[TABLE=80]


Tampa red

Show Notes:

During his heyday in the 1920's and 30's, Tampa Red was billed as "The Guitar Wizard," and his stunning slide work on steel National or electric guitar shows why he earned the title. His 25 year recording career produced hundreds of sides: hokum, pop, and jive, but mostly blues (including classic compositions "Anna Lou Blues," "Black Angel Blues," "Crying Won't Help You," "It Hurts Me Too," and "Love Her with a Feeling"). Early in Red's career, he teamed up with pianist, songwriter, and latter-day gospel composer Georgia Tom Dorsey, collaborating on double entendre classics like "Tight Like That." Tampa's slide playing was widely admired and influential on the likes of Robert Nighthawk, Elmore James and Earl Hooker. Jim O'Neal neatly summed up Tampa's place in blues history when he wrote the following in 1975: "Few figures have been as important in blues history as Tampa Red; yet no bluesman of such stature has been so ignored by today's blues audience. As a composer, recording artist, musical trendsetter and one of the premier urban blues guitarists of his day, Tampa Red remained popular with black record buyers for more than 20 years and exerted considerable influence on many post-World War II blues stars who earned greater acclaim for playing Tampa's songs than Tampa himself often did."

Tight Like ThatTampa was born Hudson Woodbridge in Smithville, Georgia with various birth dates given between 1900 and 1908. His parents died when he was a child, and he moved to Tampa, Florida, where he was raised by his aunt and grandmother and adopted their surname, Whittaker. He emulated his older brother, Eddie, who played guitar, and he was especially inspired by an old street musician called Piccolo Pete, who first taught him to play blues licks on a guitar. In the 1920's, having already perfected his slide technique, he moved to Chicago, Illinois, and began his career as a musician, adopting the name "Tampa Red" from his childhood home and red hair.

In the 1920's, having already perfected his slide technique, he moved to Chicago, Illinois, and began his career as a musician. His big break was being hired to accompany Ma Rainey and he began recording in 1928. In 1928 Whittaker, through the intercession of J. Mayo "Ink" Williams, teamed up with pianist Thomas Dorsey a. k. a. Georgia Tom and recorded the Paramount label hit "Tight Like That"-a number based upon Blind Blake's "Too Tight" and Papa Charlie Jackson's "Shake That Thing." With "It's Tight Like That", in a bawdy and humorous style that became known as "hokum." The success of "Tight Like That" prompted several other record other versions for Paramount, and initiated the blues genre known as hokum Early recordings were mostly collaborations with Thomas A. Dorsey, known at the time as Georgia Tom. Tampa Red and Georgia Tom recorded almost 60 sides, sometimes as "The Hokum Boys" or, with Frankie Jaxon, as "Tampa Red's Hokum Jug Band". Tampa had actually met Georgia Tom around 1925 and Tom recalled those early years: "We played Memphis, I think Louisville, down to Nashville; we was down in Tennessee, or in Mississippi just across he line. We recorded in Memphis at the Peabody Hotel in 1929), and I left him down in Memphis and he got another week's at the Palace Theater there. They liked him so well they hired him with just he and his guitar. …We played just anywhere. Party, theater, dance hall, juke joint. All black. See we wasn't high-powered enough. Other fellows who were in the high music echelon got those jobs with the whites. The money was bigger up there." Outside the studio Tom and Tampa worked together or separately joined sometime by their frequent studio partner, Frankie "Half Pint" Jaxon who primarily played the night clubs.

In 1928, Tampa Red became the one of the first bluesmen to play a National steel-bodied resonator guitar, Mama Don't Allow No Easy Riders Herethe loudest and showiest guitar available before amplification; acquiring one in the first year they were available. This allowed him to develop his trademark bottleneck style, playing single string runs, not block chords, which was a precursor to later blues and rock guitar soloing. The National guitar he used was a gold-plated tricone, which was found in Illinois in the 1990s and later sold to the "Experience Music Project" in Seattle. Tampa Red was known as "The Man With The Gold Guitar", and, into the 1930s, he was billed as "The Guitar Wizard".

When Dorsey left the blues field in 1932 to take up a career as gospel songwriter and choir director, Tampa continued his path of fame as blues artist. In 1934 he launched his fruitful career with the Victor/Bluebird label. Following the repeal of prohibition in 1933, venues for blues music proliferated in Chicago, and Tampa Red became one of the city's hottest live acts, often with the backing of his band, the Chicago Five. With his close friends Big Bill Broonzy and Lester Melrose, a producer for Bluebird Records, Tampa Red was a leader of the Chicago scene. In 1934 he signed for Victor Records. He formed the Chicago Five, a group of session musicians who created what became known as the Bluebird sound, a precursor of the small group style of later jump blues and rock and roll bands. He was a close friend and associate of Big Bill Broonzy and Big Maceo Merriweather. His wife, Frances, acted as his business manager, and Tampa's house served as the blues community's rehearsal hall and an informal booking agency. According to the testimony of Broonzy and Big Joe Williams, Red cared for other musicians by offering them a meal and a place to stay and generally easing their transition from country to city life. A frequent visitor to Whittaker's apartment, Willie Dixon recalled, in I Am the Blues, how "Tampa Red's house was a madhouse with old-time musicians. Lester Melrose would be drinking all the time and Tampa Red's wife would be cooking chicken." After the signing with Victor/bluebird Tampa stuck to Chicago and found steady work at a club across the street from his house called the H&T. Blind John Davis, who met Tampa in 1936, recalled: "Tampa's the onliest one I know could could close his eyes and run across the street and run right into his job. And he worked there for about eight or nine years."

Tampa redThrough the 1940's Tampa remained a prime seller among black audiences with hits like "Let Me Play With Your Poodle" and "She Wants To Sell My Monkey." During his Bluebird stint, between 1934 and 1953, he recorded over 200 sides. In addition to recordings he regularly played the clubs such as Club Georgia, the Flame Club, Sylvio's, the Purple Cat , the 708 club, the Zanzibar, the Peacock and the C&T Lounge all of which were black clubs on Chicago's South and West sides. Tampa's music continued to evolve as Jim O'Neal notes: "…He was right there swinging with horns when big band jump blues were in fashion, and he had the boogie numbers down, too; even on his last Victor sessions he had adapted to the mainstream '50's Chicago blues sound with featured harmonica backing from Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) and Big Walter Horton. He was following trends, but setting them too with numbers that many other bluesmen were to re-record in later years. …Less frequently was Tamap a solo act; Big Maceo teamed up with him for for a while, and after Maceo suffered a stroke, Sunnyland Slim filled in until Maceo's protege  Johnnie Jones took over on piano. By now Tampa also had added support from a drummer, Odie Payne Jr., and Johnnie would sing about half the numbers when he, Tampa, and Odie worked the Peacock and the C&T in 1949. Johnnie also sang on at least a dozen of Tampa's later records." His last hit was 1949's "When Things Go Wrong With You (it Hurts Me Too)" which briefly hit the national R&B charts. By the early 1950's Tampa rarely played the clubs anymore and he made his final commercial recording for Victor in 1953.

Tampa & Pals
Left to right, standing: Jazz Gillum, Tampa Red and Little Bill Gaither. Sitting: Jack Dupree and Big Bill with Tampa's dog which "drank whiskey just like we did and helped us sing."

His wife's death in 1953 was a blow from which Tampa Red never recovered. He had always been a heavy drinker, and his alcoholism became acute. Like many of his contemporaries, he was "rediscovered" by a new audience in the late 1950s. At this time, Samuel Charters also encountered the once-famed guitarist. In his work Country Blues, Charters recalled Whittaker's life during this period of musical retirement: "He lives quietly, a dignified, gentle little man, usually wearing a buttoned sweater, his shoes carefully polished. He spends his afternoons visiting friends, walking along the rows of brownstone apartments that line the streets of his neighborhood, a scarf carefully folded around his neck and his overcoat collar turned up. He still owns a guitar, but hasn't played much in recent years." He went back into the studio in 1960 [two solo records for Prestige/Bluesville], but his final recordings were undistinguished." He showed little interest in returning to music or talking to interviewers. Tampa passed away in Chicago in 1981.

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[TABLE=78]

Show Notes:

Today's program spotlights the tireless contributions of record producer, songwriter, label owner and all around hustler Bob Geddins. Modern Records co-owner Joe Bihari recalled Geddins this way: "Geddins had his own sound. He was a very nice person, he was black, and easy to deal with. A hustler? Well, you've got to do something, eh? I think the artists respected Geddins very much. It was like a family up there, yes." Geddins was the dominant figure in Bay Area blues scene from the mid-1940's to the mid-1960's and made hundreds of records over the years on small labels he ran like Down Town, Big Town, Irma, Plaid, Art Tone, Cavatone, and Gedison's and leased material to other companies bigger companies like Modern and Aladdin. He was also the first to set up a pressing plant in the Bay area. He released records by Lowell Fulson, Jimmy McCracklin, Johnny Fuller, Roy Hawkins, Jimmy Wilson among many others and was involved in the careers of many of these artists. Geddins died in 1991 at age 78.

It’s a bit difficult to get a handle on the West Coast sound, which is not as identifiable as say Chicago Blues but encompasses several different interlocking strands. As Mike Rowe wrote: “Unlike New York and Chicago there had been no blues or any kind of recording industry pre-war …The music as well as the industry was starting from scratch. …It was very often of Do-It yourself triumphing over the most adverse conditions.” The Black population swelled in the 1940’s, due to large manpower needs to work in the U.S. defense industry during World War II. These new arrivals needed entertainment, of course, and the local jazz and blues club scene heated up quickly. Geddins’ brand of blues was decidedly downhome as he told Lee Hildebrand in a 1980 interview: “I make everything I record as sad as possible. …I want black folks to feel the troubles of old times. All the people that have had similar problems are the ones that’s gonna buy those records. A lot of people make like they don’t like the blues but sneak off and play them.”

Oakland became a blues mecca during the 1940s. The city’s shipbuilding industry boomed in support of World War II, and the consequent profusion of manufacturing jobs and military bases brought a huge influx of African Americans to the Bay Area. Many settled near the shipyards in West Oakland, and a vibrant entertainment district sprang up on Seventh Street, where the blocks were crowded with pool halls, card Bob Geddins Big Town Record Storyrooms, and as many as 40 blues clubs, including the Lincoln Theater, Esther’s Orbit Room, and Slim Jenkins’ Place.

Discharged from the Navy in 1945, Fulson found his way to to Oakland, California, where he played small nightclubs. In 1946, he formed a group with pianist Eldridge McCarthy and recorded on Bob Geddins's Big Town with Geddins leasing his recordings to Jack Lauderdale's Los Angeles-based Down Beat and Swing Time labels. As Geddins recalled in the book Honkers and Shouters, "Lowell Fulson was the first great bluesman I put on wax …. [I] Bought him an electric guitar and amplifier–cost a hundred and eighty dollars. And he did a lot of rehearsing in the Seventh Street Music Shop."

Along with Lowell Fulson, who left the Bay Area shortly after he became successful, McCracklin was the biggest name to ever emerge from the Oakland blues scene. He made his first record, "Miss Mattie Left Me," for the Globe label in Los Angeles in 1945. Two years later in Oakland, he began a relationship with record producer Bob Geddins that would last on and off over the next two decades.

Jimmy Wilson scored a huge hit in California with his 1953 number “Tin Pan Alley” written by Bob Geddins. He was never able to match the record’s success but issued fine sides between 1948 and 1961 on labels such as Aladdin, Cava-Tone, Big Town, 7-11, Rhythm, Chart, Irma, Goldband and finally Duke. He died in 1965 at the age of 42.

Rock With Me Baby 78Accompanying himself on both guitar and rack harmonica Bonner sung highly personal tales typified in songs like “Life Gave Me A Dirty Deal” and “Struggle Here In Houston.” He won a talent contest in 1947 in Houston that led to a radio spot. He cut his first sides for Bob Geddins’ Irma label in 1957 and next for *Goldband in 1960. Full length albums came about do to the interest of Mike Leadbitter, co-editor of Blues Unlimited, who recorded Bonner in 1967, issuing his full length debut on Flyright. He cut his best work between 1968-69 for Arhoolie Records. A few European tours ensued but by the 70’s he was working outside of music. He died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1978.

Johnny Fuller was a West Coast bluesman who left behind a batch of 1950's recordings. He was equally at home with low down blues, gospel, R&B, and rock & roll. Making the Bay Area his home throughout his career, Fuller turned in classic sides for Heritage, Aladdin, Specialty, Flair, Checker, and Hollywood; all but one of them West Coast-based concerns. His two biggest hits, "All Night Long" and the original version of "The Haunted House," improbably found him in the late '50s on rock & roll package shows, touring with the likes of Paul Anka and Frankie Avalon! By and large retiring from the music scene in the '60s (with the exception of one excellent album in 1974), Fuller worked as a garage mechanic until his passing in 1985.

Geddins had discovered Roy Hawkins playing in a club in Oakland in 1948. Hawkins and his backing group the Four Jacks were very popular and were doing sell-out business at several Bay area clubs at that time. Geddins rushed Hawkins and his band into the studio to cut some sides to capitalise on their cOakland Blues LPurrent popularity and released "They Raided The Joint" on Geddins' Cava-Tone label. After recording some more sides with Hawkins, Geddins sold "It's Too Late To Change" and "Strange Land" to Modern and Jules Bihari then brought Hawkins and his band to LA to record. Starting in October 1949 through 1954/55 Hawkins’ records were released on Modern. In 1958 Hawkins cut a four-song session for Geddins’ Rhythm label.

James Reed was an exceptional blues singer who cut only ten sides at sessions in 1954, which were issued on Flair, Rhythm, Money and Big Town.

Little Caesar was fine but forgotten vocalist who waxed a couple of dozen sides in the 1950’s including a four-song session for Geddins’ Big Town label.

Willie B. Huff Cut was a terrific downhome blues singer who cut  two sides in 1953 for Big Town and two in 1954 for Rhythm. She turned up at the 1977 San Francisco blues festival before drifting back into obscurity.

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[TABLE=79]

Show Notes:

For today's show we continue with our ongoing series I call Forgotten Blues Heroes. For this installment we spotlight four great Mississippi bluesmen who didn't get the opportunity to record until the 1960's: James Brewer, Shirley Griffith, Roosevelt Holts and Houston Stackhouse. All these gentlemen were old enough to have been recorded earlier but opportunity passed them by until the blues revival of the 1960's. In addition to the resurrection of the legendary artists of the past like Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, Bukka White and Skip James there were a slew of older artists uncovered who got a chance to make some recordings. Unlike those who recorded back in the 1920's and 30's for the commercial record companies and black consumers, those who recorded in the 1960's were being recorded primarily for a a new found white audience with the records issued usually on tiny specialist labels. The benefit wasn't in sales of records so much as it was the fact that these recordings would be an entry way into the festival and coffeehouse circuit. Unfortunately many of these small labels never lasted into the CD era and hence many great albums remain long out of print. The bulk of today's recordings fall into that category and it seems only Houston Stackhouse is lucky enough to have just about all of his recordings available on CD. In upcoming installments of this series I plan on spotlighting other who made their debuts in the 1960's and 70's such as James "Son" Thomas, Sam Chatmon, Scott Dunbar, Joe Callicott, Bill Williams, Babe Stovall and Frank Hovington to name a few.

Jim Brewer - Tough LuckJames Brewer was born in Brookhaven, Mississippi on October 3rd 1920 and moved to Chicago in the 1940's where he spent the latter part of his life busking and performing both blues and religious songs at blues and folk festivals, on Chicago's Maxwell Street and other venues. While playing on the streets of Brookhaven in the 1930's he learned most of the religious songs that he continued to perform throughout his life. His father told him he could make more money playing blues and as he grew older he started performing at parties having learned his repertoire from records.  Following the death of his mother the family moved to Chicago where he eventually found his way to Maxwell Street. in the early 1950's he settled in St. Louis playing streetcars and taverns and also joined a washboard band for a spell. By the mid-50's he was back in Chicago where he married his wife Fannie. Brewer's new mother-in-law bought him an electric guitar and amplfier. Returning to Maxwell Street he devoted himself exclusively to religious music. In 1962, however, he was offered an opportunity to play blues at a concert at Northwestern University and also began a regular gig at the No Exit Cafe which lasted for two decades. He went on to play major festivals and clubs in the United States, Canada and Europe. He was recorded by Swedish Radio in 1964, cut sides for the Heritage label and Testament plus cut the full-length albums Jim Brewer (Philo, 1974) and Tough Luck (Earwig, 1983).

Born in 1907 near Brandon, Mississippi Shirley Griffith was certainly old enough to have made records in the 1920’s and 30’s and in fact had at least two opportunities to do so. In 1928 his friend and mentor, Tommy Johnson, offered to help him get started but, by his own account, he was too "wild and reckless" in those days. In 1928 he moved to Indianapolis where he became friendly with Scrapper Blackwell and Leroy Carr. In 1935 Carr offered to take Griffith to New York for a recording session but Carr died suddenly and the trip was never made. It was Art Rosenbaum who was responsible for getting Griffith on record and who also precipitated the comeback of Scrapper Blackwell. Rosenbaum produced Griffith’s Bluesville albums. "I recall one August afternoon", he wrote in the notes to Saturday Blues, "shortly after these recordings were made; Shirley sat in Scrapper Blackwell’s furnished room singing the 'Bye Bye Blues' with such intensity that everyone present was deeply moved, though they had all heard him sing it many times before. Scrapper wasShirley Griffith - Mississippi Blues playing , too, and the little room swelled with sound. When they finished there was a moment of awkward silence. Finally Shirley smiled and said: ‘The blues'll kill you. And make you live, too.’"

Writing about another older musician who only recorded late in life, Tony Russell had this to say: “Through this streaked glass one can discern the outlines of a younger, quicker musician who unfortunately never recorded.” It would have been interesting to hear how Griffith sounded when he was younger but it’s hard to imagine him sounding much better than on these late recordings. His singing is superb on these recordings; warm, controlled and expressive, often drawing out his phrases in a relaxed, easy manner. His guitar playing is subtle, melodic and gently propulsive and contains hidden depths upon repeated listening.

Shirley Griffith missed his opportunity to record as a young man but recorded three superb albums: Indiana Ave. Blues (Bluesville, 1964, with partner J.T. Adams), Saturday Blues (Bluesville, 1965) and Mississippi Blues (Blue Goose, 1973). In addition some field recordings from the early 1960's were issued on the Flyright album Indianapolis Jumps. The fact that all these albums are out of print goes a ways in understanding why Griffith remains so little known. He also didn't benefit all that much from the renewed blues interest of the 1960's; he never achieving the acclaim of late discovered artists like Mississippi Fred McDowell, the critical appreciation of a Robert Pete Williams or the excitement surrounding rediscovered legends like Son House, Skip James or Mississippi John Hurt. He did achieve modest notice touring clubs with Yank Rachell in 1968, performed at the first Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1969 and appeared at the Notre Dame Blues Festival in South Bend, Indiana in 1971. Griffith passed away in 1974

Presenting The Country BluesRoosevelt Holts was a country bluesman of considerable skill who in a small way was caught up in the blues boom of the 1960's, finally getting the opportunity to record scattered sides and a couple of LP's in the 1960's and 1970's. Holts, who was born in 1905, likely would have achieved greater recognition if he had gotten the chance to make records in the 1920's and 1930's as David Evans emphasized: "If he had been able to get to a record studio in the 1930's, his records would now be highly prized collector's items, reissued on albums and talked about by blues fans everywhere. He might have even been "rediscovered" and brought north to the cities for concerts and coffee house engagements before an audience of young whites who were not even born when he recorded his famous numbers." Holts was born in 1905 near Tylertown, Mississippi, and he took up the guitar when he was in his mid-twenties. He started to get serious about music in the late 1930's when he encountered Tommy Johnson. Folklorist David Evans began recording Holts in 1965 resulting in two LP's (both out of print): Presenting The Country Blues (Blue Horizon,1966) and Roosevelt Holts and Friends (Arhoolie, 1969-1970) plus the collection The Franklinton Muscatel Society featuring his earliest sides through 1969 which is available on CD.  In addition selections recorded by Evans appeared on the following anthologies (all out of print): Goin' Up The Country (Decca, 1968), The Legacy of Tommy Johnson (Matchbox, 1972), South Mississippi Blues (Rounder, 1974 ?), Way Back Yonder …Original Country Blues Volume 3 (Albatros, 1979 ?), Giants Of Country Blues Vol. 3 (Wolf, 199?) and a very scarce 45 ("Down The Big Road" b/w "Blues On Mind") cut for the Bluesman label in 1969.

Houston Stackhouse
Houston Stackhouse

Stackhouse's family moved to Crystal Springs, Mississippi in the mid-1920's, where he learned songs from Tommy Johnson and his brothers and took up guitar. In the early 1930's, he moved to Hollandale, Mississippi where his cousin, Robert Lee McCullum (later known as Robert Nighthawk) lived. It was Houston who taught Robert Nighthawk how to play the bottleneck guitar. In 1946, Houston moved to Helena, Arkansas where he played with Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) on The King Biscuit Time show, on KFFA Radio. His association with the King Biscuit show and his living in Helena brought him in contact with many of the great blues players. He played with Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Roosevelt Sykes and Earl Hooker. From the late 1940's and up until 1954, Houston worked for the Chrysler Corporation in Helena. He continued to play, but less frequently after he married in the late 1950's. Periodically, he returned to the King Biscuit show. In 1967 he made his first recordings cutting field recordings for George Mitchell and shortly after for David Evans. At the tail end of August 1967 George Mitchell recorded an impromptu combo who called themselves the Blues Rhythm Boys in Dundee, MS, a small town on route 61 roughly halfway between Tunica and Friars Point and just across the river from Helena, AR. The group consisted of Houston Stackhouse, Robert Nighthawk and James "Peck" Curtis. As I wrote in my notes to Prowling With The Nighthawk: "The music harks back to Nighthawk and Stackhouse's early delta days. Tommy Johnson's influence looms large with five of his songs being covered. In a way Nighthawk's life had come full circle; he was once again playing with Stackhouse who taught how to play guitar, Stackhouse in turn learned directly from Tommy Johnson and here were the two old friends performing the songs of Johnson together one final time. Nghthawk died less than two months after these recordings on Nov. 5 1967 of congestive heart failure at the Helena hospital. These 1967 recordings have been justly celebrated and long available, with the Mitchell sides appearing on Arhoolie’s Mississippi Delta Blues- Blow My Blues Away Vol. 1 & 2 and Robert Nighthawk & Houston Stackhouse – Masters of Modern Blues Volume 4 while the Evans recordings are available on  Big Road Blues on the Wolf label. In 1972 Stackhouse recorded Crying Won't Help You for the Adelphi label. He was part of The Memphis Blues Caravan, traveled around the Eastern states, toured Europe in 1970 and played the 1973 Ann Arbor Blues Festival with Joe Willie Wilkins under the name The King Biscuit Boys. He died in 1980

Related Articles: (Word Docs)

Shirley Griffith/Yank Rachell Concert Review by Leo Kunstadt (Record Research 9, 1968)

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Robert Ward

I just got the sad news that the great soul and blues artist Robert Ward passed away on Christmas day after a long struggle with health issues. Here's the press release:

Black Top and Delmark recording artist Robert Ward passed away Christmas Day at about 3:30 PM.

He had been ill with kidney and other problems recently, and had been in failing health
since a couple of minor strokes over this past decade.

He was watching a video of a European concert appearance he had made back in the 90's with his wife, Roberta, and she stepped into the kitchen just a few feet away to grab a snack for them. When she returned minutes later, he was gone.

Roberta said he hadn't made a sound and passed in peace.

The Wards have 68 grandchildren and live in Dry Branch GA, about 6 miles from Macon. Funeral arrangements are being made. Robert was a veteran of the US Army. Donations are being accepted to assist with interment costs, they can be sent to:

Roberta Ward
Post Office Box 217
Dry Branch GA 31020

Like many, I first heard Robert Ward when his magnificent Fear No Evil debuted on Black Top in 1990 and was unaware of his earlier recordings. In fact I remember distinctly when that record came out because I was received a copy in college for my blues show. The record blew me away and became a staple of my program. Nearly twenty years since its release I think its safe to say this is a modern classic. His subsequent Black Top follow-ups, Rhythm Of The People (1993) and Black Bottom (1995), were less inspired with the latter definitely the better of the two. After a five year absence he returned to form with his marvelous Delmark debut New Role Soul (2001). I also got a chance to interview Ward in 2001 although for the life of me I can't find the tape of that conversation!

It wasn't until the Black Top records that I became aware of Ward's 1960's recordings which were thankfully collected on the album Hot Stuff (1995) on Relic. These sides spotlighted the recordings Ward cut as leader of the Ohio Untouchables (who later morphed into the Ohio Players long after Ward's departure) for tiny labels like LuPine, Thelma, and Groove City. These are fiery and soulful sides featuring Ward's trademark watery guitar playing and passionate vocals on numbers like "I'm Tired", "Your Love Is Real", "Something For Nothing" and "Fear No Evil." Also included are four classic cuts by the Falcons from 1962 sporting lead vocals by Wilson Pickett with the Untouchables in support on the soaring smash hit "I Found A Love" and "Let's Kiss and Make Up" with some sizzling guitar from Ward. Ward's trademark vibrato-soaked guitar sound was said to be the direct result of acquiring a Magnatone amplifier. Lonnie Mack was so entranced by the watery sound of Ward's amp that he bought a Magnatone as well.

During the early 1970's Ward worked as a session guitarist at Motown, playing behind the Temptations and the Undisputed Truth. When his wife died in 1977 Ward hit hard times, even spending a year in jail. Ward's resurrection began with a chance encounter with guitar-shop owner Dave Hussong in Dayton, OH, which set off a chain of events resulting in Ward's signing to Black Top and a long overdue return to the limelight.

Your Love Is Real [1964] (MP3)

Something For Nothing [1964] (MP3)

I Found A Love w/ The Falcons [1962] (MP3)

Let's Kiss And Make Up w/ The Falcons [1963] (MP3)

Fear No Evil [1967] (MP3)

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