Visionary and Producer

Special to the NNPA from The Chicago Defender

Best known for the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, founder and producer Lu Vason who grew up in Berkeley, California. He moved to Denver in 1977.  Vason, who lived in Aurora and had just turned 76, died early Sunday of a heart condition, said Les Franklin, a close friend of Vason’s and the founder of the Shaka Franklin Foundation for Youth.

Like many successful people Lu Vason had a varied life, with each experience leading him to his destiny. He had established himself as an innovative leader in special events marketing. had over 40 years experience as a producer, media impresario and marketing consultant.

Before Vason got into show business, he was a beautician and barber. When he began a career as a promoter and producer, the legendary rock music promoter Barry Fey became his mentor.

Lu Vason, promoted musical artists and is credited with creating the Pointers Sisters and managing various other artists. He formed Aries Concerts and the Jazz Lives Series promoting various concerts and concert tours. He promoted performances by stars like Prince and Stevie Wonder.

Eventually, he realized that the music industry was being taken over by bigger corporations with deeper pockets and he couldn’t compete with that.

He continued to promote smaller concerts, and was working until shortly before he died.

In 1977, during Wyoming’s Cheyenne Frontier Days, Vason’s interest turned toward rodeo. His curiosity was inspired when he noted that there were no Black cowboys participating that day. He then Were people aware of the role that the Black cowboy had played in this country’s history?

At the Black American West Museum, in Denver, Vason learned of Bill Pickett, a black cowboy who created “bulldogging,” now called steer wrestling, according to the rodeo website. Pickett would ride alongside a steer, jump on its shoulders and bring the animal down by digging in his heels.

Lu Vason was convinced that the time had come to uncover the cultural past of the Black cowboy. In 1984, he created an all Black rodeo named after legendary Black cowboy, Bill Pickett, who originated “bulldogging”. Some 25 years later the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is now a popular series, which reaches over 130,000 spectators annually across the United States..

“People knew the name, Will Rogers, but who they hadn’t heard of was Bill Pickett, and if they had, they didn’t know he was Black,” Vason said, according to the website.

The first Bill Pickett Invitational was held in 1984 in Denver.

“Lu was an incredible creative conceptionalist and organizer.  The Bill Pickett Rodeo is proof of his vision to see what is sustainable and  far reaching. His legacy will continue through the Bill Pickett Rodeo,” said Margo LaDrew, LaDrew & Associates who worked as a consultant for over 20 years with Mr. Vason.

Committed to the black community, especially to helping black youngsters, Vason was always around youth and children making a difference.

On Sunday, Vason’s Facebook page was filled with condolences and tributes from friends.

A funeral service is set for Friday at Shorter Community AME Church in Denver at 11:30 a.m.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Cars

Lions Hold Car Show in Corte Madera

The Corte Madera Lions Electric Vehicle and Classic Car Show was held last Sunday, September 12, at the Village shopping center’s overflow parking lot next to Nordstrom’s. 

Published

on

From top, left to right: Chloe Nolasco selling the 2021 Electra Meccanica Solo, 1968 Shelby GT, 1972 Citroen 2cv, 1957 Rolls Royce, 1967 Morgan, 1993 Dodge Viper. Bottom photo from left: 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C MKIII, 1959 Shelby Cobra, 1959 Chevy Corvette (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

The Corte Madera Lions Electric Vehicle and Classic Car Show was held last Sunday, September 12, at the Village shopping center’s overflow parking lot next to Nordstrom’s. 

The latest electric vehicles from Marin Luxury Cars — Mercedes, Mini, Ford, Electra Meccanica, and more than 75 pristine pre-1975 classic cars were featured at the show, including a fire truck and a farm tractor.

The event featured food from the The Pig in the Pickle, beer, wine, and live music from three local bands.

The Corte Madera Lions presented this community wide event. All proceeds will benefit local charities.

“The Marin Post’s coverage of local news in Marin County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.”

Continue Reading

Black History

Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie: First Black Grammy’ Winners

Two Black performers left the event that night with Grammys in hand: Ella Jane Fitzgerald (1917–1996) for Best Vocal Performance, Female, and Best Jazz Performance, Individual; and William James “Count” Basie (1904–1984), for Best Performance by a Dance Band and Best Jazz Performance, Group. Recognition for the pair was well overdue as their roads to the Grammy were storied.

Published

on

Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie, the first two African Americans to win Grammy awards, 1958. Photo courtesy of 9gag.com/gag/aQREN3K

It was the late spring of 1959. The music industry’s elite converged inside the Grand Ballroom of Los Angeles’ Beverly Hilton. Others were gathering at a function held simultaneously in New York City.

That night, the Grammy Award’s first show took place, and no one knew then that it would become a historic event for African-American performers.

Two Black performers left the event that night with Grammys in hand: Ella Jane Fitzgerald (1917–1996) for Best Vocal Performance, Female, and Best Jazz Performance, Individual; and William James “Count” Basie (1904–1984), for Best Performance by a Dance Band and Best Jazz Performance, Group. Recognition for the pair was well overdue as their roads to the Grammy were storied.

Fitzgerald was a teen when her mother died. Her aunt then took young Ella from her home in Yonkers, N.Y., back to Newport News, Va. Shortly after, Ella’s stepfather died. These events brought on depression. Ella began failing school and frequently skipped classes. After getting into trouble with the police, she was sent to a reform school. There she endured beatings by the caretakers. The brutality forced her to escape.

At age 15, she was alone and struggling to make a life for herself. But things would change when she was in New York City about five years later.

In 1934, young Ella performed at the Apollo’s Amateur Night. The crowd booed her; shouted “What’s she going to do?” A frightened Ella decided to sing. She asked the band to play Hoagy Carmichael’s “Judy,” one of her mother’s favorites. Her voice silenced the audience, and by the song’s end they begged for an encore.

Two years later, Ella made her first recording, “Love and Kisses,” under the Decca label. The rest was music history.
Later dubbed “The First Lady of Song,” Ella was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century. On June 15, 1996, she died in her Beverly Hills home. She’d taken home 14 Grammys throughout her career.

Basie, born in Red Bank, N.J., was one of the all-time great jazz band leaders. Dubbed the “King of Swing,” his career started in clubs and speakeasies in Asbury Park and Long Branch, N.J., then New York City (1924) and later Kansas City (1927).

His music served as inspiration for artists including John Lewis, Thelonious Monk, and Oscar Peterson. Along the way, he faced discrimination but overcame barriers to become one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.

“Every day, we used to say, ‘Not one drop of my self-worth depends on your acceptance of me,’” musician and producer Quincy Jones said of the racism that he and Basie experienced back then. “It was horrible. It ain’t much better now.”

Basie wrote in a letter: “I can’t remember when I did not experience discrimination … And I didn’t let it bug me.”
The Count won nine Grammy awards over the course of his career. He died on April 26, 1984, in Hollywood, Fla.

Continue Reading

Community

Fillmore’s Great Jazz Era Featured in Book Talk, Concert at S.F. Botanical Gardens

Authors Elizabeth Pepin Silva and Lewis Watts will talk about their book, “Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era” at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park on Monday, September 20. 

Published

on

Sam Peoples Jr. in the Fillmore./ Photo Courtesy of Lewis Watts

Authors Elizabeth Pepin Silva and Lewis Watts will talk about their book, “Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era” at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park on Monday, September 20.  It will be followed by a mini-concert by the Sam Peoples Trio. The event, co-sponsored by the garden, Bayview Opera House, and the San Francisco African American Historical & Cultural Society will run from 4:00-5:00 p.m. It is part of the garden’s critically acclaimed “Flower Piano” program, where 12 grand pianos are placed around the garden and musicians are invited to come and play them. 

Sam, whose father was a highly regarded, Fillmore-based musician in San Francisco back in the heyday of Harlem of the West, will be performing music that celebrates the great jazz and cultural heritage of the Fillmore District in San Francisco which is described Silva and Watts book.  

The fourth edition of the book, released by Heyday Books in 2020, will also be on sale at the garden. For more information, go to: https://www.sfbg.org/flowerpiano

The San Francisco Post’s coverage of local news in San Francisco County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

Continue Reading

Trending