Two Chicago Small R & B Independents©2005JCMarion


Rhumboogie Records

The Rhumboogie Record label was the very first R & B independent to come out of the Chicago area. It was named for the famous night club of the same name which was noted for being part owned by world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis. His partner in this endeavor was Charlie Glenn, a local businessman and auto dealer. The first big star at the night spot and also on the local label was T-Bone Walker the great blues guitarist and singer. The very first Rhumboogie releases featured Walker and the combo led by Marl Young.
In October of 1944 T-Bone recorded “Sail On Boogie” and “I’m Still In Love With You” on Rhumboogie # 4000. “T-Bone Boogie” and “Evening” were released on # 4002, and “Mean Old World Blues” and “You Don’t Love Me” was released on # 4003. In the backing band besides Young the arranger and pianist, were Mel Moore and Nick Cooper on trumpets, nat Jones, Moses Grant, and Frank Derrick on saxes, Mickey Simms on bass, and Red saunders the leader of the house band at Chicago’s Club DeLisa on drums. “Sail On Boogie” had good sales and wider distribution was planned for the record and gave the new label impetus to be something more than just a sideline for the night club.
In late 1945, Marl Young and his crew got together for another recording session featuring T-Bone Walker. The songs were "My Baby Left Me" and "Come Back To Me" which was released on Mercury # 8016, and "I Can't Stand Being Away From You", and She Is Going To Ruin Me". The recording history of these last two sides is hard to pinpoint as they have been released through the years on a variety of labels. This was the last efforts by T-Bone Walker for the Chicago label as he soon was to record some very influential sides for the Black & White label in Los Angeles in the late forties.

In early 1946 Rhumboogie issued # 5001, two tunes by Charles Gray & His Rhumboogie Five with vocals by Buster Bennett. The songs were "I'm A Bum Again" and "Crazy Woman Blues". Without much success of this record, the label suspended operations. Soon the club of the same name was also gone from the scene. For a short time in the mid nineteen forties, both the club and the record label were important entities as part of the Black community in the city of Chicago. For now the memories remain.

Club 51 Records

The Club 51 record label was created in Chicago in the mid nineteen fifties by Jimmy and Lillian Davis as part of the Savoy Record Mart in that city. The first release by the label featured Prince Cooper, a pianist and singer. Also in his combo were Hal Ashby on tenor sax, Wilbur Wynne on guitar, Jimmy Crosby on bass, and James Slaughter on drums. The initial Club 51 record was "The Wiggler" and "Sittin On Top Of The World" by Cooper on # 101. The next Club 51 release featured a vocal group Rudy Green & The Four Buddies (which had no connection to the Savoy Records group) backed up by Prince Cooper's combo. The songs were "You Mean Everything To Me" and "Highway No. 1" and released on # 103. Club 51 # 104 also featured the Four Buddies, this time with female singer Bobbie James on lead vocal. Prince Cooper was again on the session, but the backing combo was under the leadership of tenor sax player Eddie Chamblee. The songs were "Baby I'm Tired" and "I Need You So".

Continuing in late 1955, The Four Buddies recorded again, this time with the Lefty Bates Orchestra featuring Bates on guitar, Red Holloway on tenor, and the ever present Prince Cooper on piano. The songs from this session were "Delores" and "Look Out", and released on Club 51 # 105. The well known R & B pianist and vocalist Sunnyland Slim recorded for the label with the Lefty bates combo on the tunes "Be Mine Alone" and "Sad And Lonesome" which were issued by Club 51 on # 106. In 1956 veteran blues and R & B vocalist Honey Brown recorded for the label. She was also backed up by the Lefty Bates Combo and recorded the tunes "No Good Daddy" and "Ain't No Need" released on # 107. Club 51 release # 108 was by a vocal group called The Kings Men again with the Lefty Bates Combo. The songs recorded were "Don't Say You're Sorry" and "Kickin With My Stallion".

Soon the husband and wife team that ran the label called it quits in 1957, followed soon by the Savoy Record Mart. The Club 51 label had a short and not so successful existence on the Chicago music scene in the mid fifties. However insignificant to the entire history of the music however, this story, and the further stories of the small independent labels that as a whole were so much a part of the developing scene need to be preserved. This much we owe the dreamers of the time.

(ed. note - some of the discographical information comes from Robert Pruter and Robert Campbell on the Red Saunders Research Foundation web site at Clemson University)

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