Paul Gayten- Rockin'In The Crescent City©JCMarion


Paul Gayten, another in a long line of talented pianists in New Orleans rhythm & blues, was a nephew of blues-piano legend Little Brother Montgomery. He started out in music in 1938 with a local combo in his home town of New Orleans. After his discharge from the military he began to get good notices in 1946 and was signed by the new Jersey based De Luxe label. His first big national hit record was the 1947 classic version of "Since I Fell For You" featuring his long time vocalist Annie Laurie on DeLuxe #1082. Gayten wrote Larry Darnell's 1949 classic "For You My Love". He opened the year of 1950 with Regal (another New Jersey label) on #3234 - "Fish Tail" / "Confused" and followed that up with "Cook's Tour" and "You Shouldn't" on Regal #3245. In March Annie Laurie does the vocal on "You Ought To Know" and the flip side is "I'll Never Be Free" on #3458. During May and June new singer Sammy Cotten does some dates on the road with the band and Gayten is impressed enough to sign Cotten on as a featured vocalist.

In June of that year the new lineup for the band is : Gayten on piano and vocals; Frank Campbell on tenor sax; Hank Mobley (who would go on to a distinguished career as a jazz instrumentalist) on tenor sax; Lindsey Nelson on trumpet; Lorenzo Gaines on bass; and Sam Woodward on drums. In June Regal #3273 - "I Need Your Love" and "I Ain't Gonna Let You In" voc-Annie Laurie is released. Vocalists Laurie and Cotten tour with Gayten throughout the summer. The Paul Gayten orchestra back up new label signees The Coleman Brothers on their recording of "Goodnight Irene" on #3281. In late September the latest release by Gayten is #3300 - "Now That You're Gone" with an Annie Laurie vocal is out and does well immediately. #3302 - "I'm So Crazy For Love" and "If You've Got The Money Honey" is released late in the year as the band ends 1950 with an extended appearance at The Showboat in Philadelphia with Jimmy Scott.

In early 1952 the Regal Record company announces that Gayten is the second biggest seller on their label after Larry Darnell. That spring the label puts together a touring package to hit the R & B one nighter circuit that will feature some of their top acts. Along with Gayten and his band with Annie Laurie and Sammy Cotten, are Chubby Newsome and Jimmy Scott. The Gayten band becomes the opening attraction at a new R & B night spot in Baltimore called Gamby's. With him on the bill is vocalist Earl Williams. Regal #3320 is released - "You Don't Know" and "Hey Little Girl". This is followed by #3329 - "Baby I'm All Alone" and "Little Girl". The similarity of titles of the last two releases causes some confusion among record buyers. In a surprise move late in the year, the Regal Record Company sells off all its assets. Gayten, Annie Laurie, Sammy Cotten, and new singer Titus Turner all move to Columbia Records where they will record on the affiliated label Okeh. The first release on Okeh by Gayten is out in December. It couples "All Alone And Lonely" and "Lonesome For My Baby" with vocals by Gayten and newcomer Carmen Mendez on #6847. This is the first record by Paul Gayten that is available in the 45 rpm format.

In late January of 1952 the Gayten Orchestra hits the road with The Dominos for a series of one nighters beginning in Washington D.C. After the tour Okeh releases #6870 - "Happy Days" / "Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Love". In September Okeh pairs Gayten with the Kelly Owens Orchestra on # 6908 - "They All Ask For You" and "True". Soon after New Year's of 1953, Okeh's newest Paul Gayten recording is out. It is #6934 - "Don't Worry Me" and "Yes You Do, Yes You Do". Gayten scores big in the annual Pittsburgh Courier poll finishing second behind the Ray-O-Vacs as the best small combo in the R & B field. In May Okeh # 6972 features "Time Is A-Passing" and "It Ain't Nothing Happening", and later in the year the label tries again with "Cow Cow Blues" and "Ooh Boo" on #6982.

Gayten continues to write arrange and perform on stage through the year. His records are not big sellers but he has been a force in the R & B field for many years that he is a 'name' performer that keeps his fame alive. Okeh #7019 is out in February and is "Mule Face" and "It's Over", which the people at Columbia took as a sign as they do not renew Gayten who now drifts to Chicago and Chess Records. His first recording for Chess is in the fall of the year and it is released on #801 - "I'm Tired" and "Get It". In April of 1956 Gayten has been moved to the Checker label and release #836 features "You'd Better Believe It" and "Mother Roux". This record goes nowhere and Gayten is moved again within the Chess company to their new label Marterry. The plans are to record a new singer Patience Valentine with the Gayten band. Before the recording session is complete, the Chess company changes the name of Marterry to Argo and Gayten finishes his session by doing a jump blues version of the swing era standard "The Music Goes Round And Round". The flip side is "Be My Baby" on Argo #5257. The jump side "Music" is a huge hit, the biggest for Gayten in almost a decade and a fitting swan song as he is planning to quit performing. Because of the surprising success of the driving New Orleans styled version of the tune, Okeh now re-releases Gayten's recording of "Cow Cow Blues" on #7068. But the public doesn't bite, and "Music" spurred on by Alan Freed's support, and the huge popularity of the record as a top dance number, brings a whole new audience to the R & B veteran and he enjoys his ride to the top once again.

In February of 1957 Paul gayten records "Driving Home" parts 1 and 2" on Argo #5263. That summer Gayten's band records "Flat Foot Sam" and "Nervous Boogie" with vocals by Oscar Wills on Argo #5277. Paul closes out the year with "Tough Enough on Checker #880 (the flip side is "Ol man River" by The Tuneweavers vocal group). By 1958 he was still at it with some sales for Argo #5300 "Windy". The flip side is "Tickle Toe", another instrumental. Paul Gayten saw the direction that the music was taking and decided to curtail his career as a performer and concentrate on the business end of the musical scene. He began that part of his life with Chess records who gave him a position as an A & R man in the South and also worked for the label in promotion in South and East. He still found time to perform as with Fats Domino in South Carolina and Georgia in February. In October he recorded a side for the Detroit independent label Anna Records started by former auto worker Berry Gordy on the tune "The Hunch" on #1106. The flip side was the song "Hot Cross Buns". The tune sells well for the long time pianist and composer. Later on he founded his own record label called Pzazz, and recorded various musical performers over the years. Paul Gayten - a New Orleans original and one of many who did not share in the rewards of the rock and roll explosion as he should have, but one who went out with one last ride to the top.

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