My Search Is Over - Marie Adams©2002JCMarion


Ollie Marie Givens was born in Linden, Texas, in October of 1925. Her musical imagination was fired up in her early teens by that wellspring of talent in the R & B years, the Black church. By 1951 she was in Houston looking for a way to break into the business. She gravitated naturally to the center of the Texas blues world, the Bronze Peacock Club and its owner Don Robey. He was impressed enough by her ability that she caught on and occasionally appeared on stage as a supporting act. She was part of a big two week holiday show at the end of 1951 in Houston with Willie Mae Thornton, Jimmy McCracklin & The Blues Blasters, and Billy Wright. She was being billed then as Ollie Marie Adams. By April she had dropped the Ollie and was simply Marie, and was touted by Peacock Records and Don Robey as a second "big Mama" and had her first record release for the label with "I'm Gonna Play The Honky Tonks" and "My Search Is Over" with the Bill harvey band on #1583. "Search" does well in the Texas and Louisiana areas and Peacock decides to go to releasing it on 45 rpm to increase sales potential. Soon all Peacock recordings follow suit.

In mid May of 1952, the flip side of Adams record "Honky Tonks" suddenly starts to sell big in the Northeast, especially in Philadelphia where it is one of the top five best selling R & B discs in the city. The next month "Search" is the number one R & B record in Peacock's home city of Houston. By August the record had become the biggest non-gospel seller in the history of the label. Because of the continued demand for the record and the emergence of Johnny Ace for the label's new subsidiary company, Duke Records (recently purchased in Memphis and moved to Houston), three record pressing plants are working 24 hours a day to keep up with sales orders. Don Robey's labels are fast becoming major players in the Rhythm & Blues field. With her first record still selling well, Peacock releases "My Man" and "Alone" on #1604 recorded with the band of Puma Davis.

In early August "I'm Gonna Play The Honky Tonks" hits the best seller lists in New York. That month in an unusual move, Don Robey has Marie record a cover version of Johnny Ace's current hit for the company, "My Song". Robey hopes to market the Adams version more toward the pop music audience. The flip side of "My Song" is "Sweet Talking Daddy" both recorded with a small combo of members of the Buddy Johnson band under the leadership of Cherokee Conyers, and it is out on Peacock #1610. In late 1952 Marie Adams is part of a hugely successful R & B package show that tours the West Coast. Along with Adams are Johnny Ace, James Moody and his band, famous for "Moody's Mood For Love", , and Jimmy Forrest and his combo, famous for "Night Train". After the tour ended she stayed out west and played many dates into early 1953.

In February of 1953 Adams joins up with Arthur Prysock for a series of one nighters in the Southwest. In late March she appears in Houston with B.B. King, Gatemouth Brown, and Lloyd Price. In April her latest Peacock release hits the streets - "I'm The Bluest Gal In Town" and "I Ain't Car Crazy" on #1614. In mid-year, Adams joins the Johnny Otis band and sets out on a national tour. Late in the year the Otis show called the "Jazz-O-Rama Revue" is joined by The Ravens vocal group. The Otis show makes an extensive tour of the Pacific Northwest ay year's end. Adams would become a permanent part of the Johnny Otis band until the end of the decade. In february of 1954 "I'm Gonna Latch On" and "You're Gone From Me" is released on Peacock #1631. During the spring Christine Kittrell joins the Otis band and Marie Adams and plays a number of dates in Denver, Phoenix, and Oklahoma City. That summer the growing power of R & B music among teenagers of all races was shown in dance dates at the Savoy Ballroom in Southern California. On the bill headlined by B.B. King were Marie Adams with Johnny Otis, Marvin & Johnny, Shirley Gunter & The Queens, The Platters, Lamplighters, Junior Ryder, and emcee Hunter Hancock. Each date had huge turn-away crowds.

The tragic death of Johnny Ace in Houston on New Year's Eve casts a pall over the Peacock Records group and Marie Adams and Johnny Otis sadly recall what might have been for the immensely popular R & B ballad star. Marie records a tribute song called "In Memory". On the flip side is a jump tune called "Boom Diddy Wah Wah" with the second voice belonging to Junior Ryder. For most White R & B fans this is the first time they hear the talents of Marie Adams through the plugging of the song on Alan Freed's radio broadcasts. In February of 1955, Adams and the Otis band along with The Medallions, Meadowlarks, and Junior Ryder, return to the Savoy Ballroom in L.A. for a big weekend show. In April Marie Adams and Johnny Otis set off on an extensive tour of the West. Also on hand is Junior Ryder. Marie records "My Destination" and "The Shape I'm In" for a July release by Peacock Records on #1646.

The landscape of Rhythm& Blues had changed by 1957, and those that came up in the late forties or early fifties had a hard time keeping in the public eye. The Johnny Otis band kept at it and by 1957 had signed a recording contract with Capitol Records, a pop music major on the strength of Otis TV show from Los Angeles. Marie Adams was now a featured performer on the Johnny Otis revue as part of the trio called the Three Tons Of Joy (Marie with sisters Sadie and Francine McKinley). "Ma He's Making Eyes At Me" and "Romance In The Dark" are released by Capitol #3800 in September. This was followed by "Bye Bye baby" and "Good Golly" on #3852. The tremendous success of "Willie And The Hand Jive" by the Otis band led to increased exposure and bookings for the revue. In mid 1958 Otis and his show had a regular slot at The Crescendo, a popular Hollywood night spot. Late in the year Capitol records released "A Fool In Love" and "What Did You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For ?" on #4108. Marie Adams then had a few records for local Los Angeles independent labels Sure Play and Encore Artistics in the early 1960s.

Marie remained with the Johnny Otis Show throughout most of the 1960s and then disappeared from sight, one of the many pioneers of the sound of music the world over who was not there to reap the rewards of originating this art form. Marie Adams remains a great vocalist of the R&B era through the recordings that remain. Two CDs of her work for Peacock Records remain - "Duke-Peacock's Greatest Hits" and "Men Are Like Streetcars" feature Adams on a couple of tunes, and her work with Johnny Otis on the CD "The Greatest Johnny Otis Show" on Ace feature Marie on the tunes "Ma, He's making Eyes At Me" and "Romance In The Dark" with The Three Tons Of Joy, and the solo efforts "Bye Bye Baby" (with Johnny Otis on vocal), "Loop De Loop", "The Light Still Shines In My Window", "All I Want Is Your Love", "A Fool In Love", and "What Do You Want To make Those Eyes At Me For ?". There is also a video tape of a 1958 Johnny Otis TV show with Marie and the Three Tons singing "Goody Goody".

Marie Adams - another R & B original you may not have heard of, but one that is essential to the history of America's music.

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