Rhythm and Blues is an amalgam of big band jazz, often termed rhythm, and the blues with a secret ingredient thrown in. The term was first used in 1948 by Jerry Wexler; prior to that the genre had been known as 'race music', a disparaging term. The migration of African Americans to the urban industrial centers of Chicago, Detroit, New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere in the 1920s and 1930s created a new market for jazz, blues, and related genres of music, often performed by full-time musicians, either working alone or in small groups. The precursors of rhythm and blues came from jazz and blues, which overlapped in the late-1920s and 1930s through the work of musicians such as the Harlem Hamfats, with their 1936 hit "Oh Red", as well as Lonnie Johnson, Leroy Carr, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, and T-Bone Walker. Jazz had branched into swing which was also termed rhythm. There was also increasing emphasis on the electric guitar as a lead instrument, as well as the piano and saxophone. The secret ingredient was the Afro-Cuban influence from the 1800's, especially the contradenza, or habanera rhythm as it is known outside of Cuba. Listen to Jim Hession playing Jelly Roll Morton's 'New Orleans Joys'. The habanera rhythm can be thought of as a combination of tresillo and the backbeat. For the more than quarter-century in which the cakewalk, ragtime and proto-jazz were forming and developing, the Cuban genre habanera exerted a constant presence in African American popular music. Jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton considered the tresillo/habanera rhythm (which he called the Spanish tinge) to be an essential ingredient of jazz
In 1948, RCA Victor started marketing their black musician's output as "rhythm and blues". In that year, Louis Jordan dominated the top five listings of the R & B charts with three songs, and two of the top five songs were based on the boogie-woogie rhythms that had come to prominence during the 1940's. Jordan's cool music, along with that of Big Joe Turner, Roy Brown, Billy Wright, and Wynonie Harris, is now also referred to as jump blues. This is also the birth of Rock 'n Roll, Jordan's "Saturday Night Fish Fry" (1949) and Wynonie Harris' "Good Rockin Tonight" (1948) are both strong contenders as the first Rock 'n Roll hits. Note that Big Joe Turner had recorded "Around The Clock in 1945 but this was still the boogie-woogie version (also showing the roots of the term rock 'n roll). One of the factors that kept these songs from the mainstram was that many had an earthy, risque quality, like Paul Williams "The Hucklebuck" which spawned a dance craze, and many others with sexual innuendo. At the other end of the scale was Jimmy Witherspoon with a remake of the 1920's classic "Aint Nobody's Business", late-night, mellow blues at it's best. Many of these hit records were issued on new independent record labels, such as Savoy (founded 1942), King (founded 1943), Imperial (founded 1945), Specialty (founded 1946), Chess (founded 1947), and Atlantic (founded 1948).
To be exact it was Aristocrat Records which was founded in 1947; a Polish immigrant named Leonard Chess was an early investor and by 1950 he, with his brother Phil, had bought out their partners and renamed the label Chess records. The first release on Chess was the 78 RPM single "My Foolish Heart" b/w "Bless You" by Gene Ammons, which was released as Chess 1425 in June 1950, and became the label's biggest hit of the year. Aristocrat already had Muddy Waters recording for it and by 1951 they had formed an association with Sam Phillips in Memphis whereby he passed on his black artists for release on Chess. One of the most important recordings that Phillips gave to Chess was "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston/Ike Turner and his Delta Cats which topped Billboard magazine's R & B Records chart and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998 because of its influence as a rock and roll single. With a stable that include Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon, Chuck Berry, Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Rufus Thomas and Etta James among many others they became the foundation of much of music today. Musician and critic Cub Koda described Chess Records as "America's greatest blues label".Many songs created by Chess artists were later reproduced by many famous Rock n' Roll bands and artists such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and Eric Clapton. In fact the Stones recorded at the Chess Studio on three occasions and immortalised the location with "2120 South Michigan Avenue", an instrumental recorded there during the group's first U.S. tour in 1964. The second release on the label, Chess 1426, in 1950 was Muddy Waters "Rolling Stone" after which a certain English band named thenselves. Another prolific artist was John Lee Hooker; initially recording as John Lee Booker as he was already under contract elsewhere.
Born in 1917 down in Mississippi, John Lee Hooker was the son of a sharecropper. Hooker and his siblings were home-schooled. They were permitted to listen only to religious songs, with his earliest exposure being the spirituals sung in church. In 1921, his parents separated. The next year, his mother married William Moore, a blues singer who provided Hooker with his first introduction to the guitar (and whom John would later credit for his distinctive playing style). John's stepfather was his first significant blues influence. William Moore was a local blues guitarist who learned in Shreveport, Louisiana to play a droning, one-chord blues that was strikingly different from the Delta blues of the time. Around 1923 his biological father died. At the age of 14, John Lee Hooker ran away from home, reportedly never seeing his mother or stepfather again. He went to Memphis where he worked in factories. Throughout the 1930s, Hooker lived in Memphis, Tennessee where he worked on Beale Street at The New Daisy Theatre and occasionally performed at house parties. His first hit came in 1948, after moving to Detroit, with "Boogie Chillen", a song revised by Canned Heat who based most of their work on him. Despite being illiterate, Hooker was a prolific lyricist. In addition to adapting the occasionally traditional blues lyric (such as "if I was chief of police, I would run her right out of town..."), he freely invented many songs from scratch. Recording studios in the 1950s rarely paid black musicians more than a pittance, so Hooker would spend the night wandering from studio to studio, coming up with new songs or variations on his songs for each studio. Because of his recording contract, he would record these songs under obvious pseudonyms such as John Lee Booker, notably for Chess Records and Chance Records in 1951/52, as Johnny Lee for De Luxe Records in 1953/54 as John Lee, and even John Lee Cooker, or as Texas Slim, Delta John, Birmingham Sam and his Magic Guitar, Johnny Williams, or The Boogie Man. He appeared and sang in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers. Due to Hooker's improvisational style, his performance was filmed and sound-recorded live at the scene at Chicago's Maxwell Street Market, in contrast to the usual "playback" technique used in most film musicals. Hooker was also a direct influence in the look of John Belushi's character Jake Blues. In 1989, he joined with a number of musicians, including Carlos Santana and Bonnie Raitt to record the album The Healer, for which he and Santana won a Grammy Award. He died in 2001 just before a tour of Europe.
Maybe something in the water, another son of Mississippi, McKinley Morganfield, was born in 1913. His grandmother, Della Grant, raised him after his mother died shortly following his birth. Della gave the boy the nickname "Muddy" at an early age because he loved to play in the muddy water of nearby Deer Creek. He started out on harmonica, but by age seventeen he was playing the guitar at parties, emulating two blues artists in particular, Son House and Robert Johnson. In August of 1941, Alan Lomax went to Stovall, Mississippi on behalf of the Library of Congress to record various country blues musicians. "He brought his stuff down and recorded me right in my house," Waters recalled in Rolling Stone, "and when he played back the first song I sounded just like anybody's records. Man, you don't know how I felt that Saturday afternoon when I heard that voice and it was my own voice." Initially, the Chess brothers would not allow Waters to use his working band in the recording studio; instead he was provided with a backing bass by Ernest "Big" Crawford, or by musicians assembled specifically for the recording session, including "Baby Face" Leroy Foster and Johnny Jones. Gradually Chess relented, and by September 1953 he was recording with one of the most acclaimed blues groups in history: Little Walter Jacobs on harmonica, Jimmy Rogers on guitar, Elga Edmonds (a.k.a. Elgin Evans) on drums and Otis Spann on piano. Waters headed to England in 1958 and shocked audiences (whose only previous exposure to blues had come via the acoustic folk/blues sounds of acts such as Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and Big Bill Broonzy) with his loud, amplified electric guitar and thunderous beat. He was very much a ladies man, there were four wives and inumerable children who he reunited with over his life. However, for the better part of twenty years (since his last big hit in 1956, "I'm Ready") Waters was put on the back shelf by the Chess label and recorded albums with various "popular" themes: Brass And The Blues, Electric Mud, etc. In 1967, he joined forces with Bo Diddley, Little Walter and Howlin' Wolf to record the Super Blues and The Super Super Blues Band pair of albums of Chess blues standards. In 1972 he went back to England to record The London Muddy Waters Sessions with Rory Gallagher, Steve Winwood, Rick Grech and Mitch Mitchell — but their playing was not up to his standards. "These boys are top musicians, they can play with me, put the book before 'em and play it, you know," he told Guralnick. "But that ain't what I need to sell my people, it ain't the Muddy Waters sound. An' if you change my sound, then you gonna change the whole man." He died of heart failure in 1983.
Yet another Mississippi lad, Chester A Burnett, was born in White Station in 1910. Burnett's parents broke up when he was young. His very religious mother, Gertrude, threw him out of the house while he was a child for refusing to work around the farm; he then moved in with his uncle, Will Young, who treated him badly. He explained the origin of the name Howlin' Wolf: "I got that from my grandfather", who would often tell him stories about the wolves in that part of the country and warn him that if he misbehaved then the "howling wolves would get him".When he was 13, he ran away and claimed to have walked 85 miles (137 km) barefoot to join his father, where he finally found a happy home within his father's large family. During the peak of his success, he returned from Chicago to see his mother in his home town and was driven to tears when she rebuffed him: she refused to take money offered by him, saying it was from his playing of the "Devil's music". In 1930, Burnett met Charlie Patton, the most popular bluesman in the Mississippi Delta at the time. He would listen to Patton play nightly from outside a nearby juke joint. There he remembered Patton playing "High Water Everywhere", "A Spoonful Blues", and "Banty Rooster Blues". The two became acquainted and soon Patton was teaching him guitar. Burnett recalled that: "The first piece I ever played in my life was ... a tune about hook up my pony and saddle up my black mare" (Patton's "Pony Blues"). His harmonica playing was modeled after that of Sonny Boy Williamson II, who had taught him how to play when Burnett moved to Parkin, Arkansas, in 1933. In 1951, Sam Phillips recorded several songs by Howlin' Wolf at his Memphis Recording Service. He quickly became a local celebrity and began working with a band that included guitarists Willie Johnson and Pat Hare. His first record singles were issued by two different record companies in 1951: "How Many More Years" with "Moaning at Midnight" by Chess Records and "Riding in the Moonlight" backed with "Moaning at Midnight" by RPM Records. Later, Leonard Chess was able to secure his contract and Howlin' Wolf relocated to Chicago in 1952. In the early 1960s, Howlin' Wolf recorded several songs that became his most famous despite receiving no radio play. These include "Wang Dang Doodle", "Back Door Man", "Spoonful", "The Red Rooster" (later known as "Little Red Rooster"), "I Ain't Superstitious", "Goin' Down Slow", and "Killing Floor". Many of these songs were written by bassist and Chess arranger Willie Dixon; later, several found their way into the repertoires of British and American rock groups, who further popularized them. During the counterculture movement in the late 1960s, black blues musicians suddenly found a new audience among white youths and Howlin' Wolf was among the first to capitalize on it. He toured Europe in 1964 as part of the American Folk Blues Festival tour. He died in 1976 from kidney surgery complications.
Although originating in the metropolis at the mouth of the Mississippi River, New Orleans blues, with its Afro-Caribbean rhythmic traits, is distinct from the sound of the Mississippi Delta blues. In the late 1940s, New Orleans musicians were especially receptive to Cuban influences precisely at the time when R & B was first forming. The first use of tresillo in R & B occurred in New Orleans producer-bandleader Dave Bartholomew first employed this figure (as a saxophone-section riff) on his own 1949 disc "Country Boy" and subsequently helped make it the most over-used rhythmic pattern in 1950s rock 'n' roll. On numerous recordings by Fats Domino, Little Richard and others, Bartholomew assigned this repeating three-note pattern not just to the string bass, but also to electric guitars and even baritone sax, making for a very heavy bottom. Domino first attracted national attention with "The Fat Man" in 1950 on Imperial Records. This song is an early rock and roll record, featuring a rolling piano and Domino doing "wah-wah" vocalizing over a strong back beat. "The Fat Man" sold one million copies by 1953. In July 1951, Cleveland, Ohio DJ Alan Freed started a late-night radio show called "The Moondog Rock Roll House Party" on WJW (850 AM). Freed's show was sponsored by Fred Mintz, whose R & B record store had a primarily African American clientele. Freed began referring to the rhythm and blues music he played as "rock and roll". Ruth Brown on the Atlantic label, placed hits in the top 5 every year from 1951 through 1954: "Teardrops from My Eyes", "Five, Ten, Fifteen Hours", "(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean" and "What a Dream". Faye Adams's "Shake a Hand" made it to #2 in 1952. In 1953, the R & B record-buying public made Willie Mae Thornton's original recording of Leiber and Stoller's "Hound Dog" the #3 hit that year. Ruth Brown was very prominent among female R&B stars. Ruth Brown's popularity most likely derived because of "her deeply rooted vocal delivery in African American tradition". Atlantic records were already turning out great jazz (Dizzy Gillesppie), R & B (Joe Turner and Ruth Brown) and Doo Wop (Cardinals and Clovers) then in 1952 they released Ray Charles "Roll With My Baby". In 1951, Little Richard Penniman began recording for RCA Records in the jump blues style of late 1940s stars Roy Brown and Billy Wright. However, it was not until he prepared a demo in 1954, that caught the attention of Specialty Records, that the world would start to hear his new, uptempo, funky rhythm and blues that would catapult him to fame in 1955 and help define the sound of rock 'n' roll. A rapid succession of rhythm and blues hits followed, beginning with "Tutti Frutti" and "Long Tall Sally", which would influence performers such as James Brown, Elvis Presley, and Otis Redding.
Meanwhile, back at Chess Records ... In 1928 Mississippi produced another son, Ellas Otha Bates; you probably know him as Bo Diddley. Born in McComb, Mississippi, he was adopted and raised by his mother's cousin, Gussie McDaniel, whose surname he assumed, becoming Ellas McDaniel. In 1934, the McDaniel family moved to the largely black South Side area of Chicago, where the young man dropped the name Otha and became known as Ellas McDaniel, until his musical ambitions demanded that he take on a more catchy identity. In Chicago, he was an active member of his local Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he studied the trombone and the violin, becoming proficient enough on the latter for the musical director to invite him to join the orchestra, with which he performed until the age of 18. He was more impressed, however, by the pulsating, rhythmic music he heard at a local Pentecostal Church, and he also became interested in the guitar. Inspired by a concert where he saw John Lee Hooker perform, he supplemented his work as a carpenter and mechanic with a developing career playing on street corners with friends. In late 1954, he teamed up with harmonica player Billy Boy Arnold, drummer Clifton James and bass player Roosevelt Jackson, and recorded demos of "I'm A Man" and "Bo Diddley". They re-recorded the songs at Chess Studios with a backing ensemble comprising Otis Spann (piano), Lester Davenport (harmonica), Frank Kirkland (drums), and Jerome Green (maracas). The record was released in March 1955, and the A-side, "Bo Diddley", became a number one R & B hit. So where did the name Bo Diddley come from? The origin of the name is somewhat unclear, as several differing stories and claims exist. Bo Diddley himself said that the name first belonged to a singer his adoptive mother was familiar with, while harmonicist Billy Boy Arnold once said in an interview that it was originally the name of a local comedian that Leonard Chess borrowed for the song title, and artist name, for Diddley's first single. Guitar craftsman Ed Roman reported that another (unspecified) source says it was his nickname as a Golden Gloves boxer. A "diddley bow" is a typically homemade American string instrument of African origin, probably influenced by instruments found on the coast of West Africa. The American slang phrase bo diddly meaning "absolutely nothing" goes back possibly to the early 20th century or earlier. Diddly is a truncation of diddly-squat, retaining the same meaning of "nothing" and bo is an intensifier. He had a string of hits through the fifties and sixties. Bo was a consummate performer and showman, he long included women in his band: "The Duchess" Norma-Jean Wofford, Gloria Jolivet, Peggy Jones (a.k.a. "Lady Bo," a rare, for the time, female lead guitarist), Cornelia Redmond (a.k.a. Cookie) and Debby Hastings, who led his band for the final 25 years of his performing career. After moving from his home in Chicago to Washington, D.C., he set up one of the first home recording studios where he not only recorded the album Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger but he produced and recorded his valet, Marvin Gaye. The Diddley-penned, "Wyatt Earp" was Gaye's first single released on Okeh Records, since the Chess brothers did not want to release the record. He was also known as the Originator because of his key role in the transition from the blues to rock and roll, and rock, influencing a host of acts, including the Animals, Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Parliament Funkadelic, the Velvet Underground, the Who, the Yardbirds, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Eric Clapton, Elvis Presley and the Beatles, among others. He died in 2008 with accolades from President Bush on down (or up).
Breaking the mold somewhat, Charles Edward Anderson Berry was born to a middle-class family in 1926, in St Louis Missouri. His father, Henry, was a contractor and deacon of a nearby Baptist church, his mother Martha a certified public school principal. His middle class upbringing allowed him to pursue his interest in music from an early age and he gave his first public performance in 1941 while still at Sumner High School. Just three years later, in 1944, while still at Sumner High School, he was arrested and convicted of armed robbery after robbing three shops in Kansas City and then stealing a car at gunpoint with some friends. Berry's own account in his autobiography is that his car broke down and he then flagged down a passing car and stole it at gunpoint with a non-functional pistol. Berry was sent to the Intermediate Reformatory for Young Men at Algoa, near Jefferson City, Missouri, where he formed a singing quartet and did some boxing. By the early 1950s, Berry was working with local bands in the clubs of St. Louis as an extra source of income. He had been playing the blues since his teens, and he borrowed both guitar riffs and showmanship techniques from blues player T-Bone Walker, as well as taking guitar lessons from his friend Ira Harris that laid the foundation for his guitar style. By early 1953 Berry was performing with Johnnie Johnson's trio, starting a long-time collaboration with the pianist. Although the band played mostly blues and ballads, the most popular music among whites in the area was country. Berry wrote, "Curiosity provoked me to lay a lot of our country stuff on our predominantly black audience and some of our black audience began whispering 'who is that black hillbilly at the Cosmo?' After they laughed at me a few times they began requesting the hillbilly stuff and enjoyed dancing to it." In May 1955, Berry traveled to Chicago where he met Muddy Waters, who suggested he contact Leonard Chess of Chess Records. Berry thought his blues material would be of most interest to Chess, but to his surprise it was an old country and western recording by Bob Wills, entitled "Ida Red" that got Chess's attention. Chess had seen the rhythm and blues market shrink and was looking to move beyond it, and he thought Berry might be the artist for that purpose. So on May 21, 1955 Berry recorded an adaptation of "Ida Red" — "Maybellene" — which featured Johnnie Johnson on piano, Jerome Green (from Bo Diddley's band) on the maracas, Jasper Thomas on the drums and Willie Dixon on the bass. "Maybellene" sold over a million copies, reaching number one on Billboard's Rhythm and Blues chart and number five on the September 10, 1955 Billboard Best Sellers in Stores chart. By the end of the 1950s, Berry was a high-profile established star with several hit records and film appearances to his name, as well as a lucrative touring career. He had opened a racially integrated St. Louis-based nightclub, called Berry's Club Bandstand, and was investing in real estate. But in December 1959, Berry was arrested under the Mann Act after questionable allegations that he had sex with a 14-year-old Apache waitress, Janice Escalante, whom he had transported over state lines to work as a hat check girl at his club. After two appeals and serving 18 months in prison his popularity had declined. Chuck Berry went on to record "My Ding-a-Ling" but predominately he toured and toured. Berry continued to play 70 to 100 one-nighters per year in the 1980s, still traveling solo and requiring a local band to back him at each stop. In 1986, Taylor Hackford made a documentary film, Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, of a celebration concert for Berry's sixtieth birthday, organized by Keith Richards. In 2008, Berry toured Europe, with stops in Sweden, Norway, Finland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Poland and Spain. In mid-2008, he played at Virgin Festival in Baltimore, Maryland. He presently lives in Ladue, Missouri, approximately 10 miles west of St. Louis. During a New Year's Day 2011 concert in Chicago, Berry, suffering from exhaustion, passed out and had to be helped off stage. Berry usually performs one Wednesday each month at Blueberry Hill, a restaurant and bar located in the Delmar Loop neighborhood in St. Louis.
And now to someone who is not known for the records they released but is, nonetheless, maybe the most influential man on rhythm and blues. William James 'Willie' Dixon was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1915, , where else? His mother Daisy often rhymed the things she said, a habit her son imitated. At the age of seven, young Dixon became an admirer of a band that featured pianist Little Brother Montgomery. Dixon was first introduced to blues when he served time on prison farms in Mississippi as an early teenager. He later learned how to sing harmony from local carpenter Leo Phelps. Dixon sang bass in Phelps' group The Jubilee Singers, a local gospel quartet that regularly appeared on the Vicksburg radio station WQBC. Dixon began adapting poems he was writing as songs, and even sold some tunes to local music groups. He left Mississippi in 1936 and went to Chicago, becoming a successful boxer ( he was six feet six inches and 250 pounds), winning the Illinois State Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championship (Novice Division) in 1937. Dixon turned professional as a boxer and worked briefly as Joe Louis' sparring partner. After four fights, Dixon left boxing after getting into a fight with his manager over being cheated out of money. After the war, he formed a group named the Four Jumps of Jive and then reunited with Caston, forming the Big Three Trio, who went on to record for Columbia Records. Dixon signed with Chess Records as a recording artist, but began performing less, being more involved with administrative tasks for the label. By 1951, he was a full-time employee at Chess, where he acted as producer, talent scout, session musician and staff songwriter. He was also a producer for Chess subsidiary Checker Records. His relationship with Chess was sometimes strained, although he stayed with the label from 1948 to the early 1960s. During this time Dixon's output and influence were prodigious. From late 1956 to early 1959, he worked in a similar capacity for Cobra Records, where he produced early singles for Otis Rush, Magic Sam, and Buddy Guy. He later recorded on Bluesville Records. From the late 1960s until the middle 1970s, Dixon ran his own record label, Yambo Records, along with two subsidiary labels, Supreme and Spoonful. He released his 1971 album "Peace?" on Yambo, as well as singles by McKinley Mitchell, Lucky Peterson and others. Dixon is considered one of the key figures in the creation of Chicago blues. He worked with Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Otis Rush, Bo Diddley, Joe Louis Walker, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Koko Taylor, Little Milton, Eddie Boyd, Jimmy Witherspoon, Lowell Fulson, Willie Mabon, Memphis Slim, Washboard Sam, Jimmy Rogers, Sam Lay and others. In his later years, Willie Dixon became a tireless ambassador for the blues and a vocal advocate for its practitioners, founding the Blues Heaven Foundation. In 1987, Dixon received an out-of-court settlement from Led Zeppelin after suing them for plagiarism, in relation to their use of his music for "Bring It On Home" and his lyrics from his composition "You Need Love" (1962) for their track "Whole Lotta Love". He died of heart failure in 1992.
The 'Godfather of Soul', James Joseph Brown was born on May 3, 1933, in Barnwell, South Carolina, to 16-year-old Susie and 22-year-old Joseph "Joe" Gardner Brown in a small wooden shack. The Brown family lived in extreme poverty in Elko, South Carolina, which was an impoverished town at the time. They later relocated to Augusta, Georgia, when Brown was four or five. Brown's family first settled at one of his aunts' brothels and later moved into a house shared with another aunt. Brown's mother later left the family after a contentious marriage and moved to New York. Brown spent long stretches of time on his own, hanging out in the streets and hustling to get by but he did manage to stay in school until sixth grade. Brown began singing in talent shows as a young child, first appearing at Augusta's Lenox Theater in 1944, winning the show after singing the ballad "So Long". At 16, Brown was convicted of robbery and was sent to a juvenile detention center where he formed a gospel quartet with four fellow cellmates. On release in 1952 he met up with Boby Byrd and formed a group which evolved into the Famous Flames. The manager sent them to a local radio station to record a demo session, where they performed their own composition "Please, Please, Please", which was inspired when Little Richard wrote the words of the title on a napkin and Brown was determined to make a song out of it. The Famous Flames eventually signed with King Records' Federal subsidiary in Cincinnati, Ohio and issued a re-recorded version of "Please, Please, Please" in March 1956. The song became the group's first R & B hit, selling over a million copies. In 1962 Brown and the band scored a hit with a cover of the instrumental, "Night Train", becoming not only a top five R & B single but also Brown's first top 40 entry on the Billboard Hot 100.In 1964, seeking bigger commercial success, Brown and Bobby Byrd formed the production company, Fair Deal, linking the operation to the Mercury imprint, Smash Records. King Records, however, fought against this and was granted an injunction preventing Brown from releasing any recordings for the label. Prior to the injunction, Brown had released three vocal singles, including the blues-oriented hit, "Out of Sight", which further indicated the direction his music was going to take. Touring throughout the year, Brown and the Famous Flames grabbed more national attention after giving an explosive show-stopping performance on the live concert film, The T.A.M.I. Show. The Flames' polished choreography and timing as well as Brown's energetic dance moves and high-octane vocals upstaged the show from proposed closing act, The Rolling Stones. With a new deal with King, Brown released his composition, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag", which became his first top ten pop hit and won Brown his first Grammy Award. We will leave him there as his music evolved into funk, fare for another article perhaps. Suffice it to say Mr. Dynamite continued to perform (and have scrapes with the law) and provided soundtracks for many 'blaxploitation' movies. He died on Christmas Day 2006 having earned more nicknames and accolades than anyone else.
We will leave off here as the genres started to split with the advent of soul, Stax and Motown. Let us finish with some of my all time favourites.