Good Rockin' Roy Brown : part two©2006JCMarion


Beginning in 1953 Brown is put on the King label. He continues to draw well on the road and in early 1953 does great box office on tour with the Five Royales. In February King releases "Hurry Hurry Baby" and "Traveling Man" on # 4602. The next month "Money Can't Buy Love" and "Grandpa Stole My Baby" is issued by King Records on # 4609, and it is followed almost immediately by "Mr. Houndog's In Town" and "Gambling Man" on # 4627. In June the flood of Roy Brown records on King continues with "Old Age Boogie" parts one and two on # 4637. In August, Roy's recording of "Mr. Houndog's Back In Town" figures in a lawsuit bought by Don Robey of Peacock-Duke Records against King. In September "Laughing But Crying" and "Crazy Crazy Women" is released on King # 4654. King finishes out the year with Roy Brown on the tunes "Caldonia's Wedding Day" and "A Fool In Love" on # 4669. Roy and his band hit the West Coast in January for a week at the 5-4 Ballroom in Los Angeles. King releases "Midnight Lover Man" and "Letter From Home" on # 4684, and "Lonesome Lover" and "Everything's All Right" on # 4698 in late January. Brown and the Mighty Mighty Men open at the Club Oasis for a week in February. In March Roy joins many stars of jazz and R & B for a benefit show at the 5-4 Ballroom to help the wife of jazz musician Stan Getz. In April "Bootleggin' Baby" and "Trouble At Midnight" is released on King # 4704. In April Brown heads out for a series of one nighters along the West Coast. In May "Up Jumped The Devil" and "This Is My Last Goodbye" is out on King # 4715. In June "Don't Let It Rain" and "No Love At All" on King # 4722 is released, followed in August by "The Gal From Kokomo" and "Ain't It A Shame" on # 4731. In September Brown hits the road for a Southern tour for six weeks. In October "Black Diamond" and "Worried Life Blues" on King # 4743 is issued.

In January of 1955, Roy Brown plays Los Angeles Savoy Ballroom with Memphis Slim and the Rockin' Brothers Band, and returned two weeks later with The Inkspots. In February Brown is part of a show called the Hollywood Revue with Linda Hayes, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, and Tommy Jones band. In July "Shake 'Em Baby" and "Letter To My Baby" is released by King on # 4816. In August, Brown prepares for a national tour with Joe Jones and his band. In late September Roy plays the Autumn Ball in Akron with the Five Royales. "She's Gone Too Long" and "My Little Angel Child" is released by King on # 4834 in November. In 1956 with the rock 'n roll age upon America, Roy Brown suffers like almost every other R & B pioneer now that teenagers have cornered the market for record sales. However Roy still has the drawing power on the personal appearance front. He stars in a big touring show called the "Rock & Roll Cavalcade" that tours for two months during march and April throughout the South and Midwest. Along with Brown on the bill are Little Willie John, Percvy Mayfield, The Five Royales, Canille Howard, Joe Tex, Linda Hopkins, and the Jimmy Coe band. Despite the name of the show, it is a lineup of veteran Rhythm & Blues performers still working the circuit.

In late 1956 King Records drops Roy Brown after a decade with DeLuxe and the King label. Brown is signed to Imperial Records and is soon in the studio with the Dave Bartholomew band. "Everybody" and "Saturday Night" on Imperial # 5422 is released late in 1956, and is followed by a surprising double side of "Party Doll" and "I'm Sticking With You" on # 5427. On that side Roy covers both sides of the huge pop hit by the Rhythm Orchids for Roulette (originally on Triple D) with Buddy Knox on "Doll" and Jimmy Bowen on the flip side. Imperial boasts in the trade press that they shipped more than 150,000 copies in four days of the twin covers. "Party Doll" makes the top sellers on the R & B charts in Dallas and Oklahoma City. In April Roy heads West for a tour of the coast that includes two weeks at the 5-4 Ballroom. In late April Brown records "Let The Four Winds Blow" and "Diddy-Y-Diddy-O" on # 5439. "Four Winds" is getting good airplay and looks like it will be Roy's biggest seller in years. He is slated for the big July 4th week show at New York's Apollo Theater. Also on the bill are The Heartbeats, Charlie & Ray, Ann Cole, The Velours, Sensations, Charts, Jesters, and Donnie Elbert. Roy Brown signs on with "The Fantabulous Rock 'n Roll Show Of 1957" which will tour the South and Midwest for two months. Ray Charles and Mickey & Sylvia headline along with Larry Williams, Joe Turner, Annie Laurie, The Moonglows, Bo Diddley, The Del-Vikings, Mary Ann Fisher, and Nappy Brown. "The Tick Of The Clock" and "Slow Down Little Eva" on Imperial # 5469 is released in late October as Roy continues a great comeback year.

In February of 1958 Imperial releases "Sail On Little Girl" and "Ain't Gonna Do It" on # 5489, and during that month Brown and his Mighty Mighty Men return for a two week engagement at the 5-4 Ballroom in Los Angeles. In April Roy records "Hip Shakin' Baby" and "Be My Love Tonight" for Imperial on # 5510. In January of 1959, Syd Nathan once again signs Roy Brown to King Records. A recent LP on King featuring songs by Roy and Wynonie Harris sold well and was the reason Nathan wanted Brown to return to the Cincinnati based label. In February Brown records "Lah Dee Dah Dee" and "Melinda", and is released on King # 5178. Roy also records songs for the coming LP "Battle Of The Blues Vol.II" with Wynonie Harris. "Rinky Dinky Doo" and "I Never Had It So Good" comes out in May on # 5207, and is followed by "Hard Luck Blues" and "Good Looking And Foxy Too" on # 5218. "School Bell Rock" and "Ain't Rockin' No More" is released on King # 5247 in September. By the end of the year it is apparent that Roy has had a good run of thirteen years as a top R & B performer, but the winds of change are blowing over the musical landscape of America, and Brown is now relegated to the group of pioneers whose time has passed and are but a pleasant memory.

He kept at it for a time in the early sixties cutting records that were quickly forgotten. He recorded a number of sides for the Memphis based Home Of The Blues label. "Man With The Blues" and "Don't Break My Heart" was released on # 107. Next was "Rockin' All The Time" and "So Tired Of Being Alone" on #110, which was followed by "Sugar Baby" and "Oh So Wonderful" on # 115. His last record for Home Of The Blues was an updated version of "Rock 'n Roll Jamboree" and "I Need A Friend" on # 122. He even had a shot with Chicago's Chess Records that produced some unreleased work. Sporadic recordings popped up in the later sixties-Bluesway ("New Orleans Woman" on # 61002) , Summit, and a couple of labels he started himself - TrueLove and Friendship. For a time he was a door-to-door salesman selling encyclopedias. He received some notoriety when he appeared with the Johnny Otis R & B Caravan that played and recorded a double LP at the 1970 Monterrey Festival.A couple of records for Mercury came about in the early seventies - "Love For Sale" and "It's My Fault Darling" on # 73166, and "Mailman Blues" on # 73219. By 1978 he recorded an LP on his own Faith label, but the end was at hand and Roy Brown passed away in May of 1981.

Roy Brown and his music are preserved for liteners on a number of CDs that are readily available. The best overview is again from Rhino Records with an 18 track "Best Of . . . ." CD. For those that want a more complete retrospective there is a series from France's Jazz Classics that collect the recordings in chronological order. "Roy Brown : 1947-49" is the first followed by "1950-51" and "1951-53" each with at least 20 tracks on each recording. Two interesting collections are "The Complete Imperial Recordings" a 20 track CD from Capitol Imports, and "Good Rockin' Tonight : Live In San Francisco" recorded with PeeWee Crayton and Mark Naftalin shortly before his passing. The others are various collections with a lot of duplication of songs so let the buyer beware. "Good Rockin' Brown" on UK Ace with 22 tracks; "Blues Deluxe" a King import from 2002; "Mighty Mighty Man" another UK Ace with 22 tracks; and "Laughing But Crying" from Mr. R & B from 1994 with 16 tracks. Finally there is the Magic label "Good Rockin' Tonight" with 12 cuts by Wynonie Harris and 12 by Roy Brown including each singer's version of the title tune.

Roy Brown was one of the originator's of the style of music that took the world by storm in the mid fifties. It is such a raw deal that Roy Brown did not benefit from the music he helped invent. Roy Brown - an American original.

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