Born July 8, 1908, Brinkley, Arkansas;
died February 4, 1975, Los Angeles, California
The Father of the Rhythm & Blues came out of the blues world of
Brinkley, Arkansas, to play in Chick Webb's swing band from 1932 to 1938;
he played alto sax and participated in comedy routines.
He began recording for Decca in 1938 with his own Tympany Five, remaining
on the label until 1953. He had his first million-seller in 1944 with "Is
You Is Or Is You Ain't Ma Baby?" -- having previously attracted attention
with "Knock Me A Kiss" and "I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts
Of Town," the latter a classic Blues.
His second million-seller was "Caldonia (What Makes Your Big Head
So Hard?)," followed in 1946 by two million-sellers, "Beware,
Brother, Beware" and "Choo Choo Ch 'Boogie," the biggest
seller of all.
In all these, he pursued a basic rhythm of Shuffle Boogie, later taken
over by early Rock 'n' Roll. As he said, he "made the blues jump," and
in so doing, influenced B. B. King, Chuck Berry, and Bill Haley.
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