Sunday, May 17, 2009

Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup

"Down in Tupelo I used to hear old Arthur Crudup bang his box the way I do now, and I said 'If I ever got to the place where I could feel all old Arthur felt, I'd be a music man like nobody ever saw."
Elvis Presley

Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup (also known as "Pop" Crudup) (August 24, 1905March 28, 1974) was a delta blues singer and guitarist. Born in Forest, Mississippi and living and working in throughout the South and Midwest as a migrant worker for a time, he and his family returned to Mississippi in 1926. He sang gospel, then began his career as a blues singer around Clarksdale, Mississippi. He visited Chicago as member of the Harmonizing Four in 1939 and stayed there to work as a solo musician, but barely made a living as a street singer. Record producer, Lester Melrose allegedly found him while he was living in a packing crate, introduced him to Tampa Red and signed him to a recording contract with RCA Victor's Bluebird label.

He recorded with RCA in the late 1940s and with Ace Records, Checker Records and Trumpet Records in the early 1950s and toured throughout the country, specifically black establishments in the South, with Sonny Boy Williamson II and Elmore James. He also recorded under the names Elmer James and Percy Lee Crudup. He was popular in the South with records such as "Mean Old 'Frisco Blues", "Who's Been Foolin' You" and "That's All Right".

He knew his Blues classics like "Rock Me Mama," "Mean Old Frisco," and "My Baby Left Me" were earning royalties because they were being performed by the likes of B.B.King, Big Mamma Thorton and Bobby "Blue" Bland and many other famous Blues performers."I was making everybody rich," Crudup complained, "and here I am poor!" Then in the summer of 1954 Elvis Presley released a version of Crudup's "That's All Right."

Crudup returned to bootlegging and working as an agricultural laborer, chiefly in Virginia, where he lived with his family including three sons and several of his own siblings. On the Eastern Shore of Virginia, while he lived in relative poverty as a field laborer, he occasionally sang and supplied moonshine to a number of drinking establishments, including one called the Dew Drop Inn.

Producer Bobby Robinson records Arthur for his Fire record label in 1962, Bob Koester records him for the Delmark label in 1967, and this gives the musician a new lease of life. With the advent of Rock & Roll, Crudup's songs were further popularized by Elton John, Rod Stewart, Johnny Winter, Paul Butterfield, Tina Turner, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Canned Heat and Creedence Clearwater Revival. The resurgence of his material offered Crudup some overdue recognition, but no royalties. In 1971 Crudup filed a lawsuit for royalties owing. A figure of $60,000 was agreed upon and a cheque drafted, but the publishers refused to sign. Crudup received nothing.

He plays festivals in the USA and travels to Britain in 1970 to play some concerts. He is billed as 'The Father of Rock'n'Roll', a title that bemuses him, in 1972 he tours in Australia.His last engagements were with Bonnie Raitt.

Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup dies in Nassawadox, Virginia on 28 March 1974.

Elvis Presley, a huge Crudup's music fan, aware of the Bluesman situation, financed Arthur's "Big Boy" recording sessions at Fire Records until '67 when he moved to Delmark. Songs recorded during that time are mostly re recordings of classics like: "Rock Me Mama", "Mean Old Frisco Blues", "Ethae Mae" & "Dig My Self A Hole". Also rerecorded two of the songs that were made famous by Presley: "So Glad You Are Mine" and "That's All Right", these time in an upbeat style, more reminiscent of Elvis records than the original slow moan of "If I Get Lucky", from with Presley took inspiration for his first Sun Single.

If I Get Lucky: The Music of Arthut "Big Bog" Crudup Vol.1

Track List:
Im in The Mood
My Mama Don't Allow Me
Look On Yonder Wall
She's Got No Hair
Never No More
Too Much Competition
I'm Gonna Dig My Self A Hole
My Baby Left Me
Shout Sister Shout
That's All Right
So Glad You Are Mine
Etha Mae
Greyhound Bus
She's Gone
Rock Me Mama
Mean Old Frisco Blues
If I Get Lucky
Cool Disposition
Give Me A 32-20
Black Pony Blues
Dirt Road Blues
Death Valley Blues


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