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Roy Brown

When you draw up a short list of the R&B pioneers who exerted a primary influence on the development of rock & roll, respectfully place singer Roy Brown's name near its very top. His seminal 1947 DeLuxe Records waxing of "Good Rockin' Tonight" was immediately ridden to the peak of the R&B charts by shouter Wynonie Harris and subsequently covered by Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many more early rock icons (even Pat Boone). In addition, Brown's melismatical pleading, gospel-steeped delivery impacted the vocal styles of B.B. King, Bobby Bland, and Little Richard (among a plethora of important singers). Clearly, Roy Brown was an innovator -- and from 1948-1951, an R&B star whose wild output directly presaged rock's rise.

Born in the Crescent City, Brown grew up all over the place: Eunice, LA (where he sang in church and worked in the sugarcane fields); Houston, TX; and finally Los Angeles by age 17. Back then, Bing Crosby was Brown's favorite singer -- but a nine-month stint at a Shreveport, LA, nightclub exposed him to the blues for the first time. He conjured up "Good Rockin' Tonight" while fronting a band in Galveston, TX. Ironically, Harris wanted no part of the song when Brown first tried to hand it to him. When pianist Cecil Gant heard Brown's knockout rendition of the tune in New Orleans, he had Brown sing it over the phone to a sleepy DeLuxe boss, Jules Braun, in the wee hours of the morning. Though Brown's original waxing (with Bob Ogden's band in support) was a solid hit, Harris' cover beat him out for top chart honors.

Roy Brown didn't have to wait long to dominate the R&B lists himself. He scored 15 hits from mid-1948 to late 1951 for DeLuxe, ranging from the emotionally wracked crying blues of "Hard Luck Blues" (his biggest seller of all in 1950) to the party-time rockers "Rockin' at Midnight," "Boogie at Midnight," "Miss Fanny Brown," and "Cadillac Baby." Strangely, his sales slumped badly from 1952 on, even though his frantic "Hurry Hurry Baby," "Ain't No Rockin' No More," "Black Diamond," and "Gal From Kokomo" for Cincinnati's King Records rate among his hottest house rockers.

Brown was unable to cash in on the rock & roll idiom he helped to invent, though he briefly rejuvenated his commercial fortunes at Imperial Records in 1957. Working with New Orleans producer Dave Bartholomew, then riding high with Fats Domino, Brown returned to the charts with the original version of "Let the Four Winds Blow" (later a hit for Domino) and cut the sizzling sax-powered rockers "Diddy-Y-Diddy-O," "Saturday Night," and "Ain't Gonna Do It." Not everything was an artistic triumph; Brown's utterly lifeless cover of Buddy Knox's "Party Doll" -- amazingly, a chart entry for Brown -- may well be the worst thing he ever committed to wax (rivaled only by a puerile "School Bell Rock" cut during a momentary return to King in 1959).

After a long dry spell, Brown's acclaimed performance as part of Johnny Otis' troupe at the 1970 Monterey Jazz Festival and a 1973 LP for ABC-BluesWay began to rebuild his long-lost momentum. But it came too late; Brown died of a heart attack in 1981 at age 56, his role as a crucial link between postwar R&B and rock's initial rise still underappreciated by the masses. ~ Bill Dahl
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Roy Brown & New Orleans R&B

Disc 1

1. Deep Sea Diver

2. Bye, Baby, Bye

3. Good Rockin' Tonight

4. Lolly Pop Mama

5. Special Lesson No.1

6. Woman's A Wonderful Thing

7. Mighty, Mighty Man

9. Whose Hat Is That

10. Long "Bout Midnight

11. 'fore Day In The Morning

12. Rainy Weather Blues

14. Roy Brown's Boogie

16. Rockin' At Midnight

17. Please Don't Go

18. Riding High

19. Boogie At Midnight

20. The Blues Got Me Again

22. End Of My Journey

23. Cadillac Baby

24. Hard Luck Blues

25. Butcher Pete (Pt.1)

Disc 2

2. New Rebecca

3. Sweet Peach

4. Love Don't Love Nobody

5. Dreaming Blues

6. Good Man Blues

8. Teenage Jamboree

9. Train Time Blues

10. Bar Room Blues

11. Long About Sundown

12. Beautician Blues

13. Double Crossin' Woman

14. Wrong Woman Blues

15. Good Rockin' Man

16. I've Got The Last Laugh Now

17. Big Town

18. Brown Angel

19. Rock-A-Bye Baby

20. Lonesome Lover

21. Answer To Big Town

22. Money Can't Buy Love

23. Travelin' Man

24. Hurry, Hurry Baby

25. Midnight Lover Man

Disc 3
Disc 4

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Looked up artist from Galaxy Radio to create a station here on Pandora
Loving It!
Report as inappropriate
Damn Straight! Fallout 3 opened my ears to sooo much wonderful music from this era. Especially Roy Brown!
Report as inappropriate
rajharell
Thank God for Fallout 3! That's where i heard him for the first time- simply wonderful!
Report as inappropriate
Highly agree, Amazing.
Report as inappropriate
True king of rock!

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