by Rob Taylor Jr.
Courier Staff Writer
In February, the New Pittsburgh Courier’s Genea L. Webb penned an article on Don Patterson wanting to create a wax museum in Pittsburgh, specifically honoring musical talent.
“There’s so much musical talent that has come out of Pittsburgh and I don’t think the story’s been told and that’s what I want to do. I want to tell the story because the story deserves to be told,” Patterson said in the article. “I fell in love with music at the age of 7 after I got Parliament’s ‘Testify’ (song) and I fell in love with museums and wax figures after my father took me to Canada, and I went to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and saw the wax figures and how real they looked.”
Anyone who knew Patterson knew he was optimistic, ambitious, entrepreneurial, and always thought he could achieve anything. And over the course of his life, his achievements were numerous.
Although a funeral was held for the longtime educator and music promoter after his June 27 death, Pittsburgh’s music community felt more should be done for Patterson. Patterson had done so much for the music industry in Pittsburgh and beyond since coming to the Steel City from Cleveland in 1983 to attend the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
MUSIC PROMOTER AND EDUCATOR DON PATTERSON died at age 61 on June 27.
The community responded with “A Tribute to Don Patterson,” at the Afro-American Music Institute in Homewood, Aug. 29.
Patterson, who died at age 61 from heart disease, worked closely over the years with the Afro-American Music Institute in public relations, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported he worked in the same capacity with the Kingsley Association.
To even more music lovers, Patterson was known as the co-founder of “The Soul Show” in 1995 on WYEP (91.3). He hosted the show in the first year. The show continues to this day on Saturday afternoons with host Michael Canton.
“Don Patterson might have been the biggest hustler I’ve ever known. I mean, he ALWAYS seemed to have AT LEAST three things going on, and more projects around the corner,” said Elwin Green of Homewood Nation, a community publication. He made the comments on his Facebook page.
Webb reported in February how Patterson met so many of the great music artists over the generations. He met Pittsburgh native Phyllis Hyman, whom he met when he worked at a local liquor company. “I said, ‘Hi, Ms. Hyman, I am here to take care of you.’ She was so nice to me. I was in my early 20s and I was intimidated by her. I couldn’t even look her in the eye,” Patterson said in the Courier article.
At the end of Webb’s story, Patterson said his primary reason for wanting the wax museum was because it’s about “promoting, recording and telling the story of the Pittsburgh music scene. Once I learned of all the musical history in Pittsburgh, I was wondering why no one was telling the story. This is our story and we have to tell this story.”
And on Aug. 29, Pittsburgh’s music staples and elected officials made sure to tell Don Patterson’s story, through words and music.
DR. JAMES JOHNSON, with the Afro-American Music Institute, talks about his friend, Don Patterson.
“He was one of us, no question about it,” said James Johnson, co-founder of the AAMI, to the Post-Gazette. “Just unlimited energy. It was hard to put him in any one category. He was a promoter, but was also helping people as individuals.”
STEVEE WELLONS performs.
B. MARSHALL reflects on his time with Don Patterson.