Monday, May 07, 2007

The No Greatest Hits Tour

Mentioning Federal Express, and Elvis and Memphis reminded me of another time I was in the city (if you ever get a chance to go don't miss it). In October 2001 I was in the birth place of rock 'n' roll (that's what the tourist people call it) with Bill Wyman for the launch of the first book we did together - Bill Wyman's Blues Odyssey. This had already taken place at the legendary Sun Studio on the Tuesday and on the Wednesday night we'd had dinner with Sam Phillips, the man who discovered Elvis Presley. It was turning into quite a week. On the Thursday afternoon we were on our way back to the Peabody Hotel from a lunchtime book signing when I suggested we go to the folk and culture museum that I knew was in the basement of a small downtown shopping mall. When we got there we saw some signs outside the building with news of a Blues Music Festival that coming weekend. We were intrigued, especially as we could hear music coming from the basement as we descended the escalator.

It was the unmistakable sound of 'Just a Little Bit', a big hit for Roscoe Gordon in1960. Bill and I were surprised to find Roscoe himself at the piano rehearsing with a small band. We sat and listened for about twenty minutes until Roscoe finished and then we got the chance to talk to him. Bill asked Roscoe if he had missed him rehearsing 'Booted', his classic R&B No.1 from 1952. “Man I don’t play that song no more. In fact I ain’t played it since 1953. I toured with BB King around the chittlin’ circuit for 6 months and played that song six times every night, I got so fed up I ain’t played it ever since.” Can you imagine another artist refusing to play their only chart topper? Roscoe was famous for what became known as 'Roscoe's Rhythm', as much a shuffle as it was a boogie, with elements of Jamaican Blue Beat about it. Sadly Roscoe died in 2002.


james higham said...

Can you imagine another artist refusing to play their only chart topper?

Not a chart topper but Fairport stopped playing Matty Groves after it became nauseating [to them].

Photo and article here were fascinating, Richard.

Richard Havers said...

Thanks James. You mention of ‘Matty Groves’ sent me scuttling off to play it. I used to go and see Fairport regularly in my younger days. They were always a great night out. I went out with a girl who lived opposite Dave Pegg in Oxfordshire for a while. I went on an Oxfordshire pub crawl (well two pubs actually) with Dave and Simon Nicol; I no beer drinker, they were. I nearly drowned from the inside out! Never again.

r morris said...

Fascinating music history, Richard. Thanks for sharing.