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Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup

Arthur Crudup may well have been Elvis Presley's favorite bluesman. The swivel-hipped rock god recorded no less than three of "Big Boy's" Victor classics during his seminal rockabilly heyday: "That's All Right Mama" (Elvis' Sun debut in 1954), "So Glad You're Mine," and "My Baby Left Me." Often lost in all the hubbub surrounding Presley's classic covers are Crudup's own contributions to the blues lexicon. He didn't sound much like anyone else, and that makes him an innovator, albeit a rather rudimentary guitarist (he didn't even pick up the instrument until he was 30 years old).

Around 1940, Crudup migrated to Chicago from Mississippi. Times were tough at first; he was playing for spare change on the streets and living in a packing crate underneath an elevated train track when powerful RCA/Bluebird producer Lester Melrose dropped a few coins in Crudup's hat. Melrose hired Crudup to play a party that 1941 night at Tampa Red's house attended by the cream of Melrose's stable: Big Bill Broonzy, Lonnie Johnson, Lil Green. A decidedly tough crowd to impress -- but Crudup overcame his nervousness with flying colors. By September of 1941, he was himself an RCA artist.

Crudup pierced the uppermost reaches of the R&B lists during the mid-'40s with "Rock Me Mama," "Who's Been Foolin' You," "Keep Your Arms Around Me," "So Glad You're Mine," and "Ethel Mae." He cut the original "That's All Right" in 1946 backed by his usual rhythm section of bassist Ransom Knowling and drummer Judge Riley, but it wasn't a national hit at the time. Crudup remained a loyal and prolific employee of Victor until 1954, when a lack of tangible rewards for his efforts soured Crudup on Nipper (he had already cut singles in 1952 for Trumpet disguised as Elmer James and for Checker as Percy Lee Crudup).

In 1961, Crudup surfaced after a long layoff with an album for Bobby Robinson's Harlem-based Fire logo dominated by remakes of his Bluebird hits. Another lengthy hiatus preceded Delmark boss Bob Koester's following the tip of Big Joe Williams to track down the elusive legend (Crudup had drifted into contract farm labor work in the interim). Happily, the guitarist's sound hadn't been dimmed by Father Time: his late-'60s work for Delmark rang true as he was reunited with Knowling (Willie Dixon also handled bass duties on some of his sides). Finally, Crudup began to make some decent money, playing various blues and folk festivals for appreciative crowds for a few years prior to his 1974 death. ~ Bill Dahl
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Mama's Still Got The Blues

1. That's All Right (Mama)

2. Room And Board

3. Rock Me Mama

4. I'm In The Mood

5. Old And Grey

6. Greyhound Bus

7. Mean Ole Frisco

8. Boogie In The Morning

9. The Moon Is Rising

10. Katie Mae

11. What Are You Trying To Do?

12. I Don't Worry

x

Track List: The Definitive Collection 1941-62, Vol. 2

Disc 1

1. You Know That I Love You

2. She's Just Like Caldonia

4. Mean Old Santa Fe

5. She Ain't Nothin' But Trouble

6. Behind Closed Doors

7. Anytime Is The Right Time

8. My Baby Left Me

9. Nobody Wants Me

10. Star Bootlegger

11. Too Much Competition

12. I'm Gonna Dig Myself A Hole

13. Where Did You Stay Last Night?

14. Love Me Mama

15. Second Man Blues

16. Pearly Lee

17. Do It If You Want To

18. Lookin' For My Baby

19. Goin' Back To Georgia

20. Mr. So And So

21. Keep On Drinkin'

22. Nelvina

23. Worried About You Baby

24. Late In The Evening

Disc 2

5. I Wonder

6. My Baby Boogies All The Time

7. My Wife And Woman

8. The War Is Over

9. I Love My Baby

10. Fall On Your Knees And Pray

11. If You Ever Been To Georgia

12. She's Got No Hair

14. Look On Yonder Wall

20. Greyhound Bus

21. Coal Black Mare

x

Track List: Sunny Road

1. Sunny Road

2. Please Don't Leave Me With The Blues

3. Trying To Take Me For A Ride

4. She Gives Me A Thrill

5. Mistake I Made In L.A.

6. The One That I Love

7. I Have Called Up China

8. I'm Leavin' Town

9. Studio Chatter With Bob Koester

10. All I Got Is Gone

x

Track List: The Blues

1. Mean Ol' Frisco

2. I'm In The Mood

3. That's All Right

4. Standin' At My Window

6. Katie Mae

7. Look On Yonder Wall

8. Dig Myself A Hole

9. If I Get Lucky

10. Death Valley Blues

11. I Love Her Just The Same

12. Rock Me Mama

x

Track List: Rock Me Mama

1. Katie Mae

2. Standin' At My Window

3. Rock Me Mama

4. If I Get Lucky

5. Death Valley Blues

6. That's All Right (Mama)

7. I'm In The Mood

8. Mean Ol' Frisco

9. Angel Child

10. Ethel Mae

11. Dig Myself A Hole

12. My Mama Don't Allow Me

13. I Love Her Just The Same

14. Look On Yonder Wall

x

Track List: Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup's Mean Ole Frisco

1. That's Alright (Re-Recording)

2. Standing At My Window

3. Rock Me Mama

4. Mean Ole Frisco

5. Dig Myself A Hole (Re-Recording)

6. Look On Yonder Wall

7. Katie Mae

8. Ethel Mae (Re-Recording)

x

Track List: Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup Vol. 3 1949-1952

1. Mercy Blues

2. She's Just Like Caldonia

3. Mean Old Santa Fe

4. Behind Closed Doors

5. She Ain't Nothin' But Trouble

6. Oo-Wee Darling

7. Anytime Is The Right Time

8. My Baby Left Me

9. Nobody Wants Me

10. Star Bootlegger

11. Too Much Competition

12. Second Man Blues

13. Pearly Lee

14. Love Me Mama

15. Never No More

16. Where Did You Stay Last Night?

17. I'm Gonna Dig Myself A Hole

18. I'm Gonna Dig Myself A Hole (Alternate Take)

19. Goin' Back To Georgia

20. Mr. So And So

21. Do It If You Want To

22. Keep On Drinkin'

x

Track List: Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup Vol. 2 1946-1949

1. Crudup's After Hours

2. I Want My Lovin'

3. That's All Right

4. I Don't Know It

5. Cry Your Blues Away

6. Crudup's Vicksburg Blues

7. Gonna Be Some Changes Made

8. Train Fare Blues

9. Katie Mae

10. Hey Mama. Everything's All Right

11. Hoodoo Lady Blues

12. Lonesome World To Me

13. Roberta Blues

14. Just Like A Spider

15. Some Day

16. That's Why I'm Lonesome

17. Tired Of Worry

18. Dust My Broom

19. Hand Me Down My Walking Cane

20. Shout Sister Shout

21. Come Back Baby

22. You Know That I Love You

x

Track List: Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup Vol. 4 1952-1954

1. Worried About You Baby

2. Late In The Evening

3. Lookin' For My Baby

4. Nelvina

5. My Baby Boogies All The Time

6. I Wonder

7. Baby I've Been Mistreated

8. You Didn't Mean A Word

9. Open Your Book

10. Tears In My Eyes

11. Tears In My Eyes (Alternate Take)

12. Gonny Find My Baby

13. Make A Little Love

14. I Love My Baby

15. My Wife And Women

16. The War Is Over

17. Fall On Your Knees And Pray

18. If You Ever Been To Georgia

19. Help Me To Bear This Heavy Load

20. I Love You

21. She's Got No Hair

22. Looka There, She Got No Hair

23. I Love Her Just The Same

x

Track List: Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup Vol. 1 1941-1946

1. Black Pony Blues

2. Death Valley Blues

3. Kind Lover Blues

4. If I Get Lucky

5. Standing At My Window

6. Gonna Follow My Baby

7. Give Me A 32-20

8. My Mama Don't Allow Me

9. Mean Old 'Frisco Blues

10. Raised To My Hand

11. Cool Disposition

12. Who's Been Foolin You

13. Rock Me Mama

14. Keep Your Arms Around Me

15. Dirt Road Blues

16. I'm In The Mood

17. That's Your Red Wagon

18. She's Gone

19. Ethel Mae

20. So Glad You're Mine

21. Boy Friend Blues

22. No More Lovers

23. You Got To Reap

24. Chicago Blues

x

Track List: Look On Yonder's Wall

1. Look On Yonder Wall

2. Questionnaire Blues

3. Keep Your Hands Off That Woman

4. That's All Right

5. Rock Me Mama

6. Katie May

7. Dust My Broom

8. Landlord Blues

9. Coal Black Mare

10. Life Is Just A Gamble

11. Walk Out On The Road

12. I'm All Alone

13. You'll Be Old Before Your Time

14. Ramblin' Blues

15. When I Lost My Baby (I Almost Lost My Mind)

x

Track List: Mean Ol' Frisco

1. Mean Ole Frisco

2. Look On Yonder Wall

3. That's Alright

4. Ethel Mae

5. Too Much Competition

6. Standing At My Window

7. Rock Me, Mama

8. Greyhound Bus

9. Coal Black Mare

10. Katie Mae

11. Dig Myself A Hole

12. So Glad You're Mine

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