Roy Brown / Sept 10, 1925 - May 25, 1981

Happy birthday to the jump-blues icon Roy Brown, one of the foundational artists of rock & roll and the composer of the massive 1948 hit "Good Rocking Tonight", which was successful for both Brown and Wynonie Harris that same year.

From New Orleans, he went to Los Angeles in the '40s to be a pro boxer and work in the sugarcane fields. He moved to Texas in '46, where he wrote and started performing "Good Rocking Tonight". "Hard Luck Blues" was another big one for him in 1950. After defeating King Records in court in 1952 for unpaid royalties, the labels blacklisted him (although he would return to King later in the decade). He spent some time in jail in the mid '50s due to tax problems. There was a '67 album (Hard Times) on Bluesway.

Although his popularity faded, he was not forgotten overseas: In '78 he toured Scandinavia. Not a bad comeback for a guy who was selling encyclopedias for a living, long forgotten in the US. He died of a heart attack at 55, with his funeral service conducted by Johnny Otis. Simply put, without Roy Brown's contributions there would be no Elvis Presley, no James Brown, no Jerry Lee Lewis, no Jackie Wilson, etc.

Tagged: blues, Celebrate Icons, NOLA, rock, Roy Brown, soul!

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