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War celebrates 50 years of 'The World is a Ghetto'

The World Is A Ghetto, the sprawling masterpiece and blockbuster from the band War, began as an idea for a play.

Founding member Lonnie Jordan says it was original percussionist Thomas "Papa Dee" Allen who envisioned a character called "Ghetto Man." So the band began laying down tracks for Allen's concept.

"Actually, we forgot about his play and where it was gonna go, and we started creating this music for The World Is A Ghetto," Jordan remembers.

That seed of an idea would eventually germinate into a blockbuster for the band. The World Is A Ghetto became the best-selling album of 1973, and the 10-minute title track earned War a gold record.

Fueld by the band's daily life in Long Beach, Calif., the record shares a message of class, hope and equality.

"Your house, my house, your car, my car, your street, my street, your neighborhood, my neighborhood," Jordan says. "You drive a Rolls-Royce, but your Rolls can have a flat and be stuck in the wrong 'hood just like my Pinto could be. So we're talking about everyone living under the same sky."

In today's session, Jordan and War's producer/manager Jerry Goldstein talk about how War created that incredible record. Plus, they share other incredible stories, including how a fight with Jim Morrison inspired one of War's biggest hits.

Copyright 2023 XPN

Stephen Kallao
Miguel Perez
Miguel Perez is a radio producer for NPR's World Cafe, based out of WXPN in Philadelphia. Before that, he covered arts, music and culture for KERA in Dallas. He reported on everything from the rise of NFTs in the music industry to the enduring significance of gay and lesbian bars to the LGBTQ community in North Texas.