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Sunday, 20 August 2017

Jim Reeves born 20 August 1923


James Travis Reeves (August 20, 1923 – July 31, 1964) was an American country and popular music singer-songwriter. With records charting from the 1950s to the 1980s, he became well known as a practitioner of the Nashville sound.  Known as "Gentleman Jim", his songs continued to chart for years after his death. Reeves died in the crash of his private airplane. He is a member of both the Country Music and Texas Country Music Halls of Fame.
Reeves was born in Galloway, a small rural community near Carthage, Texas. An injury cut short his minor-league baseball career with the St. Louis Cardinals farm system so he began to work as a radio announcer, and sang live between songs. During the late 1940s, he was contracted with a couple of small Texas-based recording companies, but without success, His musical break came while working as announcer on KWKH Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Singer Sleepy LaBeef could not make it on time for a performance on the Louisiana Hayride, according to former Hayride emcee Frank Page, and Reeves was asked to fill in. Reeves' singing career was launched.
His first country hits included "I Love You" (a duet with Ginny Wright), "Mexican Joe", "Bimbo" and other songs on both Fabor Records and Abbott Records. Eventually, Reeves began to tire of the novelty bracket he had been forced into, and left for RCA Victor.
Indeed, by 1955 it was becoming apparent that RCA was very
willing to sign Jim, and offered him a 10-year recording contract. Reeves signed, and the Abbot label had released a singer who was due to become one of country music's biggest and brightest stars.
In his earliest RCA Victor recordings, Reeves was still singing in the loud style of his first recordings, a style considered standard for country-western performers at that time. He sought to soften his volume, using a lower pitch and singing with lips nearly touching the microphone, but ran into some resistance at RCA—until in 1957, with the support of his producer Chet Atkins, he used this new style on his version of a demo song of lost love, written from a woman's perspective (and intended for a female singer).
 
                               

 "Four Walls" not only took top position on the country charts, but went top-ten on the popular charts at the same time. Reeves had not only opened the door to wider acceptance for other country singers, but had also helped usher in a new style of country music, using violins and lusher background arrangements, soon called "The Nashville Sound."

Jim with Chet Atkins

He became known as a crooner because of his warm, velvety voice. His songs were remarkable for their simple elegance highlighted by his rich light baritone voice. Songs such as "Adios Amigo," "Welcome To My World," and "Am I Losing You" demonstrated this approach. Jim Reeves' Christmas songs have been perennial favourites, including songs such as "Silver Bells," "Blue Christmas," and "An Old Christmas Card".
In 1959–60 Reeves scored his greatest hit with the Joe Allison composition "He'll Have to Go," which earned him a platinum record. During the early 1960s, Reeves was more popular in South Africa than Elvis Presley and recorded several albums in the Afrikaans language. In 1963, he toured and was featured in a South African film, Kimberley Jim.
Reeves toured Britain and Ireland during 1963 between his tours of South Africa and Europe. Reeves and the Blue Boys were in Ireland from May 30 to June 19, 1963, with a tour of US military bases from June 10 to 15, when they returned to Ireland where they performed in most of the counties.

Reeves' last recording session for RCA Victor had produced "Make the World Go Away", "Missing You", and "Is It Really Over?" When the session ended with some time remaining on the schedule, Reeves suggested that he should record one more song. He taped "I Can't Stop Loving You", in what was to be his final RCA recording. He made one later recording, however, at the little studio in his home. In late July 1964, a few days before his death, Reeves recorded "I'm a Hit Again", using just an acoustic guitar as accompaniment. That recording was never released by RCA (because it was a home recording not owned by the label), but appeared during 2003 as part of a collection of previously unissued Reeves songs released on the Voice Masters label.
On July 31,1964 Reeves died when the small aircraft he was piloting crashed during a thunderstorm near Nashville, Tennessee. His business partner and manager Dean Manuel (who was also the pianist in Reeves' backing group) was also killed in the crash. Reeves and Manuel left Batesville, Arkansas en route to Nashville, having just secured a deal on some property.While flying over Brentwood, they encountered a violent thunderstorm which proved more than a match for the tiny, single-engined Beechcraft 'Debonair' aircraft. The plane faded from the radar screens at around 17:02, and all radio contact with the craft was lost.
One of the major causes of the crash was deemed to have been that the small airplane had become caught in the centre of the thunderstorm and that Reeves had become disoriented by "pilot's vertigo", which would have resulted in him not realizing in which direction the plane was travelling, be it up, down, left or right.
On the morning of August 2, 1964, after an agonizing and intense search (aided by such people as Chet Atkins, Eddy Arnold, Stonewall Jackson and Ernest Tubb) the bodies of Jim Reeves and Dean Manuel were found amongst the wreckage of the shattered plane. At 13:00 that afternoon, radio stations across the United States announced to their shocked and stunned audiences that Jim Reeves had been killed in a plane crash. In what can only be described as sad irony, riding high in the UK singles chart at the time was I Won't Forget You. The song later became a top ten hit in the United States.

Many thousands of people turned out to pay their last respects to Jim Reeves at his funeral, which took place on August 4, 1964. The coffin, draped in flowers from respectful fans, was driven through the silent streets of Nashville and to Jim's final resting place near his home town of Carthage, Texas.

Reeves was elected posthumously to the Country Music Hall of Fame during 1967, which honored him by saying, "The velvet style of 'Gentleman Jim Reeves' was an international influence. His rich voice brought millions of new fans to country music from every corner of the world. Although the crash of his private airplane took his life, posterity will keep his name alive because they will remember him as one of country music's most important performers."  (info compiled from Wikipedia)
 

Friday, 18 August 2017

Charlie Kunz born 18 August 1896


Charles Leonard "Charlie" Kunz (August 18, 1896 – March 16, 1958) was an American-born British musician popular during the British dance band era. Kunz's rhythmic piano style remains unique, a relaxed flowing interpretation of popular melodies played with subtle soft and loud accents, a style which he called "melody and rhythm with expression". 

Charlie Kunz, "the Medley King," was born in Allentown, PA. His father was a master baker who blew the French horn. As a youngster Charlie played piano, church organ, and E-flat alto horn. In 1914 he switched from playing classical to popular dance music. He worked as a milkman, cobbler, ribbon weaver, bookseller, and mechanic. During the First World War he was a boiler riveter and a bombshell builder.  

By the age of 19 Charlie Kunz was leading his first band and opening for Paul Whiteman and Vincent Lopez at a ballroom in Allentown. He came to England in 1921 with a group led by percussionist Ed Krick. The following year he led Paul Specht's Criterions at the Trocadero Restaurant in Piccadilly. Remaining in England after his friends had all gone home, Kunz formed his first all-British band and began performing at the Lyons Corner House in Piccadilly Circus.  

Charlie expanded his ensemble to 14 pieces and played the Grafton Galleries. Kunz sat in on piano with the Dix Band at the Olympia Dance Hall in West Kensington and tickled the ivories at Ma Merrick's 43 Club, an infamous sporting house and all-night den of iniquity operating on Gerrard Street, Piccadilly. Kunz then played the Chez Henri Club in Long Acre, found it to his liking, and stayed on for eight and a half years. 

In late 1928 and early 1929, Charlie Kunz & His Chez Henri Club Band made a handful of recordings for Columbia. The next phase of Kunz's career was inaugurated by nationally renowned dance instructor Santos Casani, who heard the band at Chez Henri and liked it so much that he lured Kunz away to his own Casani Club, which opened in March 1933 in Imperial House, Regent Street, London.  

Kunz became immensely popular as a result of BBC radio broadcasts that were transmitted from this location. His featured vocalist at the Casani was Vera Lynn; other singers who performed live and on record with Kunz were Dawn Davis, Dorothy Squires, George Barclay, Harry Bentley, Eve Becke, Phyllis Robins, George Buck, and Bobby Comber.
 
 
                             
 
Kunz's three mainstay instrumentalists were drummer and xylophonist Tommy Blades, bassist Frank Davis, and guitarist Ernie Penfold. The band's theme song was, naturally enough, "Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie"; their sign-off theme was "Pink Elephants." Although he would make quite a slew of records for the Sterno and Rex labels with his Casani Club Orchestra between the years 1933 and 1937, Charlie Kunz played the Holborn Empire alone in 1934 and henceforth toured regularly as a solo act, invariably remaining in England rather than crossing the Channel to mainland Europe. The same year saw the beginning of what was to become a continuous output of solo records of "Charlie Kunz Medleys". His signature tune was "Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie", and his closing theme was "Pink Elephants". 

Between 1939 and 1945 Kunz did a lot of work for charity and for the war effort. During the last 15 years of his life he became the unrivalled king of the piano medley, performing alone or with subtle rhythm accompaniment. Kunz was married thrice, to one Amanda Dysher, to fashion model Eva Dorothy Lloyd, and finally to Pat Sparkes.  

A heavy smoker, Kunz was plagued by debilitating illnesses throughout much of his life. He had a diseased lung removed in 1945, and suffered from spinal tuberculosis, crippling contraction of the ligaments in his hands, and bronchial asthma. His later recording projects were completed only with great difficulty; an album of melodies from My Fair Lady was left unfinished. Charlie Kunz died of a heart attack at his home in Middleton-on-Sea, West Sussex, England, on March 16, 1958. He is buried in Streatham Vale Cemetery.  (Compiled mainly from All Music)
 

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Wayne Raney born 17 August 1921

 

Wayne Raney (August 17, 1921 – January 23, 1993) was an American country singer and harmonica player.
 
Raney was born on August 17, 1921, on a farm near Wolf Bayou, Arkansas (Cleburne County), the youngest of five children of William Franklin (Frank) Raney and Bonnie Davis Raney. Born with a foot deformity, he could not do heavy labour. After learning to play harmonica at an early age, he moved to Piedras Negras, Mexico at age 13, where he played on radio station XEPN.  

He met Lonnie Glosson, his longtime musical associate, in 1936, and together they found work on radio in Little Rock in 1938. Later the pair worked for WCKY out of Cincinnati and played on syndicated radio. They also established a harmonica mail order business which ended up being enormously successful; they sold millions of harmonicas and played a major role in turning the harmonica into a widely popular instrument. 
 
 
                                

Raney played with the Delmore Brothers in the years after World War II, then launched a solo career in 1948; his first two singles, "Lost John Boogie" and "Jack and Jill Boogie", both reached the Top 15 of the U.S. country charts. His 1949 single, "Why Don't You Haul Off and Love Me", was a No. 1 country hit and also hit the Top 40 of the pop charts. Raney played the Grand Ole Opry in 1953 and also worked on the California Hayride and the WWVA Jamboree.  

Late in the 1950s he worked as a DJ, record producer, and label owner, starting Rimrock Records. He wrote the 1960 Christian revival song "We Need a Whole Lot More of Jesus (and a Lot Less Rock and Roll)" which has been covered by numerous artists in a variety of styles: People!, The Greenbriar Boys and Linda Ronstadt, to name but three. He recorded country music into the early 1960s, including for his own label, and ceased the mail-order business in 1960. 

After returning to Arkansas, he recorded a gospel album called Don't Try to Be What You Ain't. Eventually he went into semi-retirement, running his own chicken farm and performing only occasionally in the late 1960s and 1970s.  

While he appeared sporadically on Hee Haw in the 1970s, he lost his voice in the 1980s and ceased performing; in 1990 he published an autobiography entitled Life Has Not Been a Bed of Roses.


He died of cancer in 1993 and was inducted into the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame. (Info compiled mainly from Wikipedia)

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Eydie Gorme born 16 August 1928


Eydie Gormé (also spelled Gorme; August 16, 1928 – August 10, 2013) was an American singer who performed solo as well as with her husband, Steve Lawrence, in popular ballads and swing. She earned numerous awards, including a Grammy and an Emmy.  

Gormé was born Edith Gormezano on August 16, 1928, in Manhattan, the daughter of Nessim and Fortuna, Sephardic Jewish immigrants. Her father, a tailor, was from Sicily and her mother was from Turkey. Edith and her older siblings, Corene and Robert, grew up speaking fluent Spanish. Ironically, she was the only one of the three not to be given music lessons, since the others had not made much use of theirs. 

Gorme made her singing debut at age three, when she toddled away from her parents in a department store and got on line to perform in a children’s radio show being broadcast there. At William Howard Taft High School in the Bronx, New York, she was voted “the prettiest, peppiest cheerleader,” starred in most of the school musicals, and sang with her friend Ken Greengrass’s band on weekends.  She graduated from William Howard Taft High School in 1946 with Stanley Kubrick in her class. She worked for the United Nations as an interpreter, using her fluency in the Ladino and Spanish languages. 

After high school, Gorme briefly worked as an interpreter for a theatrical supply export company and later as its manager, while taking night classes in foreign trade and economics at the City College of New York. But she continued performing with Greengrass on weekends and soon took the plunge, leaving her job to try to make it as a singer. Greengrass disbanded his orchestra to become her manager, a role he retained for many years.   

She got her big break and her recording debut in 1950 with the Tommy Tucker Orchestra and Don Brown. She made a second recording which featured Dick Noel. MGM issued these two recordings on 78. She changed her name from Edith to Edie but later changed it to Eydie because people constantly mispronounced Edie as Eddie. 

She then toured for a year with Tex Benecke’s orchestra and also sang with the Ray Eberle orchestra before deciding she was ready to try performing on her own. As a single act, Gorme toured the nightclub and theatre circuit and made guest appearances on top radio and television programs. She signed her first recording contract with Coral Records in 1952 and soon made the Top Twenty. Through the Voice of America, she hosted her own radio show, Cita con Eydie [A date with Eydie], which was transmitted to Spanish-speaking countries around the world.   

In the fall of 1953, Gorme joined the permanent cast of Tonight!, where for the next four years she sang and also wrote and performed in sketches with Steve Lawrence. They had much in common, and friendship gradually blossomed into romance. The son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, Lawrence was born Sidney Liebowitz in Brooklyn, New York, on July 8, 1935. He had started singing in the synagogue choir where his father served as cantor while supporting the family as a housepainter. Gorme and Lawrence were married in Las Vegas on December 29, 1957. They later had two sons, David Nessim and Michael.   

Meanwhile, in February 1956, Gorme made her New York nightclub debut as a last-minute replacement at the Copacabana and was such a hit that she was booked as a headliner for July. The following January brought her first Broadway appearance, as singing star of the Jerry Lewis Stage Show at the Palace Theatre. In the summer of 1958, the husband-and-wife team had their own weekly musical variety show on television as summer replacements for Steve Allen. 
 
Gorme then embarked on a two-year solo nightclub tour while her husband served in the Army. Reunited in 1960, the pair won a Grammy Award for their first complete duet album, We Got Us, which was followed by several others over the next few years.
 
 

                             
 
One was her 1963 Grammy-nominated hit recording of “Blame It on the Bossa Nova,” inspired by the dance fad of the moment and written by the songwriting team of Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. Another was “Amor,” recorded a year later in Spanish and an enormous success in Spanish-speaking countries, where it is the song most associated with her.

Her 1966 recording of “If He Walked Into My Life,” a lament from the Broadway musical “Mame,” was also a standout. 1968 found Steve & Eydie on Broadway in Golden Rainbow, and the following year they recorded their first musical, What It Was, Was Love.  
 
Gorme has continued to perform both solo and with Lawrence, recording albums and singles, and appearing on television and in nightclubs. Throughout the 1980s, Gorme and Lawrence appeared on many well-known stages, including Carnegie Hall, the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and Bally’s in Las Vegas. In 1991, they joined Frank Sinatra on his year-long Diamond Jubilee Tour, in celebration of his seventy-fifth birthday.  


In 1995 Gorme and Lawrence received Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the Society of Singers and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  
 
As the 21st century arrived, the couple announced their plans to cut back on their touring, launching a "One More For The Road" tour in 2002. In 2006, Gormé became a blogger, posting occasional messages on her official website. In November 2009, after his wife retired, Lawrence embarked on a solo musical tour.  


Gormé died on August 10, 2013, six days before her 85th birthday, at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center in Las Vegas following a brief, undisclosed illness. Her husband, Steve Lawrence, was at her bedside, along with their surviving son, David.
 
 (info compiled mainly frpm jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/gorme-edye and Wikipedia)


Monday, 14 August 2017

Lorez Alexandria born 14 August 1929

 
Lorez Alexandria, born Dolorez Alexandria Turner (August 14, 1929 – May 22, 2001), was an American jazz and gospel singer, described as "one of the most gifted and underrated jazz singers of
the twentieth century".

Dolorez Alexandria Turner was born on August 14, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois. Growing up she began singing gospel music in church choirs and travelled throughout the Midwest with a Baptist a cappella group. Later, when she entered the Chicago club circuit, she became a regular performer at venues like the Brass Rail and the Cloister Inn in Chicago, Alexandria became a local favourite and recorded for the first time for several independent local labels, most notably King Records, and later Argo Records.  

In 1957, Alexandria was signed to King Records. That year she released her first album This is Lorez with the King Fleming Quartet, followed by Lorez Sings Pres: A Tribute to Lester Young, which was an homage to the legendary tenor saxophonist. With the release of several albums for King during 1957-1959, Alexandria became popular beyond her hometown. 

Alexandria went on to collaborate with pianist Ramsey Lewis, with whom she had played as far back as 1958, and some of Count Basie's sidemen, releasing the LP Early in the Morning on Argo in 1960. On the title track, she proves her comfort with the blues, backed up by a rhythm section that creates just enough space for her to fill alongside explosions of blue notes by Lewis on the piano.
 
 
 
 
 She produced three more LPs on the label – including Sing No Sad Songs for Me in 1961 which featured a full string section, and Deep Roots in 1962, which featured trumpeter Howard McGhee. Her last album for Argo, and the last album that she made in Chicago, For Swingers Only, came out in 1963 before she left the midwest for California. 

In 1964 Alexandria moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of further opportunities to perform in clubs and record, quickly becoming a featured vocalist at popular venues that included the Parisian Room and Marla's Memory Lane.Getting signed to Impulse! Records was anticipated to be her jump onto the national stage after seven years of working with independent labels at King and Argo. 

Alexandria's 1964 album Alexandria the Great,was  her first on Impulse! Her second album More of the Great Lorez Alexandria, was released later in 1964 and produced by Tutti Camarata. Shortly thereafter, though, her relationship with the label ended in the midst of a decision by the headquarters of ABC Records that vocal music should be housed on the pop side of the company. She then had a long period off records (only a few private recordings during the 1965-1976 period). 

Beginning in 1978 and continuing until 1993, Alexandria resumed recording, releasing several albums with a number of record labels, including Discovery, Trend and Muse. Between 1980 and 1984, she released a three volume tribute to the composer Johnny Mercer, Sings the Songs of Johnny Mercer, Vol. 1, Vol. 2: Harlem Butterfly, and Vol. 3: Tangerine.  
 
Gordon Brisker, the tenor saxophonist, contributed many of the arrangements for Alexandria's 1987 album Dear to My Heart, released by Trend Records. On this record, Alexandria displayed that she still had the ability to re-imagine well known standards. I'll Never Stop Loving You, her second album released on Muse Records in spring 1992 featured Herman Riley on tenor saxophone and flute and pianist Gildo Mahones, with whom she had collaborated in 1984. On her last album, Star Eyes, released in June 1993, Alexandria was joined by tenor saxophonist Houston Person, guitarist Bruce Forman, pianist Stan Hope, bassist Peter Weiss and drummer Michael Carvin.


Shortly after Star Eyes was released, she suffered a stroke and never fully recovered. After retiring in Gardena, California in 1996 she told a friend "I'm tired – I've had my day." She died of complications from kidney failure in 2001 at the age of 74, remembered by some as one of the most under-appreciated jazz vocalists of the 20th century. (Compiled from Wikipedia & All Music)


Sunday, 13 August 2017

Skinnay Ennis born 13 August 1907


Edgar Clyde "Skinnay" Ennis, Jr. (b.13 August 1907, Salisbury, North Carolina, USA, d. 3 June 1963, Beverly Hills, California, USA.) was an American jazz and pop music bandleader and singer.
Ennis was born in Salisbury, North Carolina, and some sources list his name as Robert, while others claim that it was Edgar Clyde. This indeterminacy about his given name, by the way, was apparently encouraged by Ennis himself and was often cause for comedy on many of his radio shows.
Ennis met orchestra leader Hal Kemp in 1927 while both were attending college at the University of North Carolina. Kemp picked Ennis to play drums in his campus band, the Carolina Club Orchestra, and when Kemp left UNC to form a professional jazz band later that year Ennis went with him. Kemp also encouraged him to sing. Ennis would step away from his drum kit and take the mike.
His singing style was shy and breathless and proved a perfect match for the unique style of sweet dance music that Kemp's orchestra came to play by the mid-1930s. Ennis was able to turn what might otherwise seem like a weakness into a stylistic trademark, and he was featured on many of Kemp's classic sides, such as "Ah! But I've Learned," "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," "Forty-Second Street," "Moonlight Saving Time," and the tune that would forever be associated with Ennis—"Got a Date with an Angel." He quickly became popular with female audiences and was soon the band's biggest star.
In hindsight, it seems that Ennis's approach to the vocal art may have, at least initially, influenced by the style of Whispering Jack Smith, a 1920s crooner who was very popular around the time that Ennis began to step up to the microphone.
 
                       

                            


Ennis played with Kemp's orchestra up to 1937 including one tour of Europe in 1930. He formed his own band in 1938 which became a popular ensemble in Hollywood films. "Got a Date With an Angel" was his theme song. The new group featured arrangements by Claude Thornhill and Gil Evans. Ennis soon found a home on Bob Hope's radio show. Hope helped promote him by making him an integral part of each program. Playing Hope's stooge, Ennis gained nationwide exposure and popularity for his new group and was in demand for personal appearances throughout the summer off season.
 

In 1940, when news of Hal Kemp's untimely death reached him, Ennis briefly returned to help out with Kemp's orchestra. Ennis's commercial recordings after 1941 are not listed in the jazz discographies. From Billboard magazine ads one can conclude that he recorded at least four sides for ARA, which was a Hollywood-based record label operated by Boris Morris and his son, circa 1944–1946.
Ennis was sidelined for a short period by WWII when he conducted his own service band but returned to Hope's program after his discharge in 1946, where he remained until 1948. He then settled into a long run on the Abbott and Costello radio show. Ennis continued working with big bands and small groups mostly in hotels in the Los Angeles area up to his death in 1963. Skinnay Ennis, always an easy-going, gentle, and likeable man, died while choking on food in a Beverly Hills restaurant. (Info compiled mainly from Solid!)
 

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Percy Mayfield born 12 August 1920


Percy Mayfield (August 12, 1920 – August 11, 1984) was an American rhythm-and-blues singer with a smooth vocal style. He was also a songwriter, known for the songs "Please Send Me Someone to Love" and "Hit the Road Jack".

Mayfield was born in Minden, Louisiana, the seat of Webster Parish, in the north-western part of the state. As a youth, he had a talent for poetry, which led him to songwriting and singing. He began his performing career in Texas and then moved to Los Angeles in 1942, but without success as a singer until 1947, when a small record label, Swing Time Records, signed him to record his song "Two Years of Torture," with a band that included the saxophonist Maxwell Davis, the guitarist Chuck Norris, and the pianist Willard McDaniel. The record sold steadily over the next few years, prompting Art Rupe to sign Mayfield to his label, Specialty Records, in 1950.
 
                          

                            

Mayfield's vocal style was influenced by such stylists as Charles Brown, but unlike many West Coast bluesmen, Mayfield did not focus on the white market. He sang blues ballads, mostly songs he wrote, in a gentle vocal style. His most famous song, "Please Send Me Someone to Love", a number one R&B hit single in late 1950,
described by the reviewer Bill Dahl as "a multi-layered universal lament", was widely influential and recorded by many other singers. His career flourished as a string of six Top 10 R&B hits followed, like "Lost Love" and "The Big Question", confirming his status as a leading blues ballad singer  and "a true master at expressing his innermost feelings, laced with vulnerability and pathos".
In 1952, at the height of his popularity, Mayfield was severely injured in an automobile crash, when he was returning from a performance in Las Vegas to Los Angeles as the front-seat passenger in a chauffeur-driven car. The vehicle hit the back of an unseen stationary truck, and Mayfield was hit by debris. Though pronounced dead at the scene, he eventually recovered but spent two years convalescing. The accident left him with a facial disfigurement that eventually ended his career as a performer but did not halt his prolific song-writing. He continued to write and record for Specialty, and after 1954 he recorded for Chess Records and Imperial Records.
In 1961, Mayfield's song "Hit the Road Jack" brought him to the attention of Ray Charles, who signed him to his Tangerine Records, primarily as a songwriter. Mayfield wrote "Hide nor Hair", "At the Club", "Danger Zone", and "But on the Other Hand, Baby" for Tangerine, and Charles recorded at least 15 of his songs. He also had a series of single releases as a vocalist on Tangerine, produced by Charles, including a remake of "River's Invitation", which crept into the Billboard Hot 100 but reached number 25 on the R&B chart in 1963. Two albums were also released, largely compilations of his singles.
Following his RCA recordings in the early 1970s, Mayfield signed briefly with Atlantic Records, for which the soul and blues artist Johnny Watson produced a minor R&B hit for him, "I Don't Want to Be the President". After a period of obscurity, there was a final chapter of his career. In the early 1980s, the Bay Area keyboardist Mark Naftalin discovered that Mayfield was living in the East Bay area and was able to provide him with a band for live performances in several Marin County and East Bay clubs. The exposure led to a 1982 studio date for the Dutch company Timeless Records with the Phillip Walker Blues Band, recording the album Hit the Road Again.
Mayfield died of a heart attack on August 11, 1984, one day before his 64th birthday, having again fallen into obscurity. He was interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery, in Inglewood, California.

Mayfield married three times. The identity of his first wife is unknown. His second wife was Willie Mae Atlas Mayfield. His third wife was Tina Mayfield. With his second wife, he had one child, a daughter, Pamela, and three grandchildren.
Mayfield hit his creative peak in the years before his music became a mainstream sound. Thus it was always a struggle to gain recognition that he was due. But available examples of his music demonstrate his writing and performing talent and his enormous influence on other performers.
(Info compiled mainly from Wikipedia)

Here's Hit the road Jack, performed at home by Percy Mayfield. On piano is Mark Naftalin, keyboard player in the old Paul Butterfield Blues Band.