Aw Shucks : Tiny Topsy Remembered©2006JCMarion


Al Smith was a Chicago based bass player that led a small R & B combo beginning in the post war forties. For seven years the band played various dates in the Chicago area, and included some noted musicians such as Red Holloway, Lefty Bates, and Vernel Fournier. His vocalist was a female blues belter named Tiny Topsy. Although the band was around for those years it never did a recording session until they became the house band at a number of Chicago labels starting in 1952. By that time Topsy had moved on.

Then during the summer of 1957 Federal Records announces a new release by none other than Tiny Topsy. The songs were "Aw Shucks Baby" and "Miss You So" on # 12302. Both sides got a decent review in Cash Box and so Tiny had returned. "Shucks" does well by initial reports in Chicago and Detroit, while "Miss You So" had been a moderate hit for Lillian Offitt. King / Federal promotes the record in the trade press, and soon Tiny hits the stage with Al "Ol Swingmaster" Benson at Chicago's Regal Theater for a big R & B Revue through the Labor Day weekend. Also on the bill are Ivory Joe Hunter, The Spaniels, Amos Milburn, Arthur Prysock, and Lillian Offitt. Later in the month she is set to appear at Robert's Show Lounge with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. That October Federal Records pairs Topsy with The Charms on the songs "Ring Around My Finger" and "Come On Come On Come On" on # 12309. In November Tiny Topsy is set for a traveling R & B show called "The Fantabulous Rock & Roll Show of 1957" which headlines Ray Charles, Larry Williams, Joe Turner, Mickey & Sylvia, Bo Diddley, The Moonglows, Velours, Nappy Brown, Mary Ann Fisher, and The Del Vikings. The show will do thirty consecutive one nighters. WGES disc jockey Richard Stamz who is Tiny's manager reports the singer has a solid ten week tour booked after the current road outing is finished.

In February of 1958 Federal Records releases "You Shocked Me" and the interestingly titled "Waterproof Eyes" on # 12315. In April of their year Tiny once again signs on to a big road show for Universal Attractions called "The Big Rhythm & Blues Cavalcade of 1958" and will also feature Bo Diddley, Little Willie John, Etta James, The Five Royales, Midnighters, and Beulah Bryant. Also that month Federal releases "Cha Cha Sue" and "Western Rock 'n' Roll" (using a bit of the break-in style) on # 12323. In June of 1959 "Just A Little Bit" and "Everybody Needs Some Loving" on # 12357. "Bit" became a hit record on the R & B charts a year later for Rosco Gordon. During the following year Tiny is let go by King-Federal-DeLuxe and there is one last effort for Chicago's Argo label - "Working On Me Baby" and "After Marriage Blues" on # 5383. In 1963 King Records re-released "Aw Shucks Baby" with "Everybody Needs Some Loving" on # 5815.

There is a CD from Rock 'n' Rhythm called "Tiny Topsy And Friends" which features 32 tracks, thirteen of them by Tiny and the rest by other female blues singers of the time such as Big Maybelle, Joan Shaw, Dolly Cooper, Mari Jones, and others. There was an LP album released some years ago called "Aw Shucks" which chronicled the recorded output of Tiny Topsy, but other than that she is represented on a number of R & B compilation cds, most of them featuring her most recognizable song "Aw Shucks".

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