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in content were made by Curtis Obeda at the direction of Rosco Gordon's
granddaughter, Sonia Frederick, to the following information.
GORDON SUFFERS FATAL HEART ATTACK
The sad news just keeps getting sadder. Still mourning the passing
of Jimmie Lee Robinson, we heard from Rosco's bandleader, Larry Simon
this morning (July 11) that Rosco Gordon passed away from a massive
heart attack. He was preparing to leave his New York residence for
a performance in Wisconsin when he was stricken. Gordon was scheduled
to perform at this year's Boston Blues Festival and receive a Blues
Trust Lifetime Achievement Award on Saturday, September 28. His accomplishments
cannot be denied, now unfortunately, the award will be presented posthumously.
Blues Trust Productions extend our condolences to his family, friends
and fans across the world. For those that witnessed his talents this
is a sad day. We are sorrier still for those that never had the chance
to see him perform.
Rosco Gordon's biography follows:
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ROSCO GORDON BIOGRAPHY
Rosco Gordon was born on April 10, 1928, in Memphis, Tennessee. He
recorded his first single at the legendary Sun Studios while still
a teenager. Sam Phillips sold Rosco's first single, "Booted"
to Chess Records and it was released in 1951. His second song, "No
More Doggin'", reached number 3 on the charts, released on the
Bihari Brother's RPM label. Gordon was among the many, such as B.B.
King and Rufus Thomas to appear and perform on Memphis radio station
WDIA. Dave Mattis of WDIA took some of the product, from recording
sessions at the station, to a DJ convention in Chicago. Although unauthorized,
he sold it to Houston's Don Robey, who owned the Peacock and Duke
labels. Before he was 18 Rosco Gordon had hit records on three different
early 20's he lived in Shreveport, LA and continued to tour behind
the Duke/Peacock and Sun releases. He was touring with Jimmy McCracklin
and finished writing a song that Jimmy had been working on. "Just
a Little Bit" turned out to be his biggest hit and biggest trouble
all at once. He recorded the demo for Cincinnati's King Records, but
owner Ralph Bass said that he was uninterested in releasing it. Chicago's
Vee-Jay label did release "Just a Little Bit' and it became a
hit for Gordon and many others who covered it. Unfortunately, Bass
had used the demo to copyright the song under his name! In 1990 Gordon
finally received the rights to the song that he had written more than
three decades earlier.
downbeat boogie was mixed with calypso music in Jamaica and became
the basis for a new Island music called ska. Laurel Aitken, referred
to as Jamaica's "First Pop Star and the Godfather of Ska"
admitted as much in a February 1999 interview. His music's popularity
in Jamaica is yet another cultural achievement that Rosco Gordon is
credited with, but didn't directly profit from.
married Barbara Kerr on February 9, 1961. Although he continued playing
music, he stopped touring and was part owner of a New York dry cleaner
to support his family. His wife died of cancer in 1984 and Rosco dedicated
himself to his children. With his children grown, Gordon once again
started performing and recording towards the century's end.
Gordon's "Memphis Tennessee" is a minor gem that pays homage
to the R&B sides that legendary indie labels such as Chess and
Sun recorded in the 1950s. The CD also represents Gordon's first-ever
full-length "album." The singer and piano player devoted
more than two decades to his family after recording three hit singles
as a teenager in the early 1950s. "Booted," his debut, soared
to the top of the R&B charts in 1952. Gordon also pioneered a
distinctive shuffle rhythm that influenced the development of ska
and reggae in Jamaica before he quit the business in the 1960s. Guitarist/producer
Duke Robillard and his band back Gordon, who wrote 11 of the 12 tunes.
Robillard, the founder of Roomful of Blues, has been at the forefront
of this country's roots-music revival for more than three decades.
His expertise runs the gamut from swing, jump and bebop to blues and
early rock 'n' roll. The arrangement on the loungy "Sit Right
Here" offers testimony. The minor-key shuffle sounds as though
it would fit in perfectly on the soundtrack to the next Quentin Tarantino
film. Robillard's guitar has that old-time crackle. It also stands
out on the bluesy "It Takes A Lot of Lovin' " and "Let's
Get High" as well as on "Jelly Jelly," the CD's lone
cover written by jazz legends Earl Hines and Billy Eckstein. Gordon
takes the edge off his pipes on somber-sounding ballads such as "Now
You're Gone" and "You Don't Care About Nothing," which
feature the singer accompanying himself on piano. The latter is a
solo piece; the former includes strong contributions from Robillard
and sax player Gordon "Sax Gordon" Beadle, another retro-minded
New England musician. All and all, this is a great collection.
("Memphis Tennessee" is in stores now.)
- Eric Fine