St. Louis Blues And Jazz Hall Of Fame
St. Louis and East St. Louis, on the Mississippi river, the Illinois Central
railroad line and Highway 61 have been home permanantly or for extended periods
of time to many stellar and lesser lights in the world of blues, jazz and
gospel. Here are many of them.
Pre-war St. Louis blues artists are now on a
Angela Alexander--delightful vocalist with the band "Twilight
Joe Alexander and the Cubans-- recorded a 45 on a small St. Louis label, that is rumoured to
have Chuck Berry's first recorded performance on guitar. I've listened to it and I don't hear it.
Junior Applewhite--bass player with Robert Doll, looks like he could be
Tommy Bankhead--a St. Louis blues institution with
deep southern roots. Tommy Bankhead passed away in 2001.
Barkin' Bill -- (Delmark 672) was raised in St. Louis.
Fontella Bass--of "Rescue Me" fame, now getting back in the limelight
singing gospel. Vocalist and piano player, started out in Little Milton's review.
Fred Baugh--talented saxophone player, leader of his own band and
supported Screamin' Joe Neal.
Chuck Bernard--two fine versions of "Everytime I Think Of You"
one for Gabriel (Joyce 305), one for Bobbin.
Chuck Berry--America's "real" poet laureate, Chuck took blues mixed it with
some country, and, as much as anyone, became the father of rock 'n roll.
Big Bad Smitty--"Mean Disposition" and "Cold Blood."
Big Daddy--vocalist in the Howlin' Wolf tradition.
Big George Brock--Mississippi born harmonica player with a self-produced album,
owned the Club Caravan and the New Club Caravan, recently demolished!
Shirley Brown--soul legend, originally from nearby Venice,
Illinois, "Woman To Woman," sang as Little Shirley in Albert King's band.
Bull and the Matadors--of East St. Louis had the hit "The Judge Is Funky".
Jim Byrnes--early member of the Soulard blues band who's gone on to fame on TV
Barbara Carr--succeeded Fontella Bass as vocalist for the Oliver Sain
Revue and went on to record for Chess and for her own Bar-Carr label. With several new
releases on Memphis based Ecko Records Barbara's star is rising.
Alvin Cash (and the Crawlers)--"Twine Time" Alvin and his brothers were great dancers in
the late fifties, performing as The Step Brothers, who appeared on the local TV show "St. Louis Hop".
Alvin went on to make early roots of rap and funk record "Twine Time".
Alvin Cash passed away November 21, 1999 at the age of 60. His other hits
included "The Funky Washing Machine," "The Ali Shuffle" and "The Philly Freeze."
Andrew Cauthen--harmonica player, with cuts on the Adelphi St. Louis anthology ("Things Have Changed") and
Testament's "Blues From The Delta" CD.
Marshall Chapman--bassist, now deceased.
Mary Coleman--"Mississippi Mary"
recorded a single for Gabriel's Yvette label. Gabriel says she was bussed here
for the session from "somewhere down south," and that she is playing her own guitar on one side. Jim O'Neal located her in Memphis and interviewed her.
Rudy "Silvercloud" Coleman--singer and piano player.
Tim Cooper--harmonica player recorded for the Stevens label in the 50's
reissued on Red Lightnin' (now reissued on Sequel) and a new CD on Black Magic.
James Crutchfield-- see his entry on my pre-war page. See his newly released recordings
on the Biddle Street Barrelhousein' CD on Delmark with James "Bat
The Hummingbird" Robinson on drums on some cuts!
The Davis Brothers Band--in the early days in Mississippi they were known as
"The Lard Can Band." Brothers James "Booboo" a drummer, and guitarists Sylvester
"Rusty" Davis, who passed away recently, and John. For seventeen years they were
the house band at Tubby's Red Room in Centreville, IL on the outskirts of East
St. Louis. Now Boo Boo is touring Europe and has several CDs out on the Black And Tan label!
Jimmie Davis--Mississippi born blues fiddle player and
guitarist, appears on Testament 5013 with Big Joe Williams and on the Adelphi
anthology ("Things Have Changed").
Tommy Dean--originally came from Beaumont, TX and got his early experience as a
performer in carnivals and circuses. While playing at an outdoor road show in
Saint Louis he came to the attention of bandleader Eddie Randle who
hired him as a sideman for his band, the Seven Blue Devils. Around 1937, Dean
went out on his own and played throughout the Midwest for the next decade,
eventually shifting his base to Chicago.
Under the banner "Tommy Dean and His St. Louisans," he played such clubs as the
Hurricane Show Lounge (349 East Garfield) and Blue Heaven Theatre Lounge (742
East 63rd). On May 3, 1947, the Chicago Defender carried a photo of Dean's
quartet: "Tommy Dean, and his famed combo headline the attraction at the
Hurricane Lounge." The ad in the same issue read, "Tommy Dean & His St.
Louisans, direct from the Music Box Lounge," and promised an opening on May
Around this time, Tommy Dean cut his first record for the St. Louis-based label
Town and Country. Many thanks to Tom Kelly for bringing this session to our
attention; it has never been listed in a discography before. (from the Red Saunders Research
Foundation page, definitely a must-see)
James DeShay--singer guitar player, recently passed away. Owned a club on
Easton Ave. In the late forties he and Little Walter used to play on St. Louis street
corners for money.
Little Dave Dixon--drummer with Robert Doll.
Keith Doder--harmonicist for the
Blue City Band.
Robert Doll-- Robert and his son, Theotis were backing Big Bad Smitty at Spraggin's
Hacianda when I first encountered him.
Eagle Park Slim
--Slim is alive and well out west. Click on his name to visit his webpage, buy his CDs and more.
Willie Ealey -- see under Frank Frost below.
Earthquake--a legendary St. Louis drummer. I believe his real name was
Willie Blackmon. He may have recorded earlier in the South. Does anyone know for
The Fernando's--doowop group with a highly sought after single on the Carter label.
Doug and Sharon Foehner--talented husband and wife team. Sharon played bass with Bennie Smith
and managed his bookings for many years and has played with Barbara Carr, Robbie Montgomery, Renee Smith,
Etta Baker, Big Bad Smitty, Johnnie Johnson, Homesick James and Kim Massey.. As of 2009 she's playing with
Rich McDonnough and Rough Grooves.
Doug is playing Hawaiian music with Tommy Brooks as Tropical Illusion. He also plays alot of
slide guitar and traditional blues styles.
Sharon also plays guitar
Four Vagabonds-- formed in 1933, they were the top vocal group at St. Louis' Vashon High School.
They were signed up for their own radio show on WEW. In 1936 they went to Chicago and in
1941 were signed to Bluebird. Their first session was ten days after the bombing of Pearl
Harbor and they became part of RCA's propaganda machine, usually pairing a fairly inoffensive
war-related song on at least one side of each release until the war ended. Their biggest
hit was "It Can't Be Wrong" featured in the Warner Borthers 1942 hit "Now, Voyager" starring
Bette Davis, right at the birth of doowop. A pair of tracks on Westside's "Jive Is Jumpin'" compilation,
and complete recorded work in three volumes (5635, 5636, 5637) on Document. With thanks to
Blues & Rhythm's Dave Penny.
Eugene Fluker--guitarist vocalist with recordings on Wolf.
Abram "Falstaff" Foster--wonderful keyboard player, and
husband to Clara McDaniel,
Willie Foster--harmonica, vocals, lived in Greenville, MS, has a release
on Palindrome. This is not, however the same artist as "Little Willie Foster"
who recorded for Cobra. Willie Foster passed away several years ago.
Sam Fowler--harmonica player, only known recordings with Big Joe Williams
for Baul in St. Louis.
Frank Frost-- "In 1951, in St. Louis, he met harmonica player Little Willie Foster and joined his band
[would this be Willie Foster, above, rather than the Chicago artist?]. Around 1956, still in St. Louis
he joined Sam Carr (Robert Nighthawk's son). In 1990 Frank told Blues & Rhythm's Norman Darwen that he met
Carr in St. Louis and Carr invited Frost to join his band as a replacement for a harp player called Tree Top
Slim (possibly St. Louis artist Willie Ealey). [from Tony Burke's Frost obit in B&R 144]
Gabriel--in the fifties he had his own band and issued superb 45's on himself
(as the Flockrocker) and others, on a number of his own labels, eventually to be reissued
by Jim O'Neal, and a 50 year long career in St. Louis blues radio. (as of 2002)
Billy Gayles--vocalist/drummer with the Ike Turner organization. "Tore Up" on
Federal was his hit.
Archie Gillham--recorded The Blues Is Just About To Get Me Down backed with St. Louis Boogie
of Gilspin Records 1 with vocals by Leon Bryant. The lyric mentions "a St. Louis band". Anyone
have any further info?
Boyd Gilmore--played with own group, Fireworks Station, East St.
Louis, 1955 (Blues Who's Who), not surprising considering his considerable
association with Ike Turner in Clarksdale and Greenville. According to Wardlow,
Charlie Booker thought Gilmore lived here. According to Tommy Bankhead he and
Gilmore came to St. Louis together in '49 and Gilmore lived here for several
years, staying at Ned Love's club in East St. Louis.
Fred Green-- formed Fred Green and the Malleards who recorded for Bobbin and Ballad then went
on to greater fame as the El Torros on Duke.
Vernon Guy--vocalist with the Sharpees, recently deceased.
Ronnie Guyton--bass player, Dan Lee Taylor's son with a single on Pulsar "Honey
Take Me Home".
Erline Harris -- Blues At First Sight, Deluxe 3305, states Ms. Harris made her
first professional appearance in 1939 at the Club Plantation in St. Louis.
Willie "Lee" Harris--harmonica, on Testament 5013 with Big Joe Williams.
Darling Harrison--singer/guitarist, played with Robert Johnson and Willie
Brown in the thirties in the delta.
Rayburn Hayes--superlative drummer, played
on Big Bad Smitty's "Mean Dispostion" and in various bands here for several
Otis Hicks--(Lightnin' Slim) was born at 302 S. Jefferson on March 13, 1913.
Raymond Hill--recently deceased sax player with Ike Turner, his own releases on
Highwater and Sun, father of Tina Turner's oldest son.
Tommy Hodges--vocalist with Ike Turner.
Carl Hogan--guitar player for Louis Jordan and a major influence on Chuck Berry
Melvin Hughes-- drummer. Mr. Hughes sent us this wonderful email:
This is a real great and comprehensive page and I really enjoyed all the
artist presented here. But I didn't see my name and some of the guys that I
My name is Melvin Hughes I was born and raised in Kinloch and was raised with
and played many of the names mentioned here. I guess I was not as famous as
some, never made records (though I tried many times) but I did record for
Stax in Memphis with Buddy Hughes.(my brother)
I received an award from the History Museum as a part of the Ragtime to Rock
and Roll exhibit in 1991.
Buddy took over the band from Johnny "The Twist" Williams. We were playing
the Peppermint Club in about 1960-65. We alternated between The Peppermint
Club and Twist City which use to be at Delmar near Belt.
Member of that band were Lee Smith (bass player, vocalist) Andre Macklin
Drummer (now plays at Gene Lynn's) Stanford Bell (Bass player, pianist,
baritone sax) Melvin Hughes (Tenor, alto sax and vocalist) Buddy Hughes
(tenor, alto, soprano sax) Nat Riggins (Guitar, vocalist) and Nona Walker
and Beverly Boyd Vocalist.
Let me mention too that Buddy Hughes had the only band in the city at that
time that played, Jass, Blues, Rock and Roll, Country and Western, and Light
Classics. Buddy Hughes was originally a Jass musician whose idol was John
The groups that I worked with consisted of: Rudy "Silver Cloud" Coleman (my
first professional job} Johnny "The Twist" Williams, Roosevelt Marks, Buddy
Hughes, Tim Copper, Johnny Johnson, Little Walter Westbrook, Pops Porter,
In 1955 I traveled to Chicago with Ike Turner for a recording date with Chess
Records. There was trouble between Ike and Chess so my group (vocal group at
the time) had to return without recording. Ask Ike about the trip to Chi
town with two cars and ten people in each car. Man what a trip. !!
I have played with, from time to time Bennie Smith, Cecil Travis (Guitarist
for Rudy Coleman for a long time) David Hines was in that group along with
Kenny Rice, Pop Sims, Ralph (guitarist can't think of his last name).
I grew up with Tommy Hodge, Carlson Oliver, Ann Peebles. I have played behind
Major Lance, Barbara Mason and others. I had the pleasure one of having B.B.
King play behind me at the old Harlem Club on the East side.
Clubs to my credit were:
Helen Herd's Moonlight Lounge
The Peppermint Club
The Harlem Club
The Bird Cage
The Blue Flame Club
The Wagon Wheel
The Blue Haven
The Red Top
Louise's Monaco Lounge
The West End Waiters Club
The Club Riviera
Casa LOMA Ball Room
The Havana Club
The list goes on and on.
Surely many of the guys that you have written about are still around, What
are they doing now?
Charles Hunt--guitar player and co-leader for Ross and Hunt who have recorded on Gino's and have been playing
around town for as long as I can remember.
Richard Hunt--drummer Hunt was raised in East St. Louis, as a kid played at
the Manhattin Club and the Cosmo Hall. By high school and college age he was a popular
percussionist, recording, performing and traveling with Charles Hunt and the Corvettes
band out of Madison, IL, and the youngh Decipels big band out of East St. Louis,
and with Tyrone Perry and Gus Thornton at Yodi Enterprise.
Luther Ingram--b. 1944 Jackson, TN, Ingram's "If Loving You Is Wrong I
Don't Want To Be Right" spent 15 weeks at the top of the charts in 1972. Ingram
resided and performed here in the sixties and currently resides across the river
in Alton, IL and suffers severe health problems. He recently had a successful kidney
Fruteland Jackson--singer, guitarist and blues educator, resided in St.
Louis briefly and has now moved on.
Johnnie Johnson--pianist extraordinaire with Chuck Berry, and nowadays more often
on his own and with many leading luminaries. Played with Albert King on the Bobbin
Oliver Johnson--trumpet with Tommy Bankhead, now with his own band.
Stacy Johnson--vocalist of the Sharpees, sings on "Consider Yourself" on
Modern 1001, with Ike.
Tommy Johnson (no, not that Tommy Johnson)--long-time guitarist in the Doc
Willie Johnson--soul tinged vocalist.
Louis Jordan--is buried here in a Catholic cemetary on Lemay Ferry Road.
Jimmy Lee Kennett--leader of his own group.
Albert King--while he made many of his most popular recordings in
Memphis, and lived there when he died, cut his teeth in St. Louis in the late
50's and early 60's. He made early recordings for the Coun-Tree (1964) and
Bobbin (1959-1962) labels. He lived in Brooklyn, IL and played (and gambled) frequently
at the Harlem Club there. b. April 25, 1923 Indianola, MS. d. Memphis, TN 1995.
Bill King & Mona Williams--producer/vocalist pair.
Willie Kizart--guitarist with Ike Turner, now deceased. He's the guitar
player on "Rocket 88," Ike was on piano. He's also the guitar on Little Aaron's "East St. Louis."
He had a band locally called the "Hound Dogs".
Jesse Knight Jr.--known as "Nephew," bass player for Ike Turner.
Lady "D"--it was singer Lady "D" who led Bill Greensmith to the
rediscovery of her father, Little (Tim) Cooper who had recorded for the Stevens label.
Art Lassiter--vocalist with Ike Turner with the superb single "It's All Right"
on Symbol. Lassiter didn't show up for a session, Tina took over the song and the rest is
history. Art Lassiter was originally from North Carolina. At age 15 he moved to Newark,
New Jersey where he joined the Jubilaires. He boxed professionally and seved in Korea
and wound up in St. Louis by accident when his car broke down. Here he met brothers
George and Murrey Green and Douglas Martin, and joined their group, the Bel-Airs.
By October 1955 they were renamed the Trojans, and accompanied by Ike Turner's Kings
Of Rhythm recorded two sides for RPM Records. They soon underwent another name change,
as Lassiter remembered to Bill Greensmith "We got ridden so hard about the name The
Trojans. See we were thinking about the soldier, that kind of Trojan. Everytime
they would call us on stage old broads would throw their panties to indicate to us
that they wasn't worried about giving us some because our name was The Trojans."
When they recorded for Federal in March 1956, again with Ike, they were known as
The Rockers 5
Rondo Leewright--popular vocalist with a CD on Blueberry Hill.
Jessie Lewis--singer, guitar player.
Little Milton--(Milton James Campbell b. Sept 7, 1934, Inverness, MS) made some
of his earliest recordings for the St. Louis-based Bobbin label, and was a fixture on the
St. Louis scene in the late fifties.
Robert Jr Lockwood--b. March 27, 1915 Marvell, AK, lived
briefly in St. Louis at age 7, frequently worked St. Louis area 1939-40, '43-'44
worked jukes and parties in St. Louis and Helena.
Lonnie G and the Blue Flames--played at Clark's Baby Doll on Cass and Spring.
Clayton Love--singer and piano player, associated with Ike Turner and
several albums of his own, a new one on Modern Blues.
Q.T. (Howlette) Macon--singer/guitar player b. Bolivar, TN March
17, 1934. d. April 12, 1994 Superb single "Blow Wind" on Pulsar.
Tom Maloney--an excellent guitar player.
Lil' Dave Marks--superb guitarist, originally from Greenville, MS.
Roosevelt Marks-- Mark's "Orchestra" included Bennie Smith on guitar, Larry Davis
on vocals, and brothers Jimmy and Houston Walls on drums and sax respectively. The Walls brothers'
mother, Bessie Walls, was a recorded gospel artist.
John May--bassist May has also chaired the St. Louis Blues Society for a number of
years and served as producer of the St. Louis Blues Heritage Festival and former owner of
J.B Hutto's blues club in west county.
Jimmy "Jack Of All Trades" McCain--"Good Mr. Roosevelt" (Chicago 103, BC LP 14)
died here 1950.
Bobby McClure--Fontella's singing partner on "Don't Mess Up A Good Thing"
and recording artist in his own right.
George & Ethel McCoy-- see the the pre-war page.
Jimmy McCracklin--one of the great West Coast bluesmen, Jimmy McCracklin was born
in St. Louis, MO August 13, 1921. After serving in the Navy he settled in the Watts area
of Los Angeles, CA in the 40s where he worked as a professional boxer. Over the
years he has recorded for many labels (including Peacock, Modern, Checker, Hollywood,
Irma, Mercury, Vanguard and his own Art-Tone and JMC labels as well as two recent
releases on Bullseye Blues) and has appeared on numerous festivals throughout
the world. He scored a major hit in 1958 with his record "The Walk" and in 1961
charted with "Just Got To Know."
Butch McCray--originally from Crystal Springs, MS, McCray was the first man to
teach Bennie Smith. He plays a little in church these days.
Clara McDaniel--see Clara's page in this section--she
tore 'em up in Utrecht and at the London Blues Festival.
Doug McLeod--born here.
Mel and Tim-- of St. Louis had hits with "Starting Over Again" and "I May Not
Be What You Want."
Cleetie Milon--soul tinged vocalist, has worked much in gospel as well as blues.
Durious Montgomery--superlative bass player, played on
Big Bad Smitty's "Mean Disposition", now deceased.
Robbie Montgomery--one of the original Ikettes, she
cut her first record for Gabriel's Yvette label with the Rhythmettes. She now owns and
operates Sweetie Pie's soul food restaurant. Session
vocalist for Dr. John and the Rolling Stones!
"Guitar" Tommy Moore & the 5 J's--superb first generation bluesman who made
the transition to electric guitar, recorded "Car Machine" for Gabriel's Ultrasonic label.
Prentice Moreland per Wikipedia: He was born on March 4, 1925 in East St. Louis, Illinois.
Moreland was He was a member of many vocal groups including The Ink Spots, The Dominoes, The Du Droppers, The Chanteclairs, The Cadets, The Crescendos, The Colts, The Fortunes, The Hollywood Flames, and possibly The Sevilles (the group that had a hit with "Charlena" in 1961) . Moreland replaced Ted Taylor (who had left for a solo career) on The Cadets' "Stranded In The Jungle" session and was the one who came up with the "Great Googa Mooga, Let Me Outta Here" line in the song. Aaron Collins of The Cadets said of Moreland's line "I think he picked that up from Rochester (Anderson). Prentice knew Rochester pretty well."  At the same session, he recorded a solo version of "Memories Of You," a song that had been done by The Ink Spots in 1939; it was released on RPM Records in 1957. He recorded along with Jackie Wilson, Milton Merle, and Cliff Givens in The Dominoes in 1955, later returning to the group a few more times. With the Crescendos, he recorded "Finders Keepers" and "Sweet Dreams" for Atlantic Records in 1956, alongside Bobby Relf of The Laurels, Young Jessie of The Flairs, and Bobby Byrd of The Hollywood Flames. He was asked by Buck Ram to join The Platters but Moreland refused because he had to take care of his seven kids.
Riley Cody Morgan--guitar player. Riley has lead the band behind Big George Brock for
many years, with his son, Riley Jr. on drums, his daughter "Til" on bass, and another daughter on keyboards.
"Little Aaron" Mosby--bass player on "East St. Louis" recorded on the Belleville, IL
"Marlo" label in 1961. Although credited to Little Aaron, Andrew Odom actually does the
vocals and it's Willie Kizart on guitar. This group was called the Hound Dogs and normally
featured Johnny O'Neal on vocals. "Little Aaron" was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, April 15, 1930 and came
to St. Louis in 1948 where he played with Riley Cody Morgan (see above), Albert King, Chuck Berry and also with Doc Terry.
George Myles--drummer, b. Waycross, GA, he picked up by Sonny Boy Williamson in Jacksonville, FL who brought him to St. Louis where they played all the juke joints
in and around East St. Louis for years. Later, he was with the Jessie Stone Band.
Eugene Neal & The Rocking Kings--molding himself after Ike
Turner, singer/guitarist Neal was extremely popular around town in the
sixties. Made records on Alderman Freeman Bosley's Teek label-
Harry Neal--guitarist, Gene Neal's brother, currently playing with Charles Jones
at Spraggins Hacianda (2/99).
Screamin' Joe Neal--two legendary 45s, one on the Emerge label, one on Shippings.
A mainstay at the Peppermint Club at Skinker and Delmar in years gone by. Screamin' Joe
was hit by a truck and is largely paralyzed.
Andrew "Voice" Odom--Big Voice Odom: his obituary in Soul Bag 126
reports that he moved to East St Louis in 1955, where he worked with Albert King
and Johnny Twist (Williams), and met Earl Hooker (who apparently spent some time in
St. Louis himself) before moving to Chicago in 1960. He also sang on theLittle Aaron record on Marlo 1508, recorded in
Belleville, IL (down the road apiece from East St Louis) in early 1961. It's
reissued on Red Lightnin' LP RL0064, where Bill Greensmith states that the band is The
Hound Dogs, led by Willie Kizart, with Odom sitting in for Johnny O'Neal, who was sick
at the time of recording.
Erskine Ogelsby--played sax in the Ike & Tina band, still going strong. Just recorded
a CD for Black and Tan and is touring Europe under his own name.
Carlson Oliver--vocalist with Ike Turner.
Ann Peebles --98 pounds of soul dynamite, Ann grew up in Kinloch, a substantially
black St. Louis suberb that was once a slave community and later in East St. Louis. She
went on to Hi Records in Memphis where "Walk Away" written by Oliver Sain, on her debut
album "This Is Ann Peebles" took off for her. She came to Memphis with her brother, Jerome Peters,
to see his girlfriend. While there they went to the Roseland where she asked orchestra leader Gene "Bowlegs" Miller if she could sit in.
He was so impressed he brought her to Willie Mitchell at Hi.Other hits include "Can't
Stand The Rain," "99 Pounds," and "Breaking Up Somebody's Home." She is married to
song-composer and singer, Don Bryant.
Billy Peek--singer/guitar player noted for his local hit "Can A White Boy Play The
Blues" recorded for Marlo, toured extensively with Chuck Berry.
Phil Perry-- lead singer of the Montclairs vocal group
Eugene Floyd "Gene" Phillips--b. St. Louis July 25, 1915, moved to West
Coast, recorded for
Modern, Crown, RPM, and Blues & Rhythm, vocal and guitar, often with Lloyd Glenn on piano. Eugene Floyd Phillips
Leroy Pierson--"Rusty Nail" on the St. Louis Nighthawk label, player, collector,
scholar. His "Boogie Disease" compilation was one of the first American post-war down
home and Chicago blues reissues.
Pops Porter--fine singer/pianist, was a
regular at Broussard's Cajun Cuisine on South Broadway, and more recently in the
cocktail bar at Frazer's Brown Bag on Pestalozzi, recently deceased (1999).
"Little Herbert" Reeves--Little Herbert and the Arabians, originally on Teek,
reissued on the "Condition Your Heart" LP now on CD from Sequel.
Kenny Rice--top notch jazz and blues drummer, has worked with
Albert King, Johnnie Johnson, Cannonball Adderly, Leo Goodin' and Clara McDaniel
to name but a few.
George Roberson--Mississippi born guitarist who appears on the Adelphi St. Louis
anthology "Things Have Changed."
Howard Sonny Robertson was born in St. Louis, Missouri. His mom Dorothy was a gospel singer and his father was a tap or buck dancer in vaudeville. Howard has been singing as long as he can remember; however, his first real professional group was with gospel singer Willie Mae Ford Smith, who through her daughter Jackie taught him harmony and voice control, as well as discipline.
"My tenure with Mrs. Smith allowed me the opportunity to sing in shows with legends such as Mahalia Jackson, Clara Ward, James Cleveland, and a host of other gospels greats. I left Mrs. Smith to join the recording gospel quartet, The Welcome Travelers, where I sang first tenor and began playing guitar. The group was very talented. H. T. Liggins and Mac Hardin from the group went on to become Mel and Tim, R&B stars, who recorded "Backfield in Motion" and other hits.
"Next began the longest and what I consider the best time of my career. I was singing with childhood buddies Charles Drain, Lionel Stokes, John Hopkins, Tuman Hughes, and Leroy Terry, all Tabs recording artists for Vee Jay Records in Chicago, and also Scepter and Wand Records based in New York. Those two labels had other great acts such as The Shirelles, Dionne Warwick, Chuck Jackson, Curtis Mayfield, Gene Chandler, The Four Seasons, The Dells, Jerry Butler, and so many other greats.
"Singing with the Tabs took me to the Apollo Theater to work with the Miracles, Flip Wilson, Redd Foxx, Moms Mabley, and the Isley Brothers. Some additional venues were the Uptown in Philly, the Royal Ball, the Howard in D.C., the Regal in Chicago, and many others. Following the breakup of the Tabs, I returned home to St. Louis to work locally. I began to play rhythm guitar for the late blues legend Albert King, which led to my working at the Fillmore East and West. During this time I played with Matt Murphy, Jimi Hendrix, BB King, Koko Taylor, Paul Butterfield, Buddy Guy, Lonnie Brooks, and many others."
The Rocker's--backed by Ike on Carter and Federal.
Rockhouse Annie"--The Rock House at Chestnut and Wharf, in
the shadow of the Gateway Arch, is now gone. It was built by fur trader Manuel
Lisa in the early 1800s. Rockhouse Annie sang bawdy songs there in the late
thirties before it was converted to a Coast Guard brig, and thus obtained her
name. She later sang on the River Queen sternwheeler, "Skippers Inn," Gaslight
Square and Anthonis' Bar on Gravois Avenue near the Bevo Mill.
Charles "Skeet" Rogers--wonderful vocalist on the Blue City Band's Azure
release and leader of his own "Inner City Band."
The Roosevelt Marks Orchestra--with Larry Davis and Bennie Smith, recorded for Bobbin and were the big
thing until Ike Turner hit town.
James (Jamie) Ross--did a single on Countree with Albert King on guitar called "Do The Cat")
and vocalist for Ross and Hunt Charles Hunt popular soul blues duo with recordings on Vanessa. Was also
a member of the Profiles who have many Northern Soul records.
Herb Sadler--guitarist with Ike Turner.
Oliver Sain--had a hit with "Bus Stop," saxophonist, keyboard player, writer, record
producer, played with Wolf and Elmore, owner of the Vanessa label.
Fred Sample--pianist with Ike Turner.
Johnny Sayles--his oldest daughter Debbie was born in St.
Louis. He was a member of the Five Du-tones, and according to his daughter, the
first singer for the Ike Turner Band. He was discovered on the college campus of
Prairie View A&M by Moms Mabley. He then went on tour with her and made a stop
and stayed in St. Louis where he performed across the river for some time. He
died August 9, 1993 of a heart attack in Chicago. He also appeared on Roy
Buchanan's "Hot Wires" CD.
Benny Sharpe--of the Sharpees. Rev. Sharpe played guitar with the group and is now
a preacher in East St. Louis.
Little Mack Simmons--left Twist, Arkansas at age 15 and came to St. Louis (chasing after his first wife) and
encountered Robert Nighthawk, leading to his first club gig backing Nighthawk for two weeks. He met his second
wife, the singer Georgia Mae Hinton, first cousin to Little Walter Jacobs. Together they migrated to Chicago.
(Andrew Galloway, "The Golden Age of Little Mack Simmons", Andrew Galloway, B&R 143, October 1999)
Willie Sims better known as "Bad Boy," drummer with Ike Turner, recently deceased 2002.
Bennie Smith--extraordinary guitarist, see his page
in this section, "The Urban Soul of Bennie Smith."
Jesse Smith-- (Little Miss Jesse)
Reneé Smith--fine vocalist with a CD in production.
Robert T. "Piano Slim" Smith--singer/piano player with two
albums on Swingmaster, a single on Bobbin (with Cecil Travis on guitar) and roots into the Duke/Peacock scene.
James L. Stevenson--delta flavored vocalist with one known 45.
Marcell Strong--strong soul vocalist on the "Two Soul Chiefs" album, a single for
Fame. An out of print Red Lightnin' LP reissues all his singles.
jazz-inflected blues guitarist, played with Albert King when he was 14 years old.
Dan Lee Taylor--singer/guitar player
from Greenville, MS, played with Big Bad Smitty there when they were teenagers.
Photo by R.L. Shelli
"Doc" Terry--singer and harmonica player with 45s on his own DTP label.
Gus Thornton--superb bassist Thornton has toured with Albert King, Katie Webster
and Clara McDaniel.
Larry Thurston--vocalist for the touring Blues Brothers band.
Henry Townsend -- see his entry on the pre-war page.
Cecil Travis--guitarist, appears singing and playing with the Toby Pride Orchestra on Carter.
Tree Top Slim--real name Willie Ealey, pianist who accompanies Fowler and Big
Joe on Thousand Year Blues/She's Been Shaking A Little Boogie, Sept. 10, 1951 released
on Oldies Blues (H) LP 2804.
Trigger--harmonica player, active in the fifties with a guitarist called D.C. (maybe this was DeShay?)
Ike Turner--was a candidate for the hall
of fame before he ever got to St. Louis
but his work here when he discovered Tina, carried him to a whole new
level. Piano player, guitar player, arranger, song-writer and bandleader. Talent scout
for the Bihari brothers, and record producer. Click on his name to visit his own website.
Tina Turner--high priestess of shout and shimmy, cut her teeth in St.
Louis. Her first recording was with Ike and Bennie Smith for Gabriel's Tune Town
label. Ike and Tina were mainstays of the St. Louis scene in the sixties when "I
Think It's Gonna Work Out Fine" and "Fool In Love" charted nationally. They
often triple gigged on weekends, ending up at the Club Manhattan in East St.
Ace Wallace--guitarist on some of
the Gabriel recordings and Gab's bandmate.
Ben Wells--longtime drummer with Tommy Bankhead and one of the Confiners.
Little Walter Westbrook--harmonica player/vocalist who recorded for Bobbin.
Arthur Weston--guitarist with Mississippi roots, friend of Big Joe's. Testament
records have recently released a CD of recordings of Arthur by Pete Welding and
by Big Joe Williams, with liner notes by yours truly.
Beverly White--club artist recorded by Lillian McMurry on a whim while she was in St.
Louis to record Brother Hugh Dent. Her one Trumpet release did not sell at all. She faded
into obscurity. Lillian always wanted to send her her money due. (courtesy of Woody Sistrunk)
Arthur Williams--superb harmonica player.
Johnny "The Twist" Williams--guitar player from East St. Louis recorded
for Louis and for Stagg in Belleville in 1962,
then moved to Chicago where he recorded for Checker.
Sonny Boy Williamson--(played here a lot)
C. W. Wright--superb guitarist.
Johnny Wright vocalist with Ike Turner, notably on "Suffocate" (RPM 443)
The X-Citers vocal with one 45 on the Carter label, a heavyweight collector's item.
Some pre- and post-war St. Louis jazz musicians.
Willie Akins-- saxophone.
Arcadia Peacock Orchestra Of St. Louis (Crescent City Jazzers, Arcadian Serenaders)
Harold "Shorty" Baker
Josephine Baker-- was born Freda J. McDonald at the Female Hospital of St. Louis on June 3, 1906.
She left St. Louis in her teens, with the flaming images of the 1917 race riots in East St. Louis burned
indelibly in her memory. In 1925,
after achieving success on the African-American theater circuit, she traveled to Paris, where she became
the rage of France-- and ultimately,
much of the world. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Hammett Bluett--played baritone sax with this group for a short time. Member
of World Saxophone Quarter.
Dwayne & Dwight Bosman--horn-playing identical twins, stalwarts at The
Moose Lounge at Pope and Rosalie, successful trip to England, corporate parties
in St. Louis and elsewhere.
--trumpet player. Died in 1999. Was married to Fontella Bass.
Milt Buckner--the B3 player.
Joe Charles --drummer.
Charlie Creath--trumpet, and his Jazz-o-maniacs, an important
riverboat band, recorded "Market Street Blues" in 1925, the first blues
recording with a male vocalist (?)
Miles Davis --trumpet
Eddie Fisher--fine jazz oriented guitar player with many albums to his credit
including "The Third Cup" for Argo.
Jimmy Forrest--sax player, of "Night Train" fame.
Charles Fox--piano. Played with Oliver Nelson and others.
Bob Gordon-- bari player
Gypsy-- Gypsy is the daughter of
jazz guitarist John Burnelli, of Carmen Cavellero's band. She cut her teeth on the E. St. Louis Terrace Lounge Bar rail. In there
way before it was legal for her. She just released jazz vocals with music partner Reno Legrande. She was back in St. Louis from 90-95
and is now based in Tampa, FL
Leo Goodin--Leo's Five played at his Blue Note club in
East St. Louis. They issued material on L-G Records.
Grant Green--the great guitarist.
Russell Gunn--trumpeter, now in Atlanta, who trained under Ron Carter who turned
the Lincoln High School Jazz Band into one of the nation's finest.
Sonny Hamp --drummer.
John Hicks --piano player, now in New York, has played with Oliver Lake and Freddie Hubbard.
Richard "Groove" Holmes--Hammond B3 player, worked, married (Renee) and died in
George Hudson--jazz big band leader.
Alex Jackson --his Champion sides go for $1600! Jackass Blues
Dewey Jackson--riverboat trumpeter. 2 Vocalions, very rare.
Don James--was the Hammond B-3 player in Leo's Five, now deceased.
Henry "Moon" Jones played sax with Russell's band
Scott Joplin--the great ragtime composer and cohorts such as Arthur
Marshall, Otis Saunders, Scott Hayden, Brun Campbell, James Scott, Louis Chauvin
and Tom Turpin. (Jasen, "Recorded Ragtime").
Oliver Lake--The World Saxophone Quartet.
Sam Lazar --the B3 player.
Fate Marable--Creath and Marable had bands that played on the riverboats.
Richard Martin--played guitar with Terry Williams, Willie Akins, and possibly
Albert King, now deceased.
Bobby McFerrin--ethereal vocalist. His father, Robert McFerrin Senior sang jazz, spirituals and opera.
Red McKenzie--leader of the Mound City Blue
Louis Metcalfe--trumpet with Luis Russell band. In 1929 Metcalfe recommended
bassist George "Pops" Foster to Russell. Metcalfe knew Foster from their days on the
St. Louis riverboats (Frank Driggs, liners to Columbia KG 32338).
The Missourians--in 1930 singer and ex-drummer Cab Calloway began fronting the
Missourians, a band originally from St. Louis but based in New York from 1924 on
(J.R. Taylor in liner notes to NW 217).
John Mixon-- bass
Singleton Palmer--the all-time greatest tuba player in the Opera House, in
St. Louis's historic Gaslight Square in the 60's.
--"My name is Mark Peterson. I was raised in St. Louis. I am a professional
bassist/composer/arranger living in New York and just happened upon your
page. I am attaching my website info to give you an idea of what I do. I
played with so many on your page - Johnny Johnson, Ptah Williams, Freddie
Washington, David Hines, Willie Akins, all of the Soulard cats, Jimmy
Familiar to the U.S. and international audiences through his masterful work with such artists as
folk legend Joan Baez, Guitarists James "Blood" Ulmer, Jean-Paul Bourielly, Anthony Michael
Peterson, Grammy Award Winning vocalist Cassandra Wilson, Oscar Nominee Imelda Stonson
and French singer Maxime LeForrestier, this talented young bassist/composer has been taking the
New York music scene by storm.
His major television, theatrical and recording credits include: MTV, HBO, BET, The Johnny
Carson Show, The Learning Channel, Sesame Street, The Jay Leno Show, The View, New York
At Night...he has recorded and toured with the following: James "Blood" Ulmer, Francesca
Beghe (U.S. Tour with Michael Bolton), Joan Baez, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Mary Black, Maxi
Priest, Special EFX, Cassandra Wilson ...And recently, Mark shared the stage with Lyle Lovett,
Nanci Griffith and David Bromberg as part of the Newport Folk Festival On Tour. "
Calvin Ponder--"spouse" of Martha Davis on the "Martha Davis And Spouse" LP on
ABC-Paramount started life in St. Louis and worked here as a bass player.
Powell's Jazz Monarchs
Eddie Randle Sr.--trumpeter Randle, who passed away May 9, 1997, had
bands (the Blue Devils) that included Miles Davis and Oliver Nelson.
Jimmy Sherod--sax player.
St. Louis Levee Band--(Jellyroll Morton).
Lloyd Arthur Smith--recently deceased (April 8, 1999) was the father of the
Bosman twins. Louis Armstrong was married at Smith's mother's home in St. Louis,
Redd Foxx was a high school chum. Sarah Vaughn, Billie Holliday, Dinah Washington and
Ella Fitzgerald were like sisters to him. He played all woodwinds. He played with
Ellington, Basie, Hampton, Miles, and Earl Hines among many others. In the fifties he
operated the Musician's Club, an after hours club on Delmar just east of the Riviera.
He was also a successful businessman and active in civic affairs.
Elmer Schoebel--of East St. Louis was the founder and piano player of the New
Orleans Rhythm Kings, a white band that pioneered the Chicago jazz sound of the early 20's.
Jesse Stone and the Bootblacks
Freddie Washington --saxophone
Ptah Williams --extraordinary keyboardist
Terry Williams--took over on B-3 after Don James' tragic death at 26.
Charles "Little Man" Wright--d. 1997, played sax in Leo's Five.
Some St. Louis GOSPEL artists.
Martha Bass--Fontella's mother and a nationally reputed gospel singer, recently
deceased. Fontella plays piano on all her mother's Checker sides.
The Bronner Brothers --have strong family ties here, and recorded two 45s for Archie Shippings' label
Brother Hugh Dent--recorded "In The End" and "I'm Going To Live Up In Glory" at
Premier Studios in St. Louis, June 1952 on the Trumpet label.
Victoria Hawkins--"My Homecoming".
Rosalie Keysethereal singer
Brother Joe May--from East St. Louis, went on to record prolifically for Specialty.
The O'Neil Twins
Cleophus Robinson--gospel vocalist whose career began in the forties, founded the
New Bethlehem Church and had his own television show for twenty five years on Channel 11.
Vocal desciple of Brother Joe May. Robinson passed away in July of 1998.
Willie Mae Ford Smith--gospel matriarch.
The St. Louis Community Choir--This group was formed in 1978 by Bro Thomas Mitchell
and has recorded two 45s
and three albums. The currect release entitled "Love Brought Me Back"
recorded on Baltimore Records out of Dallas Tex. is gaining good response. It
was co-produced byOliver Sain. For information you can write St.Louis
Community Choir P.O.Box 23570 St.Louis Mo. 63112or ph (314)259-9304
And now...the St. Louis blues and jazz RADIO PERSONALITIES...
Panyo (which I think is Korean for fried) real name, Amos Dotson!)
Ponyo was a DJ on KXLW, transmitter and studio was out in the county. He insisted that "Blues" was
at the heart of it all, no matter what the latest trend or fad was. He was right for my part.
His companion at KXLW was George Edward Logan known as "The G." KXLW was a "sun-up to sun-down" station
per their FCC license. The G would close with two lines that will always be remembered because we heard them so much.
"May you trouble, like the Arabs, fold their tents and silently steal away."
The second one was, "Be with you tomorrow, God willing and the creeks don't rise."
Which was funny 'cause the studio and transmitter were yards away from a creek that ran near by.
On a couple of occasions the creek did rise and KXLW could not broadcast.
(information supplied by Emory Davis)
Spider (Jesse) Burks--started in St. Louis radio in 1946 with a
fifteen minute program. Eventually became the premier jazz and R&B jock in this
market. Got tired of playing crap on the air and quit before the payola scandal
hit to become exclusively a jazz jock.
Leo Cheers--"the man in the red vest," a jazz jock since the fifties in St. Louis
on a number of different stations. Presently the overnight jock on WSIE 88.7 FM. Wrote
the notes for Eddie Fisher's "Third Cup" album.
Dave Dixon--KATZ and others. Primarily a soul jock but played blues
too. Promoted local shows.
Dr. Jockenstein--since the seventies on KATZ, R&B and contemporary.
Ron Edwards--has hosted "Nothing But The Blues" since 1987 on KDHX, each
Sunday evening 7-8:30 PM bringing a tightly themed, carefully programmed
selection of mostly traditional and down home blues.
Gabriel--Gabriel is a St. Louis musical treasure. He's still going
strong...Sunday nights from midnight on, on KDHX, available over the internet.
His long career as bandleader, record producer and radio personality spans a
period of over 46 years at this point. His self-deprecatory yet political humor
was far ahead of its time. His recordings of Guitar Tommy Moore are among my
personal blues favorites. He recorded Tina Turner's first record and many tunes
with Ike, Bennie Smith and Benny Sharpe. Along with Early Wright and one or two
other survivors, Gabriel's on air patter harkens back to the heyday of black radio.
Gracie--on KATZ since the sixties.
Bernie Hayes--started in '65 but in the fifties was on the air in Shreveport.
Recorded for Stax label. Currently a columnist for the St. Louis American black paper.
His wife, U.Vee Hayes is a soul-blues vocalist with several CDs out.
Leonard Morris--recently deceased, last on WESL, premier gospel jock in
St. Louis market, from the fifties on KATZ.
Leroy Pierson--for many years had the "Baby Face Leroy Blues Hour" on KWMU
(as well as his "Beat Down Babylon" pioneering reggae show).
Lou "Fatha" Thimes--with KATZ (St. Louis' premier AM black outlet) since
1957, recently taken off the air.
Tony C.--on listener-supported KDHX FM 88.1 since 1988 playing a broad variety
of authentic blues and roots musics. Also know as record dealer A.J. Cabanellas. Tony's
input created this section and has helped this entire page.
This list would not be complete without mentioning
Bob Koester--founded Delmark records as Delmar since his shop was on Delmar Blvd.,
just east of Goodfellow.
Charlie O'Brian--ex-policeman who assisted many of the early St. Louis researchers in
locating old St. Louis musicians.
And St. Louis lays claim to these other renowned African-American artists:
Langston Hughes-- poet
Maya Angelou-- poet
Pre-war St. Louis blues artists are now on a
I don't have one of those handy fill-out forms but appreciate any help with this
page. Additions, corrections, suggestions, amplifications welcomed by