The Other "Gate" - Gatemouth Moore©2006JCMarion


Arnold Dwight Moore was born in November of 1913 near Topeka, in Shawnee County Kansas. As a young child he moved with his family to Memphis, Tennessee. His first experience in music was as a member of his local church youth choir. Later in his teenage years he latched on with a number of musical units touring through the Midwest. The first was a brief stint with the band of Bennie Moten which in a few short years would become the band of Count Basie. Moore then went on a series of tours with travelling revues that were offshoots of the minstrel shows of the late 1800s. During the nineteen thirties he was a part of such revues as Ma Rainey, Ida Cox and The Darktown Scandals, the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, Down In Dixie Revue, and a number of carnivals and circuses crossing the country during the days of the depression. Moore even played a few dates with a young and unknown Nat Cole during the late thirties. He was part of a singing group called The Four Sharps, and then became a fixture along Beale Street the heart of Black life in Memphis. It was there where he came to be called “Gatemouth”, first by a woman seemingly under the influence of a few adult beverages. In 1940 Moore was performing with the Walter Barnes band in Natchez, Mississippi, when a tragic fire killed many people including most of the band members. Moore survived the fire and continued to perform. He was at the Chez Paree club in Kansas City and made some recordings for the small label also called Chez Paree. These recordings led to a session with National Records in Chicago in 1945.

In the early nineteen forties, Moore was in Chicago and was part of the growing blues scene in that city. He played with King Kolax, Red Saunders, and frequented the Rhumboogie Club in that city. During the mid forties, Moore had a long running membership with the Carolina Cotton Pickers and toured the TOBA circuit in the Northeast on stage at the Howard in Washington, D.C., the Royal in Baltimore, and the Apollo Theater in New York. In November of 1945 Moore recorded with Dallas Bartley & His Smalltown Boys (featuring Pete Johnson on piano) with the songs “It Ain’t None Of Me” and “I Ain’t Mad At You Pretty Baby” on National # 6001. A second release was recorded with Budd Johnson’s combo featuring Harry Carney and J.C. Heard on the songs “Did You Ever Love A Woman?” and “I’m Going Way Back Home” on # 6002. Other National sides were “Walking My Blues Away” / “Bum Dee Dah Ra Dee” with Budd Johnson on # 4004, “Christmas Blues” / “Isabel” on # 40010 and “I Put Her Out” / “I’d Give It To You” on # 9145 both with the Tiny Grimes Swingtet.

In 1947 he recorded for King Records in Cincinnati. Moore re-recorded a number of tunes that he had done for National and Chez Paree for King. Such tunes as “Hey Mister Gatemouth” and “Don’t You Know I Love You” on King # 4015 were released. In 1948 he left music for a time when he revealed that he experienced a religious conversion while on stage at Chicago’s famed Club DeLisa, and decided to retire from the world of R & B and decided to become an ordained minister, first at Chicago’s Church Of Deliverance, and then at Faith Temple Church in Memphis, Tennessee. He soon had a religious radio program on WDIA in Memphis and was a champion of Black gospel music. In Chicago, Moore recorded for Aristocrat (the forerunner of the Chess label) with songs such as “The Bible Is Being Fulfilled” / “Glory Glory Hallelujah” on # 905, and “I’m Going Through” / “Thank You Jesus” on Chess # 1437. By 1950 Moore was being featured in advertising for WDIA, and was honored for his constant charity work on behalf of the poor in the city of Memphis. His "Light Of The World" radio program was a top rtated attraction at the station.

In July of 1952 Moore began a two month gospel tour beginning in Detroit. Coral Records sets up a recording session with Moore and his choir at the studios of WEDR in Birmingham. Moore also broadcasted religious radio from Birmingham, Alabama, before returning to Chicago where he was pastor at Wesley Chapel and began a television program. In August of 1952 Coral Records releases "They Buried Sin" parts 1 and 2 on # 65096. For the next twenty years Gatemouth Moore concentrated on his work with the church. He returned once to his former field of R & B with an early nineteen seventies LP for Johnny Otis Blues Spectrum label. He did a memorable turn when he appeared in the PBS documentary on the Blues directed by Martin Scorsese, was in the documentary film “Road To Memphis”, and the 1992 documentary film done by the University of California called “Saturday Night, Sunday Morning”. Moore retired to Yazoo City, Mississippi in the early nineties and that is where he passed away on May 19, 2004 at the age of ninety.

Gatemouth Moore’s R & B output is best captured on the CD “Crying And Singing The Blues” for Savoy which contains all songs recorded for National Records in the mid forties. The CD “Hey Mister Gatemouth” for Westside contains all the King sides from 1947. Gatemouth Moore created a lot of music and got a lot out of life in his ninety years with us.

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