The Soundtrack For The Baby Boomer Generation

Step back to a time when singers were as bright as the stars in the heavens
and the music they sang was really swingin'. Stacks of wax to fit every occasion!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Miss Rhythm

Artist: Ruth Brown
Song: Honey Boy (b-side) (a-side is Taking Care Of Business)
Label: Atlantic 45-2075
Number: A-4874
Songwriters: Dixon-McCoy
Time: 2:11
Released: 1960

Music in the 1950's starting changing in a big way. We saw Popular music becoming even more popular, Country and Western became more mainstream and Jazz took tremendous strides toward mainstream popularity in that decade. We also saw the birth of new styles of music, namely, Rhythm and Blues and even later in the decade, Rock and Roll. With all this great music being produced in the 1950's, is it any wonder that so many singers and groups, no matter in what style they performed, are still fondly remembered even today? One such artist who flowered during this period, was Ruth Brown.
Ruth was born on January 12th, 1928, the oldest of seven children. Her father directed the local church choir, but she preferred to sing in nightclubs and USO shows. She eventually ran away from home, where she came to the attention of Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson, the bosses at Atlantic Records. Although her repertoire at this time was mostly popular ballads, Ertegun convinced her to switch to rhythm and blues. Her first song, So Long, became a hit and it was followed by Teardrops From My Eyes, in 1950, which went on to become her first major hit. These were followed throughout the '50's with such classics as I'll Wait For You, I Don't Know, Daddy Daddy, 5-10-15 Hours, (Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean, Oh What A Dream, Mambo Baby and Don't Deceive Me. Such was her success at Atlantic, that it became known as "The House That Ruth Built."
As the 1960's dawned, the music industry was starting to change, and with it saw the decline in popularity for several pioneers in the R&B field. Ruth was dropped from the Atlantic label in 1961 and faded from public view to become a housewife and mother. To support her two boys, she took jobs as a maid, driving a school bus and as a Head Start teacher. It wasn't until the mid-1970's that her career was revived. She started recording for several different labels, starred on Broadway, appeared on television and toured again. And, if this wasn't enough, in 1987, her fight for musicians rights and royalties led to the founding of the Rhythm And Blues Foundation. In 1993, she was even inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
Sadly, she passed away on November 17th, 2006, from complications following a heart attack and stroke she suffered after surgery in October of that same year. The likes of Ruth Brown are not likely to appear again and I feel she will be sorely missed.
Today's song, Honey Boy, is a lively tune encompassing her Rhythm and Blues stylings, as well as her leanings toward Rock and Roll. Whenever I hear this tune, it always gets me going - it has the ability to affect you in that manner. So, treat yourself to today's song and see if your foot doesn't start tapping along with Ruth Brown as she belts out Honey Boy!

1 comment:

Ravel said...

Mr Kenny,
As I don't see many comments on your blog, I felt like saying thank you for all these great singers. Rarities are espescially interesting as it is always fun to ear a new voice...
Well done blog! I enjoy it very u-much!