On this day in music history: August 13, 1952 - “Hound Dog” by Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton is recorded. Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, it is the biggest hit for the Alabama born Rhythm & Blues singer. Recorded at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, CA, the track features legendary R&B bandleader Johnny Otis (featured on drums) along with members of his band. Otis (“Willie And The Hand Jive”) co-produces the record with Leiber and Stoller. Released on Houston, TX based Peacock Records in March 1953, the single is an instant smash, spending seven weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B Best Sellers chart selling nearly two million copies. Four years and one week to the day that the original version is recorded, Elvis Presley’s cover version of the song hits number one on the Pop chart. In time, “Hound Dog” is regarded as one of the most important and influential rhythm and blues songs in music history. Big Mama Thornton’s version of “Hound Dog” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2013.
How Otis Redding’s Unfinished Life and Music Still Resonates
On a recent Weekend Edition broadcast, Scott simon interviewed Jonathan Gould, author of Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life. They cover Redding’s all too brief career with plenty of musical excerpts. Otis had the greatest voice to come along after Ray Charles and he shared with Charles the versatility and artistic instincts to radically transform songs and bring them into his own musical orbit.
On this day in music history: May 22, 1961 - “Mother-In-Law” by Ernie K. Doe hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 5 weeks on April 24, 1961. Written and produced by Allen Toussaint, it is the biggest hit for the New Orleans born and raised singer. Doe (real name Ernest Kador, Jr.) actually rescues the song from the trash after Toussaint throws it away, feeling that it isn’t any good. The song is especially relatable to the singer since he is having problems with his own mother in law at the time. “Mother-In-Law” features fellow New Orleans R&B singer Benny Spellman (“Fortune Teller”, “Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette)”) singing the deep bass vocals on the track, and Allen Toussaint playing piano. Entering the Hot 100 at #55 on March 27, 1961, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. “Mother-In-Law” is Ernie K. Doe’s only major hit, only scoring one more chart entry with “Popeye Joe” (#99 Pop) in January of 1962.
Hip Hop Would Not Be The Success It Is Today If It Wasn’t For This Pioneering Woman.....
After watching her family on the reality series, The First Family of Hip Hop, I wanted to know more about Mrs. Robinson and her contribution to hip-hop which we don’t hear being acknowledged much. While creating this post, I’m also reminded about a post from a few weeks ago in my archive about black women’s contribution to music in which one of my fellow sista follower/blogger said and I’m probably paraphrasing, “I wouldn’t be surprised if a black woman invented hip hop.”
Sylvia Robinson (née Vanderpool; March 6, 1935 – September 29, 2011) was an American singer, musician, record producer, and record label executive. Robinson was best known for her work as founder/CEO of the hip hop label Sugar Hill Records. Robinson is credited as the driving force behind two landmark singles in the genre; “Rapper’s Delight” (1979) by the Sugarhill Gang, and “The Message” (1982) by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five; which dubbed her as the “Mother of Hip-Hop”. Robinson received a Pioneer Award for her career in singing and being the founder of Sugarhill Records at the 11th Annual Rhythm and Blues Awards Gala in 2000. Robinson died of congestive heart failure on September 29, 2011 at age 76.
A movie about her life story is in the works. Read about it here.