The Rotary Connection Burns The Midnight Lamp For You

Oct 17th, 2008 // 9 Comments

Above, The Rotary Connection’s stellar version of Jimi Hendrix’s warped “Burning of the Midnight Lamp”, which you may recognize as being sampled in Jay-Z’s “Hova Song.” The Rotary Connection, led by a very young Minnie Riperton, take what’s arguably one of Hendrix’s lesser singles and crank up the majestic. They pile on the strings and vocals, particularly Minnie’s voice–which is striking in any octave, though she spends most of the song hanging out with Yma Sumac in the stratosphere.

The Rotary Connection were a psychedelic-soul outfit headed up by Marshall Chess, the son of Chess Records scion Leonard Chess. They recruited Riperton right from their own offices. She was the receptionist. Lucky find! I got this collection a while back, and I love it, though I understand why the band never made it big. There are tons of covers on here; they had a particularly odd obsession with Cream, covering multiple versions of their songs. It’s easy to see why they were thought of as a cover band, even though their originals are pretty fantastic. You might recognize the sitar lick at the beginning of “Memory Band”:

Beyond that, a lot of the Rotary Connection stuff leans heavily on the “Psych” in Psychedelic Soul. Check out this minor-keyed version of “Respect” (no R-E-S-P-E-C-T here):

“I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun” is another fave:

Riperton went on to bigger things before succumbing to cancer in 1979 at the age of 31.


  1. bcapirigi

    didn’t somebody just say they missed maya rudolph?

  2. Lucas Jensen

    @bcapirigi: If you think about it, Maya Rudolph has done some pretty rad stuff. The Rentals, bonking PT Anderson, SNL…The Rentals?

  3. exposition

    I first heard them on a Chess comp called “Psychedelic Jazz & Funky Grooves,” but had no idea that was Minnie Riperton singing. Thanks!

  4. Lucas Jensen

    @exposition: We do what we can here at Idolator.

  5. loudersoft

    @Lucas Jensen: I am a big fan of Rotary Connection & in particular “I Am The Black Gold of the Sun” (as you probably know). Since you did the groundwork for me to post this video AGAIN, I like to point out the Nuyorican Soul version (remixed by 4hero), as I feel strongly that its a seminal modernization of this wonderful song.

  6. bcapirigi

    i’m disappointed the yma sumac tag didn’t lead to more articles…

  7. Anonymous

    a huge poster of Minnie hangs in my living room..her stratospheric range has inspired me …if only ….a lot of people don’t know that they are listening to her in the background on many CHESS hits and other fabulosities like Fontella Bass’ Rescue Me….I loved the article on her from years back “MUSIC that makes me toke” I believe was the headline…the soothing sounds from the PERFECT ANGEL….she is still hovering… at least she was back in 1990…bless her melancholy memory that never tires….


  8. Anonymous

    be sure to check out LIZ LANDS

  9. Thanks for the clip. Your really sweetend my day at work. Even my boss came in and enjoyed it with us.

Leave A Comment