“We met in East Chattanooga, Tennessee, basically just hanging out and kicking it. Eventually, we found out that we all loved music and had a unique blend of instruments in our repertoire: congas, bass guitar, acoustic guitars and most importantly, voices. We wanted to make a real difference and tried to relay that in a sound of the times.” David (Bilal) Sabir
Forming in the mid-‘70s as No I.D., they gigged venues in and around Tennessee and North Georgia. Fronted by two lead vocalists on guitars, the band played original material along with carefully selected cover versions of hits that resonated with them.
“People used to think we were devil worshippers” recalls Sabir. Donning hooded black robes on stage and performing acoustic-led renditions of Funkadelic’s ‘One Nation Under a Groove’ set this quintet apart from other musicians in their southern hometown. “Our sound was different from the hip bands at the time”. Expressing a self-awareness and social-commentary in both name and presence, No I.D. did not win many gigs in a city that continues to struggle with a sinister history and de facto segregation in its DNA.
Recorded in a one-take session in 1978 with local engineer Howard Levi , ‘Changes’ and ‘Bilalian Woman’ are the only two songs the band ever recorded. A self-funded limited run of copies were pressed and released on their own imprint, Bilal Sabir Publishing. With no promotional budget, the record received little support and went under the radar with remaining copies going to friends and family.
Shortly after this, tragedy struck with the passing of percussionist Lester Williams bringing an abrupt end to the band and No I.D’s recording legacy. For years the single remained virtually unknown until discerning collectors spoke of it’s existence and word spread.
Reissued for the first time, No I.D’s message can be heard again, remastered and officially licensed through Backatcha Records.
David Sabir continues to write music to this day, with a focus on live jazz vocal performance. Carroll Terry died in 2015, in Charleston, SC. Gorman McKeldin is a family man and Realtor on the West Coast and Rev.James Reed is a full-time Minister.