Rufus Thomas

TrackSingle
Bear CatSun 181
Deep Down InsideSatellite S-102
The DogStax S-130
Did You Ever Love A WomanStax S-130
Walking The DogStax S-140
Fine And MellowStax S-140
Jump BackStax S-157
All Night WorkerStax S-157
Do The Funky ChickenStax STA-0059
The BreakdownStax STA-0098

Rufus Thomas photo 1

 

 

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Rufus Thomas playlist

 

 

Contributor: Dave Stephens

Many and varied are the subjects who have been celebrated within these hallowed portals but what – or who – we’ve not seen so far is a man whose first regular paid entertainment work came via the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, whose first record was released when he was 33 years old, whose only hit in the UK (which came in 1969 when he was 52) was about a cavorting Sunday lunch, whose entry in the history books might be “known for a series of novelty dance records” and whose dress often consisted of a tasteful ensemble utilising “pink pedal pushers, safari suits and all manner of outrageous stage costumes” (in the words of Peter Guralnick writing in “Lost Highway”).

Rufus C. Thomas Jr. was born in Cayce, Mississippi on 26th March 1917 but the family moved to Memphis when he was still very young. He was born an entertainer, becoming an accomplished tap dancer by the age of 10 (which, in later years he would claim, gave him his good timing). The tap dancing got him into the Rabbit Foot Minstrels but whilst with them he extended his role into comedy and singing. In 1940, he married his wife Cornelia and settled in Memphis. To support the family, Rufus got himself a day job at a textile bleaching plant which he continued in for over 20 years. In the evenings he would work as a singer in various night clubs in the city. In addition, he became half of a comedy duo “Rufus And Bones” with Robert “Bones” Couch. The pairing acted as MCs of the Amateur Hour talent show at the Palace Theatre and during this period both B.B. King and Bobby Bland strode those boards. In addition to all the above, he started work as a DJ in 1951, hosting an afternoon R&B show on station WDIA.

Backtracking slightly, his first record came about somewhat fortuitously. In 1950, whilst working at Curry’s Club Tropicana in North Memphis, he was approached by a man called Jesse Erickson who asked if he could record Rufus and the band. Four tracks were cut, two of which, I’ll Be A Good Boy and I’m So Worried, subsequently appeared on Erickson’s Star Talent label which operated out of Dallas, Texas. While the flip was a predictable slow blues of the time frame, the A-side which kicked off with the tenor sax of Evelyn Johnson (who would later work within B.B. King’s orchestra) was a Texas Shuffle of the blues rather than country variety, with Rufus claiming all innocence in the self-penned lyrics. (And the identification of the sax player came from the sleeve notes to the CD, Rufus Thomas – Tiger Man – Complete Recordings 1950-1957 on which all four tracks appear.) With its dance floor beat and the slight hint of humour in the title, the track is a fitting precursor to the later part of the Thomas career.

That same year, Rufus recorded again, this time in Nashville for the Bullet label with backing from the Bobby Plater Orchestra – Plater being another sax player who would himself later find a job with an orchestra, this time the one headed by Count Basie (and didn’t they like the term “orchestra” in those days). Due to his “contract” with Erickson of which details aren’t available, Rufus went under the pseudonym of “Mr Swing” on the two tracks which emerged from the session, Beer Bottle Boogie and Gonna Bring My Baby Back. Once again, the shuffle beat is deployed on the A-side as are the male singers, presumably band members, who echo the title line behind Rufus (again like I’ll Be A Good Boy). Contrary to the “Always A Smash Hit” line on the label underneath the bigger letters of Bullet, the record disappeared almost without trace following its predecessor into near obscurity.

Rufus’ next three records appeared on a much more prestigious independent label, Chess Records, although I have to add that these came in the very early days of the label’s existence so the reputation wasn’t fully in place yet. And it would be wrong to assume that they were cut in Chicago. They weren’t. They were cut in the Sun Studio in Memphis while it was still called the Memphis Recording Service. If there was nothing overly exciting about the Chess singles that resulted from the Memphis work, they were still good records and there were possible pointers for the future. No More Doggin’ Around has to be his first mention of “dog” in a title but maybe of more significance was the manner in which Rufus allowed his backing team time for an extended workout (fronted by sax) as would occur in those dance discs the best part of two decades later. The slow Night Workin’ Blues would be given an up tempo workover at Stax and re-emerge as All Night Worker. And if the flip of No More Doggin’ Around, Crazy ˈBout You Baby with its boogie piano well to the fore, wasn’t yet another candidate for first rock’n’roll record – or so those guys at 706UnionAvenue would have you believe – well why not?

The next Rufus Thomas record came out on Sun. And it was noticed; something that couldn’t be said about any of his discs up until then. Bear Cat was an answer record, a format that was popular in the R&B world. Big Mama Thornton had cut the original of Hound Dog back in August 1952 but it didn’t see release until March 1953 (with dates from 45cat and its 78RPM equivalent). It was a very striking record for its time with backing and arrangement from Johnny Otis and his band strongly featuring guitarist Pete Lewis sounding like an earlier (and louder) Steve Cropper. Sam Phillips set about creating an answer disc in no time flat. Having seen Rufus in his Rufus and Bones incarnation, he saw our hero as the key man to take this venture forward. The latter claimed unawareness of a “bear cat” to which Sam (as reported in 706UnionAvenue) replied “Rufus, hell, you don’t know what a damn bear cat is? That’s the meanest goddamn woman in the world.

The record came out within the same month as the original (date again from 45cat), sporting an arrangement that wasn’t a million miles from Hound Dog with Joe Hill Louis in the Pete Lewis role and doing mighty well too. And the buying punters loved it, pushing the record to #3 in the R&B Chart, not quite shunting Hound Dog off the top. Perhaps rubbing the point in overly hard, Rufus was billed as Rufus HOUND DOG Thomas Jr. on the label. The record promptly became Sun’s first hit and, just as promptly, Sun’s first legal case. Don Robey, founder of Peacock (on which label Hound Dog was released) didn’t waste any time in serving Phillips with an injunction. (And it’s strongly rumoured that it was the resulting cash drain that caused Sam to sell Elvis to RCA a few short years later.)

There was to be one follow-up only to Bear Cat, the A-side of which, Tiger Man, was a clear attempt to appeal to the same buyers; a novelty record with a beat, plus a title that was about as close as the writers could get to Bear Cat and, as a bonus, a melody line that could have been dreamed up in the Chess studio. It was a fine record but it didn’t make those bells on the cash tills ring and Sam let Rufus go (or lost interest, accounts are murky) a year or so later. But it’s abundantly clear from the shifting nature of his artists roster that Sam Phillips switched his attention to white artists after that day in July 1954 when Elvis, Scotty and Bill cut That’s All Right. When Peter Guralnick interviewed Rufus for the essay that appeared in “Lost Highway”, the latter was still sore about events and stated:

“Oh man. I guess I lost a lot of it, too, like most black folk. And when Elvis and Carl Perkins and Cash came along, just like he catered to black, he just cut it off and went to white. No more blacks did he pick up at all.”

While Rufus kept himself busy with live gigs, plenty of radio work and, of course, the day job, only one single (on Meteor) appeared between his periods at two of the most famous indies ever to be located in the same city (Memphis), Sun and Stax, and that record, The Easy Livin’ Plan (credited to Rufus “Bearcat” Thomas with the Bearcats) with its shuffle beat could have come from the Star Talent session barring the higher level of polish applied.

His next single was recorded at new label, Satellite – the one that would shortly morph into Stax. Indeed, the Thomas single which was credited to “Carla and Rufus” (with Carla being Rufus’ daughter) was the eighth release from Satellite so once again Rufus was in near the start of a major indie, and, since Atlantic picked up on the local attention the record started getting and arranged to distribute Satellite/Stax nationally, was also instrumental in the label’s early success. That record was Cause I Love You, a dialogue style duet – another format which was often popular with black audiences – featuring what sounded like a very early version of the Memphis Horns plus a pianist who sounded like Booker T. Jones. But it wasn’t Booker; the lad on piano was Marvell Thomas (son of Rufus) but Booker certainly picked up some of those Chinese sounding licks and used them to great effect on certain BT and the MG’s records. And he was on the single but playing one of those saxes, the baritone one; he was 16 at the time and this was his first record – information courtesy Soulful Kinda Music.

But I’m not going for that, instead I’m flipping it and going for Deep Down Inside, a blues ballad, the delivery of which, if you’ve been following the soundtrack so far, you just wouldn’t have been expecting. It’s not an exceptional record; to use an old-fashioned word, it’s a charming record with a warmth that his radio listeners and the folk who went to see his stage show might well have been used to. And for Carla it might have been a step in the direction of soul ballads for a lady who Stax would soon start calling The Queen of Memphis Soul.

By solo record number two for Stax, Rufus was back with the cats and dogs again. Or to be more precise, dog, singular, as in The Dog, which number – self-penned of course – put the concept of “dance” together with Rufus on the same record for the first time: a coming together which would be near omnipresent for the rest of our hero’s career. Only this didn’t happen in the UK. In an unusual degree of tardiness – for them – London Records didn’t latch on to the Thomas phenomenon until the follow-up, featuring Rufus walking that same dog, saw release in the US. The first I heard the number would have been from Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds in the Flamingo circa early ’64. It was one of his favourite cover jobs judging by the frequency of its appearance in the live set and I’m surprised that he didn’t put it on record. What the Thunderbirds didn’t have though when I saw them – and there were several changes within the band – was a bank of sax players, and it was the assembled Memphis Horns with that down-and-dirty riff that could even have come from New Orleans, that took the Thomas record from OK to great. The fact that they then had the nerve to deconstruct that riff and reassemble it as a two-parter took the record from great to fantastic; subtle it was not but the concept and execution were there. Multi part riffs, as in funk, were still a thing of the future as far as James Brown was concerned and yet the grouping of black and white guys that formed the Stax house band, with nothing like the experience of the Brown outfit, casually drop in just such an arrangement. The icing was the Steve Cropper solo played within a Memphis version of Battersea Dogs Home (as it was still called back in the sixties) judging by the multitude of doggie noises made, presumably by the band. Great outro too.

The record made #22 in the US R&B Chart and even squeaked into the low end Hot 100, all helping to establish Stax in its early years. Its success was dwarfed though by the follow-up Walking The Dog which hit the #5 position in the R&B Chart and #10 in the Hot 100. This time it did see release here, though, much to my surprise looking back, it didn’t chart.

For reasons not known to me, the record kicks off with the opening statement from Mendelssohn’s Wedding March (omitting the first couple of bars of chords if you want to be pedantic), then Cropper’s guitar states the riff and it’s another good ‘un, followed immediately by Rufus and the next thing that strikes you are his lyrics. Prolific wasn’t a word you’d have associated with Mr T in terms of lyrics – those for The Dog were minimalist – but this time they were both striking and in abundance.

Mary Mack, dressed in black
Silver buttons all down her back
High low, tipsy toe
She broke her needle, and she can’t sew

Where did those slightly ominous sounding phrases come from? Back then we didn’t have the world wide web to tell us that that they were from an American nursery rhyme found largely in the southern states (and I can testify to their lack of appearance in relatively recent UK nursery rhyme books since I’m old enough to have grandchildren). It’s true that Mary, Mary of a contrary nature makes an appearance several verses in but I thought at the time that this was just part of the distinctly odd lyrics of the song.

Musically, the arrangement made usage of the building blocks of The Dog, creating a riff that was shared between Cropper’s guitar (plus bass) and the horns; and the Mary, Mary section – which was the third verse in fact – was recited to a solitary sax as audience. All of this went to make up a highly satisfactory arrangement, presumably worked up in the studio which, to your writer, was Mr Thomas and team’s biggest achievement.

Something the record itself achieved was to impress the Stones so much that they only went and put their version of the song on their first album – final track, second side. Here they are promoting the track on Australian TV in ’65, Brian and Mick sharing the whistling, Charlie just looking cool, as usual. Can’t have done any harm to the Thomas royalties.

There were to be two more instalments in the doggie drama, Can Your Monkey Do The Dog and Somebody Stole My Dog (both penned by Cropper & Thomas) but the impression they gave, particularly the monkey one, was of a seam that had been extensively worked already.

Time to drop back a little and investigate some B-sides with maybe some surprises for the unprepared reader. Flip The Dog and you’ll get Did You Ever Love A Woman, the title of a much loved (well, in this household anyway) slow blues from B.B. King. The Thomas version has Steve Cropper’s axe duetting with Rufus i.e. taking the role of the pianist in the King original. No attempt is made to replicate the majestically riffing horns from the B.B. record, instead there’s Booker quietly chording away on organ; perhaps Thomas and Cropper who had evidently worked together on the arrangement, wanted to create something of their own which only made limited reference to its source. If so, they succeeded. (My suspicion, based largely on the stripped back support, is that while Rufus and the MG’s were jamming after a session, they came up with this, since it could well have been in the Thomas stage repertoire, and a decision was later made to release it.)

Curiously, Walking The Dog saw release with one of two flips, You Said or Fine And Mellow. Both records were given the same number and it’s unclear which came first and why a switch was made. Fine And Mellow is by far the better of the two and I’m not just saying that because it’s the one on my platter. Wiki tells us that “the song was famously performed by Billie Holiday in 1957 in a television special, The Sound Of Jazz” with a horn line-up that was almost a who’s who of jazz at the time, including names like Young, Webster, Mulligan, Hawkins and Eldridge. This is the delightful sound they came up with (and doesn’t Billie enjoy it). Below is the Thomas version which had been worked on more than Did You Ever Love A Woman judging by the presence of a horn section even if they provide little more than punctuation. Booker switches to piano while Steve is with Rufus every step of the way. Let’s not ignore the vocal either: Rufus acts out the drama contained in the song with strong accentuation in places and with the occasional wily chuckle.

Before leaving this mini section on covers, I’ll put the spotlight on one more: Night Time Is The Right Time can be found backing up Rufus and Carla’s That’s Really Some Good released in early summer 1964. Ray Charles fans should know the number; it’s something of an R&B cum gospel belter which is best known via his version with the Raelettes (although that wasn’t the original). The R & C version misses out on the Raelettes (or equivalent) but the arrangement builds well with Carla taking on the Margie Hendrix (senior Raelette) solo work and Rufus making sure you don’t miss Brother Ray up front. Rufus evidently liked the song since it would later reappear on the live Push And Pull At P.J.’s album though regrettably that was minus Carla.

For the bulk of the releases between 1964 and 1968, Stax dropped further attempts at applying a formula to Rufus Thomas records. The best of this bunch was one of the earliest: Jump Back c/w All Night Worker from September ’64:

 

Both records were excellent examples of the early Stax funk sound and both – the second in particular – highlighted the cohesiveness and excellent musicianship of the backing ensemble. During this period this was invariably Booker and the MG’s, usually with Cropper rather than Jones taking the solos. Indeed, many of the Thomas records from the earlier to middle part of his Stax stay strike me as Booker T and the MG’s records with the addition usually of horns and a vocal layered on top, almost as an extra, sometimes percussive, instrument.

One of the flipsides during this period, and one that will only have been noticed by the most avid Thomas fans, was a little ditty called Chicken Scratch in ’65. Whether, in a last desperate bid to rescue a career that was steadily going nowhere, it occurred to someone that “maybe we had something back there” or whether Rufus himself decided to resurrect the whole chicken concept, as in his words reported in Wiki:

“I did it in the middle of doing another song … and the words just started to come. I don’t know how, they just came out of the blue. I just separated it. ‘You raise your left arm up, and your right arm too.’ When you’re doing the funky chicken you use both arms. You don’t just use one. It just happened I separated it. Then I put a little rhythm in between it. The same pattern that you heard on The Dog is here on The Funky Chicken but it is cut in half. That’s how it came about.”

The appeal of Do The Funky Chicken (in ’69) seemed to be that it played up both the funk aspect utilising the Bar-Kays as backing band, plus the silliness which of course was down to one man and we know who that was.

#5 in the R&B Chart, #28 in the Hot 100 AND #18 in the UK; his only hit on this side of the big puddle.

The Rufus resurgence allowed him to coast into the seventies on a series of dance records which relied even more heavily on the backing unit than hitherto. By this time that team had become effectively the Isaac Hayes backing unit. Singles like Do The Push And Pull, Do The Funky Penguin and The Breakdown all found record buyers digging into their purses. The clip below features our Rufus in a very restrained outfit and in front of his biggest audience ever at Wattstax, 1972, singing and demonstrating the aforesaid Breakdown.

While it was fitting to portray the Thomas record career from his debut in 1955 through to the early part of the next decade via singles, as the sixties progressed, the relevance of LPs as more than just a semi-random grab bag of tracks increased in import. The first Rufus album Walking The Dog (1963) certainly fitted the grab bag description – which was nothing to be ashamed of at the time – in that it was comprised of several singles/flips (with some still to be released) and five covers/versions. The latter included three – Ooh-Poo-Pah-Doo, Ya Ya, Land Of A 1,000 Dances – with heavy New Orleans connections which possibly illustrated some influences that Rufus had kept schtum about to date; and which stood up well with Stax sauce added. Hooker’s Boom Boom was one of the two left and although that one attracted a goodly number of interpretations over the years (with the Yardbirds and the Animals leading the queue), the Thomas plus MG’s plus outfit take might well have been the first of the lot. If so, it provided a model for others to envy. This is it.

There was a long gap until the next Thomas album – Do The Funky Chicken in 1970 – but perhaps Stax saw little need to waste vinyl making and promoting an album while there wasn’t a hit single around to take advantage of. There were only three covers/versions this time – from Louis Jordan, Billy Ward & the Dominoes and the Valentinos/Bobby Womack – and all were given funk makeovers with the most extreme example being the Dominoes’ Sixty Minute Man on which Mr. Thomas seemed to have taken on a Dr. John voodoo persona – AllMusic likened the Rufus vocal to “singing in tongues”. However, the prize for most unusual track has to go to the two parter Old McDonald Had A Farm which extends to the best part of seven minutes. Rufus treats around ⅔ of the song as a loooooonnnng slow intro; the fast portion eventually arrives (Part 2 – surprise, surprise!). Part 1 which is a parody of all the big name soul shouters you can think of – and Rufus will have known several of them – complete with a pseudo live audience, is worth at least a listen (but you’d probably need to be in the right mood for repeat listens). All in all though a good album which lived up to the fun/dance/funk image the label was trying to promote.

Rufus Thomas Live Doing The Push & Pull At P.J.’s which followed in 1971 was, as it said on the tin, recorded in front of a real live audience, and yes we did get another version of Old McDonald (and yes, again, this is the spelling that Stax use for MacDonald). And yes for a third time, it was a live album so it did suffer from some of the issues that can occur with such things: too much chat and complete lack of non familiar material. On the positive side, the band were in good shape and Rufus – when he was singing – was fine, and the version of the self-penned The Preacher And The Bear was a complete remake of the one that had appeared on the previous album so perhaps it counted as ‘new’.

There were to be two more Rufus albums for Stax, Did You Heard Me? and Crown Prince Of Dance which emerged in 1972 and ’73 respectively. No more major surprises on them. The occasional ballad broke up the flow of funk and there were a couple of nods to New Orleans on the second, though the jury may well be out on the makeover to Tutti Frutti.

The decline of Stax into bankruptcy in 1976 saw Rufus out in the cold without a label though it wasn’t that cold since he’d continued his DJ slot at WDIA and then WLOK (with a return to WDIA to co-host a blues show in the eighties). In terms of records, the AVI label issued a couple of singles from him, one of which was titled I Ain’t Gittin’ Older, I’m Gittin’ Better which must have seemed highly suitable for the man who would often describe himself as “the world’s oldest teenager”. AVI also released two LPs from Rufus though unfortunately neither saw rerelease in CD format so have largely disappeared from circulation. The first of the pair If There Were No More Music is worth searching out for a version of Merle Haggard’s Today I Started Loving You Again (which also unfortunately isn’t on YouTube but check out footnotes).

There were a few more singles but not many sales so, apart from his radio work, Rufus was relegated to the oldies circuit. The revival of the Stax label albeit with limited release capability helped; he took part in the Stax reunion concert in April 1988. That same year, something else of note happened, record-wise. To quote from the Alligator record label biography of Rufus:

“Early in 1988, producer Bob Greenlee and Rufus met and began making plans for the return of the world’s funkiest grandfather. Greenlee, whose King Snake Records had already released albums by Lazy Lester, Noble “Thin Man” Watts, Raful Neal and Kenny Neal, thought it was time for Rufus to record a true blues record. Rufus, who had been performing blues and spinning blues records for almost 50 years, agreed wholeheartedly. The result of their collaboration was That Woman Is Poison!, released on Alligator Records. And while it had been a few years since his last album, Rufus’ raspy, growling voice was still in fine shape, whether on the title track and other originals like Breaking My Back, or on his raucous readings of two Jimmy McCracklin tunes, The Walk and I Just Got To Know.”

It was a genuine blues album, taking Rufus back to his roots. This is the third track mentioned above wherein our hero, at the tender age of 71, manages to find something fresh in a hoary old original.

Another blues album followed, Blues Thang on Sequel in 1996 and Rufus, once again, delivered the goods. Apart from several updated oldies like Jimmy Reed’s Baby, You Don’t Have To Go, it contained plenty of Thomas originals like the slow I Came Home This Morning and added further solidity to the image of Rufus Thomas, blues man.

Rufus died of heart failure in 2001 at the age of 84. Prior to his death, the City of Memphis renamed a road off Beale Street, as Rufus Thomas Boulevard. He received honours from the music business including induction in the Blues Hall of Fame and a Lifetime Achievement Award from ASCAP. Several more albums of previously unheard material were also released both before and after his death.

In other Toppermosts, I have sometimes chosen to close with one or more quotations about the artist concerned. For Rufus, I am instead finishing with a quote from the man himself, which can be found in Peter Guralnick’s “Lost Highway”:

“Blues will always be here. Of all the other music in the world, watch it – it’ll tail out and change. But you’ll always be able to hear twelve-bar blues. Always. It’s the backbone of American music – blues and country, cause country and western and blues are right there together, just that close, and gospel. Everything else comes from that.”

 

FOOTNOTES

1. The Rabbit’s Foot Company, often referred to as the Rabbit’s Foot Minstrels, were a variety troupe which toured in the American South under canvas between 1900 and the late fifties. It was founded by a black entrepreneur, Pat Chapelle. On the death of Chapelle, his widow sold the company to Fred Swift Wolcott, a white farmer who already owned a small carnival company. Wolcott ran the show until 1950 when further sales took place. Under his management, blues singers Ida Cox, Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith did spells in the company. Other notables to work for “The Foots” as they were sometimes called, included Big Joe Williams, Louis Jordan and Brownie McGhee.

2. Tiger Man was written by Joe Hill Louis and Sam Phillips though it’s the name of the latter’s wife which appears on the label. Louis, however, wasn’t available for the session and it was Matt Murphy who played those fine runs.

3. The appearance of Booker T on Cause I Love You prompted Willie Mitchell to take him into his band where he started on sax but switched to bass. After playing guitar with Maurice White and David Porter he then moved to a studio support position at Stax on organ working with Steve Cropper and Al Jackson Jr. who he’d met in the Mitchell band. The addition of Lewie Steinberg on bass guitar would produce the first version of Booker T. and the MG’s.

4. I said that the Rufus take on Today I Started Loving You Again from If There Were No More Music wasn’t available on YT. That’s true but what I didn’t say was that there are two other recorded versions of the song from Rufus which are on YT, these being: one which appears on Just Because I’m Leavin’ which was released in 2005 but consists of tracks cut in 1990 and ’91, and one in the Live In Poretta set released in 2002. This is the “Leavin’” version.

5. If one takes into account the fact that the single Cause I Love You / Deep Down Inside was released on Atco, a subsidiary of Atlantic, then Rufus actually worked for four of the greatest independent labels ever, or certainly four of the greatest operating across the rock/R&B/soul/blues spectrum over the period 1955 to 1965. And if only he’d managed to find time to pop into Detroit it could have been the five greatest!

6. It has occurred to me on more than once occasion, that if I’d wanted to epitomise the early years of the Stax label, say 1961/62 to ’65, then I’d select four records: Otis Redding’s Pain In My Heart, Wilson Pickett’s In The Midnight Hour (which was released on Atlantic but cut in the Stax studio), Booker T. and the MG’s Green Onions and Rufus’ Walking The Dog. And I take that as my cue to close with what is believed to be Rufus’ first appearance on television, on Ready Steady Go at the tail end of 1964, singing that song backed by Tony Knight’s Chessmen who were the backing team used on his UK tour. Those of a certain age won’t need telling that the man handling the introduction is Keith Fordyce.

 

 

Rufus Thomas poster 1

 

Rufus Thomas (1917–2001)

 

Rufus Thomas at Stax Records

Memphis Music Hall of Fame: Rufus Thomas

Rufus Thomas at 45cat

Rufus Thomas biography (AllMusic)

Dave Stephens is the author of two books on popular music. His first, “RocknRoll”, is described by one reviewer as “probably the most useful single source of information on 50s & 60s music I’ve come across”. Dave followed this up with “London Rocks” in 2016, an analysis of the early years of the London (American) record label in the UK. You can follow him on Twitter @DangerousDaveXX

Read the Toppermosts of some of the other artists mentioned in this post:
Bobby Bland, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, James Brown, Ray Charles, Billie Holiday, B.B. King, Johnny Otis, Otis Redding

TopperPost #952

2 Comments

  1. Andrew Shields
    Apr 28, 2021

    So much brilliantly entertaining music here and some real surprises – like the excellent version of ‘Fine and Mellow’. And that great Stax band.

  2. John Chamberlain
    Apr 29, 2021

    Many thanks. I now realize that I knew next to nothing about the Man !

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