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Bassist/vocalist Richard Cushing and drummer David Skypeck were playing with The Moonlight Syncopators every Wednesday night at Lafayette’s Corner on Beale Street in August of 1986. The band featured a horn section, but by November horn players Sal Crocker and Scott Thompson had left the band. One night, the band was surprised by the unexpected guest appearances of veteran jazz saxophonist Herman Green and Stax trumpeter William “Nokie” Taylor. That initial jam session led to a number of subsequent collaborations and in September of 1987, Cushing and trumpeter Willie Waldman approached Green about forming a new band. They were joined by guitarist Clint Goodwin (later Wagner), keyboardist/vocalist Ross Rice, and Jimmy Ellis on drums and vocals. Together with sound technicians Michael Kearney and Dave Aron from Sun Studio and Vince Pratt, who also occasionally played rhythm guitar, the band soon became a local favorite.

While continuing to be important recording artists and performers in their own right, FreeWorld members have also worked as movers and shakers behind the scenes helping their fellow Memphis musicians within the local music community. Band members, most notably Richard Cushing, have been active in local music organizations such as NARAS and the Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission. Their efforts are a benefit to all musicians in our community and will certainly leave an indelible mark on the history of Memphis music.

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